My opinions on the year in rap so far. Without further ado.
Rap Album of the Half-Year
Presented to the best rap album of the year, by a wide margin, in this case
Winner: El-P, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
There’s been three or four pretty good rap albums so far this year, but El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is the only one I’m still listening to on a regular basis months after the fact, as if it was… you know, a rock album. Indeed, there’s definitely a rock-ish element to ISWYD, but it doesn’t take being a cracka-ass cracka to appreciate what El-P has done here, just a smart person.
’90s Rap Dinosaur of the Half-Year
Presented to a relic of ’90s-era hip-hop who’s still keeping the dream alive
For the longest time, it seemed like there would never be another Redman album. But then earlier this year Red Gone Wild just sorta appeared, to the sounds of crickets. It’s good though, really. I’m not too familiar with Doc’s Da Name or Malpractice, but Red Gone Wild sounds like it could be a legit follow-up to Muddy Waters. Which is pretty much the highest praise you can give to an album.
The Don’t Believe the Hype Award
Presented to bullshit albums people on the Internets think are good
Winner: 3-way tie: Devin the Dude, Waiting to Inhale; Sean Price, Jesus Price Supastar; Joell Ortiz, The Brick: Bodega Chronicles
Say what you will about so-called black radio, which is pretty much the music its listeners deserve, but damnit if the Internets haven’t been guilty of promoting their share of not particularly worthwhile rap music. For what it’s worth, those Devin the Dude and Sean P. albums at least had their moments. That Joell Ortiz album? Yikes!
The No One Gives a Shit Award
Presented to guys who should probably stick to making ringtones or whatever
Winner: 3-way tie: Mims, Music Is My Savior; Rich Boy, Timmah – The Album; Shop Boyz, Rockstar Mentality
I’m not gonna lie, the only one of these albums I’ve actually heard is the Rich Boy, which is awful. But I suppose the Mims and the Shop Boyz could actually among the year’s best rap albums. But let’s face it: they aren’t. They aren’t selling very well either, except if you count ringtones and shit. How long until labels begin signing these jigs just to record singles rather than entire albums?
The Perseverance in the Face of Reason Award
Presented to something hardly anyone likes, which keeps getting shoved in our faces
Winner: The hyphy movement
If ever there was a sign of the music industry’s utter contempt for us, the would-be buying public, it’s the fact that they keep trying to push this hyphy bullshit off on us year after year. Why? Because it’s regional? If anything, the last several years of hip-hop have shown that there’s an inverse relation between the “regional” nature of a recording and its overall quality. Think about it.
The It Was Fun While It Lasted Award
Presented to a genre of rap that was inexplicably popular for three months two years ago
Winner: Houston rap
I’m assuming those new albums by Mike Jones and Paul Wall were released at some point this year, but I wouldn’t know, because you hardly ever hear anything about them anymore. Chamillionaire’s “Riding Dirty” remained inexplicably popular for most of last year, but what about his new album. Was there ever a single released from it? Was Slim Thug’s Already Platinum ever certified gold, let alone platinum?
Shit Sandwich of the Half-Year
Presented to Hip-Hop’s grisliest botched abortion, at least until Curtis comes out
Winner: T.I. – T.I. vs. T.I.P.
I’m glad Noz said it first, because if I said it, people would just assume I was a hater. The new T.I. isn’t just bad, it’s awful. Granted I wasn’t a huge fan of King either, but that’s almost a good album compared to this garbage. Almost. T.I. vs. T.I.P. is like the shitty second half of King, only made even shittier and expanded out over the course of an entire hour.