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What’s the Best Album You Forgot Existed?

Everyone has different ways that they listen to music. Some are only occasional listeners, maybe at the club or at the bar, when they’re ready to let go of their inhibitions, let their hair down and dance. Some only listen to the radio, never really knowing what artist or song is blasting through their car stereo. Some only play the records from their childhood, not really in touch with what the kids are listening to now.

And then there’s us. This new breed of monster that, thanks to the Internet, is constantly updating his or her iPod with fresh material on a daily basis. I don’t know what it is about hip-hop fans, but we’re obsessed with the new, the now. No other musical genre consistently releases new joints on such a frequent basis. Every day someone else is dropping another song or mixtape. And so, ever since I got my first iPod, I’ve always kept a play list called “new shit” and filled it with what I thought was the best of the present day’s offerings.

Funny thing is, with all the music I have on Apple’s greatest creation to date (10,000 plus songs and counting), I spend more time listening to the latest additions to my collection than anything else. But every now and then there’s a slow week on the blogs, nothing deems itself worthy enough to add to the rotation, and I’m forced to dig in the virtual crates.

To me, there’s nothing like that feeling of really connecting with music: whether you’re in a bad mood and you just need something to calm you down, or you’re super hype about something you need to celebrate. Maybe you’re getting ready to go out and you need to start the night off right or you’ve been waiting all week to stay in with that special someone. The whole point for me is to find that line, that note, that hook, that loop, whatever, to complement my mind state at any given moment. Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes the music dictates your emotions. Sometimes you didn’t even know you wanted to go to that place and the song will take you there.

And sometimes you forget a certain song or album even existed. It’s hard to describe that re-encounter, but it’s up there with some of my favorite sensations as a music fan. I’m scrolling down my list of artists and something will pop up that I haven’t heard in a million years. Something I played the fuck out of back when it first came out, but since then I’ve neglected it like the change under my couch cushions or those baggy ass Guess jeans sitting in the back of my closet for the last five years. Something that I know will now take on a new meaning, because it has been resurrected and reborn.

Over the last month or so I’ve rediscovered a handful of material that’s made its way back into the “new shit” folder on my iPod. Wyclef’s Carnival—an album I probably haven’t heard since I was in high school; O.C.’s Word…Life, especially Buckwild’s 15-second interludes; the instrumental Preemo threw on Jeru the Damaja’s Wrath of the Math before “Scientifical Madness;” Nas’s “My Way” from The Lost Tapes, Hi Tek’s “Tony Guitar Watson”—which I would play on repeat a million times a day and throw on every mixtape I would make for friends. The list goes on and on, and the rediscovery process never ends.

But as I pointed out before, everyone’s relationship with their music collection is different. So now it’s your turn to chime in. What’s songs, albums or artists were completely wiped from you’re memory banks that you recently stumbled upon? Now’s your chance to help them take on a new life. —Jesse Gissen

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