2007 was a surprisingly solid year for Hip Hop albums. Like it or not, vets and rookies went for the gusto this past calendar. We may agree to disagree on most of the list, so feel free to chime in and share your valued (seriously) opinion. This is the first of the year end lists that I plan on posting over the next week or so, so walk with me as I run through Fake Shore Drive’s top 10 Hip Hop albums of 2007
1. Pharoahe Monch – Desire
A questionable choice for my #1 spot? Sure. Does anyone agree? Doubtful. Do I care? No.
But truth be told, I listened to this album more than anything else in 2007 – in fact, almost exclusively this summer. Sure there was a couple of duds towards the end of the album (Especially the Erykah Badu track, which very well could’ve been a metaphorical song about an actual diamond), but everything on this album worked for me: the beats, the rhymes, the sequencing of the tracks. Hell, I even liked “Body Baby”. With solid production from Pharoahe himself, Black Milk, Mr. Porter, long-time collaborator Lee Stone and LV and Sean C (prior to American Gangster), these guys brought the heat.
Plus, Pharoahe’s lyrics were pure insanity. Proof? Check this excerpt from the albums leadoff track, “Free”:
So Google Pharoahe Monch, search Triskaidekaphobia
I’ll explain why these city banks Wachovia (watch ova ya)
I’ll peep the future in my sleep, to be honest man
We never had a Mutual relationship with Washington Why?
Because I believe they put the virus in the latex
Condoms that they sell us, call it safe sex
What I spit, not only causes a glitch in The Matrix
But another terrorist that they haven’t faced yet
No one is spitting like Troy Jamerson, not even the industry’s # 1 fanboy, Lil Wayne. You’re really trying to tell me these guys are on the same level? ‘Syou crazy?
Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another 7 years for his next album.
Standout tracks: “Desire”, “Free”, “What It Is”, “Welcome to the Terrordome”
2. Kanye West – Graduation
Pop or not, this CD is incredible. When I did a review of his concert back in August for Bol, I claimed that, from what I’d heard, Graduation could very well be the album of the year. Welp, I was close. It was a very tough decision picking my #1 album, and Yeezy was a close, close second. With the exception of “Drunk and Hot Girls” Graduation is damn near flawless. It’s a forward thinking album, teetering on the edge of electronic and hip hop music. Definitely a soundtrack to Chi-City – a celebratory album of sorts. If it wasn’t for his Moms untimely passing, ‘Ye would be having the best year ever.
Standout tracks: “Flashing Lights”, “Champion”, “The Glory”, “Barry Bonds”
3. Lupe Fiasco – The Cool
An absolute contender for all-around Album of Year. However, due to its late-in-the-year release date, I haven’t had as much time to digest the album or see how I’ll feel about it three months after the fact. Lupe rapped his ass off on this one and came back extra hard (Nullus?) after the whole “Fiascogate” debacle. With strong first week sales and positive word-of-mouth chatter, Lupe could very well be hanging his first plaque when its all said and done. Well done.
Standout tracks: “Gold Watch”, “Paris, Tokyo”, “Streets on Fire”, “Little Weapon”
4. Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams
I could care less about what everyone else has to say about 8 Diagrams, I loved it. Sure it was different than what you’re used to from the Wu, but you can’t tell me it doesn’t grow on you the more you listen to it. Hip-Hop Hippie or not, RZA brought some dark, eerie production and the rest of the Wu brought their A game. Wu-Tang is the best and I don’t care what you say. Now I’m gonna take my ball and go home.
Standout tracks: “Campfire”, “Stick Me For My Riches”, “Rushing Elephants”
5. Jay-Z – American Gangster
Jigga’s redemption song. After the shit sandwich that was Kingdom Come, Jay went back to the lab and completed this gem in a (rumored) two week period. With production from No ID, Jermaine Durpi, DJ Toomp, Diddy’s new Hit Men (LV and Sean C), this soulful record returned Jay to his coveted top spot. Not to mention his entire American Gangster Tour sold out in less than 1 minute (which very well could have been the best concert I’ve ever
witnessed. Ever. Check my recap here).
witnessed. Ever. Check my recap here).
Standout tracks: “Roc Boys”, “Party Life”, “Success”, “Fallen”
6. Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth
Hip hop’s favorite albino (sorry Krondon) shocked the world with this passionate, emotional journey through the trials and tribulations of a homeless, divorced, pigment challenged, Muslim-American father (damn). With the intensity of KRS-One and the ferociousness of early Ice Cube, Brother Ali is now a force to be reckoned with, not only on the independent circuit, but in hip hop in general.
Standout tracks: “Truth Is”, “Pedigree”, “Take Me Home”, “Freedom Ain’t Free”
7. Ghostface Killah – The Big Doe Rehab
In 2007, Ghost toured more than the Roots. However, he still found time to release his third album in two years, the Big Doe Rehab. It was nice to see various Clan members show up on the album, and surprisingly, less of Shawn Wigs. It proves that Ghost can still make consistent, entertaining albums without RZA’s input. I just hope we see a video from the album soon. As Killah Priest put it, “We live in a weird day and age when no members of the Clan can even get videos in support of their albums.” True story.
“Yolanda’s House”, “Barrel Brothers”, “Slow Down”, “Rec-Room Therapy”
8. Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass
With a weirdly beautiful soundscape, Aesop Rock outdid himself on this album. Including outstanding production from Aesop himself, Blockhead and El-P; Aesop’s fifth album is arguably the best in his catalog. With a trippy video for the title track, “None Shall Pass” and hilarious MTV promos that ran during The Hills (not that I watch The Hills or anything!), Aesop gained some well-deserved mainstream notoriety. I mean, who else could make a song sympathizing with Pluto for being bounced from the Solar System?
Standout tracks: “None Shall Pass”, “Coffee”, “Bring Back Pluto”, “Catacomb Kids”
9. Talib Kweli – Ear Drum
Kweli’s best album since the 2000 release of Reflection Eternal’s, Train of Thought, with Hi-Tek. Unfortunately for Kweli, the fact that he defeated Swizz Beatz in the soundscan arena overshadowed the album itself. Production ranged from Just Blaze to Battlecat, and Madlib to Pete Rock. The result is a surprisingly cohesive album that appeals to Kweli’s backpacking followers as well as his pop sensibilities.
Standout tracks: “Everything Man”, “NY Weather Report”, “Electrify/Stay Around“, “Soon the new Day”
10. (tie) Redman – Red Gone Wild & Little Brother – Getback
I battled myself over which album to include over the past month or so, so I decided to include both.
Red Gone Wild featured some excellent music, but the overabundance of terrible skits coupled with weed carrier features halted this album from the greatness it could have achieved. Note to Redman: 23 tracks is NEVER a good idea and please kill the Soopaman Luva stuff. I really don’t know anyone who enjoys this series anymore. The Def Squad assisted “Walk In Gutta” was easily my favorite posse cut of the year, on the other hand, “Sumtn 4 Urrbody” was my least favorite. Where is this Muddy Waters 2 album you were
hyping earlier in the year anyway?
hyping earlier in the year anyway?
Standout tracks: “Gimme One”, “Walk In Gutta”, “Dis Iz Brick City”, “Put it Down”
Upon first listen of Getback, Little Brother proved that they could make a great album without the help of King Fruity Loops. I bumped this album everyday after it initially “leaked” and even went and saw LB live to support. The problem here, is that after my few weeks of listening, I wasn’t drawn back and I haven’t been back since. For some reason it hasn’t hooked me the way The Listening did – but then again that’s a tall order.
Standout tracks: “When Everything is New”, “Good Clothes”, “Can’t Win for Losing”
Honorable Mention: Prodigy – Return of the Mac, Percee P – Perseverance, El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, Sean Price – Jesus Price Supastar, Blu & Exile – Below the Heavens