I have been severely slacking on my Golden Age Hip Hop site since, oh, October. And the only reason was that I moved and lost internet access, then got it back but not until like February, and then I lost my internet again, and only got it back recently but my computer is too slow and so now I can't really view YouTube from home, only from work.
I know, excuses-excuses.
Bottom line is this: as long as I have an internet connection, I am going to continue to update the site anew. I will be putting up some of the best videos of the Golden Age (1988ish to 1996ish), as well as newer progressive rap music that has the same aesthetic. I encourage your comments and criticisms. Please keep it intelligent. Or as intelligent as you are capable of being.
Now, I went a little CD crazy this week, and I did something I don't do a lot. I bought 4 CDs by white hip hop artists. I didn't do this on purpose, it just worked out that way. I bought CDs from El-P, Sage Francis, RJD2 and Brother Ali. I would have bought one from Cage -- another cracker -- if they had it at Soundgarden. I also did buy J-Dilla, who is a "brotha," but I'm fascinated by white rappers for some reason. (Incidentally, to see a very brief and kinda hard to understand freestyle between Brother Ali and Sage Francis, click here.)
Let me break each album down quickly in order from least good to goodest.
Sage Francis - Human the Death Dance ... The label on this album says "His Most Personal Album to Date." It's all well and good to celebrate how personal your albums are, especially when you're a hip-hop artist, but get over it. His first major studio album was called "Personal Journals." We get it: you're personal! What bugs me is that the reason I liked Sage in the first place is because he wasn't afraid to use his personal stuff, but he always kept it in a hip-hop context. He still does, but he's somehow stuck between hip-hop, alternative rock and slam poetry. This album is actually the best of his studio albums, but I can't help but wish he was still making bootleg mix cd's like the "Sick of..." series. But how can I not like a big fat bald guy? I guess I would just like a little more breakbeat sounding production. But that's just me. I do, however, like the fact that Sage has the audacity to go after Eminem on his song "Midgets and Giants."
El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead .... If you've heard the last few El-P projects, you kind of know his style. It's a lot of industrial, almost military drumbeats, with a lot of anger and yelling. It's a far cry from the murky, plodding beats of Company Flow. It's just this side of techno. The album features production by Cat Power and Trent Reznor, and guest vocals by Cage and Aesop Rock (our greatest current rapper, in my opinion). But all the songs sort of blend together, not too many distinguishable from the next. I have always wondered why El-P, considering he is an almost unparalleled lyricist, would choose to have so much noise on his albums that make his lyrics even harder to hear. His in-your-face barrage of sound is becoming his trademark, but he's at risk of marginalizing himself. As if he gives a shit what I think about it.
RJD2 - The Third Hand...
Okay I should have read up on this one, because apparently RJD2 stopped making hip hop for a brief time, and instead made something that sounds kind of like a cross between Zero 7 and Radiohead. And I like it. RJ's first album -- Deadringer -- is a masterpiece of instrumental production, and his song "Ghostwriter" is a 5-star song (you'll hear it whenever my phone rings). This is a good, upbeat album. RJ's singing voice (there is no rapping on the album) isn't amazing, but passable, and actually fits with the tone of the rest of the album. Although I have to say, it made me do a little digging, and next paycheck my next CD purchase is going to be Soul Position (aka RJD2 and Blueprint)'s Things Go Better With AJ & Al; I listened to some clips of it on the internet and almost every track blew me away.
Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth ...
I was super skeptical about this one. Let me tell you what I knew about Brother Ali: he is a white rapper. In fact he is so white that he is an albino (I kid you not). He is also a muslim. He is very fat and has kind of a lazy eye. Looking at pictures and the album cover, I thought this guy was gonna be another lameass clown white rapper like Bubba Sparxx or Paul Wall. Even worse, I thought he would be some obtuse indie hip hoppin' whiteboy like Awol One. I couldn't have been more wrong. This guy is the shit, and the album is very good. One of the best rap albums I've heard in a while, truthfully. So shame on me for making a judgment, because I would have lost out on a real gem if I hadn't given this one a look.
For your perusal: give the video below a look, it's called "Uncle Sam Goddamn." And tell me if it doesn't sound like the single greatest Geto Boys song ever made. The rest of the album is good too; it's a real hip hop album.
Anyway, I am trying to get a little more consistent on my hip hop blog, for the two of you who care. Keep the suggestions and comments coming.