Sunday, 12 August 2007

The Producer / DJ album...

So far in 2007, I have been pretty impressed with the quality of the albums being released from hip hop's finest. Both the underground and mainstream have provided me with valuable listening, and considering that we're just over half-way through the year, 2007 definately gets my seal of approval. I have heard people say that they have been disappointed so far, but then these are the same people that listen to 'Illmatic', all day every day, and still think that shell suits are gonna come back into fashion.

One of the significant things that 2007 has provided is the return of the producer / DJ album into the mainstream. We saw releases by Marco Polo, whose 'Nostalgia' tune with Masta Ace, received radio play here in the UK (very unusual) and also the return of the magnificant DJ Jazzy Jeff, to name but two. Although there have been some of these albums released in the past, this year's two noted contributions represented the breakthrough into the mainstream, and showed that producers / DJ's can hold their own when providing beats for more than just one artist. Versatility here is essential. Also, the MC's on the albums must be able to keep up with the beats in question, because we all know beats without rhymes = useless.
As a tribute, I have highlighted some of my favourite producer / DJ albums released. I haven't put them in any order in particular (cos I'm really shit at doing things like that), and so read this list as it is. I've try to mix it up with regards to the underground and mainstream representation, and have also tried to keep it strictly official, omitting any mixtapes / bootlegs. So, in the famous words of Slick Rick (the UK's finest!), herrrre we go...
Marley Marl - In Control, Vol. 1
I thought that this would be the best one to start of with because it was the first ever producer album I ever heard. Marley Marl gathers his Juice Crew homies to construct my favourite producer album. Just reading at the guest appearances on this album describes an entire period of hip hop; Masta Ace, BDK, The Biz, Tradegy, Craig G, Kool G Rap, MC Shan, Roxanne Shante...This was NY's finest here (bar that little known rapper who called himself KRS-Two, or whatever), and they bring their share to the table. The highlight of the album must be 'The Symphony', the definition of a classic. At the top of the song, you here the announcement...
I don't care who's first or who's last, but I know that y'all just better rock this at the drop of a dime baby
And they sure do deliver.
Mekalek - Live & Learn
A relative newcomer, Mekalek is quickly becoming one of my favourite DJ's. A member of Time Machine (whose 'Slow Your Roll' album has been posted somewhere on this blog), Live & Learn is his first solo effort. His scratch skills are top notch, and his ability to find a sample is second to none. However, it is his drum programming that sets him apart from every other DJ. They dominate most of the tracks on this album, but not to point where they are overused. Which features from everybody's favourite rapper who hasn't released an album, Percee P, his Time Machine fam and a plethora of underground talent, this album is definately worth picking up.
Pete Rock - Soul Survivor
I defy anybody to say that they don't like Pete Rock beats. Go on, I dare you. He's in everybody's top 5 producers, and for good reason. Pete Rock = consistancy. The beats on 'Soul Survivor' are amazing, with every MC tearing it apart. Rock specialises in my favourite genre of hip hop beats, which is the jazzy shit. The album sounds as if it has an almost hazy effect, with notable Pete-Rock style horn samples. Stand-out track has gotta be 'Verbal Murder 2' featuring Big Pun, Noreage and Common.
Dilla - The Shining
I hate it when people say that Dilla is overrated cos he passed away recently. Fuck that. Dilla was great when he was alive, and his music will stand to be his legacy to all those who don't believe. 'The Shining' has some already classis beats for an album that was released last year. What more can I say? The man himself showcases his rhyming skills on the track, 'Won't Do', which ain't half bad. Featuring artists old and new, Dilla left with a bang.
DJ Hi-Tek - Hi-Teknology
The man behind the boards for the 'Reflection Eternal' album released his solo joint in 2001. I think that Hi-Tek is so underrated, and this album has some great beats. The beats are so laid back, and the choice of MC's / singers is perfect. Talib features, of course, along with Mos Def, Slum Village, Buckshot and more. It was hard to choose between this and the newer Hi-Teknology 2, but this wins for me because the beats are more chill out, and I prefer the features on this against the more 'hip hop' representation on 2.
Handsome Boy Modelling School - White People
Prince Paul and Dan The Automator are Handsome Boy Modelling School. Apart from being one of the funniest albums I have ever heard (it's worth buying the album just for the skits), the album see's the pairing of two legends. Paul and Dan put together one of the best concept albums out, and the finished product is hip hop at it's finest. This is the second album they've collaborated on (see also 'So...How's Your Girl'), and my favourite, even though almost everybody else disagrees. Check out the track, Rock 'N Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Pt.II ft. Lord Finesse, Mike Shinoda, Chester Bennington, Rahzel, DJ Qbert, Grand Wizard Theodore, Jazzy Jay to see why.
That all for now folks. Honourable mentions must go out to...
Main Flow - 'Hip Hopulation
9th Wonder - 'Dream Merchant Vol. 1'
Dabrye - 'Two / Three'
Mr. J. Madeiro - 'Of Gods And Girls'
J.Rawl - 'The Essence Of Soul' (which is a must-listen to, and didn't feature on this list because I classify it more as soul (D'uh) than hip hop)
Domingo - 'The Most Underrated'
Nicolay - 'Here'
Thanks for bearing with me through this time of scarce posting, and I hope you enjoyed reading my faves.
Peace out.


Kazeiro said...

Another post of pure dopeness. I need to check out that Mekalek album, and I def need to stop sleeping on Handsome Boy Modelling School and give a better listen to those albums.

DJ/Producer albums > *
It's a great way for a producer to show his skillz by working with a great variety of rappers with different styles.

Max said...

Great post as always. I haven't been as consistent as I want to be with the comments on everyone else's posts, but thought I'd drop a line and give you some much deserved praise. I appreciate any blog where the writer actually takes the time to write, as opposed to posting random albums I could not care less about.
And the last photo in the post reminded me that I'm supposed to do a write up on the HBMS "So...How's Your Girl?" album soon, so stay tuned...