With end-of-the-decade lists dominating conversations on the blogsphere, I figure it’s a good as time as any to get mine out the way. Instead of creating a ranked “best of” list, I’ll share with you the decade of music as I remember it. I have a tendency to recall moments in my life according to what music was hot at the time or what album I was listening to. Hip-hop is the soundtrack to my life and this is how I lived the past decade.
Fresh off the bling era, hip-hop was living large and I wasn’t. Still BK bound on the iron horse, Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP made the ride much more bearable. Dr. Dre’s protégé proved he was more than a gimmick on his sophomore effort. I was digging “Stan” so much that I went out and purchased Dido’s album—and promptly told my boys I copped it for my sister.
Dark and personal, Em’s lyricism put me on notice that I may have to alter my list of Top 10 MCs. Not that Jay-Z had anything to worry about. The reigning King of New York came through with another banger, The Dynasty Roc La Familia. This time he let the Roc-A-Fella family, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Amil, get their shine. For his part, Beanie gained my utmost respect on Dynasty after he already earned his stripes on his debut, The Truth, which came out earlier in the year.
An unexpected surprise in the two-triple-O was St. Louis rapper, Nelly. I first saw the “Country Grammar” video on a visit to Atlanta and I laughed my ass off. Little did I know, I’d be rocking to “E.I.” and “Ride wit Me” months later. What I did know was that the highlight for my year was the Capone-N-Norega reunion album, The Reunion. As a die-hard C-N-N fan, to hear the two Queens rappers back together made my year.
Playlist Of The Year
1. Eminem feat. Dido – “Stan”
2. Jay-Z feat. Beanie Sigel & Scarface “This Can’t Be Life”
3. Black Rob – “Whoa”
4. Bravehearts – “Oochie Wally”
5. Ja Rule feat. Lil Mo & Vita – “Put It On Me”
As a native New Yorker, ’01 lives in infamy. Honestly, I really don’t remember much about the year pre-9/11. A skinny overconfident rapper from Atlanta who was calling himself a king intrigued me. I knew a beef was simmering between Nas and Jay after Hova put the God’s Son on blast at Summer Jam.
After I watched the Twin Towers fall, with no way to get back to Brooklyn in the chaos of the terrorist attacks I figure I’d go to The Wiz to cop Jay-Z’s new opus, Blueprint. While I was at it; why not get Fabolous’ new joint, Ghetto Fabolous, and the Training Day soundtrack.
Months after the terrorist attacks the only thing people were talking about was catching Osama Bin Laden and Jay-Z vs. Nas. Once Esco dropped “Ether” it was on. The titans clashed well into the next year. As a Brooklynite and faithful Nas fan this one tore me apart, but as a rap fan I loved every minute of it.
Playlist Of The Year
Ironically I moved out to the West Coast in ’02 when it felt like hip-hop was going through a transition itself. The winds of change were blowing, but we didn’t know what was coming. Homesick I found myself listening to more New York-centric music. I was bumping Talib’s Quality a lot and Cormega’s True Meaning. Cam’ron’s Come Home With Me, was a must have to make it through the traffic on the 405 freeway. I also gave Common’s Electric Circus a few spins.
Just Blaze and Kanye West were getting my respect as the two hottest young producers. Nas’s God’s Son had Jay’s Blueprint 2 beat by far, but the best album of the year came from Scarface. The Fix was a classic. Just what I needed to give me that back home feeling of soulful beats and dope rhymes. No disrespect to the West, but I couldn’t find that out there at the time.
Playlist of The Year
Log in tomorrow as I run through the rest of the decade in part two. —Rondell Conway.