Thursday, December 21, 2006

Top Ten Rap Albums of 2006

(Why isn't Ghostface in your Top 5 All-Time list?)

I couldn't even find 10 rap albums I liked in 2005, let alone pull together enough albums to make a Top Ten, so I didn't even bother.

2006 had some signs of a turnaround, especially earlier in the year, although as a whole rap was still pretty shitty. But at least there was enough decent to good shit to throw together a Top 10 without cheating like most people do and adding a mixtape to the list.

You can talk me out of number 9 and 10. Those are my affirmative action picks. In fact please talk me out of them. I like those albums but I'm not married to them.

Before we start, no year should end without Skillz's Rap-Up.

Not as hot as it used to be, but no one else does it.

"Lil Kim came home from doing a bid
Is it me or when she came out she was looking like Big?"


Let's go.

10. AZ - The Format

Here is what you are supposed to say about AZ.
He is a very good rapper.
He is underrated.
He keeps putting out solid albums under the radar.
He cures cancer.
AZ is a formalist whose albums I respect and like but he doesn't exactly knock my socks off.
He makes the list.

9. Rhymefest - Blue Collar

The thing with joke rappers is that they spit so many punchlines that some are bound not to work and when they don't, it's corny.
Rhymefest is not above this trap. But in another year without a Redman album, I'll take whatever fun rap I can get.

8. J Dilla - Donuts

I approach the albums of the deceased with an extra fine comb. Too many times they get the posthumous praise award while releasing crap.
I gave Donuts a hard time after its initial release but so many songs from this album ended up as great rap songs that I gave it another chance and was able to appreciate it for what it was, a great snapshot into the mind of one of rap's great producers.

7. T.I. - King

T.I. flows with the kind of care free confidence that makes his "King of the South" claim hard to argue with.
He makes Lil Wayne sound like the anxious closet case he is.

The greatest slap against the tirade of shitty southern dance songs came with the line,

"She asked me can I do the Laffy Taffy?
I said I do the 'Make the pussy happy'"

Truer words have never been spoken.
I think.

6. The Coup - Pick a Bigger Weapon

The Coup don't like capitalism.

They want you to applaud shoplifters, tell your boss to go to hell, piss on the graves of the robber barons, sneak into functions you weren't invited to and raise little Marxists.

With the wit of the lyrics and the funk heavy beats you might just do it.

"I Love Boosters" is essential. Sing it during your next trip to Macy's.

5. Lupe Fiasco - Food and Liquor

This may be the worst album cover of the year.
Is that a Nintendo DS on the left?
We get it Lupe, you're Muslim, you skateboard, you watch Pokemon and drink soy milk.

I can forgive some of his forays into that Kanye brand of self righteousness for simple fact that it's his first album and most rappers are so over the top with their studio gangsterism that he's just trying to respond with equal force in the opposite direction.

But the main reason he is forgiven is because he's spitting fire about shit no one else is really kicking.
That's what caught my ear this year, hunger and believable lyrics.
It's getting really old for everyone to act like The Wire was based on their life.

4. Nas - Hip-Hop is Dead

Nas damn near started the Civil War of rap with the title of this album alone.
Southern rappers all caught feelings when Uncle Nas shitted on the what they've done with rap since they became the dominant force in sales. East Coast rappers are far from the flawless embassadors of hip-hop that they would like to be (Ja Rule... ahem) but there is some relevancy to the claim that rap quickly devolved into shit after the South took the reigns.

With Jay-Z stepping out of the CEO booth to drop the dud of the year in "Kingdom Come" and Nas returning to form lyrically with "Hip-Hop is Dead" (bring back DJ Premier) the debate over whom is the better rapper will resume with force this summer at a weed spot near you.

And for the record, I like "Who Killed It."
Fuck the voice, listen to what he's saying.

3. Ghostface - More Fish

His album scraps are killing most people in the game.
A thrown together project that his label pitched to him ended up being fire and he sounds hungrier than most new cats in the game.
What more is there to say?

2. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

Yea I picked Gnarls Barkley as my number 2.
And what?
I've heard people call this album a gimmick record and then praise MF Doom in the same breath.
That is called hypocrisy.

Gnarls is just catching backlash for getting (way too much) radio play, selling a million and getting that platinum plaque.
The production is some of the best of the year and most artists wish they could have pop melodies as strong as this.

1. Ghostface - Fishscale

No one raps with the intensity, urgency or the creativity of Ghostface.
If you would have told anyone in 1994 that Ghostface would be the most relevant, respected and commercially viable rapper from the Wu-Tang clan you would have quite possibly been slapped.
It's not that he wasn't good. He just wasn't in the forefront like that.

But more than 10 odd years later he put together an MVP performance and people still sit up to hear that new Ghostface.
Remember who started that coke rap kiddies.
A kilo is a thousand grams.


That's it.

You are a Clipse Stan?
A Game groupie?
Still think Jay-Z can rap?
Let me know.


  1. The production on Hip Hop is Dead is pretty awful. This is supposed to be his opus so he gets Will I AM and Chris Webber to do beats. Cmon now.

    Rhymefest's production was maybe even worse than Nas'

    I didnt like Gnarls Barkley because Cee-Lo's singing sounds like a wilderbeest slowly dying on the savannah mixed with Edith Bunker. I remember when he was illest MC in Goodie Mob. Those were the days...... Dangermouse is way underated though.

    I would have put Murs/9th Wonder - Murray's Revenge and Skyzoo/9th Wonder - Cloud 9: The 3 Day High. You cant find a more thoughtful MC than Murs and 9th Wonder is the only cat to truly carry the torch from Primo.

  2. Ghostface should be getting a lot more props from a lot more places.

  3. - I've just kind of accepted the fact that until Premier bitchslaps Nas and takes the production back, we're just going to keep getting shitty/weird beats on too many songs.

    I still liked the album though.

    Cee-Lo's been trying to sign for a minute now. I guess I'm used to it.

    And Rhymefest was not a love pick. I'll agree with any criticism you throw at it.

    9th Wonder is very hit or miss. His Little Brother stuff is inconsistent and I feel that most of the time it's one note.

    You like Dark-Skinned White Girls?
    That song scared me away from Mur's Revenge faster than Cee-Lo's singing.

    - And of course Ghostface owned the year.

  4. A fine list...glad to see More Fish placed high...people really are going to sleep on this one, but I think Ghost made the best two rap albums of 06. Call me a Game groupie all you want. He's never gonna' make an Illmatic. But no one can deny that Doctor's Advocate was the best west coast album made since Chronic 2001 (not saying much here, but still).
    Great list HR.

  5. I liked Dark Skinned White Girls. Murs is a wierd cat so I expect stuff like that. It didnt help that on the copy I had the tracklisting had that and "Love and Happiness" switched and that is the only bad cut on there.

    Little Brother is inconsistent but 9th Wonder's side projects have been on point. Chemistry with Buckshot, Jeanius with Jean Grae, Cloud 9 with Skyzoo and the aforementioned Murs. I'll take those projects over anything Little Brother has done.

    There should have been an honorable mention for the leaked version of Food & Liquor. That version was much better than the retail with the horrible tacked on R&B hooks and obligatory shitty Neptunes beat. A 12 minute outro? Who greenlit that?

    Thank God for Ghostface.

    If Swift and Unchangeable isnt one the best of 07 with Ghostface and MF DOOM it will further shake my confidence in music.

  6. With all due respect to you and the albums you reviewed. How can you live out album like cunnilynguists´ A piece of strange out of any the best of year 2006 with regarding to yourself as a knowledgeable person about rap.

  7. Weiss - More Fish grew on me.
    If Ghost stopped rapping in 2001 and then came out with "More Fish" everyone would still be going crazy.

    I listened to Chronic 2001 a few months ago and the lyrics were horrible. Game matches that at least. But I'd choose the Documentary over Doctor's Advocate.
    My biggest problem with Game is the fact that I believe him less than any other rapper.

    Less than Cassidy, Nick Cannon and Bow Wow put together. I can't even suspend disbelief and bump his shit. I feel like he's insulting my intelligence with his studio gangsta shit.

    Go 14 - Murs is a weird cat. I've seen him live, he's cool and all and I like the album but it's too damn short to have tracks I don't like.
    You know what I mean?
    Short albums have to be perfect.

    Anonymous 09284394 - A piece of strange fruit struck me as a typical underground rap album. Varied production with some lyrical flourishes but not enough consistency or focus on the song as a whole to hold my attention and get a top 10 nod.

    Why do you like it that much?

  8. I got Hip Hop is Dead and Kingdom Come on the same day, ripped them onto my computer, and them made a playlist of alternating tracks from each album. A Nas vs. Jay-Z battle of albums, if you will. Nas did not let me down this time. Jay-Z proves yet again that there isn't much he can rap about, but good production will take you a long way commercially. Hip Hop is in fact d-izz-ead.

  9. Respectable list, although I was not into the Gnarls. "Transformer" is one of the ten worst songs of the year.

    We've discussed Lupe--his lyrics are what's up; the product is not. And I can't get past that, as listening to him becomes a chore thanks to too many beats that make me want to skip.

    I liked the Murs record.

    I agree with you on Game--I'll take Documentary over Doctors Advocate. The production on the first was amazing, even if the rapping is predictable and a little immature.

    Ghostface made the two best records of the year.

  10. I can see why one could hate "Transformer."

    If people stomach bad lyrics for goods beats then bad beats with good lyrics should get a chance as well.

    Murs was oookkk.
    I'm surprised you like it that much.
    Maybe I'll give it another listen.

    All hail Ghost Face Killaaaahhh

  11. Where is Game Theory?! Seriously.
    I'm not asking that you put them on top (of course I am, its the friggin Roots.) but certainly I think most would choose it over Gnarls. Honestly the 2nd half of the album kinda dies off and is so short you feel kinda pissed if the artwork didn't look so nice.

    and I feel you on DOOM but come on! his lyrical play his amazing but he's followed by the gremlin of bad production backing...or at least not being more choosey with his releases. We love madlib and the crew but it has been over the top at times the last year or two. Novelty but certainly something new to the ears. Same applies to Hip Hop is Dead, to me it sounds like the sparse production on some of the tracks are homages to known old school hot beats. Showing that the game may seem dead but you can definetly breath some life into it when you pay attention. A couple times through you get stuck into a few specific tracks and just kinda keep going.

    and i'll admit, I love 'Who Killed It' too.