Tuesday, July 31, 2012
NBC is be far the worst channel on network TV. I mean, come on. This is the same network that renewed Whitney. And who the hell does that? NBC, of course, whose standards for quality are akin to a homeless man digging out the garbage.
So, yeah, NBC sucks. But you know what doesn't? The Olympics. Every four years, I actually get excited for them, hoping to catch something weird and interesting on TV like weightlifting, ping pong, shooting, or handball. But you know what I get when I turn on the Olympics on NBC? Swimming. I mean, I don't know how many damn times I've seen those gangly, Spiderman built men and women getting ready to do the backstroke or doggy paddle, but it's too many. Why is swimming always f**king on?!
And when it's not swimming, it's volleyball. Or gymnastics. Swimming, volleyball, and gymnastics. Are those the only three Olympic events that are going on this year? It seems like it is, or at least, on NBC, it does. Why do I only get to see sports that Americans have a chance of medaling in? Why can't I see the weird sports that I mentioned before? Four years ago, when Michael Phelps was cleaning the floor with all of the other countries, I understand. He was a phenomenon. But with no clear-cut Olympian this year, why can't we diversify a bit? Because NBC has no idea how to cover the Olympics! In every single way, NBC sucks ass! There, I'm done. What a piece of crap network. Let someone else have the Olympics next time! Stupid! What a waste.
(Image taken from: blog.rooftopcomedy.com)
(Image taken from: musicya.net)
6. Gangstarr- Moment of Truth
Released in 1998
Label: Noo Trybe/Virgin/EMI Records
Probably the most commercial record on this list, Gandstarr’s, Moment of Truth, is still an underground album through and through. With DJ Premier and Guru returning from a four year hiatus doing what they do best (He’s the DJ and I’m the MC, essentially), they came back with a vengeance with only a little lag along the way. With the first single, “You Know My Steez,” getting heavy rotation on BET and MTV when it was first released, this album was a testament that the underground, when brought to the surface, could make quite a stir. This album definitely took it, “above the clouds.”
Best track: Work
(Image taken from: undergroundhiphop.com)
5. The Circle of Tyrants-Self-titled
Released in: 2005
Label: Psychological Records
Underground legends Goretex and Mr. Hyde, join brothers Ill Bill and Necro on this album with startling results. Every track on this self-titled and only release from the mega group (Goretex has since had a falling out with Necro) is excellent, with “The Four Horsemen,” which samples a western, probably being the most noteworthy and impressive track of them all. Hell, even the rock/rap songs are hardly a misstep here and actually compliment the rest of the brutality. We’ve listened to this album more times than we can count. It's death rap at its finest. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that this is the best album that Necro has ever produced.
Best track: The Four Horsemen
(Image taken from: pidgeonsandplanes.com)
4. Dr. Octagon-Dr. Octagonecologyst
Released in: 1996
Label: Dreamworks/Geffen/MCA Records
Coming to you live from outer space is Kool Keith, with yet another one of his bizarre creations, Dr. Octagon. Dr. Octagonecologyst is one of those rare releases that even those who don’t know a lick about the underground knew about for some reason, often citing “Bear Witness,” as their starting point, or singing the chorus to “Blue Flowers,” like it was, “Singing in the Rain.” Whatever got them on board, it probably wasn’t Kool Keith’s out-there, surrealistic lyrics, as he had been serving those up since his Ultramagnetic MC’s days and he never made the kind of waves that this release did. No, we’re thinking there’s just something wonderful about a man who doesn’t mind donning multiple alias, and Dr. Octagon just happened to stick. It doesn’t hurt that Dan the Automator’s production is amazing and that Kool Keith is as bizarre as ever. Hip-hop, meet your Ziggy Stardust.
Best track: Earth People
Monday, July 30, 2012
(Image taken from: biggreenbeats.com)
9. Mr. Lif-I Phantom
Released in 2002
Label: Definitive Jux
If you’ve never seen Mr. Lif in concert, you need to. His energetic style is probably the best performance you’ll ever see from a rapper in your entire life, and his debut album, I Phantom, exudes some of that energy and excitement. But never one to shy away from heady topics, Mr. Lif travels all over the place with this concept album (Yep, another one on this list). It explores both death and rising from the ashes…only to be destroyed again by nuclear residue. Nobody said this album would be UpLIFting. No? Too corny?
Best track: Iron Helix
(Image taken from: sesosduckblood.blogspot.com)
8. Non Phixion-The Future is Now
Released in 2002
Label: Uncle Howie Records
Non Phixion had been tearing it up for quite awhile before this major release, but this is the album that the hardcore hip-hop heads had been clamoring for. It fulfilled all of our wishes and then some and it’s a shame Warner Bros. didn’t distribute it as originally planned, because it might have made a big difference in the group’s longevity. As it was, they split up shortly after its release. But this album, with just monstrous tracks by Ill Bill, Sabac Red, and Goretex (With Necro and many others supplying the amazing beats), just works so well. “Cult Leader” by Ill Bill is a standout and could have even found a good place on his own solo release, What’s Wrong With Bill?, but every track is golden on here. The general public doesn’t know what it’s missing.
Best track: Black Helicopters
(Image taken from: yuforum.net)
7. Killarmy-Dirty Weaponry
Released in 1998
Label: Wu-tang/Priority/EMI Records
Out of all of the many Wu-tang side groups and projects over the years, we’re going to call this one the best. The military (But not militant, if that makes any sense) raps of the group go above and beyond with rattling machine guns in the background and women screaming. It truly gives you the sense of being in the midst of warfare, which we’re sure was the group’s intention (Hello, they’re called Killarmy-It’s pronounced, Killa army). “Galactics,” “Allah Sees Everything,” and “The Shoot Out,” are probably its most recognizable songs, but “Bastard Swordsman,” shall always be our favorite track on the album, mostly because of Holocaust’s killer second verse. You have to hear it to believe it. It’s incredible.
Best track: Bastard Swordsman
Sunday, July 29, 2012
(Image taken from: hiphopmedley.blogspot.com)
12. Canibus-Rip the Jacker
Released in 2003
Label: Mic Club, Babygrande
Before Rip the Jacker, Canibus was always the rapper that we felt bad for. And we hated ourselves for feeling bad for him, because in truth, he was always an amazing lyricist, but his production. God, his production was terrible before this album. True, the album preceding this one, Mic Club: The Curriculum, was a step in the right direction for Can-I-Bus, but his first three albums, two of which were genuine commercial attempts, were excellent lyrically, but abysmal production-wise. Rip the Jacker fixes all that. Songs like “Showtime at the Gallow” and “Cemantics” are just as good lyrically as ever, and even the beats are amazing. If only this was his first album, we might not be talking about him in this underground article. Tis a shame, but it’s the truth. This should have been his first release.
Best track:Rip the Jacker
(Image taken from: hiphopups.com)
11. Esoteric-Saving Seamus Ryan
Released in: 2009
Label: Fly Casual
What can we say? We love rap concept albums. And while Esoteric is probably more known for being with his DJ, 7L, we think Saving Seamus Ryan is his best, and most ambitious work to date. Starting off saying goodbye to his dog because it’s past its prime, the album goes all over the place, with his character getting shot, losing a wedding ring, and even selling old Spiderman comic books. Thematically, it’s not as tidy as it could have been, but neither was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and who complains about that? This is Es’ best work ever.
Best track: I Rap Too Much
(Image taken from: s517.photobucket.com)
10. The Coup-Steal This Album
Released in 2008
Label: Dogday Records
Before System of a Down stole the title, this Oakland based duo released this classic album. Like their two earlier releases, Steal This Album features the funny, acerbic, political lyrics and funky fresh beats that the group had become known for at this point. But everything just seems to work on this release. There isn’t a moment that lets up, and even the seven minute long, “Me and Jesus The Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night,” doesn’t slow things down. Steal this Album, and all of The Coup’s releases, are a prime example of why the underground has always been a necessity in hip-hop. The Coup’s music would never be heard if this wasn’t a market, and that would be a shame.
Best track: Piss on Your Grave
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Released in 1999
Label: Mo’ Wax/Quannum Projects
Gift of Gab kills it on every track, and Chief Xcel provides the beats for him to kill it on with this debut masterpiece from the late 90s. This duo from Sacramento is like the hipper version of Gangstarr, and they never let you forget it from front of the album to the back. The group starts it off right with “The Fabulous Ones” (Fabulous, indeed), and just keep on going with tracks like “Deception” (We’ve had “Laa, de da de da da” stuck in our heads for days), “Shallow Days,” and “Dream Sessions.” Even DJ Shadow’s, “Cliff Hanger,” with its boom bap aesthetics, fits on this fresh ass release. All of their albums are great, but this one is our favorite.
Best track: Cliff Hanger
(Image taken from: amazon.com)
13. Deltron 3030-Deltron 3030
Released in: 2000
Label: 75 Ark
Concept albums are a rarity in the rap game. Sure, there have been a few (With two others coming up later on this list), but when it comes down to it, the pickings are slim. Which is why Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator’s debut together is such a special album. Bringing the space age lyrics that Del had been spouting for years before this album, Automator’s production just sent this record into the stratosphere. “Positive Contact,” and “Virus” shine, but the entire album is a masterpiece of vision and precision. That said, it could never be a commercial release. It’s just too out there to be anything more than underground. Fuck Earth!
Friday, July 27, 2012
16. Juggaknots-Clear Blue Skies
Released in: 1996
Label: Fondle ‘Em
While the Juggaknots’ first album, Clear Blue Skies, isn’t the masterwork that it could be (some of the beats are just terrible), a few of its tracks are the best and most poignant in rap history. The title track is obviously the greatest, featuring a story of a father talking shit against his son’s black girlfriend, while “Loosifa,” is haunting in how loose and light it’s handled. It’s a rare and hard to find album, but a great listen all the same. At least most of it is. Try to find it.
Best track: Clear Blue Skies
(Image taken from: hhv.de)
15. Viktor Vaughn-Venomous Villain
Released in 2004
Label: Insomniac, Inc.
Okay, so here’s where we might disagree. Yes, we know Vaudeville Villain is the more beloved album of the two, but we just prefer Viktor Vaughn’s (Another alias by, who else, MF Doom) sophomore release because of its pacing and flow. “R.A.P.G.A.M.E.” “Dope Skill,” and “Doper Skill,” are three excellent tracks that flow seamlessly with each other, as do all the tracks on this deliciously constructed release from the metal-masked villain. We approve.
Best track: Ode to Road Rage
Thursday, July 26, 2012
20. Immortal Technique-Revolutionary Vol. 2
Released in 2003
Label: Viper Records
Revolutionary rapper, Immortal Technique, came out firing with his first album, Revolutionary Vol. 1, and Vol. 2 just improves upon it with even more too-controversial-for-the-radio rap than ever before. Songs like “The 4th Branch” and “Industrial Revolution” are what the underground is all about—solid lyrics that don’t give a flying fuck if it’s catchy or if it’s going to sell a million downloads on iTunes. It’s part of the reason why Immortal Technique is so popular in the first place. He means what he says and says what he means. And Revolutionary Vol. 2 is the perfect pulpit for his political prowess. Throw up a fist and listen to this.
Best track: The Message and the Money
(Image taken from: kevinnottingham.com)
19. Little Brother-The Minstrel Show
Released in 2005
Label: Atlantic/ABB Records
“Performing in black face tonight…” is just one of the many controversial lines you’ll hear off of Little Brother’s sophomore album, The Minstrel Show. Like Immortal Technique, Little Brother also make albums where the message (and the music!) is much more important than the money. At times hilarious (Some of these skits, like “Diary of a Mad Black Daddy” are some of the funniest we’ve ever heard), and at other times thoughtful, The Minstrel Show never lets up. It’s immensely entertaining and the beats are bananas. We love it.
Best track: Lovin’ It
(Image taken from: santafemusicsociety.wordpress.com)
18. Hieroglyphics-Third Eye Vision
Released in: 1998
Label: Hieroglyphics Imperium
Think of the Hieroglyphics (Hie-ro, y’all!) as a less serious, West Coast version of the Wu-tang Clan. Actually, strike all that, the Hieroglyphics crew are so much more than that and Third Eye Vision proves it. Led by its two most famous members, Del the Funky Homosapien and Casual, this album spotlights all the members at some point, both lyrically and through production, as multiple members get behind the mixing boards. It’s a playful album that only gets better with multiple listens, and songs like, “You Never Knew,” (Which had a pretty nifty video that received some pretty good airplay when it first came out), never get old, no matter how many years this goes back.
Best track: All Things
(Image taken from: bboy-alpha.blogspot.com)
17. Jedi Mind Tricks-Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell
Released in 2006
Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah just got everything right with their fifth album, Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell (How dope of a title is that, by the way)? The rhymes are abrasive and sharp as ever, the few guests (underground favorites, Ill Bill and R.A. The Rugged Man, are on board, along with others) are amazing, and the beats are the best yet. There’s really nothing to say about this album besides that it’s dope and heavily, heavily underground. We can’t see “Gutta Music” being played in any radio rotation, other than college radio. God bless, college radio.
Best track: Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story