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Colin M

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Colin M last won the day on November 19 2014

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About Colin M

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  1. Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Jarobi
  2. I think I'll declare on D'Angelo and The Vanguard - Black Messiah Aphex Twin - Syro Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty St Vincent - St Vincent Beck - Morning Phase Kemper Norton - Loor The Advisory Circle - From Out Here Grumbling Fur - Preternaturals VHS Head - Persistence Of Vision Ariel Pink - Pom Pom D'Angelo can be number 1 and the rest are in no particular order. Reads depressingly like an Observer Music Monthly list. Ah well, twas a good year.
  3. Loved Person Pitch when it came out, Tomboy was good too. The new one is getting some good press alread as well.
  4. On the subject of Southern Rap - not really my forte although would easily have any of the first four Outkast albums in there, and I would definitely find space for Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury.
  5. Sorry lads, really meant to get it finished this week, but have failed dismally. Promise to wind it up before too long!
  6. I love Voodoo - a definite top 10 favourite of mine, on some days since its release it's been my no 1 of all time. It has its flaws but then it's hard to truly love things that are flawless. I never saw it as slick, certainly in comparison to Brown Sugar, I think it's pretty rootsy in sound, and the rhythms are so off the beat, like a live band playing Dilla's Slum Village beats of the time. The vocal arrangements are off the hook as well and for me render it pretty psychedelic - D'Angelo certainly wasn't the first person to multi track his own voice but the way he did on that has this underlying weirdness to it that I love. I've genuinely never tired of it in nearly 14 years of listening (I bought it the day it came out almost on a whim, I liked but didn't love him before that). I think that whole Soulquarians phase was great, definitely fell short of its potential for the most part but Things Fall Apart, Like Water For Chocolate and Mama's Gun are, along with Voodoo and Fantastic Volume I and II, like a wee mini genre and meeting of minds that sadly never really developed further. Although maybe that's why I like it, too much more of it might have become stale. I even love Electric Circus though The new one "Black Messiah" is dense, for a record rushed out you can tell it's been toiled over for the last decade or so, but it's heavier and rockier than Voodoo. Still obvious comparisons to Prince and Funkadelic and Sly amongst other things but feels really natural. Like I said though, I'm a fanboy so not really that objective on it. It's excited me much more than the Aphex comeback, as much as I've enjoyed that too.
  7. The new D'Angelo album will fly straight to the top of my list, even after just a few listens. Such is life as a fan boy.
  8. Also love for Pigs - How I Could Just Kill A Man - Hand On The Pump First Cypress Hill album was a shock to the system, think it gets overlooked sometimes how fresh that seemed at the time.
  9. Bit obvious but Bring Da Ruckus - Shame on a Nigga - Clan In da Front, is up there. I'd still plump for Follow The Leader though.
  10. 6 = Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) For most of the artists in this list, there was a ceiling to their success, an upper limit to what they could achieve commercially. The biggest rap stars of the early 90s were the much maligned MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, hugely commercial with a pop audience, despised and continually dissed by hardcore rap fans. Like most genres which can be preceded by the word "hardcore", hip hop always had an inherent conservatism, the view that there was the right way to do things, and for all its sonic invention and open minded and liberal approach to borrowing from other forms of music, there was always suspicion over anything that went too far beyond the core audience. For the seasoned rap fan, Eminem posed a conundrum. Eminem is, and indeed was in 2000, a bona fide mega star, an unmistakeable pop icon, and a unique talent. The success of his Slim Shady LP meant that the follow up would always be huge, and so it proved. There's probably never been a hip hop album so readily praised and dissected by the rock centric music media. And so, many rap fans didn't know what to make of him - here was a (shock!) white trailer trash dickhead who people were being told was better than everyone else who did it before, who carried the patronage of Dr Dre, who could have Snoop Dogg guest on his album and could have legendary cult producer Mark the 45 King produce a huge pop hit for him. He didn't really rap about how great he was, although his second album is the most self obsessed spread of music you could imagine. He had the skills, he had the credibility, yet here was a character who for all the precedents we can think of, just wasn't like other rappers. As its name suggests, The Marshall Mathers LP has the air of autobiography to it, the other side of the coin to the cartoonish Slim Shady LP focussed on an alter ego. It's not quite that simple, Eminem still indulging his notion for horror centric fantasy on several tracks, but the album is about his fame, about the reaction to him as a phenomenon, and about how he is perceived. It's an album that achieves success by self examination, practically writing the analysis that would come in response to it. It's a type of meta fiction, an album about itself. Eminem has the flow, the lyrical prowess, the styles and the vocabulary to rightly be celebrated as a great MC, yet here he displays a cleverness too, and an ability to poke fun at himself, so that the whining about the trappings of fame never grate too much. Many artists develop so that the music that follows their opening statements becomes about fame, but few if any display the same level of creativity in making their finest work as a result. All of this makes the album sound like it's a difficult listen, and it really isn't. It had amazing singles - "Stan" may have sampled Dido, but her insufferable style is rendered as spooky chorus to accompany the tale of the too obsessed stalker who goes mental and mimics his hero by killing his pregnant girlfriend in his car, just before Eminem gets around to replying to him. Tragedy in pop never sounded so popcorn friendly. "The Real Slim Shady" continues in the hip hop tradition of dissing imitators, despite the knowledge that Slim Shady isn't even real in the first place, and including a fantasy of murdering Dr Dre. "The Way I Am" is a golden slice of righteous anger, a response to his fame and how he's perceived. The rest of the album offers up a number of gems, with guest turns from RBX and Sticky Fingaz of Onyx on "Remember Me?" and the school of Dre all stars with the man himself, Snoop, Xzibit and Nate Dogg on "Bitch Please II". "Criminal" entertains the notion of Eminem's thoughts and art being perceived as a crime, while horrorcore "love" song "Kim" acts as a prequel to "97 Bonnie and Clyde" from his debut as he plays out the scenes leading to him killing his partner, echoing the theme already revisited on "Stan". The accompanying music throughout, again helmed mostly by Dre and The Bass Brothers, is cartoon riffs over spiky beats, as if the good Doctor had never even heard a Parliament record and was instead obsessed with Danny Elfman. The Marshall Mathers LP was a smash, critically acclaimed and was such a defining point in Eminem's career that he made a sequel to it. I would imagine that the reaction to it on this thread will be mixed - some will be annoyed that it features so high in the list, some will consider it undeserving, some will be indifferent, some will hate it, but enough voted for it to be here so it's clearly well loved. In writing this I join the legions of those who have lavished it with praise, and I'm obliged to do so, whether I believe it or not. And so it goes. Consensus would be boring. And that's not a criticism that could be levelled at The Marshall Mathers LP, a clever yet emotional album that uniquely examined itself while conquering the world.
  11. A wee correction, album should have been 6 = rather than 7. My bad.
  12. 6 = The Notorious B.I.G. Ready To Die (1994) At the time, Ready To Die seemed like something new. In retrospect, the album may not have been particularly different in make up to the music that precedes it, but post Wu-Tang, post Chronic, Biggie Smalls was a herald for a new era, representing a new generation of hardcore rap MCs, a rival to a throne previously assumed by Rakim, Kane, Chuck and Ice Cube. All of those heavyweights had their best records behind them, and here was a new one, a rival to Nas, an MC who seemed the real deal. While Biggie would indeed go on to represent a different era and style of hip hop as the lynchpin in Puff Daddy's Bad Boy empire and New York's champion in a coastal feud, looking back Ready To Die seems to belong to that earlier era, a classic album for a debut, quintessential hardcore rap music marrying themes of crime, sex, nostalgia and a level of braggadocio that positioned Biggie as more than just the latest contender. There are certainly touches of the new about it - it's hard to think of a hardcore rapper that would have had a pop friendly R&B chorus on a track, as occurs on the "back in the day" vibes of "Juicy", acting as a precedent for his follow up. "Big Poppa" is pretty much a G-Funk backing, pointing towards a musical blurring of the division between coasts, even if their vocal rivalry would reach its heights in the years to come. In general too, the album's production provides classic mid 90s boom bap beats, largely helmed by unsung veteran Easy Mo Bee, who would part define the sound (both here and on Craig Mack's classic track "Flava In Ya Ear") for the next few years, more streamlined than the sampling stew of the earlier 90s. Overall though this still feels classic, a continuation of Marley Marl and Preemo's hard edged beats with funky chopped samples. The beats on the title track and "The What", co-starring Method Man, one of rap's other stars of the day, are perfect examples of this ethos, amongst a wealth of head nodding beats setting the scene for Biggie's vocals. There's no doubt that Biggie seemed for real - when he spat forth a violent sense of anger and desire to do crime for the hell of it on "Things Done Changed" and "Ready To Die", you believe him. "Gimme The Loot" is self explanatory in its title, one of the best beats on the album topped by Biggie changing his voice back and forth, presenting himself as robbing everyone including pregnant mothers. There's probably no greater anti-hero track in the whole of rap music. By all accounts he was a surprise hit with the ladies too - so the frankly hard to listen to interlude on "f**k Me" and answer phone messages on "One More Chance" seem to complete the character - as ruthless in his attitude to women as he is to stick ups. I also can't think of too many rappers who so readily had several different lyrical flows to their arsenal, Biggie switching his style up several times throughout the album. DJ Premier's abstract beats and scratches on "Unbelievable" provide a classic high point for both artist and producer, and like his soon to be rival Nas there was always a sense that if Preemo and Biggie teamed up for a whole album worth of tracks, you'd have a stone cold classic on your hand no problem. The closing "Suicidal Thoughts" may suggest a vulnerability, but there's also that sense that Biggie genuinely didn't give a f**k whether he lived or died, such was the life he had already seen at a young age. The death metaphor of the album means that it fits quite nicely as part of that so called golden era, Biggie ready for his rebirth on its sequel as high living playa amidst a hip hop scene almost wholly fused with smooth R&B. "Ready To Die" is a stunning artist statement, a powerful breakthrough for one of rap's greats.
  13. 8 = Public Enemy Fear Of A Black Planet (1990) Public Enemy's third came at a time when the group was at the height of their popularity and critical acclaim, yet also perceived to be in crisis. Following the revolutionary sounds of second album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, the group seemed to be on the point of disintegration. Minister of Information Professor Griff had been kicked out after a string of controversies ended with him making what were seen to be anti-semitic comments. Although Griff's impact on their sound may have been relatively minimal to the outsider, this division in a group where unity and solidarity were key to their entire ethos seemed to threaten their existence. Public Enemy had come out ready to fight the world, and there was a sense that some of the world didn't want to hear it and was ready to fight back. Internal differences in the Bomb Squad production team had also reared their heads, as so often seems to happen within successful groups. It's incredible then that PE responded to these strifes with such a coherent and powerful album, which for many is every bit the equal of their more celebrated second album. For fans familiar with their earlier statement, Fear was notably denser in sound, the Bomb Squad's wall of noise approach seemingly turned up a notch to include even more layers of samples. Fear Of A Black Planet is an astonishing collage of loops, beats, stabs and grunts, where every little segment of sound seems to be percussive, where sampled sections of music are rendered as noise, providing the perfect chaotic backdrop for Chuck D and Flavor Flav to preach and perform against. With the James Brown-ish declaration on "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" that "Papa Got A Brand New Funk", the message was delivered that the music here had mutated into something that sounded new and revolutionary for the new decade. Guitars and horns seem to be rendered as sirens, yet all the time the music is underpinned by an undeniable funky impulse. Most apparent when they performed live, this was politics you could dance to. The unusual vocal delivery on "Pollywanacracka" and slowed down beats on "Reggie Jax", and helium voices on the title track (recalling Parliament/Funkadelic amongst other influences) indicated that the group were also willing to experiment with their sound, keeping things fresh without ever falling too far into cliche. When Chuck described hip hop as "Black CNN", it's Fear that most obviously springs to mind. While other rappers' news may have amounted to little more than either the state of their ghetto or generic messages of consciousness, Fear sees PE and Chuck in particular touch upon a host of topics relevant to both the black community and wider world in general in 1990. From the spread of AIDS on "Meet The G That Killed Me", to inherent racism in the film industry on "Burn Hollywood Burn", to the paranoia of interracial genetics on the title track, Fear provides the world according to Chuck in the most exhilarating fashion. Not to be outdone, the clown prince of the group Flavor Flav shows that he could be as political as his chief cohort on "911 is a Joke", a criticism of police response times to crime in the black communities. Back with Chuck, "Welcome To The Terrordome" still sounds as gripping as its name suggests, while the fantastically noisy "War At 33⅓" is a personal highlight, leading towards the climax of 1989 single and anthem "Fight The Power", which almost feels bolted on given the intensity of the tracks that precede it. PE are still going strong, particularly as a live act, and have delivered a number of albums of varying quality, gaining new generations of fans along the way. It's fair to say though that they've never sounded as vital as they did in the lead up to and on Fear Of A Black Planet. The production team would pretty much completely drift apart, with the core group members left to bring in new talent and contributors as they went along. At times in recent years there's even a sense that the military stylings and righteous anger is seen as ironic or even kitsch in a time where being apolitical is de rigeur. Perhaps that's just the old man in me talking. It would be easy to look at Public Enemy as being very much of their time, yet recent events in America and Missouri in particular indicate that society hasn't moved on as much as we'd like to think, and PE's music and worldview has as much relevance today as it did more then two decades ago. Regardless of this, there's still no greater shock to the system than the sonic assault and energy of Fear Of A Black Planet, an album that continues to resonate throughout troubled times.
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