end of ’03 song appreciations for ’04

1. Kanye West: All Falls Down (from College Dropout, forthcoming 2004)

Goddamn – my boy let me listen to the new Kanye LP over the weekend and seriously? It’s already an early contender for my best of 2004 list. It’s both like and unlike whatever else you’ve heard on the Roc – Kanye has a little bit of Jigga-man’s mea culpa flavor to him but he’s not really rhyming about rock, women or Rugers – he’s mostly just talking about life and this song, sampling Lauryn Hill from her infamous “Unplugged” sessions, is so melted in the cut, it’s like salt on an ice cube. Kanye isn’t lyrical godliness but he’s solid enough to not embarass himself and I think he’s going to surprise a lot of cats with this album. And oh yeah – “Jesus Walks”, the whole song (not just them mixtape snippets)? I’m confirmed agnostic and that song made me feel the Holy fucking Spirit. That’ll probably be on next week’s Song Appreciation countdown.

2. KMD: Who Me? (from Mr. Hood & Best of KMD)

I admit it – I slept on [i]Mr. Hood[/i]. I mean, I bought the album and all that when it first came out and I always had high praise for KMD but I never really LISTENED to this album overall. Partly it was b/c the engineering was kind of dirty and muddled, like the first Jungle Brothers album, just four years later…and next to De La and Tribe’s Bob Powers-engineered jawns, KMD’s album just didn’t quite appeal to me as much save for a few tracks here and there. But after getting the upcoming [i]Best of KMD[/i] in the mail, I went back and delivered a swift kick to my backside for not spending more time with this album the first time around. Subroc and Zev Love X (Onyx too) were so ahead of the gave creatively, it hurts to realize how fucked over the industry was in shitting on their second album. Why “Who Me?” – this song encapsulates everything that was genius about this album – from the way the song intros on some found-sound snippets, to the funky soul production, to the subject matter: an anti-Sambo missive. Bert still gets props.

3. Scarface: Mr. Scarface (from Mr. Scarface Is Back)

Has Scarface ever made a fiercer, funkier song than this? Home is combining gangsta braggadoccio with story-telling, showing off some serious lyrical skillage. I mean, you can just picture this guy rolling through South Park, put the fear of God (not to mention lead) into his foes like the Punisher going rampage. And that beat? They’re mixing Syl Johnson, Bo Diddley, Le Pamplemouse and whoever else – incredible. I’ll put this up against ANY song from its era – Ice Cube, NWA, BDP, whoever and ‘Face Mob will stand his ground. The funny thing, I had no idea that the repeated dialogue at the beginning was “All I have in this world” since I had yet to see the movie [i]Scarface[/i] at the time.

4. Ghostface Killah: Run (from whateverhisnextalbumiscalled, single out now)

You could drop Jada off this track. You can even drop Tony Starks off this song. What you’re left with is a song that uses a silencing firing as part of the beat. Just stop for a moment. Stop what you’re doing. Stop typing. Stop even fucking reading. Just listen to the beat and then, like the pregnant pause before all hell breaks loose, realize that Ghost is KILLING SHIT on top of that. It’s like the gold ticket inside a Willy Wonka bar.

5. Sound Providers: Throwback (feat. Maspyke) (from An Evening With the Sound Providers – forthcoming 2004)
I’m going to seem rather contradictory since I give grief about retro-new school groups like PUTS, Dilated, Ugly Duckling, Little Brother, etc. but I really, really, really like San Diego’s Sound Providers even if they are arguably part of the same trend. It’s very simple: I love their beats. They mine the kind of jazz albums that I spend way too much eBay and dirty knuckle time digging for and while they’re not necessarily way different from, say, the Procussions or whoever, I’ve yet to hear more than one or two tracks from these kids that I don’t like. “Throwback” is a perfect example – I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure they looped up a piano cover of the “Love Story” theme and the way Soulo (I’m assuming it’s Soulo) chops it up, the track is so nice and warm and inviting, I want to lug over a bean bag chair into it and just lounge for the day. What makes it even better is that SP and guests Maspyke are actually coming with some intelligent verses that aren’t pushing some, “you ain’t as underground as me!” spiel nor some super-scientifical esoterica. I probably wouldn’t shit on the underground as much as I do if more cats were as smart and stylish and these cats. (By the way, the remix of this song is nice too).