Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top 20 Albums and Top 30 Songs of 2011!

Peace everybody.  It's that time again for me to recap my favorite stuff from last year.  Yeah I know, I know.  We're already 20 days into 2012 you say.  Hood, you're slacking.  Well, just as I said last year, I do have my reasons (and it's not just that I'm lazy.)  Although most of the popular sites tend to do their lists in the last couple of weeks of the year, I try to wait until a few weeks into the new year in order to allow some time for the late-year releases to sink in.  In 2011 in particular, there were some really great albums released in the last few weeks of the year so that's why I hold off.  Anyway, there was a lot of great music released in 2011 and these are my lists based on stuff that I listened to.  If you thought it was really good and it's not on here, then oh well.  As DJ Premier would say, make your own list.  This will be the sixth year that I've done this now and it's something that I really enjoy doing.  More importantly though, I hope I can inspire people to check for some of this stuff if you missed out on it.  So, without further ado, here's my lists:

Top 20 Albums of 2011 (In Order)
20) Royce Da 5'9"-Success Is Certain
19) 9th Wonder-The Wonder Years
18) Pete Rock & Smif-N-Wessun-Monumental
17) Bad Meets Evil-Hell: The Sequel
16) KRS-ONE & Freddie Foxxx-Royalty Check
15) Saigon-The Greatest Story Never Told
14) Apathy-Honkey Kong
13) Random Axe-Random Axe
12) Elzhi-Elmatic
11) Wu-Tang-Legendary Weapons
10) Vast Aire-OX 2010: A Street Odyssey
  9) Raekwon-Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
  8) Evidence-Cats & Dogs
  7) M.E.D.-Classic
  6) The Roots-Undun
  5) Phonte-Charity Starts At Home
  4) Torae-For The Record
  3) Reks-Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme
  2) Pharoahe Monch-W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)
  1) Common-The Dreamer, The Believer

Honorable Mentions: Black Milk & Danny Brown-Black & Brown, M.O.P. & Snowgoons-Sparta, Freddie Foxxx & Statik Selektah-Lyrical Workout, Edo G-A Face In The Crowd, Joell Ortiz-Free Agent

Top 30 Songs Of 2011 (In Order)
30) Vast Aire featuring Karniege-"Almighty Jose" (Produced by Kount Fif)
29) M.E.D.-"Mystical Magical" (Produced by Madlib)
28) Black Milk & Danny Brown-"LOL" (Produced by Black Milk)
27) Pete Rock & Smif-N-Wessun featuring Tyler Woods-"Monumental" (Produced by Pete Rock)
26) Random Axe-"Random Call" (Produced by Black Milk)
25) Evidence-"You" (Produced by DJ Premier)
24) Saigon-"Preacher" (Produced by Just Blaze)
23) Ghostface Killah, AZ & M.O.P.-"Legendary Weapons" (Produced by Lil' Fame & The Revelations)
22) Torae-"That Raw" (Produced by Pete Rock)
21) Raekwon featuring Black Thought-"Masters Of Our Fate" (Produced by Tommy Nova)
20) M.E.D.-"Blaxican" (Produced by Madlib)
19) KRS-ONE & Freddie Foxxx-"Just You" (Produced by Freddie Foxxx)
18) Vast Aire featuring Guilty Simpson-"The Verdict" (Produced by Ayatollah)
17) M.O.P. & Snowgoons-"Opium" (Produced by Snowgoons)
16) Raekwon featuring Nas-"Rich & Black" (Produced by Sean C. & LV)
15) Black Star-"Fix Up" (Produced by Madlib)
14) Pharoahe Monch featuring Immortal Technique-"W.A.R." (Produced by Marco Polo)
13) (tie) Edo G-"Fastlane" (Produced by DJ Premier)
13) Raekwon featuring Ghostface Killah-"Silver Rings" (Produced by Cilvaringz)
12) Phonte featuring Elzhi-"Not Here Anymore" (Produced by 9th Wonder)
11) Common featuring Nas-"Ghetto Dreams" (Produced by No I.D.)
10) Apathy-"Check To Check" (Produced by Evidence)
  9) Torae-"For The Record" (Produced by DJ Premier)
  8) Reks-"25th Hour" (Produced by DJ Premier)
  7) Evidence featuring Raekwon & Ras Kass-"The Red Carpet" (Produced by Alchemist)
  6) Royce Da 5'9"-"Second Place" (Produced by DJ Premier)
  5) Phonte-"The Good Fight" (Produced by 9th Wonder)
  4) Freddie Gibbs-"Thuggin" (Produced by Madlib)
  3) Pharoahe Monch-"Evolve" (Produced by Exile)
  2) Nas-"Nasty" (Produced by Salaam Remi)
  1) Common-"Sweet" (Produced by No I.D.)

Well, there you have it.  And just in case you missed my lists from previous years, here's a recap of my #1 albums and songs from the past five years:

#1 Album: Ghostface Killah-Fishscale
#1 Song: AZ-"The Format" (Produced by DJ Premier)
#1 Album: Killah Priest-The Offering
#1 Song: Pharoahe Monch-"Desire" (Produced by Alchemist)
#1 Album: Elzhi-The Preface
#1 Song: Royce Da 5'9"-"Shake This" (Produced by DJ Premier)
#1 Album: Raekwon-Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part II
#1 Song: Jay Electronica-"Exhibit C" (Produced by Just Blaze)
#1 Album: Celph Titled & Buckwild-Nineteen Ninety Now
#1 Song: Black Milk featuring Royce Da 5'9" & Elzhi-"Deadly Medley" (Produced by Black Milk)

Until next time, one love everybody!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recap of My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs

Peace once again everybody.  I put the finishing touches on the list of my top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced songs of all-time last night but running down my top 10.  Since I strung the list out over five separate posts (and a few months time), I thought I'd post a recap where I list all 50 songs in one post.  I won't spend time talking about each one (if you want that, check my five previous blog posts), I'm just gonna post the list in descending order from #50-#1.  I also want to say that I had a lot of fun doing this list and I hope that you also had fun reading it.  I also hope that perhaps I enlightened some of you on some new songs that maybe you hadn't heard before.  So without further ado, here's all of My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-Produced Songs:

50) Snoop Dogg featuring Lady of Rage & RBX-"Batman and Robin"
49) Jeru The Damaja-"Revenge Of The Prophet (Part 5)"
48) Freddie Foxxx-"Lazy!"
47) Pitch Black-"It's All Real"
46) Rakim-"When I B On Tha Mic"
45) Buckshot Lefonque-"Music Evolution (DJ Premier Remix)"
44) Jeru The Damaja-"Me Or The Papes"
43) Screwball-"F.A.Y.B.A.N."
42) M.O.P. featuring Kool G Rap-"Stick To Ya Gunz"
41) Blaq Poet-"Ain't Nuttin' Changed"
40) Freddie Foxxx-"P.A.I.N.E."
39) M.O.P. featuring Freddie Foxxx-"I Luv"
38) O.C. featuring Freddie Foxxx-"M.U.G."
37) Ludacris-"M.V.P."
36) Jadakiss featuring The Lox-"None Of Ya'll Better"
35) Royce Da 5'9"-"Hip-Hop"
34) AZ-"The Come Up"
33) Group Home-"Supa Star"
32) Reks-"Say Goodnight"
31) M.O.P.-"Salute"
30) Bun B-"Let 'Em Know"
29) The Lox-"Recognize"
28) Mos Def-"Mathematics"
27) Sauce Money-"Against The Grain"
26) Nas-"Memory Lane (Sittin' In Da Park)"
25) Big L featuring Big Daddy Kane-"Platinum Plus"
24) M.O.P.-"Face Off 2K1"
23) Jeru The Damaja-"Ain't The Devil Happy"
22) D'Angelo-"Devil's Pie"
21) Edo G-"Sayin' Something"
20) Common featuring Bilal-"The Sixth Sense"
19) Jay-Z-"A Million And One Questions"
18) Termanology-"Watch How It Go Down"
17) Nas-"Represent"
16) O.C.-"My World"
15) Nas-"New York State Of Mind Part II"
14) KRS-ONE-"P Is Still Free"
13) Notorious B.I.G.-"Kick In The Door"
12) Royce Da 5'9"-"Shake This"
11) AZ-"The Format"
10) Nas-"Nas Is Like"
  9) Notorious B.I.G.-"Unbelievable"
  8) Jay-Z-"D' Evils"
  7) KRS-ONE-"Rappaz R N Dainja"
  6) KRS-ONE-"Higher Level"
  5) Nas-"New York State Of Mind"
  4) KRS-ONE-"Emcees Act Like They Don't Know"
  3) Royce Da 5'9"-"Boom"
  2) Nas-"I Gave You Power"
  1) Jeru The Damaja-"Come Clean"

My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs of All-Time Part 5 (#10-1): The Thrilling Conclusion

Peace and blessings to everyone out there.  I hope all ya'll had a good Christmas and I wish everyone nothing but the best heading into the new year.  We've finally reached the dramatic conclusion (haha) of my five-part series detailing My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced songs of all-time as we are down to the top 10.  Needless to say, these songs will probably be more recognizable to most hip-hop fans than some of the ones I posted earlier in the list but I'll still give you my reasons for placing them so high.  Without further ado, here's the Top 10:

Album: I Am (1999)

I discussed in my last post how I Am was generally a disappointment beat-wise overall but ironically it features two songs on the top 20 in this list. Premier beats have always seemed to bring the best out of Nas and this song is no exception.  "Nas Is Like" is generally regarded as one of Premier's best beats and I certainly won't disagree.  The beat is made out of harp and string sounds from the first five seconds of "What Child Is This?" by John V. Rydgren & Robert Way, which really isn't even a song it's more like some kind of church recording.  Regardless, Premier chops it into an absolute classic, complete with a sick bass line, ridiculous drums and his signature scratched chorus.  Nas does his damn thing on this one too, dropping jewel after jewel and flowing with renewed vigor.  Classic in every sense of the word.

Album: Ready To Die (1994)

"Unbelievable" is another one of those songs, like many others on this list, that you just can't deny.  Throw it on at a party and even today, it's bound to turn that party out.  A street banger but at the same time a song you can dance to: a definite hip-hop classic.  Premier's beat thumps courtesy of a chopped-up keyboard sample (I mean really chopped-up, you listen to the original and it's hard to tell that he even used it) from Patrice Rushen's "Remind Me" over the ever-popular (but always banging) drums from The Honeydripper's "Impeach The President."  Biggie flows with his usual gangster brovado and lyrical stylings, sounding great over the beat, and the R. Kelly scratch in the hook provides the finishing touch.

Album: Reasonable Doubt (1996)

Before Jay-Z was a multi-billion dollar business mogul/rapper, he dropped what I still consider to be his finest work by far, his debut album Reasonable Doubt way back in 1996.  It was also the first time Jay-Z and DJ Premier worked together, as he produced three songs on the album, the best of which was "D' Evils."  Jay spins a story of a friendship gone wrong through corruption and deception over a downright eerie beat from Primo based out of a sick piano riff from Allen Toussaint's "Go Back Home."  I've always been a sucker for pianos in beats and this is one of my favorite piano melodies of all-time.  The scratches in the hook, from Snoop's "Murder Was The Case" and Prodigy on LL's "I Shot Ya" are the perfect fit for a track that's so...well, evil.  In a good way, of course.

Album: KRS-ONE (1995)

After producing about half of KRS' classic Return Of The Boom Bap in 1993, DJ Premier lent three tracks to Kris for his 1995 self-titled follow-up (also a classic in my book) and they turned into two of the top seven songs on this list.  "Rappaz R N Dainja" is a great example of exactly what hip-hop is supposed to be in my humble opinion.  A dope, raw beat with witty, quotable lyrics and a catchy but not over-the-top hook.  In this case, Primo provides the rawness with a gritty track that uses three different samples to set the background and KRS absolutely destroys the track lyrically.  I still think that 1993-about 1998 or 1999 was when Kris was at his peak lyrically (though he's still dope today don't get me wrong) and this track was a great example of that.  Top it off with the O.C. scratch from "Time's Up" for the chorus and you've got hip-hop greatness.

Album: Return Of The Boom Bap (1993)

Well, wouldn't you know it?  Another KRS/Premier collaboration.  As much as "Rappaz R N Dainja" is an example of what hip-hop is supposed to be from the aspect of pure rawness, "Higher Level" is also an example of what hip-hop with a message should sound like.  Premier drops a smooth, laid-back beat led by a horn sample from Gene Page's "Blackula" and very, very dope bass line over banging drums.  This sets the perfect backdrop for KRS to wax poetic on topics of corruption in both government and religion.  Whether or not you agree with his message, the fact that Kris is taking the time to discuss his views through music is very powerful.  "Vote for God, don't vote for the devil.  Let me take you to a higher level."  That's powerful.  This song had a big impact on me growing up and the message still shines through today.  This is the exact opposite of the mindless hip-hop music that rules the airwaves today and that's probably one of the reasons why I like it so much.

Album: Illmatic (1993)

As the opening track on Nas' classic opus Illmatic, "New York State of Mind" is great start to a great album (one of my favorites of all-time for sure) and was also many people's first real introduction to Nas as a solo artist.  As the title would suggest, this song is New York at its finest.  Walk through New York bumping this one and you'll see why it's called "New York State of Mind."  DJ Premier combines piano samples from Joe Chamber's "Mind Rain" and background noise from Donald Byrd's "Flight Time" over relentlessly banging drums to form a classic beat that is gritty New York hip-hop at its finest and even throws in a Rakim sample for the hook to add to the New York flavor.  Meanwhile, Nas crafts New York street-bred rhymes with clever lines and a crazy flow that only he could master and that match the beat perfectly.  New York state of mind, indeed.

Album: KRS-ONE (1995)

"Clap your hands everybody.  If you got what it takes.  Cuz I'm KRS and I'm on the mic.  And Premier's on the breaks!"  This classic Kurtis Blow interpolation opens up a truly classic track from KRS' self-titled album. This one is KRS at his I'll rhyme circles around your ass-finest over a simple, but slammin beat from Premier. Premier uses a stand-up bass and piano-sample from Clifford Brown's "Yesterdays" along with some crazy-sounding bells as the basis for this classic beat with the banging drums and scratches in the hook thrown in for good measure as well.  This one was always a favorite of mine mainly just for how raw it is and the fact that it's another one of those undeniable songs.  It just has that Premier bounce to it and one that can move your body and make you think at the same time.  More of hip-hop at its best.

3) ROYCE DA 5'9"-"BOOM"
Album: Rock City 2.0 (2002)

Though not included on an album until Royce's Rock City 2.0 dropped in 2002, "Boom" was around as a single at least two years before that and it was my introduction to Royce, who is now one of my favorite emcees and what an introduction it was.  This is another one of those undeniable hip-hop songs with all the necessary elements of a classic.  Premier's beat is absolutely sick, led by triumphant-sounding strings sampled from "Forever Is A Long, Long Time" by Marc Hannibal and all the other traditional elements of a Primo track: the slamming drums, bumping bass line and perfectly-placed scratches in the hook.  And Royce's lyrics: in one word, WOW!  The first verse of this song is one of the dopest verses I've ever heard, even still to this day.  "My saliva and spit could split thread into fiber and bits, so trust me I'm as live as it gets."  Amazing.  While the first verse is definitely better than the second, that verse is nothing to sleep on either.  Add it all up and you've got yourselves a hip-hop classic and one of my favorite songs of all-time, in any genre.

Album: It Was Written (1996)

After producing three tracks on Nas' classic debut Illmatic, DJ Premier was found behind the boards on just one track for its not-so-classic (though still solid) follow-up It Was Written.  But damn what a track it is.  "I Gave You Power" is a powerful song in every aspect.  Premier provides a dope but somber beat based on a piano sample from Ahmad Jamal's "Theme Bahamas" that does a perfect job of setting the tone for Nas' extended metaphor lyrics in which he rhymes from the perspective of a gun.  Though I don't consider the beat by itself to be as dope as some of the others that are high on this list, the list is not my favorite Non-GangStarr DJ Premier beats, it's my favorite Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced SONGS of all-time and that's why this one is so high on the list.  Nas' lyrics, in which he raps from the point of view of a gun, are absolutely brilliant and extremely creative.  While Nas has shown the ability to be creative without going too far with it throughout his long career as an emcee, I still have to say that "I Gave You Power" is the best example of that and one of the best examples of creativity ever displayed in hip-hop period.  No matter how many times I play it (and believe me, I've played this song A LOT in my lifetime), I get chills every single time I hear it and that's not something I can say about a lot of songs.  Enough said.

Album: The Sun Rises In The East (1994)

I stated before what I believe to be the essential elements of what makes a classic hip-hop song and "Come Clean" is all that and more.  Though Jeru may not be as well-known or remembered as some of the other emcees on this list, he's no joke on the mic and never showed off his skills in a better fashion than he did on this track.  And did I mention the beat is ridiculous?  Premier really showed his skills on this one too, using a sick, sick African drum sample from Shelley Manne's "Infinity" over chopped-up drums from Funk Inc's "Kool Is Back" as the basis for his slamming track.  Not to mention that the Onyx scratch in the hook is absolutely perfect for the song.  This track is hip-hop in its purest form in every way possible.  Dope beat, dope rhymes, dope hook and they go together so perfectly.  I can never get enough of this song, it's probably the only song that feel like I HAVE to listen to on at least a weekly basis.  Quite possibly my favorite hip-hop song of all-time, period.  Hell, it might even be my favorite song of all-time in any genre.  That's why "Come Clean" gets the number one spot on my list.

Thanks everybody for your patience and for your interest.  I hope to do more lists and things of that nature in the future on this blog as well.  Peace and blessings once again.  I'll do a wrap-up post of all 50 songs on this list very soon and then I'll be back with my favorite songs and albums of 2011.  Until then, one love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs of All-Time Part 4 (#20-11)

Peace everybody.  I'm finally back with part 4 of my Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced songs of all-time.  Life has been hectic the past couple of months, with school starting and work and what not but with one semester down at school, I feel like I've settled into a groove and should have more time for the blog from here on out.  As far as the list goes, we're really getting into some all-time hip-hop classic songs now that we have hit the top 20, so without further ado, let's get started:

Album: Like Water For Chocolate (2000)

Common has always been one of my favorite emcees and with the exception of his last album (Universal Mind Control or whatever it was called) has always been very consistent from song-to-song and album-to-album in my opinion.  2000's Like Water For Chocolate is damn near a classic in my book and "The Sixth Sense" is for sure one of the highlights.  Primo's beat is simple but banging, with sick flute and piano chops (from The Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay") over crispy, banging drums and Common is right on the mark with his lyrics, featuring quotable after quotable.  In my opinion Com Sense is one of the most versatile emcees in the game, and he showcases all of his abilities on this track.  Bilal's singing on the chorus, while very simplistic, really fits in well with the track.  His voice over this beat gives me the chills almost every time I listen.  All the elements of a classic track are in place on this one.

Album: In My Lifetime Vol. 1 (1997)

One of only two Premier/Jay-Z collabs to make the list (a couple of others narrowly missed), "A Million And One Questions" is the opening track to Jay's 1997 album In My Lifetime, Volume 1.  The version on the album is shorter, prompting the extended remix, which was released in 1998.  The beat is backed by a ridiculous piano sample, as Primo takes a two-second clip from the beginning of Latimore's "Let Me Go" and chops it into an insanely dope beat.  I always felt like Primo's beat stole the scene just a little bit on this one, as it's just so damn dope, but Jay definitely does do it justice in retrospect.  This is just one of those beats that's so dope it's undeniable and with an emcee like Jay-Z over it, you know you've got a classic.

Album: Politics As Usual (2008)

"Watch How It Go Down" was the first song I ever heard by Termanology when it was released as a single in 2006, and to this day I don't think I've heard a better overall song from him.  That's not to say that Term's not a dope emcee or hasn't made good songs since then, but he really hasn't reached the level of greatness that he showed on this track.  A lot of it has to do with the beat, which is a banger of epic proportions with soulful strings, hard-hitting guitars and slamming drums complete with a chill-inducing breakdown.  I feel like this beat really brought out the best in Term, as he lyrically destroys the track, both with his flow and his words.  The M.O.P. scratch in the hook fits perfectly with the track as well.  All the makings of a great hip-hop song here.

Album: Illmatic (1993)

I've already talked here about the big role that DJ Premier played in Nas' renowned classic debut album Illmatic and "Represent" is yet another example of that.  Primo blesses Nas on this one with a slamming beat that's led by hardcore drums and a rolling bassline over top of a sick sample of Lee Erwin's "Thief of Baghdad" (which was released in 1927).  Let me reiterate that-the sample that Premier used as the basis for this beat was from a song released in 1927!!  Only Premier could take something from 1927 and give it the necessary swing to make it a hip-hop classic.  Nas' lyrics are top-notch on this one as well, with most of his talk about representing the Queensbridge projects where he came from.

16) O.C.-"MY WORLD"
Album: Jewelz (1997)

"My World" is the second song to make this list from O.C.'s 1997 album Jewelz, displaying just how in the zone Premier was with beats in the mid-to-late 90's.  Primo comes a very hypnotizing beat on this one, using a whistling sample from Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Killer's Lullaby" and turning it into a downright sinister track.  O.C. also drops many jewels on this one (hence the name of his album), definitely doing the beat justice.  I always really liked the hook as well.  "It's my world and I won't stop and if you stand in my way you're bound to get dropped."  Very, very simple hook but it fits perfectly with the track and the beat.

Album: I Am (1999)

While Nas' 1999 album I Am was largely a disappointment (at least beat-wise), it was also an example of the undeniable chemistry that exists between Nas & DJ Premier.  "New York State of Mind Part II" is a very worthy sequel to the classic "New York State of Mind" (which will show up later on this list, I promise) from Illmatic.  Very rarely is the sequel nearly as good as the original, in the movies or music, but this is one case where the sequel comes very close.  Premier comes with a sick, sick, sick piano sample and it brings the best out of Nas lyrically, as his vivid tales of NY street life are a perfect accompaniment to the beat.  The track is vintage New York-one that sounds great out of the IPod while you're walking through New York (trust me, I know).  This also features one of my favorite Nas lines of all-time (which is saying a lot for me as big of a Nas fan as I am): "Mama should have cuffed me to the radiator-why not?  It might have saved me later from my block."  You can feel the realness.

Album: Return Of The Boom Bap (1993)

The fact that the first KRS & Premier song to make this list is all the way up at #14 should tell you just a little bit about the quality of music that these two hip-hop titans have made together.  "P Is Still Free" was one of six tracks that Primo produced for Kris' classic 1993 opus Return Of The Boom Bap and what a fine track it is.  A sequel to "P Is Free," which appeared on BDP's Criminal Minded album, this one is another example of the sequel being as good or better than the original.  Primo's beat is backed by a slick stand-up bass sample and chopped drums from the infamous Joe Tex song "Papa Was Too."  The beat has a very hypnotizing quality to it: it's so simple but yet I could listen to it over and over and over (kind of like mostly all of the beats on this list).  KRS' lyrics are both entertaining and educational at the same time, as he tells of the evils of crack and women who will go to any lengths to get it.  Definitely a personal classic for me.

Album: Life After Death (1997)

Everybody loves them some Biggie, myself included (although I would argue that he's NOT the greatest rapper of all-time like some think) and "Kick In The Door" is by far one of my favorite B.I.G. songs of all-time.  Though it's hard to tell exactly who the lyrics are aimed at, there's no denying that this is some of Big's hardest lyrical work.  The beat is sparse and simple yet banging, led by a horn sample from Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" (which is a great song in its own right) and Premier's trademark bassline and slamming drums, providing the perfect backdrop for Biggie's lyrical venom.  Interviews with others who were around Big when he made the song say that Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface & Jeru The Damaja were all targets of the lyrics on this one and they all make sense considering the climate at the time.  I also remember reading in an interview that Puffy didn't like this beat when Primo first gave it to him, but when Biggie heard it, he recorded over it anyway and Puffy admitted later that he was wrong and that it took Big flowing over the beat for him to really appreciate it.  Let's just say that I find that story funny and I'll leave it at that.

Album: Street Hop (2009)

A personal favorite of mine for many reasons, "Shake This" features a very rare departure from DJ Premier's normal formula.  I would have to say that the main reason for the change in format is the utter dopeness of the song he sampled for this track, "Holy Thursday" by David Axelrod (which I used to have on my answering machine back in the days).  Instead of doing his normal chopping, Primo doesn't do anything but loop the beat from the Axelrod song but what really makes this beat different from most Premier tracks is that he didn't even add drums to it.  And he really didn't need to because this beat bangs!  Not only that, but it's the perfect backdrop for Royce's reality raps describing his life situation before, during, and after his 2007 jail sentence.  All this combined with a dope hook equal a modern hip-hop classic.

Album: The Format (2006)

I discussed previously about how I believe AZ to be one of the most consistent emcees in the game, and he's also one of the most slept-on.  2006's The Format, which featured this title track, is a classic in my opinion though it was largely slept-on just like so many of his other albums.  This track is ridiculous, as Premier chops up a Roberta Flack sample from the Dirty Harry soundtrack and makes it all his own with more of his signature dirty drums and thumping basslines.  However, what really makes the beat for me is the sneaky xylophone stabs.  The beat is just insane and the way that AZ flows in the pocket on it is like icing on the cake.  This track really was made for AZ to rhyme over, as his voice and flow sound perfect over it.  I can't ever get enough of this track and while it may not be well-known in the mainstream, it is definitely a classic to me.

Well, now we've reached the top 10.  I'm excited to reveal them to you and I'll do that in my next post.  Until then, one love to all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs of All-Time Part 3 (#30-21)

Peace everybody!  It’s time for Part 3 of my list of the Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced songs of all-time.  This time I’ll be covering songs #30-21 as we get closer to the top 10 on the list.  Check out my previous posts for songs #50-31 on the list.  Let’s go!

Album: Trill OG (2010)

Due to his association with the hardcore East-Coast sound that he has become famous for, many people forget that DJ Premier actually originally hails from Houston, Texas.  Perhaps that’s why it was a bit surprising that 2010’s “Let ‘Em Know” from the Trill OG album saw the first incidence of Premier production on a Bun B album.  The two also have some more in common, as both Premier’s GangStarr partner Guru and Bun B’s UGK companion Pimp C were both taken from us way too early (RIP to both!!!).  Bun B acknowledges this with his “R.I.P. Guru GangStarr for Life!” opening and Primo gives the love back by scratching Pimp C’s voice on the hook.  The actual song is a banger as well, with Bun B sounding right at home over Premier’s monster of a beat that features menacing strings and and bouncy bass and drums.  Hopefully this track is any indication of their chemistry, Primo and Bun definitely having something going.

Album: We Are The Streets (2000)

I have to admit that I was very skeptical of The Lox when they first dropped.  They seemed like nothing more than typical street rappers to me and although their lyrical talent was evident, I didn’t really care for the majority of their beat selection on most of their early stuff.  “Recognize” from 2000’s We Are The Streets album was definitely an exception to that though.  Premier blessed The Lox with a ridiculous piano-driven track complete with crispy snares and a wicked bass line and Jadakiss, Sheek & Styles definitely did it justice.  Not too much more to say.

Album: Black On Both Sides (1999)

Mos Def has built quite a career for himself as both a rapper and an actor (and even a somewhat of a singer) since his 1999 debut album Black On Both Sides was released.  Though many still count it as Mos’ best solo album, I would argue that 2009’s The Ecstatic is right up there with it, if not better.  That being said, I don’t know that Mos has made a single song as good as “Mathematics” since then.  Premier’s chopped-up guitars from Fatback Band’s “Baby I’m A Want You” and signature crisp drums provide the perfect backdrop for Mos’ impressive lyrical stylings about the connection between mathematics and society.  The topics that Mos touches on here are still very relevant 12 years later.  Also, this song features some of my favorite scratch work on the hook as well.

Album: Soul In The Hole OST (1997)

Sauce Money is perhaps best known for being a former affiliate of Jay-Z’s, having appeared on Jay’s classic debut album Reasonable Doubt.  That’s a shame, though, as Sauce has always been an extremely talented rapper but just one of those that could never get his business together or just didn’t have the right backing to get the spotlight that he deserved.  Regardless, Premier was hip to his lyrical talents and blessed him with this banger “Against The Grain” which appeared on the star-studded Soul In The Hole soundtrack back in 1997.  I was still very new to hip-hop when this album came out and I didn’t know who Sauce Money was or that Premier did this beat but I always liked the song and have come to appreciate it even more since then.  The beat on this one is absurd, as Premier layers a chopped-up piano sample along with a vocal sample for the hook and of course his signature drums and bass line.  Sauce drops jewels throughout the track as well, with the end result being a reason why more hip-hop fans should know the name Sauce Money.

Album: Illmatic (1994)

Nas’ 1994 debut Illmatic is still considered by many to be among the greatest (if not THE greatest) hip-hop album of all-time.  While Nas’ lyrics throughout Illmatic are show-stealing, but the beats are top-notch as well and DJ Premier played a big part in the album, producing three of its ten tracks.  The first one to show up on this list is “Memory Lane” a smooth jam that sees Nas reminiscing on growing up in his native Queensbridge.  The track is backed by a smooth vocal sample from Reuben Wilson’s “We’re In Love” and Premier’s slamming drums and Nas sounds perfect over the beat, painting a vivid picture of New York street life with the touch of a poet.  A hip-hop classic for sure. 

Album: The Big Picture (2000)

Another rap legend to meet an unfortunate early demise was D.I.T.C. affiliate Big L, who passed unceremoniously in 1999 after putting out just one true album.  His second album, The Big Picture was released posthumously in 2000 though most of the recordings were done between 1996 and 1998.  The album featured three tracks produced by DJ Premier, my personal favorite being the menacing “Platinum Plus” with Big Daddy Kane.  Premier builds this beat around a sick chop from The Stylistics’ “My Funny Valentine” and adds his usual banging bass line and hard drums to complete a dark, hardcore track that provides a stellar background for L and Kane to do their thing.  Personally, Big Daddy Kane’s verse on here is my favorite of the two and one of the best he’s spit since he stopped doing solo albums.  He sounds very good with Big L and very good over Premier production.  Then again, what dope emcee doesn’t?

24) M.O.P.-“FACE OFF 2K1”
Album: Warriorz (2001)

M.O.P. meets DJ Premier again for the fourth time on this list and it’s definitely a doozy.  Premier was one of the first (if not THE first) to do songs where the beat would switch completely in the middle of the track separating the verses, doing it on GangStarr’s “I’m The Man” and “Speak Ya Clout” and here he displays that same formula on M.O.P.’s “Face Off 2K1.”  The track starts with Billy Danze pouring his heart out over a very slow, emotional Premier beat based around some stunningly sick chop work from Billy Paul’s “I’m Just A Prisoner” and then switches for Fame’s verse to a much more upbeat track that also features a Billy Paul sample, this one from “It’s Too Late.”  You really do get the best of both worlds on this one, a beat that is very different for Premier for Danze’s part and a typical piano-driven track for Fame’s.  It’s this combination of dopeness, along with the fact that both emcees sound perfect over their beat, that makes this one a classic.

Album: The Sun Rises In The East (1994)

Also the fourth Jeru/Premier collab to make the list, “Ain’t The Devil Happy” was one of the first Premier-produced tracks that I truly fell in love with.  I loved the darkness of it and the truth of it.  The beat is harsh, with dark strings and banging drums setting the backdrop for Jeru’s equally harsh tales of life as he sees it and why the devil is so happy.  Listening to the track today, it still holds the same weight and has the same effect on me as it did when I was put on to it all those years ago.  This track also shows Premier’s genius with regards to scratching in my opinion, as his cuts of RZA’s “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” from Wu-Tang Clan’s “Tearz” is so spooky it almost sounds as if it’s the devil himself laughing.  Ain’t the devil happy, indeed.

Album: Voodoo (2000)

As we continue with the devil-sponsored version of the countdown (I kid, of course), we find the only track from Premier’s R&B work to make the list, D’Angelo’s “Devil’s Pie.”  This is grown-folks music right here, but I think it’s definitely a song that just about anybody can relate to, as we’ve all been tempted by (and sometimes succumbed) to evil.  D’Angelo sounds great singing about the mark of the beast over Premier’s stand-up bass sample from Teddy Pendergrass’ “And If I Had.”  Perhaps one of the better things about this one (and about Premier’s other work with R&B artists) is that he doesn’t change his formula at all.  You still get all the elements of a classic Premier beat here: crisp drums, scratches, bass line, all of it.  And it works oh so well. 

Album: The Truth Hurts (2000)

Boston veteran Edo G has been on the scene for quite a while but has seemed to continue to hover under the radar for the most part.  Real hip-hop heads know the deal though, and Edo continues to put out solid music to this day.  One of my personal favorite tracks of his is this one, 2000’s “Sayin’ Something.”  I was always partial to the combination of Edo’s dope voice over Primo’s piano samples on this track and not only that, but Edo drops a ton of jewels in his verses as well.  The beat has also always been a personal favorite of mine, keeping Premier’s trademark sound intact while still displaying somewhat of a bounce due to the bass line.  This track may not be as well-known as some of the other tracks on my list, but it should be.  

Well, that's all for now.  Be sure to keep a lookout for new posts, as my next two posts will be the last in this series and will reveal the top 20 songs on my list.  Until then, peace!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs of All-Time Part 2 (#40-31)

What's up everybody!  I'm back with Part 2 of my list of the Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced songs of all-time.  My last post covered songs #50-41 and today I'll be doing #40-31.  Let's get right into it:

Album: Konexion (2003)

While Bumpy's 2003 album Konexion may not have been as strong overall as its predecessor, Industry Shakedown album (which I think is a classic by the way), it still spawned two of my favorite Premier produced-songs, the afore-mentioned "Lazy!" and this song, "P.A.I.N.E."  As is pretty much standard for Bumpy, this is yet another really hardcore track both lyrically and beat-wise.  Premier drops a heavy beat driven by a wicked guitar loop from "Delilah" by Tom Jones and a rolling bass line.  I remember listening to this one to get hyped up before tests in college and it's still a workout favorite of mine to this day.  Another example of hardcore hip-hop at its finest.

39) M.O.P. featuring FREDDIE FOXXX-"I LUV"
Album: First Family 4 Life (1998)

I'll tell you one thing that I love. I love when two of my favorite hardcore rap acts, M.O.P. and Freddie Foxxx get together to drop tracks like this one, 1998's "I Luv."  Bill, Fame & Foxxx spit rhymes about things that they love, which as you might expect includes things like guns, plotting on enemies, fighting with and without guns, and of course beats that are "hardcore, dirty & raw" just like this one.  Premier's track is a sparse one backed by gorgeous strings and slamming drums.  One of my favorites because the beat by itself is less menacing than a lot of the beats Primo has done for M.O.P. or Bumpy Knuckles but they still manage to make it into another hardcore, hype track.

38) O.C. featuring FREDDIE FOXXX-"M.U.G."
Album: Jewelz (1997)

Yet another track on this list to feature Freddie Foxxx, this one comes from D.I.T.C. member O.C, who enlisted Premier for production on four tracks on his 1997 album Jewelz.  “M.U.G.” (which stands for Money Under Ground) is basically an attack on the type of flashy, diamond-studded rappers that were starting to become popular in mainstream hip-hop at the time and Premier provides the perfect backdrop for it with a beat that sounds somewhat sarcastic but is still very dope at the same time.  The orchestral chops from Michel Legrand’s “The Saddest Thing Of All” over Primo’s usual slamming drums work perfectly with O.C. and Foxxx’s rhymes, along with a hook that was always one of my favorites as well. 

Album: Theater Of The Mind (2008)

Say what you want about Ludacris but the dude can really rap when he wants to.  I’ve always respected him for that despite the fact that he’s done his fair share of wack songs.  He also gained a lot of respect from me for his 2008 album Theater Of The Mind, where he chose to depart from his usual sound (for a couple of tracks at least) and work with some respected boom-bap producers such as DJ Premier and 9th Wonder.  The Premier-produced track “MVP” showcases Luda’s lyrical talent over a string-driven track with dusty drums and the typical Primo scratch chorus.  This one was always a personal favorite of mine because it has an epic sound to it while still maintaining the rawness that’s so typical of Premier’s work.

Album: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001)

One producer-emcee combination that I would like to hear a lot more of is DJ Premier and Jadakiss.  Though their work is limited to just three songs at this point, the chemistry is undeniable and this track is certainly an example of that.  Featuring his brethren from The Lox, Sheek Louch and Styles P, “None Of Ya’ll Better” is grimy New York hip-hop at its finest.  Premier’s beat features haunting strings and piano stabs that are so well chopped-up, the sample is unrecognizable.  As the title suggests, it doesn’t get much better than this with top-notch production and top-notch lyricism (at least from Kiss and Styles P).  Hopefully Jadakiss will collaborate more with Premier in the future, because the two seem to bring out the best in each other.   

35) ROYCE DA 5’9-“HIP-HOP”
Album: Death Is Certain (2004)

Speaking of great producer-emcee combinations, we have the first song on this list to feature DJ Premier working with Detroit emcee Royce Da 5’9, who is one of my favorite emcees.  Royce and Primo have done a lot of work together over their careers, including this song, “Hip Hop” from Royce’s critically-acclaimed 2004 album Death Is Certain.  Premier’s beat is hypnotizing, laden with chopped strings and bells on top of killer drums giving.  Royce’s lyricism on this one is top-notch as usual and the hook is extremely dope as well, one of my favorites.  This is just good music right here. 

Album: A.W.O.L. (2005)

AZ is one of the most consistent emcees in the hip-hop game in my opinion, as well as one of the most slept-on.  His hype was big back in the mid-90’s following his solid guest appearance on “Life’s A Bitch” from Nas’ Illmatic album, but died down a bit after that despite the fact that he has continued to drop quality music.  His 2005 album A.W.O.L. is damn close to being a classic in my opinion but was largely overlooked, despite featuring this Premier-produced banger “The Come Up.”  I have to admit that when I first heard this song, I wasn’t crazy about it, but it continued to grow and grow on me to the point that it became one of my favorites and gets this spot on my list.  Like so many of Primo’s tracks, the beat is smooth but hardcore at the same time, making his scratch of Defari’s “hardcore is beautiful” line a perfect one to cut up in the chorus.  This is an emotional track, from Premier’s strings to AZ’s well-woven street tales to the scratch chorus, and the end result is a great song that gives me the chills just about every time I hear it. 

Album: Livin’ Proof (1995)

After first breaking onto the scene with appearances on the GangStarr albums Daily Operation and Hard To Earn, Lil’ Dap & Malachi the Nutcracker released their debut album as Group Home, Livin’ Proof in 1995.  Featuring production by DJ Premier on 11 of 13 tracks, the album was critically acclaimed despite featuring average rhyming at best, mostly for Primo’s beats.  This track, “Supa Star” was the lead single from the album.  Premier’s beat is ridiculous, from the short intro beat to the crazy bass line and crispy drums and is often referred to as one of his best works.  I tend to agree and if this list was made for beats alone, this song would be much higher.  However, I also took into account the lyrical quality of the emcees on the tracks as well, and that’s why this one is ranked at #33.  Group Home’s lyrics aren’t so bad that they completely fuck up the track, but at the same time Premier has worked with much better emcees to say the least.  “Supa Star” is still a classic track though.

Album: Grey Hairs (2008)

Though he may not be one of the more well-known artists on this list, Massacusetts-based emcee Reks can stand up to most of them lyrically.  Obviously, DJ Premier recognizes his talent, as he has produced on both of Reks’ first two albums and both beats are quality, including “Say Goodnight.”  Premier’s spacey sample the keyboards and vocals from Francis Lai’s “Scene D’Armor” bangs to the fullest degree and Reks’ lyrics do not disappoint.  You can tell that Reks took the opportunity to rap on a Premier beat seriously both by his lyrics and by his hype delivery, which works perfect on such an equally-hype beat.  One of the better tracks that Premier has done within the last five years for sure. 

31) M.O.P.-“SALUTE”
Album: Firing Squad (1996)

I’ll spare you the background stories on this one and just tell you that it’s another one on the list from M.O.P.  “Salute,” from 1996’s Firing Squad, is one more example of hardcore hip-hop at its finest, plain and simple.  Premier’s beat combines strings and bells over hardcore drums and a rolling bass line, setting the perfect backdrop for Fame and Danze to drop their usual hype rhymes.  This was always a favorite of mine because of its simplicity.  Nothing crazy here, just dope rhymes over a really dope beat.  Nuff said.   

Hope you enjoyed part two of the list.  Part three coming soon.  Until next time, peace everybody!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs of All-Time Part 1 (#50-41)

What up everybody!  I know it's been a while but I'm back at it with this blog thing and I'm going to try to stick with it this time.  I figured I would need to pack a punch for my first post since January (wow that really has been a while, huh?) so I decided to give you guys a list of my Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced songs of all-time.
Before I get into the list, let me give you a little background on the idea for this list.  Back in April around the 1-year anniversary of Guru's death, Complex online magazine posted their list of the 50 greatest GangStarr songs.  Here's the link for it:

It's a great list and I would definitely recommend any GangStarr fan check it out if you haven't already.  Though I would personally rate "Moment of Truth" as my top GangStarr song, I still enjoyed reading the list.  In fact, the disagreements are part of what makes doing these "best-of" lists so much fun.  Just about every hardcore fan will have their own list and it is sure to spark discussion.  Rather than do my own list of 50 best GangStarr songs, I decided to do something in the same vein but a little different.  As anyone who knows me is well aware of, I am a huge DJ Premier fan, both from his work with GangStarr and from his work with all kinds of other artists. So since the GangStarr list has already been done (and done well), I decided to compile a list of my favorite DJ Premier-produced Non-GangStarr songs.  I have worked diligently on this list since April, tweaking it many times and I am now ready to present the final product.  I will present the list in reverse order ten at a time over the next week or so since I don't have the resources or internet know-how that Complex did with their list and doing all of them in one blog would be way too much (plus hopefully it will also provide some dramatic effect as well).  I'll give some insight into all of the songs as well as my reasons for choosing them.  I will provide a YouTube link for each song as well.
Also, my only disclaimer is that these are MY personal favorite songs.  If you are a fan, I'm sure you will disagree with some of my picks and that's that the point.  Let me know what you think as all feedback is appreciated.
So without further ado, I present to you songs #50-41 of My Top 50 Non-GangStarr DJ Premier-produced Songs of All-Time:

Album: Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Bo$$ (2002)

"Batman And Robin" was one of two Primo-produced cuts from Snoop's 2002 album Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Boss.  While I admit that it is a somewhat silly song, with Snoop & Rage trading bars as Batman & Robin, I absolutely love this beat.  Premier's flip of the original Batman theme song is just ridiculous, with a vicious bass line to boot.  The occasional horn stabs really do it for me on this one though.  As someone who saw the original Batman & Robin TV series a few times growing up, I never would have thought that a dope-ass hip-hop beat could be made out of the theme song.  Leave it to Primo to pull it off.

Album: Wrath of the Math (1996)

Though Jeru is probably more well-known for his solid 1994 debut album The Sun Rises In The East, I personally think his 1996 follow-up Wrath Of The Math is just as good, if not better overall.  One of my favorites from Wrath Of The Math, "Revenge Of The Prophet (Part 5)" is a sequel to "You Can't Stop The Prophet," which appears on The Sun Rises In The East.  The sequel begins with the ending piece from part one before dropping into a banging Primo beat with a sick organ chop and slamming drums.  The track finds Jeru's character The Prophet fighting Tricknology, The Porkchop Patrol, Greedy Lou and of course, his old nemisis Ignorance.  This one is a favorite of mine both for the neck-snapping Premier track and for Jeru's wisdom and creativity.  While some may have found Jeru's anti-materialistic stylings a bit preachy or overbearing, you have to at least give him credit for being creative with it.  It's such a shame that Jeru stopped recording with DJ Premier after this album, as the quality of his music hasn't been the same since (though I hear that they have reconnected and are hopefully going to make more music in the future).

Album: Konexion (2003)

"Everybody I know and everybody you know/wanna spit a rhyme on a beat by the Primo/but everybody I know and everybody you know/know that's one thing everybody can't do though."  So goes the chorus to "Lazy!" and the words couldn't be more true.  Primo provides a choppy track that even Foxxx admits is "some real awkward shit" with his signature crisp snares and kicks and Bumpy proceeds to drop his usual hardcore rhymes complete with some jabs at unnamed rappers who he feels get lazy over Premier beats (because the beats are so dope, they don't have to write as hard).  The track also provides one of my favorite hardcore rap lines of all time with the jewel: "If you're beefing on my two-way, please be a thug and sign it/  cause it's gay for you to hide/I put your body in the river-NYPD won't find it/then I pray for you to die."  This one is a favorite of mine not just for the chorus, lyrics, and crazy beat but also because it's something different for both Bumpy and Primo.  The beat is more choppy and bouncy than a usual Premier track and although Bumpy talks his usual shit, the choppiness of the beat forces Bumpy to try a bit of a different flow and he nails it to perfection.

Album: Pitch Black Law (2004)

I had never heard of Pitch Black until seeing the video for this song back in 2004 and going crazy, partly because it was a new Primo production and partly because BET actually played a video worth watching on Rap City.  Seven years later, Pitch Black has disappeared into the darkness of rap one-hit wonder status with "It's All Real" serving as their lone hit record.  I can see why as their Pitch Black Law album that included this song was terrible with the exception of this and the other Primo-produced track "Got It Locked."  But enough about Pitch Black, this is one of the few songs on this list that makes it basically for the beat alone and what a beat it is.  Complete with piercing sacred-sounding strings and those crispy drums, as well as the same "yep-yep" scratch that he used in Jeru's "Revenge of the Prophet (Part 5)," Primo truly crafted a banger on this one.  The lyrics from the Pitch Black guys are average at best, but mostly forgettable (though the "today's the tomorrow that you should have feared yesterday" shoutout to KRS does get props from me).  How these guys hooked up with Premier and got him to give them a dope-ass track like this, I'll never know but at least he got the beat out there I guess.

Album: The Master (1999)

Rakim still gets respect from just about any old-school hip-hop fan (including myself) for being one of the greatest rappers of all-time, but the fact of the matter is that the quality of Ra's work lyrically definitely went a little downhill after his split with Eric B and still hasn't really recovered to this day.  That being said, Rakim has still put out many a solid song since then, one of them being this one.  The Primo-produced "When I B On Tha Mic" was the highlight of Ra's critically-panned 1999 album The Master, and for good reason.  Premier's  slick piano chops and perfectly-placed scratches set the tone for a song that I think is perhaps Rakim's best lyrical work from his solo era.  Nothing too fancy, just talking about emceeing and deejaying, but Ra does it very well and flows perfectly over the beat to boot.

Album: Music Evolution (1997)

Buckshot Lefounque was a side-project group created by saxophonist Branford Marsalis with the help of DJ Premier, who produced a large portion of the group's self-titled debut album in 1994.  This remix of the track "Music Evolution" appeared on the 1997 follow-up album of the same name and was Premier's only contribution to the record.  What a contribution it was though, as Premier easily outdoes the original with his jazzy piano, slamming drums, and well-timed vocal samples.  I think the emcee on this track is Uptown, but I'm not completely sure of that.  Regardless, I love the way he lyrically bridges the gap between jazz and hip-hop and how it sounds over Primo's banging track.

Album: Wrath of the Math (1996)

The second (and final) song from Jeru's Wrath of the Math album to make this list continues in the anti-materialistic trend that much of that album was on, with Jeru spitting about the difference between real women and gold-diggers who are only after you for your paper.  A good lesson no doubt (one that every man should know) and well-phrased and put together lyrically by Jeru, but while dope, the lyrics on this one take a backseat to the even doper beat from Premier.  Primo once again shows his uncanny knack for finding ridiculously dope piano samples with his fluent chop of the beautiful piano sounds on Ahmad Jamal's "I Love Music" (the same song Pete Rock sampled for Nas' "The World Is Yours").  Add the signature drums and smooth scratches and you've got yet another DJ Premier banger.  I've always been a bit of a sucker for pianos in beats and I absolutely love the pianos on this track, it puts me in a trance every time I hear it, even to this day.

Album: Y2K The Album (2000)

One of the hardest tracks Premier has in his discography, "F.A.Y.B.A.N." appears on Queens-based group Screwball's aptly-titled 2000 album Y2K The Album though it's a solo song by the best-known (and easily the illest) rapper in the group, Blaq Poet.  This one just screams hardcore from the simple beat with its slick guitar chops and thumping drums to Poet's vicious lyrics to the self-explanatory hook.  I love hardcore shit and this one definitely qualifies as one of my favorites of all-time.  I wouldn't let the kids listen to it just yet though, they'll understand when they're older.

42) M.O.P. featuring KOOL G RAP-"STICK TO YA GUNZ"
Album: Firing Squad (1996)

The first song to make this list from what has been a very successful collaborative career between DJ Premier and M.O.P, "Stick To Ya Gunz" features the hardcore Brownsville duo linking up with hip-hop veteran Kool G Rap for an ode to the gun.  This is another one of the harder songs in Primo's catalouge, as he provides a banging beat backed by a sick violin chop and M.O.P. and Kool G Rap spit their usual array of hardcore lyrics.  Although it's not something revolutionary, I always felt that this beat was a little bit different for Premier.  It sounds cleaner to me than a lot of his other works and the drums are definitely more hollow and not as crispy as his usual drums, but I think that's part of the reason that I love this track so much.  That and the fact that it's just a straight-up banger.  One of my favorites to play while I'm working out, this one always gets me amped when I listen.

Album: Tha Blaqprint (2009)

The run of hardcore Primo-produced joints continues here with this banger from the previously-mentioned former Screwball frontman Blaq Poet's 2009 solo album Tha Blaqprint called "Ain't Nuttin' Changed."  One of my favorite newer works from Premier, this one features Primo stringing together samples from three different songs to make one continuous banging loop, which provides the perfect soundscape for Poet's hardcore stylings.  A favorite of mine not only because it gets me hyped up every time I hear it, but also because it is different for Premier.  It's not the first time he's done it, but Premier is known more for taking one sample and chopping it up to make a beat whereas here he used three different samples but they all sound great together, though the Four Tops guitar sample is probably my favorite part of the beat.

That's all for now.  Check back soon for part 2 where I'll countdown from #40-31 and get into some more great songs.  Until then, peace!