Aceyalone "Leanin On Slick" (title track of 2013 release from longtime LA emcee)
BILLY JAM 2013 TOP 10 HIP-HOP ALBUM LIST
1) DJ Frane Hi Dusty Stranger (Self-Released)
2) DJ ADA The Work Album (self released)
3) RJD2 More Is Than Isn't (RJS Electrical Connection)
4) Deltron 3030 Event II (Bulk Recordings)
5) Run the Jewels (Killer Mike + EI-P) Run The Jewels (Fool's Gold)
6) Homeboy Sandman All That I Hold Dear EP (Stones Throw)
7) Illogic & Blockhead Capture The Sun (Man Bites Dog)
8) Aceyalone Leanin On Slick (Decon)
9) Latyrx The Second Album (Latrymid, Inc.)
10) Fat Tony Smart Ass Black Boy (Young One Records)
Above is my personal favorite top ten full-length hip-hop releases of the past year including one EP, and a couple of totally underground self-released albums - but all good music that I personally was really feeling over this past year. And below are a random list of other "best of" items from the past year of 2013 in hip-hop. Beyond hip-hop and music in TV the shows that I enjoyed in 2013 included Breaking Bad, Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Awkward, and The Big Bang Theory. Meanwhile 2013 movies of worth in my book included 12 Years a Slave, the Coen Brothers' brand new film Inside Llewyn Davis, Alfonso Cuaron’s adventure drama Gravity, Alex Gibney's We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, and the Bay Area based Fruitvale Station.
Made by first time director/East Bay resident Ryan Coogler this film perfectly captured the final 24 hours in the life of Oscar Grant (excellently played by Michael B. Jordan) five years ago at this time (New Years Day 2009) when all came to a close at the BART station that bears the film's title. With a great soundtrack that included Mac Dre, Fruitvale Station was a very moving film - especially if you are from the Bay Area - that I reviewed in detail here on the Amoeoblog upon its initial release back in July.
RJD2 "Her Majesty's Socialist Request" (2013)
LATYRX (Lateef + Lyrics Born) feat Forrest Day "Exclamation Point" (2013)
Best 2013 in Sports Wrap Up Rap:
Skillz, formerly Mad Skillz, wins in this category by default but his song is still a great one for wrapping up the best in sports news/events over the past twelve months. Skillz, who for ten years up until last year when others like DeStorm were elbowing in on his territory, did his annual, anticipated, year-end rap-up rap songs. These concise well written raps compiled all of the general news stories of the year into a 3 minute song. So when the Michigan born rapper announced last year that he was not going to do any more year end raps fans were disappointed. Those same fans were pleasantly surprised when Skillz returned earlier this month to unveil the above sports themed version of his annual rap up - commissioned by ESPN.
Best Hip-Hop DJ/Turntablist/Skratch Release of 2013:
Even with such other strong contenders in the field as the UK's DJ Loop Skywalker's The Phonkey Phonomusicianist on Dirtle Wax, and the various DJ/producer artist compilation Community Skratch Music Vol. 4 ℅ Ireland's Community Skratch Music (each small indie label releases), the hands down winner for best skratch album goes to super talented turntablists Klever and DJ Craze (both of The Allies DJ crew) who in 2013 finally followed up their landmark 2001 release Scratch Nerds with Scratch Nerds II. And the dozen year long wait was well worth it - as this new 50 minute mix was all killer and no filler. Besides the production and scratch skills (and wit) of its two makers Scratch Nerds II also featured several contributing guest DJs. These included A-Trak, Teeko, and QBert (speaking of Daly City DJ legend QBert - I predict that this time next year he will be ruling the 2014 year end lists with his two, soon-to-drop 2014 album releases.)
Best Club DJ Quote of 2013:
This accomplishment goes to San Francisco turntable vet DJ Chill of longtime Bay Area crew the Midnite Cru Deejays (from interview for Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog that ran earlier) on the topic of bugging a DJ while he is at work. Anyone who has ever DJ'ed a bar, a club, a house party etc. knows that it is inevitable that some person (usually a drunk person not paying attention to what the DJ is doing) will rudely interrupt said party choreographer while they are in the middle of their mix. Addressing this topic DJ Chill summed up the perspective of the DJ as follows: "Do you bother a fireman in the middle of a fire? Do you bother a doctor in the middle of surgery? Would you bother a cop in the middle of an arrest? Then why the fuck would you bother a DJ in the middle of the mix?!"
Best Example of Hip-Hop As Unstoppable Global Movement in 2013:
Zodiac "Esély" (2013)
Once again in 2013 I have been following and really enjoying hip-hop music coming out of several European countries including Germany, France, UK, Italy, Hungary, and Ireland where among the best releases of 2013 was the recent collaboration of emcee Costello with producer Moschops who joined creative forces to record the album CosMos on Working Class Records that dropped earlier this month. Meanwhile out of Hungary is the above brand new track/video, that just released in this past week, from the one year old Zodiac Crew. I visited Hungary for the first time last year when I first discovered this Central European's vibrant impressive hip-hop scene first hand. To me the above new track is further proof that hip-hop is an unstoppable global force - and oft times other countries stay truer to the roots of hip-hop than many of their American counterparts do. I love the video for this equally likable song because of how it just oozes of love for the art form of hip-hop - from the funky soulful production and scratching in the track to the graffiti and obvious passion for all things hip-hop demonstrated in the video.
Best Global DJ Battle Event To Bring Focus Back to the Scratch DJ: DMC
Thanks in part to the recent return of Christie Z Pabon as top dog of the DMC organization's US division and to a new generation of young DJs and a new wave of interest in battle DJing the DMC is leading the way in bringing back focus to the scratch DJ. Christie Z who had left the DMC organization for many years returned in recent times and for the past few years has been responsible for coordinating all the US DJ battles including the big US Finals each August (see cover of DVD for 2013 US Finals that will drop in January). As such the DMC, who now even do online battles, has been instrumental in helping propel interest in scratch DJing/battling after several years of a drop off of interest in the genre. Other organizations that deserve credit include Dubspot and DJ QBerts online QSU (Qbert's Skratch University).
Funniest Braggadocious Rap Lyrics of 2013:
"I've had so many women, I start to think I'm assisted living....I'm the greatest. Don't front, I'm the greatest" - raps recent Rhymesayers Entertainment signee PROF in his over-the-top delivery style that perfectly match his hilarious lyrics on the satire track "The Reply" that dropped earlier this month. On the killer track, with production courtesy of Curtiss King, the Minneapolis rapper continues with such funny brag-to-the-hilt lyrics as "I'm Beyoncé's fiance. I'm Picante. You lookin for a double date Kanye? There's a mermaid in my bathtub. The little girl is only there to give backrubs. How much an ostrich cost man? Put it in a mosh pit,
At my show and jump in like, 'Watch this!'" So atypical of the usual fare delivered by the fine Rhymesayers Entertainment record label (home to Brother Ali, Blueprint, Atmosphere, etc.) is the song that a lot of feedback from dedicated label fans found online (including on the song's YouTube link) - has been most negative. Too bad as it is such a great song.