Showing posts with label evidence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label evidence. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

the top 50 best songs of 2018

The tagline that I've always had with this list is that it's the hardest to make, but let me qualify it: it's the one that easily requires the most work. And considering this is the year where I reviewed more albums than ever before, you'd think for the sheer volume of material this would be excruciating to assemble...

But in truth, this top 50 list actually fell out pretty quickly, at least with respect to the volume of music I've consumed. It still takes a lot of refinement to go through the best songs of any given year, but the truth about 2018 was that for as many songs as I loved, most of them were concentrated onto specific albums, which might lead to a slightly less diverse list as a whole. And if there was a year where my qualification that I can only put up to three songs from any given album on this list was tested... yeah, it was here. And yet even with that qualification, this list is kind of all over the place - little more hip-hop heavy than previous years and we'll get into why on my final list - and I'll freely admit there isn't quite as much metal or electronic music I'd prefer, but I needed to be honest with this one. Keep in mind songs from albums I covered on the Trailing Edge are eligible, and that if you don't see any songs from an album I loved earlier this year, there's no guarantee it won't show up on a different list - some albums don't put out the best individual songs and vice-versa. 

But no more wasting time, let's get this started!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2018

There are years where I struggle with this midyear list, sometimes in years overloaded with quality that force me to make some painful cuts, or years that are a little more scant I'm stuck with what seems like a smaller list... and still have to make painful cuts. 

And thus it feels odd that building this 2018 midyear list is perhaps one of the easiest I've ever assembled, and since I'm not about to assume I'm getting good at this, I'm genuinely curious why that might be. I will say that outside of hip-hop, other genres don't seem to be having an exceptionally strong year - great albums in rock and country and metal but few that really went over the top in terms of quality, and I'd argue pop has had it even worse. But more than that, even the records that just missed the cut - Beach House, Iceage, Parquet Courts, Against All Logic, and especially Phonte - while they were truly terrific releases, I'm not precisely torn up that they had to miss the cut, as they all have a considerable shot for the year-end as my tastes evolve and change. 

So given that this is my fifth list like this, you know the rules: the albums and songs have to have been reviewed in 2018, and while I'm fairly certain you'll all know what's going to top this list, I'll add that there are songs from The Trailing Edge that have a chance to wind up in the individual songs, because there really were some incredible cuts there. So let's not waste any time and start with...

Monday, January 29, 2018

video review: 'weather or not' by evidence

So this was great... not really much more to say other than, 'it's great hip-hop, go listen to it', but I did go through in detail all the same.

Next up... well, Billboard BREAKDOWN is going to be tumultuous, but beyond that we've got one more review before a new episode of the Trailing Edge, so we'll see!

album review: 'weather or not' by evidence

...ohh, I've been looking forward to this. It's been too long.

See it's funny, Evidence was one of the first rappers I really got into when I started digging into underground hip-hop, first with his work as a producer and then as an MC, be it solo, with frequent collaborator Alchemist as Step Brothers, or most famously with DJ Babu and Rakaa Iriscience in Dilated Peoples, a group that if you're not into the undeground you might remember briefly for a minor hit they had with Kanye in 2004. But at this point, does anyone really remember Evidence more for 'This Way' and not The Platform or Expansion Team, or solo with The Weatherman LP and especially Cats & Dogs? Sure, his delivery is more low-key that most, but I put him in the same category as collaborator and fellow L.A. native LMNO, where the subtler elements of his delivery pull the audience closer and he's a smart and effective MC and producer to back it up. I reviewed two affiliated projects of his in 2014 with Dilated Peoples and Step Brothers, both of which I really liked, but it's been a while since he's run solo - he collaborated with Cookbook in 2016 and produced nearly an entire record for Canadian rapper Madchild, but after over an hour and a half of Migos, this was the sort of hip-hop I wanted to revisit - granted, Evidence records are not short either, but the content was bound to cut much deeper.

And really, I had every reason to expect this was great: he had beats of his own plus some from Alchemist and one from DJ Premier, plus guest appearances from everyone from Slug of Atmosphere to Rapsody and Styles P, plus old friends like Krondon and Rakaa. And considering he was framing this as the capstone to his weather themes explored over the past few records, I had high hopes - were they justified, did Weather Or Not stick the landing?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

video review: 'directors of photography' by dilated peoples

Took way longer than I would have liked, but it's done. Pretty damn proud of this review, too.

Okay, need more time before Spoon or Pallbearer... hell, might as well cover that Porter Robinson record everyone keeps asking me about...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

album review: 'directors of photography' by dilated peoples

It's really been a shockingly good year for hip-hop music.

Well, you wouldn't know it if you only followed mainstream rap, but 2014 has proven to be shockingly good both in the introduction of new talent, an explosion of established MCs delivering solid projects or going in a new direction to strong results, and even old underground talents returning to the spotlight with seriously solid records. It's definitely a shame more of it hasn't elbowed its way into the mainstream just yet, but really, that's only just a matter of time, especially as a slew of strong records from TDE continue to gain mainstream attention and even some airplay.

But TDE isn't the only hip-hop label that's putting out quality, and this takes us to Rhymesayers Entertainment, an indie label based in Minneapolis who has some seriously talented MCs behind it like MF Doom, Brother Ali, and Step Brothers, the collaboration project between producers and rappers The Alchemist and Evidence, who released their debut record this year Lord Steppington.

But here's a funny thing: The Alchemist and Evidence have worked together before, on a project that has a certain amount of justly deserved critical acclaim in the underground. That project was Dilated Peoples, featuring the trio of DJ Babu, Evidence, and MC Rakaa Iriscience. After almost a decade of work, they released the exceedingly strong one-two punch in 2000 and 2001 with The Platform and Expansion Team, two records designed to be a thinking rapper's counterattack to the overheated violence and melodrama of gangsta rap. And while I definitely think The Platform is stellar, I couldn't help but notice the flow and wordplay seemed to simplify and get less interesting with each subsequent album, especially on 2004's Neighborhood Watch that had simpler production and their one genuinely awesome charting hit 'This Way' featuring Kanye West. They managed to pull things around with the reasonably solid 20/20, but it was the sort of return to form that simultaneously went grittier, more political, and a lot less likely to break through. It was their final album on Capitol Records, and after that, the group did not release an album or singles for years, going on to other projects and never really indicating there would be another Dilated Peoples record.

And yet this year, where many veterans have returned to the microphone, Evidence, Rakaa Iriscience, and DJ Babu have come together to drop a new album titled Directors of Photography, and you can bet I wanted to check it out. How is it?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

video review: 'good to be home' by blu

Man, it took entirely too long to get this video out, but between social schedule, moving plans, and the Roots discography I'm powering through (plus, you know, a full-time job and shit), it's to be expected.

Next up will be whatever I can get to next before June kicks into gear. Stay tuned!

album review: 'good to be home' by blu

The more I think about it, the more grateful I am that The Alchemist and Evidence dropped the excellent album Lord Steppington very early in the year. See, I'll admit that it's been a learning process for me to discover more acts in the hip-hop underground, and considering they brought on so many names onto that record to collaborate, I got a sampler of a whole selection of artists I might not have heard before. And considering most of them delivered solid lyrics, it definitely got me interested in future projects.

The first one that jumped out at me was Styles P's last album, which was pretty solid, but he was coming from gangsta rap of which I was at least somewhat familiar. But Blu was a different act entirely - originally debuting the mid-2000s with the extremely solid Below The Heavens and inspired by both gangsta and conscious rap with a hint of a Christian angle, Blu's jagged career trajectory has been interesting, if a little concerning for his fanbase. Between the No!York release which came just after his very brief tenure with Warner Records and a selection of EPs and projects that really were a mixed bag, I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting with his newest album, especially because I didn't really like his verse on his track on Lord Steppington, 'Tomorrow'. Admittedly, part of the problem was the beat on that track, but Blu's verse wasn't all that stellar and I wasn't impressed with his flow.

That said, I wasn't about to ignore his new album Good To Be Home, half because the collaboration list looked pretty impressive. Not only was a double disk with collaborations with The Alchemist and Evidence and Fashawn, but LMNO was also reportedly on the album as well, whose album After The Fact was one of my favourite hip-hop releases of last year. And I figured, hey, with such a rich list of collaborators, it'd probably be pretty interesting, right?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

video review: 'lord steppington' by step brothers (the alchemist & evidence)

Glad to finally have a great album released this year - about time.

Next will be Doug Paisley, as I still need time to get through Jason Eady's and Against Me!'s releases. Stay tuned!

album review: 'lord steppington' by step brothers (the alchemist & evidence)

You know you've become a music nerd when you start following other people besides the actual artist when it comes to albums. Sure, the artist often has his or her own unique presence and style and you get some artists who will handle every element of their music - writing, music, production, everything - but not all of them do. And thus, there are other talents behind the scenes that deserve attention. In country music, for instance, since most modern country acts don't write all of their own music, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for certain songwriters. And in hip-hop, you want to keep your eye on certain producers, the people who have a reputation for creating beats and mixes for acts to rap or sing over.

Which takes us to the group we'll be talking about today. If you're familiar with underground hip-hop, you should be familiar with both of these men, both hip-hop producers and rappers in their own right. The first is The Alchemist, known mostly for being the DJ who works with Shady Records and Eminem, but he also has a selection of very well-received albums under his belt. The second man is Evidence, who I last talked about on his collaboration with LMNO on the team-up album After The Fact, which ended up making my list of the best albums of 2013. Now The Alchemist and Evidence have worked together plenty of times before, and they didn't really intend on doing a straight team up until they realized by happenstance that they had enough tracks for a full-length collaboration. So they called their new duo Step Brothers, brought together a group of underground rappers with whom they've collaborated over the past decade (which include Oh No, Action Bronson, Rakaa, Fashawn, and Roc Marciano) for verses, and they've now dropped a new album titled Lord Steppington. Now let me stress this: I've been psyched for this album since I heard about it months ago, as it reminded me a lot of the last underground hip-hop collaboration I covered, which was Run The Jewels by Killer Mike and El-P and was one of the best albums of the year. So how did this collaboration turn out?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

video review: 'after the fact' by lmno ft. evidence

Well, I'm not the biggest fan of this review, but that's mostly because I'm working to transition from a more heavily scripted review to something a little more free-form, and I'm not quite sure I've gotten there yet. Plus, it's a great album and thus I don't have a lot to really complain about.

So, the next wave of September albums is about to crest upon me, with MGMT, Justin Moore, Billy Currington, and Chris Young. Also, I need to do some serious catchup on my Dream Theater before that album drops... these next few weeks are going to be goddamn nuts...

album review: 'after the fact' by lmno ft. evidence

Some of you who have been following my reviews are probably wondering why, in comparison with most music critics, I don't tend to cover a huge amount of hip-hop or rap music, that outside of the major releases (and sometimes not even including those), I don't tend to hit up every single mixtape or underground album that gets dropped. 

And believe it or not, I do have a reason for this: I simply do not have time. I'm serious here - given than I want to cover other genres besides hip-hop or rap, I simply do not have time to cover everything that gets dropped. If I chose to dedicate myself to just covering hip-hop or rap I'd have a better chance of tackling most things, but I bet I'd still be utterly swamped.

But here's the other, unfortunate fact, and that is that I'm kind of getting tired of the direction that modern rap is taking. I've mentioned in previous videos that I don't think trap instrumentation is a good fit for modern rap music, how the dour, humourless, often creepy beats are a bad tonal fit for brag rapping, and much to my frustration, they don't really seem to be going away. And sure, while the retro direction Eminem appears to be going in looking intriguing and I'm cautiously optimistic, I'm also aware that The Marshall Mathers LP II will likely never live up to the high, high expectations Eminem is trying to create.

So perhaps it was the best possible time for me to go back to the underground and check out the newest album from LMNO, a very prolific white rapper from Long Beach signed to Up Above Records from the hip-hop crew the Visionaries. LMNO has been around since the mid-90s, and he has released a ton of material over the past several years, particularly in 2010 where he dropped ten albums. And while I highly doubt all ten of the albums were solid, it does point to a rapper who has a lot of experience and who has refined his flow into something truly potent. So, teaming up with producer Evidence (from Dilated Peoples), he released After The Fact this year after taking 2012 off, and on a recommendation, I decided to take a look. So what do I think?