These Are The Best Hip-Hop Tribute Projects Of 2014 So Far
Tribute albums are about as old as music itself. In almost every music genre known to the world, there are tribute albums made, then remade again, to honor a particular artist's work. Hip-hop is no exception. While few projects can live up to the quality of the original, many have done an exceptional job of paying homage and pleasing loyal fans. With that being said, here's our list of the best hip-hop tribute albums, ranking from the bottom to top. Let the debate begin.—Marvin Jules
8. Jon Connor, Best In The World
Jon Connor, having already completed tribute albums for Jay-Z's Blueprint series and Eminem, recently released this tribute album to Kanye West, recording his own versions of classic Kanye tracks such as "Touch The Sky" and "Last Call", and newer additions to the Kanye discography, such as "Bound 2" and "Black Skinhead." The outcome is a project that doesn't look to one-up or change anything from the original version, but one that pays respect to one of hip-hop's greatest stars.
7. Skyzoo & Antman Wonder, An Ode To Reasonable Doubt
Brooklyn bred rapper Skyzoo and Philadelphia composer Antman Wonder collaborated to create this wonderful tribute to Jay Z's classic Reasonable Doubt album. This 9 track EP finds Skyzoo rapping his own original verses on top of Antman Wonder's beautiful compositions, filled with strings, horns, and other live instrumentation.
6. CyHi The Prynce, Hystori: Black History Project
Cyhi The Prynce’s Black History Project mixtape is an unique take on Black History, titling some of the tracks with the names of historical Black figures such as Coretta Scott King, Huey P. Newton and Nelson Mandela. Each of the songs showcases CyHi in a way that appropriately, but not disrespectfully, compares some of his qualities (or in the case of “Coretta,” his girl’s qualities) to the historical Black figure in the song title. It's a teaching moment for some of the younger generation that might not know some of the figures mentioned on the tape.
5. Melo-X, Yoncé-X
Melo-X's tribute to Beyoncé is an interesting take on Beyoncé's latest eponymous album. Fusing an electronic spin on Queen B's songs in a way that only he can, Yoncé-X is an enjoyable musical journey that fans of both Melo and Beyoncé can enjoy.
4. Jam Master Jay Tribute
While not a tribute album per se, this video, a tag team turntable mixing and scratching session between DJ Scratch and Jam Master Jay's son TJ Mizell, has to be close to the top of any tribute list. You would be hard pressed to find a more fitting tribute to any artist.
3. Amerigo Gazaway, Yasiin Gaye
To simply call this project a "mash-up", does it a disservice. Amerigo Gazaway produces a beautiful 12-track masterpiece, blending Mos Def's slick rhymes with Marvin Gaye's smooth vocals, making for an extremely satisfying musical experience.
2. Pete Rock, Tribute To Roy Ayers
A tribute from one great to another. Producer/DJ extraordinaire Pete Rock's DJ mix of Roy Ayers inspired/sampled tracks—ranging from Junior Mafia's classic "Get Money" to Kurious's "Uptown Shit"—was an appropriately groovy tribute to one of the funkiest musicians to walk this Earth.
1. De La Soul, Smell The D.A.I.S.Y.
This tribute by De La Soul contains 11 tracks of De La Soul a capella's from classic tracks such as "Oooh," "Oodles of O's," and more, over bumping J Dilla instrumentals. Two of the legends of the boom-bap era together on one album is a beautiful thing.