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MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
This month will find a shorter Glaciers of Ice than usual. I could blame global warming - did anyone see the news about that massive ice shelf that broke off during the holidays? But the real reason is because I've been so involved with the debut of VH1's The White Rapper Show, spending most of the beginning of this month making sure my TiVo was ready to record. The debut episode aired last night, and reality TV has been saved - take that, Real Housewives of the OC! Serch kills it as a host, and Persia, John Brown, and Sully are certain future mixtape stars. Not so sure about Misfit, but damn, she looks good. OK, on to the music…
The Mavericks might just be the hottest thing out of Dallas at the moment, even if the Lakers did school them the other night, ruining their 13-0 streak. In your face, Dirk. But Dallas has also long been a bastion of dirty Southern hip-hop, and the newest entrant into this canon is Big Tuck with Tha Absolute Truth (T-Town Music/DSR/Universal Republic). "I'm the underground Al Gore/ I don't need a pool 'cause the backyard's the shore," he raps on the opening track, "Monsta." This is crunk for those who don't necessarily like crunk. Tuck's drawl is slight, not like the syrupy Houston cadence of Paul Wall, Scarface, and Mike Jones. But his commanding voice and hometown pride lifts aloft tracks like "Texas Takeova" (featuring Bun B) and "U Can't See Me" (featuring Double T. and Lil Ronnie). The production consists mostly of understated funk and r'n'b injected with a heavy dose of boom-bap beats from the likes of The Missing Element, Bigg Tyme, and Play-N-Skillz. Erykah Badu shows up flaunting her slithering croon on the slowed-down "Ain't No Mistaken," a soft track that still sounds trill due to Tuck's Ludacris-on-cough-syrup vocals. He maintains that Dallas is next on the hip-hop map, and his new record could just make you believe that could be the case.
And speaking of Texas, Houston's 14-year-old J Xavier has released his debut, Young Prince of Tha South (Music World Music). Um, kid rappers… not to cast too wide a net, but I just can't feel most of them. Shyheim held it down, and let's not forget Chi Ali. But overall, it just gives me the shivers to hear pre-adolescents talking about bling and acting all thugged out. J Xavier has skills, and he (or his handler) seems to be aiming for a positive image, garnering local awards in his hometown. He also apparently recorded a song called "Yao Ming Wants the Dunk," which was translated into Mandarin. Superstars like Mike Jones and Lil' KeKe show up on the record, as well as funk legend George Clinton (wha?). While there are interesting frills on some of the production, like the fast snare rolls and distortion blasts on the funked-out "Stroll," and the GZA-sampling "Allow Me," overall this is pretty run of the mill Texas rap. Oh, and he gives a shout out to Wal-Mart in the liner notes. It's yet to be determined if Xavier will be a Kriss Kross or a Bow Wow, but we'll check back in three years to find out.
Stones Throw is now officially ten years old, as the label's latest press release states simply. But if this pre-pubescent hip-hop powerhouse is about to suffer any growing pains, it isn't very noticeable. Stones Throw is just one of those labels that offers up solid consistency - it's hard to find an album they put out that falls short. Some ST artists may be slightly less accessible than others (Aloe Blacc, Georgia Ann Muldrow, Gary Wilson), but they always bring the creativity to their off-kilter music. Peanut Butter Wolf's baby has released Stones Throw: Ten Years, a compilation of some of the greatest songs from the label's extensive catalogue, and the double-disc set also features a J. Rocc mix of those songs. The selection is a good overview of the bangers (Madvillain's "America's Most Blunted," Lootpack's "Whenimondamic," and M.E.D.'s "Bang Ya Head"), the blunted (Quasimoto's "Low Class Conspiracy," Co-Real Artists' "What About You?" Gary Wilson's "Gary's in the Park"), and everything in between. Don't front, this mix will get you open, and J. Rocc's flawless blending is a shining achievement, as usual. Yes, Glaciers of Ice always seems to be on Stones Throw's jock. But oh, what a jock.
And finally, the Chicago collective Qualo has two releases out: the full-length, Believe (The Movement), and a mixtape called Only in America (The Movement). This is interesting but often very average underground hip-hop. The production, mostly handled by member Preast, occasionally breaks the surface of mediocrity, as on the entertaining "How to Make a Baby Mama," and sometimes the members' political sensibilities burst through their rhymes, but overall it fails to impress. And as usual, the mixtape surpasses the album, but that's been the case all year, people, so this should come as no surprise.
And that's all for this month. Glaciers will be back in full form in February. So until then… e-mail with thoughts and insults, and send me yer shit! I'll listen to it. Glaciers is ghost like Casper.
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
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