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Top 10 Album Tracks Pt. 3

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‘Right Or Wrong?’ by Median off Median’s Relief: Median’s sort of what people think Lupe Fiasco is or maybe, what Lupe should be…the “nimble flow”, decidedly Native Tongues in-spirit (fuck what Lupe says, he is)…even the embrace of never-were-a-good-idea concept songs and corny-as-fuck lines are found in much better (and worse) form on ‘Median’s Relief’.

This beat’s got a lot going for it. Really elegant piano and what sounds like vibraphone taps underneath it all, fit his pleasant flow. The serious but not too-serious feeling makes lines like “So you run it like a rebel/Chris Brown, pedal to the medal” and “if you get caught/Then you get to lose your rights and stuff” just sort of funny and not totally embarrassing. Is Common to blame for this bizarre conscious rapper conflation of message-music and punchlines that are so bad they negate the message entirely? To Median’s defense, he’s genuinely kinda poetic at times, like when he describes the voice he uses to say “Hello” to a chick as “an after-school ‘hello” and shifts his voice into a Guidance Counselor-esque soft voice for that “hello”, that’s good stuff.

‘Jus’ Ridin’ by 8ball & Devius off The Vet & the Rookie: This song is truly glorious. Seriously. Like I won’t even try again to explain how great it is, here’s what I said before:

“Jus’ Ridin’ is probably one of the greatest songs ever made, the sort of song that makes sense the first time you hear it. These super-clean kinda hard-ass guitars that play under the chorus, complemented by some typical Southern rap drums and an even cleaner sounding acoustic sound, with 8 Ball and Devius trading a few verses back and forth, it’s really simple and straightforward and great. The drums slightly change during each verse or an instrument is dropped-out, especially during Devius’ last verse, when its just drums and a slightly different acoustic part, it all makes the return of that riff even more exciting.

Plenty of straight rapping on this too. 8 Ball’s voice just gets deeper as he grows older and fatter, sounding like Baron Harkonnen should sound like or something: this angry, smart, decadent fat guy dropping classic lines. Devius is a good counterpoint as he raps with a youthful but still self-aware voice but he has more enthusiasm (“You know today look good”) and sounds like he’s having fun. I like Devius’ line about laughing at the chick he and his friends “ran a train on”. Also, Devius refers to himself as “Ted Deviase” or something like that, in reference to Ted “Million Dollar Man” Dibiase.”

‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ by Radiohead off In Rainbows:This is probably the kind of song these guys do in their sleep, but its better than third-rate electronics and it actually seems to be about something. Thommy boy dropped the “unborn chicken voices” junk and just talks about getting a number from a girl or some sort of like, Virginia Woolf – or just ‘You’re Beautiful’ by James Blunt- shared but minor moment between two people. The tenuous acoustic and the way it slowly builds layers upon layer of voice and bouncing bass and everything else, it’s predictable but that hardly matters because ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ (an awful title by the way) grabs the perfect mix of enthusiasm and melancholy appropriate for a song about complicated human interaction. I was joking about the James Blunt connection but it kind of works, it’s the anti-’You’re Beautiful’!

‘Suicide Note’ by Scarface off Made: I’m a big fan of Scarface but I really don’t think he has any classic albums and ‘Made’ is no different, a bunch of really fucking great songs and some mediocre ones and a misstep or two. Is ‘The Fix’ ‘Face’s best? I think it might be. Anyways- for obvious reasons, this song is doubly affecting, but I’ve always been partial to these kind of emotionally-honest rap songs.

I’m sure plenty of rap songs do this and I can’t think of any at the moment, but the way Scarface’s voice comes in before the beat is sorta surprising and gives you like, no time to breathe or prepare for his story. The beat itself is on some Brothers Johnson ‘Land of Ladies’ shit, sort of dreamy and distant but then complicated by that really kinda scary backwardsy chorus…it fits the crazy emotions, the “this doesn’t really feel real at all” feeling one gets when someone they knew and loved has killed themselves.

Scarface maintains an interesting distance in the song in that he never overtly emotes, he just straight spits and assumes we know it’s fucking him up inside. The details are so well-wrought and just well, real, that it is clear without him going Ghostface-whine or Pimp C wistful (not that there’s anything wrong with those guys doing that or anything…). Going out of his way to say he was on his way to get with “some Asian bitch”, discussing in weird hindsight, the way he, for some reason went back to his friend’s house, the level-headed without being above-it-all details like “his wife read the bible” and then, ‘Face’s matter of fact ability to totally confront the real fact that the friend is gone forever and there’s nothing nobody can do about it…fuck!

I refused to “rank” these tracks because most of them have very little in-common, so I just went through them in the order that they album they correspond to was released, but looking back at the playlist, a little re-ordering makes a pretty satisfying 45 minutes of music. So, below is my suggested listening order for these songs…and, here’s a zipfile of all the tracks.

1. Jesu – ‘Weightless & Horizontal’
2. Crime Mob featuring Pimp C & Lil’ Scrappy – ‘Go To War’
3. Justice – ‘Stress’
4. UGK featuring Cory Mo – ‘Top Drop Dyne Remix’
5. Kanye West featuring Trick Daddy – ‘Can’t Say No’
6. Median – ‘Right Or Wrong?’
7. 8ball & Devius – ‘Jus’ Ridin’
8. Radiohead – ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’
9. Scarface – ‘The Suicide Note’
10. Boris – ‘My Rain’

Written by Brandon

December 28th, 2007 at 11:29 pm

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