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Best of 2007 - Anchors' picks (Cover Artwork)

Best of 2007

Best of 2007: Anchors' picksAnchors' picks (2007)
staff picks

Reviewer Rating: 5


Contributed by: InaGreendaseAnchors
(others by this writer | submit your own)

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Anchors / Jordan Rogowski is a reviewer here at Punknews.org -ed

Introduction

It's almost 2008, really? When did this happen? I feel like me and 2007 were just getting acquainted, but regardless of this year quickly approaching an end, it did give me plenty of great records, evenings watching hockey games, and more dumb drunk stories than I could ever even hope to tell my eventual grandchildren.

I unfortunately did not get to write as much for Punknews as I'd have liked, but I'm only a semester away from having to leave college and become a functioning member of society, and conbsequently, I've kept myself busy with a variety of things over the past year that have prevented me from spending time telling bands that they suck or giving them Fonzie's two thumbs up. Or maybe Carlton's wink-and-the-gun. I haven't decided yet.

All you fine readers here at Punknews will be happy to know I listened to way more hip-hop this year than anything else, and I didn't even realize it until I tried to start putting together this list. Much of what I really enjoyed was in hip-hop mixtape format, which technically disqualifies them from the main list, so I'll have a special section on that for anyone who's interested in hip-hop. For those who aren't, be it because you've never given it a chance or because you don't think there's any talent in the genre, you'll want to listen to some of the records that will appear in my list. That's not to say there was a talent drought in punk, hardcore, or indie; that couldn't be further from the truth. While many bands (ahem, Saves The Day) dropped disappointing and seemingly rushed efforts, others wowed with either a marked improvement or a spectacular debut. I won't say that it was as good a year overall as 2005 and 2006 were, but those who dug a little deeper than normal for great new music to listen to were handily rewarded.

Finally, I'd like to once again thank anyone who's read even one of my reviews; I'm going on my fourth year now writing for Punknews, and I can honestly say that was it not for the feedback some of you have given me over the years, I'd have stopped writing before I ever really even got started. So whether you love my reviews or cannot stand them, thanks for reading regardless, it makes more of a difference than you know.

Now, on with the show...

Top 20 Albums

#20. Minus The Bear - Planet Of Ice
Suicide Squeeze
Minus The Bear's most ambitious effort to date is a sprawling, gorgeous album that's as ambitious as it is calculated. The lush guitar tones can turn quickly into cascading riffs and pounding drums without any sort of notice, and the rich vocals mesh beautifully with the electronic aspects of the record. No two songs are alike.
Jimmy Eat World
#19. Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light
Tiny Evil
I feel like a whole lot of people jumped off the Jimmy Eat World bandwagon when Futures came out, but missing out on this album would be pretty unfortunate. It wanes a bit towards the end, but I'll be damned if "Big Casino" and "Let It Happen" isn‚??t the best 1-2 punch to start an album I've heard in a while.
#18. Hot Cross - Risk Revival
Equal Vision
I almost completely forgot about this album because of how early in the year it came out, but repeated listens in the last few days have affirmed the completion of Hot Cross' maturation as a band. Even in losing a member of the band, the chord progressions somehow became more intricate and the songs more interesting, and Billy's lyrics shine now more than ever.
#17. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
Sub Pop
Singer/songwriter Sam Beam decided to branch out a bit on his third full-length; incorporating piano, keyboard, strings and electric guitar, his gorgeous narratives take on a life that had yet to be seen. The result? An even more earnest and engaging effort than we'd heard from Beam in the past.
#16. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
Saddle Creek
Conor Oberst has really grown up. From a crackly-voiced teenager trying to belt "All Of The Truth" to the confidence exuded by "Middleman," it's hard to tell that it's the same person singing. Cassadaga is one of the strongest and most varied efforts to date for Bright Eyes, and one can only hope this serves as a prelude for great things to come.
Modern Life Is War
#15. Modern Life Is War - Midnight In America
Equal Vision
Rumors of MLIW's demise were greatly exaggerated. While the band may have toned down the speed a little bit, the unbridled aggression remained. You can feel the energy burgeoning in "Humble Streets," and the restraint shown by singer Jeff Eaton gives the songs all the more gravity.
#14. Do Make Say Think - You, You're A History In Rust
Constellation
It was always the subtleties that set this band apart. They don't have the grandiose crescendos of Explosions In The Sky or the electronic wizardry of Telfon Tel Aviv, but what they do have is a strong sense of flow. Every hit on the snare drum or hard-hitting chord is calculated just the same, and the result is as complete an album as you'll find anywhere this year.
#13. Loser Life - I Have Ghosts And I Have Ghosts
Magic Bullet
One of 2007's more surprising records, California's Loser Life deliver eight songs of frantic hardcore punk that feel fresh and invigorating. The band's hard-hitting style and penchant for teaming extremely quick riffs with vocals to match are a welcome addition to an era where it often feels like this kind of music has long been forgotten.
Maritime
#12. Maritime - Heresy And The Hotel Choir
Flameshovel
Following up as good of an album as this one's predecessor, We, The Vehicles was assuredly no easy task, but Maritime's latest twelve songs manage to deliver some more amazing melodies and subtle quirks without repeating what made the band successful in the first place.
#11. Stars Of The Lid - And Their Refinement Of The Decline
Kranky
Stars of the Lid are very good at taking minimal means and weaving them into delicate and engrossing epics; be it five minutes or twelve, every song is able to make a huge impact no matter the sound and no matter the direction. "Don't Bother They're Here" is haunting and gorgeous just the same, and in no time at all, you‚??ll be lost in the simplistic grandeur.
#10. Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
Sub Pop
Band of Horses again this year find themselves in the 10 spot, again because singer Ben Bridwell continues to have one of the most unique voices in indie rock. Cease To Begin sounds bigger, more fluid, and more confident than its predecessor all while maintaining the real honesty to their music which made them popular in the first place.
#9. Engineer - The Dregs
Metal Blade
Engineer might very well be one of the most under-appreciated bands playing heavy music right now. Picking up where their last record left off, this Syracuse foursome continue to dynamically pulverize anything in their way.
Chuck Ragan
#8. Chuck Ragan - Feast or Famine
Side One Dummy
After Hot Water Music's unfortunate split, 3/4ths of the band went on to put out a record as the Draft; Chuck Ragan was the remaining fourth, and this fine solo endeavor full of heart and grit proves that he can succeed without the rest of HWM. When he belts "I feel it in my bones when the storm is close," it's next to impossible to not feel it in your bones as well.
#7. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
Capitol
I'm not usually one for this kind of music, but the analog synth-driven sound of LCD Soundsystem just works, and it works on a variety of levels. The impossibly catchy rhythm of "All My Friends" contrasts beautifully with the morose "New York I Love You," and both songs work because singer James Murphy has kind of voice that reflects beauty and bass just the same.
Look Mexico
#6. Look Mexico - This Is Animal Music
Lujo
I first saw Look Mexico live 3¬Ĺyears ago, and from the moment they finished their first song, I knew they'd be something special. This Is Animal Music is that assumption coming to fruition. The delightfully crisp sounds of the clean guitar-fueled rhythms make every song special, but it's singer Matt Agrella who brings a real warmth to the album.
#5. Jay-Z - American Gangster
Roc-A-Fella
Last year I wrote that Jay-Z's Kingdom Come was pitiful. This year I'm writing that American Gangster is my fifth favorite album of the year. Quite a turnaround for Hova, but this album is chock full of the best songs Jay has written in years. "No Hook" displays more lyrical ambition than I thought he was capable of in 2007, and "Fallin" is the brilliantly told story of Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas through the eyes of Jay-Z himself. As the prophetic one himself said on the track, "there's a price for overdoin' it, doin' it this big will put you on the map." And on the map he is, the King of New York once again.
#4. Angel Eyes - ‚?¶And For A Roof A Sky Full Of Stars
Underground Communique
This band is the reason the word ‚??epic' exists. Angel Eyes make some of the most moving, enrapturing music that a band could possibly hope for; every scream and every calculated change in rhythm is perfect, absolutely perfect. The dynamics that this band is able to switch between on a moment's notice, all the while holding you in the palm of their hand, is simply incredible. Both of these two songs can go seven or eight minutes without any sort of vocal inclusion, and still manage to stay as interesting, if not moreso, than when their ferocious front manis bellowing as most of us can only imagine. At two songs and twenty-six minutes, this album still has more staying power than 98% of what came out this year.
Achilles
#3. Achilles - Hospice
Hex
If you had told me Achilles would release an album like Hospice after I listened to their debut EP, I'd have called you a moron. And I'd now be eating my words. Talk about a band growing up; Rory VanGrol and company have turned Rochester's favorite sons into one of the most progressive sounds in metallic hardcore. The air of intrigue at every twist and turn makes every listen to the album unique; there's seemingly always something new to hear, some great rhythmic undercurrent, some inflection in the vocals -- it all paints a masterful portrait.
#2. The National - Boxer
Beggars Banquet
This album is, in a word, gorgeous. Not in the way you'd conventionally think of beauty, though. There's no shimmering guitars, no pristine harmonies -- only the haunting but awe-inspiring baritone of singer Matt Berringer. The perpetually forlorn frontman for this extremely talented group is a continuous focal point. No matter the tempo or the music behind him, however somber the string arrangements or piano keystrokes or however up-beat the guitars can become, Berringer is constant. Constantly perfect.
#1. Joell Ortiz - The Brick: Bodega Chronicles
Koch
This is why I listen to hip-hop. For the hope, that maybe, one day, something this profound, intelligent, and amazing will affirm everything good that the genre has to offer. That affirmation, that affirmation is Joell Ortiz. Hailing from the hip-hop mecca of Brooklyn, Ortiz exemplifies what good storytelling can do for hip-hop. Every song is ripe with detail, and Ortiz's skill as a lyricist is apparent just a minute through the six-minute biography, "125 Part 1." Ortiz doesn't even need a hook, because his delivery bursts with confidence, and it's that confidence that allows his words to be the primary focus of each and every song. His perspective of learning from life experiences and using them to better himself is the reason for that confidence, and "Keep On Callin'" explains much of why that's the case. "Easter day everybody got fresh, me I just tried to look my best / Poked out my chest, never let ‚??em see me sweat / These are the things I used to wanna forget now I'm glad I remember." From now on, when I think hip-hop, I think Joell Ortiz.
Honorable Mentions

Explosions In The Sky - All Of A Sudden, I Miss Everyone; The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour; Crime In Stereo - Is Dead; A Wilhelm Scream - Career Suicide; The Shins - Wincing The Night Away; Radiohead - In Rainbows; Wilco - Sky Blue Sky; The Minor Times - Summer Of Wolves; Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works; Pulling Teeth - Martyr Immortal; Rocky Votolato - The Brag & The Cuss

Top EP of 2007

Balboa - Project Mercury
Level Plane
How in the hell has this band not put out a full-length yet? This is technically a split with Rosetta (their side is real good too), but I really couldn't remember what EPs came out this year so I'm making the executive decision that this counts. Anyhow, Balboa have all the fury and talent of a band like Converge, all the while adding a political point of view to complete an incredibly hard-hitting, socially mindful package.


Biggest Disappointments

#5. Saves The Day - Under The Boards
Vagrant
Saves The Day's sixth full-length seemed rush and disorganized, a mix of b-sides from In Reverie and Sound The Alarm. After the solid effort that was last year's Sound The Alarm, this is underwhelming and disappointing.
#4. Hopesfall - Magnetic North
Trustkill
Maybe against my better judgement, I was excited for this album. I thought that their previous album, though a departure from their roots, showed potential. This album unfortunately did not expand on that potential, and though it's not awful by any means, there's little to no redeeming value.
#3. Angels & Airwaves - I-Empire
Geffen
I think it's about time for everybody on Tom Delonge's god forsaken bandwagon to jump off for good. Through two full-lengths, the band has recorded one good song. And since "The Adventure" doesn't re-appear on this album, there's no reason to listen.
#2. Pelican - City Of Echoes
Hydrahead
This one hurts. The Fire In Our Throats... was one of 2005's best, but this effort can't even hold a candle to it. It's as if they simply forgot how to write interesting songs.
#1. Against Me - New Wave
Sire
As somebody who had nothing whatsoever invested in the "punk ethos" of Against Me, I can say without equivocation, that this record sucks. It sucks as a punk record, it sucks as a rock record, and it sucks to know that the band who recorded "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" forgot how to write interesting music. I don't care if this band plasters themselves all over the radio and TRL so long as the music, in whatever genre you call it, is good. That's unfortunately not the case.


Albums That If I Ever Have To Listen To Again, I Will Dress Up As a Pitbull and Go To Michael Vick‚??s House (Circa Before April 2007)

#3. The PoPo - The PoPo
Buddyhead
This album makes me want to collect a bunch of synthesizers and light them on fire.
#2. XDeathstarX - We Are The Threat
Facedown
This band has forty-seven vocalists.
#1. Sum 41 - Underclass Hero
Island
I knew things would be bad when I heard about Brownsound leaving, but I didn't know it'd be this bad. Sum 41 had become one of my favorite bands over the past couple records because of their ability to mix two things I really love: pop-punk and Iron Maiden. The latter's influence is nowhere to be seen on this record and what we're left with are songs that I'd be insulted to listen to at a high school talent show.


Pleasant Surprises

#3. Every Time I Die - The Big Dirty
Ferret
I thought this band was dead in the water after that absolute garbage they tried to propagate as an album with Gutter Phenomenon, but as with Norma Jean the year before them, they were able to tweak their style and return with intensity. A real return to form for the band.
#2. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Merge
To this day, I haven't listened to the Arcade Fire's debut, but I relented and gave this a shot. As the header for this group of records may have clued you into, I enjoyed it. The band does have a fairly unique sound, and each song is treated like it's the most important on the album.
#1. Anberlin - Cities
Tooth & Nail
This album is in this category for the sole reason that I didn't know it was coming out at all. One day I discovered they had released a new album, and it only took one song for me to deem it a pleasant surprise. Anberlin manage to fly pretty low under the radar, but tracks like "A Whisper And A Clamor" make them one of the best pop-rock bands around today.


Criminally Overrated

Kayne West - Graduation
Rock-A-Fella
I could write a list forty-five god damn miles long of MCs better than Kanye West, and I could write a list just as long of celebrities who are more humble. Hip-hop bravado is one thing, essentially anointing yourself the black Jesus is another entirely. Straight talk: Kanye can't rap to save his life. As a producer, he receives my commendation for a job well done, just so long as he stays the fuck away from any and all microphones.


Best Album to Listen to While Smoking A Cigar And Drinking A Gin & Tonic

Eluvium - Copia
Temporary Residence
Truly a grand instrumental journey; just sit back and pay attention to every subtle nuance that Matthew Cooper throws your way.


Most Listened To Of `07 That Didn't Come Out In `07

#3. Jeff Buckley - Grace
Sony
There will never be a day in my life were the soft-spoken Jeff Buckley does not have a place in my stereo.
#2. Blink-182. - Dude Ranch
Cargo
Every song's a classic, there's not even anything else to say.
#1. The Notorious B.I.G. - Life After Death
Bad Boy
Unquestionably my most listened to record of 2007. Songs like "Notorious Thugs" and "Niggas Bleed" get better with every single listen, and it's impossible for me to listen to any MC for longer than 20 minutes without thinking "you know, Biggie did this so much better." Truly a legend.
Best Hip-Hop Mixtapes Of ‚??07

#5. Rick Ross - Still Hustlin'
self-released
The Rossfather delivers 24 tracks full of Miami flavor and some top-notch production. "Died In Ya Arms" has a beat that you won't be able to get out of your head for days, and guest spots from Young Jeezy, Juelz Santana, and Fabolous really stand out.
#4. Styles P - The Phantom Menace
self-released
The standout member of D-Block, Styles has a very smooth delivery, and like a chameleon can morph his flow perfectly to any kind of beat.
#3. Lil' Wayne - Da Drought 3
self-released
I don't think anyone could have imagined that the scrappy MC repeating "drop it like it's hot" over and over again at the end of Juvenile's smash hit "Back That Ass Up" would transform himself into one of the premier MCs of the day. Well, it happened. Weezy's intricate wordplay comes across in effortless fashion; he just makes it look all too easy.
#2. Papoose - Already A Legend
self-released
Papoose, pap...oose? Papoose is truly a unique MC; you'll barely find any other rappers appearing on his material and you'll hear very few hooks. He depends almost solely on his lyrical ability, and he's got enough for ten rappers. Whether it's rapping over Kanye's "Wait Til' I Get My Money" or the Dr. Dre-produced "Guns Of Mine," Pap sounds like a man who knows he's at the top of his craft.
#1. The Diplomats - More Than Music Vol. 2
self-released
Dipset returns with one of their best efforts to date, More Than Music Vol. 2. With only a couple versus from Cam'ron and Juelz Santana, it's mostly up to Hell Rell, J.R. Writer, and 40. Cal to pick up the slack. If you're familiar with Dipset, you know what they rap about and this is certainly no departure, but it's the production that shines here. "It's Over Part II." has a flawless beat for Rell and the rest to rap over, and "Get That Money" and "Gladiators" are no different. Dipset at their finest.

2007 Mixtape

    Side A
  1. Angel Eyes - One.
  2. Modern Life Is War - Screaming At The Moon
  3. Pulling Teeth - Black Skies
  4. Attitude - This One's For The Dream
  5. Loser Life - No Eye Contact
  6. Bad Religion - Fields Of Mars
  7. Crime In Stereo - Nixon
  8. A Wilhelm Scream - Jaws 3, People 0
  9. The Minor Times - Firespitter
  10. Engineer - The Iron Worker
  11. Dillinger Escape Plan - Fix Your Face
  12. Harlots - Dried-Up Goliathon
    Side B
  1. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
  2. Spoon - Finer Feelings
  3. Attica! Attica! - Motion Sickness
  4. Chuck Ragan - The Boar
  5. Wilco - Impossible Germany
  6. Rocky Votolato - The Wrong Side Of Reno
  7. Maritime - Guns Of Navarone
  8. Modest Mouse - Middleman
  9. Minus The Bear - Ice Monster
  10. Explosions In The Sky - Welcome, Ghosts
  11. li>Maserati - Kalinitcha
  12. Stars Of The Lid - Tippy's Demise
  13. Rick Ross - Died In Ya Arms
  14. Jay-Z - No Fallin‚??
  15. The Diplomats - Get That Money
  16. Cassidy - Drink And My 2 Step
  17. Cam'ron - Swagga Talk


And With All Of That...

As I sit here trying to think of where 2007 really went, I realize that Tanqueray and Keystone Light are going to prevent that from happening. What I do remember, though, is a year where my musical tastes expanded beyond anything I had thought I'd be enjoying in 2006. I feel with every new record I hear, I'm looking for every possible aspect before seeking out the negatives. It's not until I do these lists every year that the amount of albums released in a year really sets in for me...it's pretty overwhelming. I can think of at least 50 albums right now that came out this year that I haven't even heard yet.

Regardless, I look forward to more of the same in `08. I look forward to my last semester in college knowing that I will enjoy every single night to the fullest, and I look forward to hearing more new music next year than I have in the previous 21. Thank you for taking the time to read my list, and maybe you'll check out a few things because of it you wouldn't have otherwise. If that's the case for even one person, I've done my job.

From me and everyone else at Punknews, thank you for reading, and may you enjoy the new year as much as I will.

Jordan

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
RaisedAtGunpoint (January 7, 2008)

"Secondly, I do dismiss rappers who don‚??t say anything intelligent. Why would I want to listen to music that promotes misogyny, violence, drugs, materialistic things, and ballin in the club? Do you understand that this type of stuff corrupts kids and adults?"

NotPatriotic - Ever heard of fun?

Archangel (January 6, 2008)

"I am a socially awkward kid. It is probably because I read and try to understand all of the problems with society instead of bumpin and grindin. Maybe I should change my priorities."

OH MY GOD, NEVER TOUCH A KEYBOARD AGAIN.

Anchors (January 6, 2008)

Hey man, that'd be awesome, I'm really excited for the new one. I don't have a Myspace, but you can email me at areweinmidtown@yahoo or IM me at 'My Rival School.' Whatever's easier for you.

Thanks again dude.

greg0rb (January 6, 2008)

Hey Anchors - nice list. I know you are a fellow mountain goats fan, and I was thinking I should stop hogging them and that you should take the new album's review which comes out in Feb. I can give you the email of the Beggar's Group gal who got me the advance Get Lonely and you can see if she can hook you up. Hit me on myspace if you're interested in her info, or we could do the email thing.
-Greg

damnitsderek (January 4, 2008)

Man, I've really enjoyed reading this argument between you two, because I see points on both sides and share tastes and ideas with both of you.

Seconded. This is without a doubt my favorite thread of '08 so far.

Anchors (January 4, 2008)

I have all the time in the world until January 13th. Because my break started so late (2 days before Christmas) my boss had to put extra people on staff, and wasn't able to get me on the schedule.

So if I'm not hanging out with my friends, I literally have nothing to do besides argue on the internet.

Icapped2pac (January 4, 2008)

Man, I've really enjoyed reading this argument between you two, because I see points on both sides and share tastes and ideas with both of you. And NotPatriotic, good fucking call on "Acid Raindrops" by PUTS, that song is probably in my top 10 favorite of all time. And Anchors, holy shit, I can tell you don't have classes to worry about right now with how much time and thought you obviously put into your responses.

I posted my list on the main "top 2007" page, but I figure here would be a good place to put it, too.
-------------------------------------------------
I finally bothered to do one of these. However, it made me realize that 2007 wasn't all that great of a musical year for me, at least. That said, these are what I think are the best:

EPs/7"s

4. Mustangs & Madras - La Lechuza
3. Bridge & Tunnel - s/t
2. Coalesce - Salt & Passage
1. Transit - Let It Out

Full Albums:

12. Decompoze - Decomposition
11. Sean Price - Jesus Price Superstar
10. Look Mexico - This Is Animal Music
9. Raheem Jamal - Boombox
8. Daggermouth - Turf Wars
7. Strung Out - Blackhawks Over Los Angeles
6. Minus The Bear - Planet of Ice
5. Panacea - The Scenic Route
4. Ambitions - Stranger
3. Marco Polo - Port Authority
2. Y Society - Travel At Your Own Pace
1. The Swellers - My Everest

Favorite Older Album I Discovered This Year:

The Kidcrash - New Ruins (2004)

damnitsderek (January 4, 2008)

No worries, I know you weren't saying Biggie wasn't intelligent. Just thought I'd give my two cents on his lyricisms.

When it comes to your guys' debate, the parenting issue seems really overblown. You really can't blame rap with violent or misogynistic lyrics for corrupted youth when it's the lack of parenting that led the kids who were influenced by the music in the first place. I mean, saying that reminds me of the parents that tried to lay blame on Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings. You've got to remember that we do live in a country that thrives on freedom of speech, and if people are influenced negatively by it because they can't understand that nearly all of these lyrics aren't fact-based, it's not the musician's fault by any means.

Once again, just my two cents. I like ya both, and respect both of your tastes.

SilentStorms (January 4, 2008)

Oh, and that new Pelican was in my top 5, I fucking loved that album. I think City of Echoes is the best song they've ever written (even better than Drought and Mammoth). Just sayin', I dug that album, big time. Score is for the new Pelican cd.

SilentStorms (January 4, 2008)

Wow. I used to read your reviews awaiting amazing new material I hadn't heard. Now I just read in astonishment that you like most of the music I hate. No hate coming from me, but damn our musical tastes seriously grew apart. Sorry to see you go my friend.

Anchors (January 4, 2008)

First, Mos Def, De La Soul, and Nappy Roots are all mainstream artists. They might not be as well-known as 50 Cent and the like, but they're mainstream none the less. The songs you mentioned from those three are all great, but the beats are nothing incredible. A great beat has to be something immediately recognizable and it usually illicits a big reaction from a group of people. Hypnotize or Still D.R.E. for example. I can remember like half the other songs you mentioned off the top of my head, and while they're definitely good for being underground, again, nothing special.

If you don't want to listen to rappers that talk about drugs, money, and the like, that's your call to make, but you're missing out on a world of great music. It doesn't have to be something you identify with to be something you enjoy.

I'm fully aware that good parenting is not to be assumed in all situations, but it's not the rappers' responsibility to tailor their lyrics for an audience that may or may not have positive parental figures. Those guys make music because they love to make music, or they make it because they're good at it and it's a means in which to make money. In neither scenario should they have to worry about some kid hearing about a gun in their songs and getting one themselves. And to say bad parenting or lack of parenting in general is more prevalent in urban environments is a gross over-generalization that has no roots in fact.

I stand by my statement about Dipset and Def Jux. You won't acknowledge the formers talent because you don't like what they talk about, but I'd take Hell Rell, Juelz Santana, and J.R. Writer in a rap battle or freestyle competition over any current Def Jux artist, no question. The MC's still on that label are all extremely boring. The beats are boring and their flows, for the most part, fall into that very same trend. Like I said, when RJD2, Cannibal Ox, and MURS left, so did the talent on that label. You disagree, that's fine, but I'm bored to tears with everyone currently on Def Jux. Anticon is even worse.

I also stand by my statement about 50 Cent not being comparable to Jay-Z. What's another six years going to prove? Jay has been around for close to 20 and just this year released one of his best albums. He's got plenty of years left in his career, 50 doesn't. His most recent album sold terribly compared to the album before that which sold terribly compared to Get Rich or Die Tryin. Contrary to what you're saying, money isn't the only thing that matters. It doesn't matter how well or how much he's advertised, people aren't buying his records anymore. G-Unit is done and 50 is close to it.

Finally, just because I spend time partying doesn't mean I don't read, and it doesn't mean I'm not politically and socially aware. It's more than possible to put in time doing both.

Basically, I think you're missing out on a whole lot of great hip-hop by being so close minded. If you're cool with that, I guess there's not really a whole lot else I can say.

NotPatriotic (January 4, 2008)

Right here is a list of songs with beats that I believe kill almost any mainstream song:
Invincible ‚?? CNN
Acid Raindrops ‚?? People under the Stairs
Mathematics ‚?? Mos Def
Respect ‚?? De La Soul
Supa Dynamite ‚?? AB‚??s
Simple Man ‚?? Grouch
Ambush ‚?? Maroons
Crowd Pleasa ‚?? El Da Sensai
Reinventing the Wheel ‚?? Typical Cats
Windows ‚?? CMA
Good Day ‚?? Nappy Roots

For your second statement I would respond by saying:
I‚??m not above anybody. I‚??m just saying I won‚??t listen to music that promotes misogyny, violence, drugs, and materialistic things.

‚??Rap does not corrupt kids, no matter what the lyrical content is. If the kids are raised well, they can differentiate between what rappers talk about and what's good for their lives. Good parenting easily prevents kids from hearing raps about guns and thinking they need to go out and get one. That's the same asinine argument that parents use about kids who play violent video games having more of a propensity to be violent themselves. It's a complete and total cop out and there's no studies or research that show any significant correlation between rap lyrics and violence and that sort of behavior among children‚?Ě
The problem with this argument is that you assume that good parenting is just a standard thing. It isn‚??t. I am assuming you had good parents or at least a good parent. Many kids in inner cities do not have good parenting. That is why rap is such a problem. These kids, during the summer, just hang out and are influenced by whomever they come into contact with. They live in the ghetto and don‚??t usually get out. It is a cycle that is extremely tough to escape. Video games are a separate issue because kids that spend their lives playing video games usually are financially stable, they just have a bad parent(s).

‚??I'd much rather hear something authentic like that than whatever garbage most of Def Jux artists talk about.‚?Ě
This is a far out statement. To call Dipset good and Def Jux artists bad is ridiculous. I bet even Jay-Z would agree with me on this one.

I believe 50 Cent is comparable to Jay-Z. We won‚??t know until 6 years down the road, but I would probably bet he is still releasing albums with success. He had one of the highest grossing releases this year. Critical acclaim doesn‚??t mean shit. Money does. Money talks.

I don‚??t hate rappers for talking about what they know (I do think they should talk about something intelligent, though), I hate the fuckers in suits who mass produce it. Hopefully major labels will die someday soon.

I am a socially awkward kid. It is probably because I read and try to understand all of the problems with society instead of bumpin and grindin. Maybe I should change my priorities. Maybe I shouldn‚??t. Who knows. I apologize for that final sentence in my previous post, it was stupid and I shouldn‚??t downgrade frat guys and sorority girls. They are people just like anyone else.

Anchors (January 3, 2008)

That quote you mentioned was from Atmosphere by the way. Dude is boring.

Anchors (January 3, 2008)

Your comment about production alone shows you have no business talking about hip-hop whatsoever. Not once did I mention anything financial; big money doesn't always mean great production. Lyrics and delivery are obviously important, but so is the beat. Even the best rappers are going to sound like garbage if what they're rapping over isn't engaging. The beat is what initially grabs you, the lyrics are what keeps you listening. That said, your analogy about how much those albums cost to record and how many copies they sold is completely and totally irrelevant.

Your second statement is just more of the holier-than-thou bullshit I mentioned earlier. Are you above somebody just because they talk about guns, drugs, and girls? You sure as fuck aren't. In the situations that a lot of these MC's come from, that's all they were brought up on. It's what they lived and it's what they know. I'd much rather hear something authentic like that than whatever garbage most of Def Jux artists talk about. By the way, that label has sucked since MURS, RJD2, and Cannibal Ox left.

Rap does not corrupt kids, no matter what the lyrical content is. If the kids are raised well, they can differentiate between what rappers talk about and what's good for their lives. Good parenting easily prevents kids from hearing raps about guns and thinking they need to go out and get one. That's the same asinine argument that parents use about kids who play violent video games having more of a propensity to be violent themselves. It's a complete and total cop out and there's no studies or research that show any significant correlation between rap lyrics and violence and that sort of behavior among children.

50 Cent is not comparable with Jay-Z at all. First of all, Jay-Z has been around since the late 80's. He got his start rapping on a couple tracks from some Brooklyn rapper that I forgot the name of, he just didn't release his debut album until 1996, which, by my count was 12 years ago anyhow. He's released critically acclaimed album after critically acclaimed album, where as 50 Cent has been lambasted over how shitty his last two records were, and his core demographic is younger high school kids. He'll release one more album, if that.

Another point about Jay-Z, is when no labels would sign him in the mid 90's, he created his own independant label, so that he could release his own records and help sign MC's that he saw potential in. That's a hell of a lot more punk than anything any of the bands you mentioned have ever done.

And you're completely right, I love to party with sorority girls and have Dipset on while I'm doing it. There's something wrong with this? You want me to apologize for having fun? If so, I do apologize, I apologize that we can't all be socially awkward kids sitting in our rooms, listening to Mr. Lif and wondering how that 'talentless Jay-Z dude is still making records.'

Hopefully, one day, you'll wake up and see how completely immature and foolish it is to hate on mainstream rap on no other basis than it being mainstream rap, and how foolish it is to hate rappers for talking about what they know.

Dipset all day every day.

NotPatriotic (January 3, 2008)

As a rapper I can't recall once said:
"i'm happy i'm not famous, imagine waking up to the fact that you're simply entertainment"

NotPatriotic (January 3, 2008)

I guess we just have two different opinions on music Anchors. First off I don‚??t give a fuck about production. A band who recorded their album in their basement can be just as good as a band that spent $1000‚??s to record. It is all about passion. Money should never be a factor in music (yes I know it is, that is why 50-Cent, Kanye West, and Jay-Z are popular). My favorite punk albums of the past year were albums by Red Dons, Chinese Telephones, Signal Lost, and Witches with Dicks. All of those albums probably sold less than 1000 copies. Does that matter? I don‚??t think it does, some people would disagree.

Secondly, I do dismiss rappers who don‚??t say anything intelligent. Why would I want to listen to music that promotes misogyny, violence, drugs, materialistic things, and ballin in the club? Do you understand that this type of stuff corrupts kids and adults? If all kids hear about is this stuff that is all they will think about. It is the same with religion, if all kids hear about is god that is all they will think about.

‚??You don't sustain a rap career for as long as Jay-Z has and put out as many albums as Jay-Z has without real ability.‚?Ě
This statement is a joke. Have you ever heard of 50-Cent? 50 Cent has been around for 5 years. Jay-Z has been around for 11 years. I would bet money 50 cent will still be around in 6 years. Sustaining a rap career has absolutely nothing to do with talent. It is all about money. If you have money to advertise you will still be around. It is a pretty simple concept. Old executives decide what is popular.

I don‚??t even know why I am explaining this type of stuff. You are probably just some frat guy who likes to bump and grind to some Dipset with the sorority babes. Way to go.

Anchors (January 3, 2008)

Good way to put it with Biggie. I wasn't trying to say he wasn't intelligent, he definitely was, and a lot of his more personal songs were some of his best (Sky's The Limit,) he just wasn't a guy tackling social issues and the like.

As far as my mixtape, it wasn't a conscious decision to not put a Joell Ortiz song on there, I just kind of forgot. I would have included "Keep On Callin'."

damnitsderek (January 3, 2008)

Also, Anchors, out of pure curiosity, why didn't you put a Joell Ortiz track on your mixtape? Being your #1 record, I figured you'd have a track from him on there.

damnitsderek (January 3, 2008)

I just wanted to say that I wouldn't necessarily dismiss Biggie with having nothing to say. Granted, a lot of his music wasn't akin to the style of Kweli and co., but some of his lyrics were intensely personal, and I've always appreciated rappers who can do that. Atmosphere is another rapper who can really paint a picture of moments of his life for you via his music.

I guess what I'm trying to say is Biggie still had much more to say than many of the rappers who replaced him in the mainstream hip hop world (I.E., 50 Cent).

Gotta love hip hop.

Anchors (January 3, 2008)

Did you not read the part of one of my earlier posts where I said that not all hip-hop needs to be intelligent or socially conscious? Are you thick in the head? It's great that artists that have something to say exist, I love when a rapper has something real and something though-provoking to say, but unlike you, I don't automatically dismiss rappers that have a much more token lyrical viewpoint.

Talent and a social conscience are not inherently related. Take J.R. Writer from Dipset, he's one of the most talented MC's around today. Does he have anything to say? Absolutely not. But in no way whatsoever does that diminish his level of ability. His flow is one of the best around, and he can change speeds and rhymes styles faster than just about anyone. He doesn't have to rap about the plight of starving Africans or global warming to display that talent. That's true of Dipset as a whole just as it's true of Papoose, Lil' Wayne and Styles P. Did Biggie ever have anything to say? No, but to deny him being the best rapper of all time would be pure idiocy.

Your assessment of American Gangster is laughable at best. First and foremost, the production on that album is some of the best I've heard in a while. I understand that because all you listen to is backpack rap, you probably don't take that into account, but it's still a fundamental element of hip-hop. And you've got a lot of balls saying Jay-Z has no originality talking up shit like Lifesavas. But in regards to the topic at hand, American Gangster isn't the most original album in the world, and it doesn't need to be. Jay-Z still has an effortless style, and sounds equally comfortable on more low-key songs like American Dreamin' and upbeat tracks like Fallin'. You don't sustain a rap career for as long as Jay-Z has and put out as many albums as Jay-Z has without real ability. Maybe one day when you take your 'its mainstream its bad,' and 'if it talks about guns and girls its bad' blinders off, you'll realize this.

Brother Ali and Blue Scholars are both undeniably talented, but if you think either is anywhere near where Jay-Z is you're delusional at best.

In summation, take your holier-than-thou attitude about hip-hop elsewhere, because you don't know even close to as much as you're acting like.

Icapped2pac (January 3, 2008)

Everyone should be advised that one of the groups NotPatriotic mentioned, The AB's, put out their album under the name Asamov, which they had to change due to legal trouble brought on by the late Isaac Asimov's family. I think they may have changed their name again, too, but I'm not sure. But either way, that album was fantastic.

damnitsderek (January 2, 2008)

I don't have a ton of material by Grayskul, but "Scarecrow" is one of the catchiest fucking songs I've ever heard.

I'll check out a couple of the ones you mentioned, seeing as I haven't heard of all of them. I do enjoy Zion I, though.

I'm thinking this site needs a spinoff...hiphopnews.org?

eh? EH?

NotPatriotic (January 2, 2008)

Oh I agree with most of those artists Damnitsderek (except maybe Grayskul). The Aceyalone track on the Z-Trip album is the jam, it is called Everything Changes . Some others to add:
The Perceptionists
CMA
Zion I
The AB's (Gone Head, Boom Box, and Supa Dynamite all kill)
Solillaquists of Sound

So much good hip hop.

NotPatriotic (January 2, 2008)

KRS-One is a legend, but the fact that he is hyping a guy that just signed to his label is not out of the ordinary. I may have been a bit harsh with my Joell Ortiz statement though. I have only heard 10 or so songs by him and they were average, but one song was horrible, some duffel bag song with LIl Wayne. Secondly Lifesavas are a great group, Gutterfly was a little bit of a let down and not as good as Spirit in Stone (which holds 2 of the greatest hip hop songs ever, hellohihey and Livin Time Livin Life) but still better than most hip hop albums this year, especially the Jay-Z album. American Gangster is HORRIBLE. I just listened to it again to reaffirm my original statement.
American Dreamin - OK song, not great, but the best song on the album.
Party Life - Terrible. Just look at these great lyrics, "I'm on her bra strap, she's on my dick aint nothing wrong with that, thats my bitch i be the boss of that, im on her shit so all yall niggas fall back, i split your wig she's my little quarterback, ya digg." Overall theme of the song:Shit-bitch-fuck-dick. Gotta love songs like that!!
Ignorant Shit - The title says it all. The song is garbage.
The songs Blue Magic, No Hook, I know, Roc Boys, Say Hello, and American Gangster have very little originality or intelligent lyrics. Hello Brooklyn may be one of the most annoying songs of the year. Overall terrible album. I really don't understand how anyone can say it is one of the top 5 albums if the year. Do you really like this album? If you truly think American Gangster is better than Bayani or Undisputed Truth you are an idiot. It is like comparing The Casualties to Dillinger Four. There is great socially conscious hip-hop being made and you are listening to shit like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Diplomats. I don't think I have once met an intelligent person who likes Diplomats, let alone liking them more than great artists like Blue Scholars and Brother Ali.

damnitsderek (January 2, 2008)

On the topic of good hip hop, a few artists worth listening to:

7L & Esoteric
Cunninlynguists
The Beatnuts
Grayskul
Outerspace
The Procussions
Aceyalone

As of late, I've come to the conclusion that there really are not many things better in this world than genuinely good hip hop.

Anchors (January 2, 2008)

Oh and, if you don't trust my opinion on Joell Ortiz, maybe you'll trust that of KRS-One, you may have heard of him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HPnw_9ENkg

When he says that about Lifesavas or anybody else you mentioned, I'll send you a crisp hundred in the mail.

Anchors (January 2, 2008)

Ah, I love your type. The holier-than-thou backpack rap fan.

Kids like you that propagate the 'if it's mainstream it's bad' bullshit ideas in regards to hip-hop are the absolute worst.

New Brother Ali was alright but underwhelming, nowhere near as good as Shadows On The Sun, new Nappy Roots is decent at best, but it's still a lot better than Wooden Leather led me to believe a follow-up would be, and Lifesavas suck. I can see where you got the attitude you have though, listening to them, because they have the same asinine 'if it's mainstream it's bad' viewpoint that you do. They're not even close to the best group on their label, because that title belongs to Blackalicious.

One Be Lo should have stuck with Binary Star.

The fact that you would make a blanket statement about Jay-Z being terrible shows how little about hip-hop you really know. Anyone who can tell their ass from a hole in the ground recognizes Reasonable Doubt as a modern-day classic, and the only shitty record he's ever released was Kingdom Come.

Joell Ortiz is the future of hip-hop, and your inability to recognize his immense level of talent is laughable. Furthermore, you don't get Styles P and Big Daddy Kane to guest on your debut unless you have some real skill.

Keep living in your Anticon and Def Jux bubble kid, leave the hip-hop discussion those who know about it.

Here's the first Joell Ortiz single, for those interested:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GAUC1ex3L4

NotPatriotic (January 2, 2008)

I find it interesting how you try to make yourself out to be some sort of expert on hip-hop when it seems that all you listen to is shitty rap. Did you even listen to the new Blue Scholars, Lifesavas, Brother Ali, One Be Lo, or Nappy Roots albums? Jay-z is terrible. The guy made a career out of talking about how cool he. Joell Ortiz is pretty shitty as well, about average with all the other shitty rappers making music these days. Always remember kids, Hip-Hop is a great genre of music you just have to dig.

Anchors (January 2, 2008)

See, I used to write of Lil' Wayne, Dipset, Fabolous and the like because of exactly what you mentioned. They don't have anything to really say. The more I listened, though, the more I realized that it doesn't matter.

There's always going to be guys like Talib, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Common, ect that have a real gravity to their words and a positive message, but that doesn't mean that guys like Wayne and the guys in Dipset don't have their place. It doesn't mean they're any less talented. They're just coming from a different frame of mind. I'll give you a few examples.

Cam'ron - Losing Weight Part II:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG9vD2ACSmY

J.R. Writer - Prove It:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA-lIfxuJLA

Plus, dudes have pretty much the best beats around. Wayne's another rapper with nothing to say, but it's his delivery and wordplay that's really impressive. Dude can rap to anything.

There's not really a whole lot on Youtube to prove my point, but check some of the stuff out and you very well may end up digging it.

Icapped2pac (January 2, 2008)

Wow. Nice bold call on the Joell Ortiz. As I said about Sean Price on the page for Jesse's list, I think his honesty and vulnerability are his biggest assets. The only problem I had with that album, though, was the lack of any real true standout bangers. I gotta give him major props though for making a single with Akon on the hook that I could actually listen to and maybe even enjoy. That's saying something.

I've been too holier-than-thou against mainstream music to check out American Gangster, but I may have to do so now, given that I generally trust your tastes. I'm gonna stay as far away from Lil Wayne and Dipset as I can though, those are definite known quantities. I regard them about as highly as Dem Franchise Boyz. If I want to hear about guns and money, I'll go listen to an old M.O.P. album (or I guess Mr. Price has some of that as well) instead.

Also, for what it's worth, biggest disappointment in hip-hop this year: Little Brother's "Get Back".

trouble_breathin (January 2, 2008)

Neon Bible is shite compared to Funeral. Give Funeral a shot. Forget the hype for forty five minutes and enjoy...

xote (January 1, 2008)

This is the best list i've read. But where the fuck is Pygmy Lush come on!!!!

damnitsderek (January 1, 2008)

Oh my god, I completely forgot about Milwaukee's Best.

Icehouse still holds the designation of worst beer only because I had a friend who insisted on buying about 3 eighteen packs of Icehouse per week and that's ALL we could drink.

The only thing those beers are good for is motivation to not lose in quarters or beer pong.

Anchors (January 1, 2008)

Me and my friends get Busch Light a good amount of the time too. It's the exact same price as Keystone here, so it's usually a matter of what's colder and what there's more of.

The absolute bottom of the barrel though, worse even than Icehouse and Natty, is Old Milwaukee, Milwaukee's Best, and all of those. Good God is that shit terrible. It's not even beer.

damnitsderek (December 31, 2007)

Hey I'm in college too, but when I want to just get trashed, Busch is the way to go. It's like $11.99 for a 30 rack. That's a deal that's way too good to pass up. Keystone Light is just bottom of the barrel for me, except for Icehouse and Natural Light.

brentmills (December 31, 2007)

i thought balboa did have a full length? they call it one, anyways. 8 songs could be argued either way.

info here: http://www.forgeagainrecords.com/FAR015.shtml

i got a copy of that from dave when i was in philly. so good.

Adam_K (December 31, 2007)

Da Drought 3 sucked.

Anchors (December 31, 2007)

I'm in college man, it's pretty much standard. Bud Light and Miller Light are like an extra $5 per 30, and it's not at all worth it.

I like good beer, too, but that's not the kind of thing you drink to get drunk you know?

damnitsderek (December 31, 2007)

Keystone Light? Really?

Blech.

Archangel (December 31, 2007)

Once again, I wind up agreeing with Anchors more than anyone else. THANK YOU for including Risk Revival.

lorraine (December 31, 2007)

yay someone put JEW on their list. I love that record. Pretty poppy goodness.

Anchors (December 31, 2007)

I knew I'd be completely alone on this JEW record, but it's got some really fantastic songs. There's a couple forgettable ones, too, but 'Let It Happen' alone is reason enough to check out the album.

sitars (December 31, 2007)

Surprised on Joell Ortiz being your album of the year, but a nice surprise nonetheless.

Good list - your mixtape looks like it would own. alas, when I find the time, it's getting downloaded.

myspace.com/flashinglightsflashdrives

SloaneDaley (December 31, 2007)

props on the Do Make Say Think but I can't say I agree with your Jimmy Eat World inclusion. I've tried I really have.

Neill_Cawley (December 31, 2007)

Greg had some great comments on New Wave, but that doesn't mean they are how I feel about the record.

So thank you for keeping it real. If you like it (like Greg) then that's cool, but to give it the amount of praise I've seen is insane.

theonetruebill (December 31, 2007)

Modern Life is War - "While the band may have toned down the speed a little bit,"

LOL.

Anchors (December 31, 2007)

What the fuck are you talking about? It's not even the #1 hip-hop album on my own list.

danperrone (December 31, 2007)

there's not a snowball's chance in hell that american gangster is the best hiphop album released ALL YEAR.

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