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Ripping off Armond White’s end-of-the-year “better than” lists for movies. I twittered my better than album list if you want to check that out…

-Bishop Lamont’s “Grow Up” > B.O.B’s “Generation Lost”

Both are curmudgeonly complaint raps from guys barely established—and co-signed to the point that they’ll never live up to the hype—but Bishop Lamont takes it personal and exposes his frustration in dozens-esque humor and sharp insight, which goes a long way. B.O.B, apes Andre 3k’s above-it-all whimsy, but doesn’t have the decade-plus experience or knowledge to sell it and sounds like a dick.

-Bangladesh’s “A Milli”" > Flying Lotus’ “Robotussin”

Lotus’ remix of “A Milli” is fun and fascinating as a rewrite (he skips over Wayne’s use of the word “faggot”) but it’s still nowhere close to as out-there and uh, “next-level” as the original.

-Lil Wayne’s “Mrs. Officer” > Plies “Bust It Baby”

The dumbest, goofiest rap and bullshit is usually the best. Either a rapper uses the R & B hook for contrast or he just gives-in and goes all the way with it, which Wayne does on “Mrs. Officer”. This is goofy storytelling rap that seems to exist only to Wayne could use the play-on-words kinda joke about “fuck the police”. Wayne’s grinning through this song, Plies meanwhile, is irony-free when he talks about his girlfriend’s nickname (“wet-wet”) and how she “messes up the bed sets”. This is a testament to Wayne’s star status: Even on the crap he more than holds his own.

-Outkast’s “Royal Flush” > Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me (Throw The Water on Em)”

Both songs are great and both get the raised-on 90s rap hairs of our arms at full attention, but “Don’t Touch Me”s an invigorating but still depressing attempt to grab at something that’s forever gone. “Royal Flush” is old-man rap that isn’t “mature” but mature, updating and complicating the politics and empathy of old Outkast, but keeping the flow and fun of their early work just as well. Busta sells “Don’t Touch Me”, but you come out of it feeling a little weird because it’s exciting the way say, some aging dudes shirtless and screaming at a football game are exciting: “Wow they’re really going for it and I can respect that but damn…”

-Any Number of Jay Electronica Songs From This Year > Nas’ “Queens Get the Money”

Jay Electronica clearly owes a lot to Nas but here, the influencer becomes the influenced as Nas does his spit spittin-that-real-shit attempt over a Jay-produced piano loop and all you think is, “I wish Jay Electronica just rapped over this”. It’s a sign of internet hype and anti-hype but more importantly, Jay Electronica’s talent that, without a proper album but a mess of incredible songs, the best Nas song in a while doesn’t even need Nasir.

-Jeezy’s “Put On” > Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown”

Kanye’s affecting whine on “Put On” works twice as well because of the contrast. The beat nearly stops, it at least slows down, and Kanye comes for a cry-out and changes the entire mood of the song. “Love Lockdown” slows down and ebbs forward when it’s supposed to and Kanye’s evasive lyrics—but not evasive enough that you don’t know he’s really sad—seem like your sulking friend that won’t just come out and tell you what’s wrong.

-E Major “The Next Episode” > Termanology’s “This Is How We Rock”

Primo’s beat is wasted on Termanology who, despite complaints about hip-hop’s downfall, brings nothing new to the genre himself. Like so many up and comers bitter before they’re allowed to be, Termanology’s whole life comes from rap records. DJ Excel channels Primo for “Next Episode”s beat and E Major turns a song about his love of hip-hop into palpable experience. In the first verse, an LL classic is E’s hip-hop origin (“LL’s “Rock the Bells” was so cold to me”) but two verses later, after some terse but affecting autobiography, “I Need Love” gets a mention because he relates to the emotions and the stone-cold rhymes.

-Rick Ross’ “Here I Am” > TI’s “No Matter What”

Just as the obviously-bullshit Rick Ross became a little more bullshit when pictures of him as a CO popped-up on the internets, “Here I Am” dropped. A sincere, honest song with nary a reference to dealing, namely a celebration of being nice to your girl, it’s the direction Raawwwss should move toward and was accidental damage control. Fraught with relationship realities both touching (“she used to fight with her moms/I sat her down, now she’s tight with her moms”, paying for her college tuition) and bittersweet (“cheated on her but we’re still gonna be together”), it’s realer real-talk than kilo sales and the perfect after a big, dumb rap image fully exposed. TI on the other hand, contrived “No Matter What” as a defiant response to his gun-buying idiocy and comes off cloying and R. Kelly obnoxious.

-Badu’s “Honey” > Everything Else on New Amerykah Pt. 1

The mannered murk of Badu’s album was a total boner-kill after “Honey”, which worked because of contrast–Badu’s singing and almost wailing, 9th Wonder’s beat kept it close to the ground. Approximations of cosmic slop with approximations of throwback all-over-the place singing makes too much sense. “Honey” looked forward and backward and wasn’t too good for the pop single, the rest of this album mistakes homage and muddled politics for a statement.

-Bun B and friends’ “You’re Everything” > TI and company’s “Swagga Like Us”

Running only on the steam of their own egos and fucked-up, wonderfully gross Kanye West beat, posse-cut “Swagga Like Us” sounds good and little more. “You’re Everything”s deceptively simple, with a beat that changes-up every verse to perfectly wrap around each rappers’ voice, and a happy-sad theme that celebrates the South and mourns Pimp C, it’s an understated “posse cut”.

Written by Brandon

December 23rd, 2008 at 5:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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