The Year 2000 in Review
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Since this article was first published on January 2nd, a lot of people
have inquired to RapReviews.com with questions about how this list was
compiled; but more importantly, a lot of people have asked why certain
albums we (or they) rated so highly in the Y2K didn't make the final cut.
The decision making process was arduous, and the list was even revised
a couple of times after it was initially published, but eventually the
list was narrowed to 15. Why 15? Why not! Everybody does a top ten.
But if you're wondering why some of your favorite albums didn't make
the cut, this FINAL revision of the Year 2000 retrospective
now includes this premable on some missing LP's.
"Like Water For Chocolate" by
Common (Sense) made a huge splash initially but as a long-time fan of Common's
work I have to feel I probably overrated the album a bit - I was
reacting to a lot of negative publicity about the album on the internet.
I still like the album, but the replay value isn't there compared to
those that made the cut; let alone next to a classic like "Resurrection."
The Blackalicious LP "Nia" was left
off for an entirely different reason - I think the album is tremendously
brilliant, but hip-hop fans largely ignored it or decided the album was
too "backpacker" in it's beats and advanced lyrical style. I guess that's
the difference between having or not having a video on BET; see Talib Kweli.
Finally Nelly's "Country Grammar"
made the initial cut on our Top 15 but was moved up and out after I was
roundly criticized for not including the Wu-Tang Clan and Eminem. I think
both Wu-Tang Clan and Nelly are interchangable despite their
different styles in that neither album is perfect but both are a lot of
fun to listen to. So, that's it. I'm officially closing the list to
further change or discussions. Now, see what made "the cut."
#15. Eminem: "The Marshall Mathers LP"
At first, I was a little reluctant to include this album in our year
overview retrospective. I mean, Eminem already has enough accolades
to fill a truck with, and Mr. Controversy himself will probably win
a Grammy to boot. That being said, Eminem clearly did shake the
waters and expand the boundaries of hip-hop this year. With the guidance
of hip-hop legend Dr. Dre watching over his shoulder, Eminem crafted gems
that were humerous ("The Real Slim Shady"), introspective ("Stan") and
just plain shocking ("Kill You", "Kim") - but all were done with that
uniquely dark Eminem touch. People are still trying to figure out whether
his misogyny and homophobia f'real or over the top, but as long
as they're still guessing they're still listening!
#14. Wu-Tang Clan: "The W"
When this review first came out on RapReviews.com, I was accused of
letting my editorial bias show by rating this album too highly (I have
at various times in my life been a serious Wu-dickrider). Then when
the original "top ten" came out last week and the album wasn't included,
I was derided for not listing the Clansters among the year's best LP's.
Seems I can't win! Nonetheless, I have to admit the Wu does merit
a listing on this expanded Y2K listing, because RZA crafted some
haunting and sonically brutal landscapes with songs like "Careful
(Click, Click)" and "Let My Niggas Live" then took it straight back
to the old school with "The Jump Off" and "The Monument." I'm sure that
no Wu-Tang album will ever live up to the "36 Chambers" but this one
doesn't disgrace their legacy either.
#13. LL Cool J: "G.O.A.T."
Easily the worst titled of all his albums since "14 Shots to the Dome,"
this album still managed to impress both this editor and our reviewer
Mr. S as actually being a worthwhile effort from a rapper most
people thought of as a has-been; but remember, don't call it a comeback.
Here's a few pearls of Scott's wisdom on the subject: "The key to success
for 80's rappers in these times is staying close enough to their old
style to keep their old fans, but changing just enough to impress the
new school crowd as well. When LL is most successful on this album,
he follows these guidelines."
#12. Jurassic 5: "Quality Control"
Some people will undoubtedly feel this album should have ranked higher,
but Jurassic 5's old school appeal isn't necessarily everyone's cup of
tea. For those who like the style, this album is probably a classic -
and some people undoubtedly checked in for the turntablism by Nu-Mark
and Cut Chemist as well. The sonic landscapes were certainly lush.
The all too infrequent contributor Mike C. may have summed up the feeling
on this album best when he said, "+Quality Control+ has proved that style
is all relative; new is old, and, for Jurassic 5, old is new."
#11. Talib Kweli: "Train of Thought"
From the rapper who once called his duo with Hi Tek "Reflection Eternal"
comes a self-titled solo album where the name has changed but certainly
not the game. Easily the best album Rawkus put out in 2000 - Big L was
pretty dope, but this one makes the top 15 hands down. It's so good
that I was forced to revise the top 15 again and drop one album because
I couldn't believe I was stupid enough to leave this one off. I'll quote
myself on this one: "If you were already a Talib fan cop this, and if you
weren't but you love hip-hop you owe it to yourself to Reflect Eternally."
#10. Aesop Rock: "Float"
This independently released CD
showcased both quirky musical production and lyrical free-thinking that
resulted in a mind-bending display of excellence. To quote our reviewer
Noixe it was "a dope album with equally dope beats and a step in the
right direction for experimental hip-hop." Just signed to ex-Company
Flow member El-P's new Def Jux record label, we can only
expect bigger and better things from Aesop Rock in 2001.
#9. Esau: "The Debut Album..."
I have to admit my own bias here - I know one of their promoters
and I've worked with their fam "The Nobodies" on the internet for years
but despite that I have to say this is one of the illest albums that
came out this year. Innovative beats and fat raps have pushed this
album to the forefront of the genre and made it a must listen; so
be sure to visit his site
and check out why we think more people should know about this one.
Who is Esau? One of 2000's funniest, wittiest, smoothest rappers.
If you don't know, get a late pass.
#8. De La Soul: "Art Official Intelligence"
Seemingly dogged by a perception that they somehow went "commercial"
on this release by having guest appearances from Busta Rhymes and
Chaka Khan, most heads failed to realize that Plugs Won and Two still
had all the goods to deliver an album equally as dope as "Stakes Is
High" or any of their other releases. Revier Mr. S sums it up
nicely here: "De La Soul have held onto their crowns as the kings of
innovation. This time around, they took cliched subject matter and
made it interesting, and interesting subject matter and made it mind spinning."
#7. Prodigy: "H.N.I.C"
Mobb Deep's most revered rapper stepped out into the spotlight
and proved that he could do it for dolo and "Keep it Thoro" at
the same time. His raps are thuggish, but his style is very
introspective and lyrical at the same time. To quote myself:
"The important thing is that Prodigy made the solo album his Mobb
fans would have expected - a joint with all of his rapping strengths
and making very few mistakes."
#6. Jay-Z: "The Dynasty Roc La Familia"
The purists are undoubtedly screaming their heads off now, because for
some people liking Jay-Z is tantamount to thinking Puff Daddy is a good
rapper. Narrow-minded viewpoints have always been the curse of hip-hop
though; the kind of thinking that keeps underground heads from a dope
lyricist like Jay-Hova just because he makes radio hits. Lest we forget,
hip-hop favorites from Big Daddy Kane to Biggie Smalls made their name
with radio hits first and then turned out slamming albums of underground
head classics. If you think it's all about what you heard on MTV then
you should reconsider Z songs like "This Can't Be Life" and "Soon You'll
Understand" - some of the finest lyrics writing this side of the planet.
#5. Del: "Deltron 3030"
True hip-hop fans know Del, and Del knows hip-hop; but on this album
he also proved he knew something about cyberspace. With turntablism
by Kid Koala and beats by Dan the Automator, Del took hip-hop heads
into a journey through the future which was in fact a looking glass
for seeing the stale mediocrity of modern day rap and society's blind
eye towards urban decay. It's worth visiting the
75 Ark website and checking this
album out if you haven't already - Del's sense of both poetry and
humor rank him among hip-hop's greats in the year 2000 and beyond.
#4. Xzibit: "Restless"
Arguably one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Xzibit's
release came late in the 4th quarter with 15 seconds left on the
clock but still scored the game-winning touchdown. While the purists
may argue about whether or not Dr. Dre is a "producer" or whether
Xzibit abandoned his message for a hardcore sound, most heads will
just nod to the fat beats and X's gruff lyrical style - the single
man in rap who says "I can drink a whole Hennessey fifth - some
call that a problem but I call it a gift" and can make it admirable.
#3. J-Zone: "A Bottle of Whup-Ass (The EP)"
Humor still has a place in rap, and if J-Zone
has his way we'll be hearing about Smurfy "blue balls" and chronic Lucy Liu
masturbation well into the new century. Zone is clearly in one of his own with
his fat beats and funny rhymes, but he also brings in excellent guests
like Huggy Bear and Al-Shid for the assist when he can't handle all
the duties himself. Out of all the releases in our top ten this is
probably the one you shouldn't have slept on, but did anyway.
#2. M.O.P.: "Warriorz"
Some people don't like what Bone-Thugs once categorized as "thuggish
ruggish" rap music but M.O.P. are the exemplary purveyors of the art.
They are brash, they are loud, they are witty and they have beats that
slam harder than sumo wrestlers during an earthquake. The most
surprising thing about this album is that the self-produced beats were
just as ill as the ones produced by DJ Premier, especially on songs
like "Cold as Ice." The only cool points they lose on the entire
album are for rocking the same beat on the title track that AZ used
for his underground rap "Let Us Toast" - but the sample is so slamming
we'll let them get away with it; the album is still dope!
#1: OutKast: "Stankonia"
DJ Fatboy wins the RapReviews album of the year review honors; not
necessarily because OutKast had the highest score or was the most
popular release this year but simply because OutKast was the group
most willing to push the envelope and take chances. Who else would
release a lead single with the super-uptempo beats of "Bombs Over
Baghdad" other than Andre 3000 and Big Boi? Nobody. As the vibes
of "Ms. Jackson" continue to make noise on the charts in 2001; realize
that if you don't own a copy of this dope album YOU SHOULD.
Refreshingly different but true to hip-hop's oldest traditions, this
combination makes them the year's best - or in Fatboy's own words
"The shit don't get stagnant in Stankonia."
Originally posted: January 2, 2001 (updated 2/5/01)
source: OHHLA.com and RapReviews.com