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Learning To Hip-hop

My recent obsession with Run The Jewels has inspired me to begin exploring a the genre a bit deeper. I listened to virtually no hip-hop until 2010, and since then I've really only been focusing on popular records or otherwise interesting ones, just dabbling here or there, and never really exploring much of the older stuff. It's beginning to change, so here are 30 albums I've recently gotten. A few I simply lost somehow and have therefore re-acquired, but most of it is new territory for me. My verdict so far? El-P is a god.
1Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels

This free 33-minute album has quickly become one of my favourite records, and it was never even intended to be anything more than a quick, fun follow-up to El-P's and Killer Mike's solo albums in 2012. I love the production, El is really good at finding that extra bit of flavour to uniquely mark each of his work, so that while he definitely has forged somewhat of a signature sound, each album sounds distinct. The rapping and lyricism here is absolutely flooring, and the chemistry that the two share seems so natural that they could have been long lost brothers. Anyway, I love this album so much, and it's inspired me to delve deeper into a genre I once dismissed completely.
I'll Sleep When You're Dead

Alright let's get these two out of the way: the first step in my exploration (naturally) was to begin to explore an artist whose sound I knew I liked. I already had enjoyed 2012's Cancer For Cure, but after seeing him live, really began exploring it more. It's since opened up to me in a huge way, and I eventually got around to his other two solo efforts. This one has settled in as my least favourite of the three (they're all easily 4.5s though), but The Overly Dramatic Truth is definitely one of his top songs. Lots of emotion and passion on this record.
Fantastic Damage

It was while getting to know this early 00's classic that I realized I really knew nothing about hip-hop before this decade. The production here is more raw, not as shiny or instantly appealing, but it's absolutely over-flowing with substance. Lyrically, El-P is at his best here, fervently destroying American political and social constructs with his intelligent lyrics, and offering his philosophy to any willing listeners. T.O.J. is absolutely one of the least-preachy "conscious" rap songs I've ever heard (and coincidentally, it's also maybe the best).
4Company Flow
Funcrusher Plus

I followed El-P's solo career back to Company Flow, a legendary underground group from NYC that El-P was a part of. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that this was his debut as a producer, and many fans still call it his best. This is where I really started to lay down my pre-conceptions about old-school rap and tried to embrace the 90s vibe. It was time for me to ditch the sheen of Kanye West and company, and travelling backwards through El-P's progression was a great way for me to ease myself into the process.
5Cannibal Ox
The Cold Vein

So I think El-P produced this one? I'm not sure, but he's related to it somehow (maybe it was just released on Def Jux). This is a fantastic record from the early 00's with some very intriguing production. I have yet to spend a large amount of time with this record, but my initial impressions are definitely positive.
6Dead Prez
Let's Get Free

So I was recently watching Dave Chapelle's Block Party with some friends, and after having seen it years ago but not having been interested in rap at the time, I really liked it this time around. Lots of great footage from wonderful performances by Mos Def, Common, Talib whatever his name is, Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, and Dead Prez, who definitely put on the best set. My friend loves these guys, says they're the only ones that do hip-hop properly. Not sure about that, but this album is a masterpiece, and the alternative themes present (being healthy/responsible, respecting women, enjoying nature and friends) really helped me to redefine what I think hip-hop can be. hmu if u liek 2 eat ur vegies n respec womn
7Camu Tao
King of Hearts

So.....yeah, I checked this out mainly cause of all El-P and Killer Mike's shout-outs, but I was not feeling this album. I honestly thought I had downloaded something else by mistake, cause it's......not what I was expecting. Anyone have any thoughts on this one?

My friend just played a show in Vancouver and Shad was there cause he reps the Vancouver indie scene super hard and is just an awesome guy, and it reminded me that his music rules so much. I had always like The Old Prince, but never checked out his other albums. That was a mistake cause they are soooooo good. His new one's coming soon, and the single might be my favourite track of his, check out the music video:
When This Is Over

Also rules, how did he not explode when this album dropped? Canada's best kept secret.

Listened to cause dat album cover, but also cause I loooooooove his flow in El-P's song Oh Hail No (which also features Danny Brow, nice). This album is pretty good by the way, somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4.

I heard this ages ago (whatever Jash listens to, I listen to) but I guess I lost it. I was reminded of it when, on Vancouver's counter-culture/nude beach (Wreck Beach, find me there most sunny days!!), I had a conversation with a very nice 54 year-old man with a rather unremarkable penis. My friend Amy and I smoked weed and talked to him for an hour or so. We were listening to my iPod (El-P I'm sure) and he said he doesn't usually like rap, but he loooooooves Madvillainy. I gave him respect for that, and then was embarrassed to find it was absent from my iPod. I blame woodland elves. oh album fucking slays by the way, u don even no.
12Ice Cube
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted

I just realized that this is actually a really good way to discover new hip-hop: just jam something you already like and listen for shout-outs. The closing track on Run The Jewels is one of my favourite, ever, and Mike's "Ok, honor y'all? no way. Still spell America with the triple K" made me unearth this gem from 1990. I have a loooooot of classics to discover (goes without saying but recs welcome).
13Black Star
Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star

Mos Def is just a fascinating person, and he's a great musician and rapper. I'm slowly working my way through his work. I always assumed Talib Kweli was terrible for some reason, but I think I had him confused with someone else, cause he's right up my alley.
14Deltron 3030
Deltron 3030

Re-downloading this, lost it somehow. Getting pumped for a new album maybe?
15The Pharcyde
Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde

RIP potsy, I hear you name whispered as the wind whistles trough the trees. "....grahaaaaaaam...." brushes past my ear as I longingly wander through these dimly lit city streets. Think of me where you're going...
16Organized Konfusion
Organized Konfusion

Another good way to discover excellent hip-hop: peruse Sobhi's ratings.
17A Tribe Called Quest
Midnight Marauders

I've heard The Low End Theory but never this. Oops!!
18Gang Starr
Step in the Arena

I think I downloaded this cause I was looking for Black Star and found this instead, shrugged my shoulders and continued pirating at will. yarrrrrr!
Murs 3:16: the 9th Edition

Don't know who he is but he's on Def Jux so worrrrrrrrrd get in my iPod.
20Aesop Rock

Labor Days was basically the first rap album I thought didn't suck so it's kind of criminal that it took me three years since discovering it to check out his earlier albums.
21Aesop Rock
Bazooka Tooth

This too. Now I just need Music For Earthworms and I'll have it all.
No York!

In Sobhi we trust.
23Chance The Rapper
Acid Rap

People be losing their shit over this, still haven't really jammed it properly, as in ~~ready2feeeeeel~~. First one or two listens were good though, I have faith.
24Mos Def
The New Danger

Already had Black On Both Sides (obviously, love it) so I figured I'd check the rest out.
25Mos Def
True Magic

After all, he's the mos def.
26Eric B and Rakim
Paid In Full

"I'm so Rakim and Eric B, bitches check out my melody"
27The Doppelgangaz
2012: The New Beginning

Wherefore art thou, SilentPotato??
28Wu-Tang Clan
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

pixies - dolittle
29 The Weathermen

my two favourite white-boy rappers in a crew, an easy sell. I haven't listened yet but I guess that I will like it.
30Cage [Hip-Hop]
Movies For The Blind

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