“I let my tape rock till my tape
- The Notorious B.I.G.
That line tells so much although not
too many people use tapes these days.
We all have albums played so much the
tape broke or the CD is unreadable.
Or the CD that was so hot your friends
borrowed it and never seemed to give it
back, so you gave up and bought another
Maybe those albums got you through some
tough times. Or they have that song that
used to drive you. Maybe it reminds you
of that special someone. Whatever the
case music is meant to inspire. It got
some of the best through the worst and
greatest. Whether talking about politics
and the way we live, bragging about neighborhoods,
hearing a new type of sound, or opening
your mind to new ideas. Music can fill
your mind with a myriad of experiences
The best part is now with technology
you can get your favorites from more sources
Here are my top 10 victims, not my absolute
best of all time but albums I just couldn’t
put down till I had to throw some more
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar
I got it in college and fell in love
with the two artists. While political
they could battle with anyone and that
has been concreted with their future successes.
with his historical punch lines and Mos
withso many creative ways to tell the
state of Hip-Hop (Children’s Story).
Songs like “Respiration” with
Common lets you reflect on what its like
living in the city, the sites you see
on the daily and how it’s hard to
live right in midst of the madness. “Twice
Inna Lifetime” ask the talented
downtrodden to stop “hiding your
face” and shine your light. “Brown
Skin Lady” gives props to the beautiful
black women in the world and lets them
know they are appreciated.
The Count: Three
copies and counting!
Nas – Illmatic
My first experience with Nas came with
the song “The World Is Yours”.
The song had me in disbelief, as I never
heard a MC with such poignant
lyrics. I remember learning the first
two verses in homeroom by playing the
tape back and forth. It would be prophetical.
I didn’t get Illmatic when it first
came out; a brother was broke those days
and had to choose wisely. When I did pick
it off the shelves
I listen to that album everyday for about
three months. This wasn’t some oldhead
talking about going to work or getting
the job done (peace to Big Daddy Kane
and Kool Moe Dee) this was a young man
from the Pjs talking about the New York
State of Mind, bringing punch lines and
stories together was nothing to him as
proven in “One Love”, and
“One Time”. AZ killed “Life’s
a Bitch” and Nas’s pop, Olu
Dara, topped off the song with a vibrant
trumpet screaming. “Represent”
sounded like a nursery tune with grown
up street slang. Virtually alone on the
album Nas jumped on the scene with a classic
that goes against the standard album complete
with dancing hooks, crazy skits and 16
tracks. His formula: 10 and bounce. Its
will never be forgotten.
The Count: I
had to cop this one twice.
B.I.G. – Ready To Die
My Cousin told me of this guy Biggie
Smalls who was ripping the mixtape scene
up. Going to work I saw his debut LP and
grabbed it up. After hearing “Juicy”,
the first single I wasn’t expecting
too much, but when I got in my room and
let the system quake my ears wanted more
and more. The interlude got me interested
from jump and “Back In The Day”
let me know about this brown bomber. Tracks
like “Gimme The Loot” showed
Big at his grimiest
and “Everyday Struggle” showed
his trials as a father. “Me and
My Bitch” gave me perspective (“You
look so good, I suck on your daddy’s
d**k”, I’ve never seen that).
“The What” was when Method
Man was at his peek name-wise and the
two rappers came together beautifully.
DJ Premier was
introduced to many via “Unbelievable”-my
favorite track, and “Suicidal Thoughts”
gave me an even darker side of this man
with so much talent but so much turmoil
in his life. Till this day there isn’t
a verse on that LP I can’t remember.
Besides being an album with depth and
creative songs, it also showed his ability
to hit people’s ears and hearts.
He was one of the best and that foundation
was laid on this album.
The Count: Two
After Red’s second album Dare Iz
A Darkside, good but not What Thee Album
I hoped Redman
was coming out of the ground and into
the forefront as one of the best rappers
out. This album is the proof! Packed with
crazy skits like the time he sticks up
the bus and the singing dude with the
cola in his hand, and songs like “Whateva
Man” and “It’s Like
That “(with K-Solo) it is a treat
to listen to. Erick Sermon does his best
work on the beats and Redman’s verbiage
is at its best.
The Count: I
still have the album on tape and on CD.
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