I’m finding myself more into hip hop this year than in any of the previous 5 years or so. There’s so much exciting new stuff coming out, while the indie rock genre has been a little disappointing this year (especially from established acts). Putting to one side the big misstep of the new Gnarls Barkley album and the big disappointment of Lil’ Wayne’s Drought 5, there’s an amazing out of great rap coming out these days: Atmosphere, a new Del album, the return of Pete Rock, and a bunch of folks on the verge of the majors (AC, Wale, Ali Vegas) . . . Of course, the best stuff isn’t that overproduced major release shit. It’s the underground stuff–the jams made by the hungry, the desperate to be heard.
Here’s some mixtapes you need to find and get. Now.
1. Wale. You won’t go wrong getting either of this D.C. go-go rapper’s two recent mixtapes. Far as I know, “100 Miles And Running” was his first, followed by “Beast of the Beltway,” where you can find “Nike Boots” (recently “officially” remixed on Lil’ Wayne’s Da Drought Is Over 5 mixtape), and this amazing blend:
W.a.l.e.f.r.i.e.n.d.s. (Justice Remix)-Wale
2. Atmosphere-“Strictly Leakage.” An above-ground mixtape of outtakes, being released by the label free and easy. I’m sure I’ll get yelled at about this, but I think Atmosphere is the rare example of a rap crew that’s been getting better with age. The beats are more complex, the lyrics are less didactic and much funnier . . . And Slug has finally learned how to hit the beat, instead of attacking it.
The Things That Hate Us-Atmosphere
3. AC-“This is Staten 2.” AC is the hottest thing to come out of New York since Elliot Spitzer came down South. And speaking of Elliot, AC spat a verse about Spitz. You gotta love the fact that he complains about the Lt. Governor having “no eyes.” This song is not on his Staten mixtapes, but those are great, too. Especially his ode to Wu Tang, “Rae Told Me.” Get it. Because in a few months, everyone’s gonna be talking about AC.
Does She Spitzer Swallow?-AC.
4. Bun-B-“Southern Royalty.” Bun-B has already made his mark in hip hop, but this return is triumphant.
5. Joe Budden-“Mood Musik 3.” Joe was making honest, gritty, revelatory raps long before Eminem. He talks honestly about his own history with drugs, child abuse, family issues . . . He’s been a favorite of mine for years, and all three of his Mood Musik mixtapes are phenomenal. If you can find version 3.5, get it (no shouting DJ).
Still My Hood (Produced By Wyks)-Joe Budden
6. Reup Gang-“We Got It For Cheap Vol. 3-Spirit Of Competition.” Not as good as their first two, and it hasn’t stuck with me as much as I expected, but these days nobody (I mean NOBODY) does dope-slangin’ raps as good as Clipse.
7. Tanya Morgan-“Tanya Morgan is a Rap Group.” Truly brilliant, real hip hop, with a unique perspective and philosophy, and no gratuitous bangers . . . But the remix of Jay-Z’s, “Hello Brooklyn” is fiya. Get it while supplies last.
7 great mixtapes in just 4 months. Pretty good average, considering most mixtapes are about 4 good songs and a bunch of filler. Stay tuned for the next Joell Ortiz. You know that one’ll be hot.