Have you ever heard of hype? You know, that minor stipulation that keeps all your favorite artists off the radio and the regular, sometimes undeserving, 140 characters being plastered in the general public’s faces instead. In a perfect world, good music doesn’t fall on deaf ears, but since there are too many artists aiming to jump through the same window, the shards of glass may have hindered the easy access to the diamonds in the rough.
None the matter; good music is eternal you see. Even in hindsight, the musical qualities that can accompany on your daily shuffle far outlasts any sort of incessant promotion bent on making headlines with first week numbers.
Enclosed is a mish-mash of Hip-Hop talent who still made a splash under the radar of commercial exclusivity. With the stoic underground, fairer sex and rap’s most scrutinized all sharing the same umbrella, the gang’s all here so you can appreciated the underappreciated.
Freeway & Jake One – The Stimulus Package — From the packaging on down, creativity bled from this dynamic duo’s public service to headphones. Jake One’s production and utilization of samples was stellar, and Freeway’s intricate lyrics were the perfect compliment. Songs like “She Makes Me Feel Alright,” on which Jake Uno perfectly chopped up Rick James’ “Mary Jane,” and “Microphone Killa,” featuring impeccable delivery courtesy of the Philly Freezer showcased the peaks and valleys galore. The guest slots, highlighted by names like Young Chris, Raekwon, and Bun B, all brought their A-game to the booth and delivered strong verses without breaking a sweat. All in all, The Stimulus Package was one of the most unique offerings of the year, whose superior quality cannot be reflected by its number of scans. — Raj
Kidz In The Hall – Land Of Make Believe — Career progression is supposed to be just that, and Double O and the Chicago kid hit a natural growth spurt unbeknownst to the sniveling masses living in rap’s generic reality. Combining groovy banter like on “Jukebox” with the leaner raps heard on “Traffic,” Land Of Make Believe fancied the lighter side of the imagination and gave Naledge’s creative side the center cloud. — TC
Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli — While half of the population was transfixed on Waka Flocka Flame’s opinions on the national deficit and his alignment with political parties, they failed to notice that he actually released a very substantial body of work in Flockaveli. Splicing radio magnets like “No Hands” in between rambunctious fire hazards like the now infamous “O Let’s Do It” and “Hard In The Paint,” Waka and Lex Luger made a definitive statement in crunk music’s name which was larger than Lil Jon’s chain. — TC
Davinci – The Day the Turf Stood Still — Davinci is a fella that bravely adds artistic layers to the phrase, “marching to the beat of a different drummer.” Sounding almost off-beat with his flow on tracks like “What You Finna Do,” the San Fran native attempted to be as perpetually outside the box as his legendary namesake, using the concrete jungle as his palette of shadowy colors. — C. Paicely
Eternia & Moss – At Last — Being a female MC guarantees one of three things: you’re slept-on, you’re willing to deal with rumors about the amount of semen you’ve ingested, or you’re Lauryn Hill. Eternia falls into the first category: a White, Canadian emcee of the highest caliber that has to overcome the identity politics of Hip-Hop. At Last, her collaboration with fellow undergrounder MoSS packs poetic poisonous darts on street tracks like “It’s Funny” and “The BBQ.” Engaging production throughout and Eternia’s willingness to peel apart her own layers make this album worth a second look for fans of Hip-Hop at its core. — Patrick M.
Roc Marciano – Marcberg — Developing something like a cult following in a reinvigorated underground, Roc Marciano was one man wrecking crew for his overlooked and overdue debut album, Marcberg. Stripped to the bone with muffled phonetic nostalgia and street inspired proverbs (“Snow,” “Ridin’ Around,” “Pop”), those looking to revert to the gangsta aesthetics found in most late 90s Hip-Hop albums were definitely catered to in 2010. — TC
Rocky Rivera – Rocky Rivera — Win an MTV reality show to become a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and turn it down? Ballsy. But not as ballsy as the breakthrough debut from Californian emcee, Rocky Rivera. Utilizing everything from sparse samples to thumping Bay Area bangers, Rivera injected the introspective female perspective without pandering too much to the sex appeal some female rappers have made their calling card (*cough* Nicki *cough*). — Ryan J.
Von Pea – Pea’s Gotta Have It — The Brooklynati resident reminisced over his high school glory days on his nostalgic solo thesis. Without effort, Von captured the care-free antics of the day with tracks such as “Open School!” and “There U Were.” School spirit is in the eye of the beholder when everything but the happenings of the classroom is addressed. Although it wasn’t met with the fanfare that his group’s previous efforts received, listeners who look back favorably on their time spent as an adolescent will find no problem relating to a majority of this album. — MZ
Murs & 9th Wonder – Fornever — Although he’s involved in more projects than WIC, 9th Wonder proved that his chemistry with Murs is a lifetime ordeal. Their fourth studio achievement saw the West Coaster musing about his yellow fever while still keeping his relationship with Hip-Hop close to his heart. Never too late to catch up. — TC
PUSH! Montana – FreshDope — Passed over by many despite the free price tag, FreshDope delivered the tightest package of East Coast street rap of the past year. Consider it a late stocking stuffer for fans of introspective parables on the duality of the drug trade (“Income”) and upbeat come-up anthems (“I’m Alive”) from one of BK’s finest. — Patrick M.
Capone-N-Noreaga – The War Report 2: Report The War — As long as there’s a war going on outside, Capone-N-Noreaga will continue to record it live from the block with the sequel to their crowning achievement The War Report 2. Like most telecasts, the hard-hitting briefs are delivered early in the programming and there was no exception here. When teaming up with their Yonkers affiliates The LOX on “Bodega Stories” or Shaolin ace reporter Raekwon for “Dutches V. Phillies V. Bamboo,” the duo were at their best. Later on, they managed to predict the weather on “Thug Planet,” but a slow news cycle and a handful of weak stories probably kept listeners from tuning in for the entire show. — MZ