Showing posts with label run the jewels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label run the jewels. Show all posts

Saturday, January 6, 2018

the top 25 best albums of 2017 (VIDEO)

Well, nearly forgot about this one... but not to worry, it's still here. Enjoy!

Next up, the debut of The Trailing Edge - stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2017

Of all the years I've put together year-end lists for albums, this might be the hardest it's been - and believe it or not, it's for the best possible reason: I covered an abundance of incredible music in 2017, arguably more than I ever have before! Even though I didn't give out any perfect scores, this year showed multiple genres giving us the goods, from a revitalized rock scene to several country gems to underground hip-hop making a major resurgence to pop putting forward its best showing in years - and that's not even getting to the genre-defying oddities that utterly blew my mind!

But what this also meant were cuts... in a year where I could put together a top 50 and still feel like I'm leaving stuff off, this was particularly brutal. Once again, I was very tempted to expand this list, but again, I'm highlighting the best of the best, and that means while these could have made it in a weaker year, for 2017 they didn't cut it. I won't deny that hip-hop got hit hard in this, as I really wanted to include records from Quelle Chris, Jay-Z, milo, Armand Hammer, Tyler the Creator, Rapsody, Yelawolf, and yes, Kendrick Lamar on this list and I can't. And queue the outrage by everyone that DAMN. is not making this list, but considering there are  five hip-hop records that beat him out to get here, there isn't room for complaining. And I don't want to hear anything from the indie set either than Father John Misty, Kirin J. Callinan, Spoon, The xx, St. Vincent, and Alvvays missed the cut too - all great records, to be sure, but not quite good or consistent enough. Honestly, the most painful cuts for me came in rock - where Creeper, Chelsea Wolfe, and Ayreon all missed it - and especially country, where Natalie Hemby, Angaleena Presley, Dori Freeman and Chris Stapleton all didn't make it - again, great albums, but limited slots. Finally, we have three records that would have sparked controversy had they landed on the list so there is a part of me they just missed the cut: Jhene Aiko, Brand New, and Niall Horan - although there is another part of me that would love to see everyone's expression if Niall made my year end list and Kendrick didn't.

But again, those are my Honourable Mentions... and now onto the list proper.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

the top 50 songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

And there we go. Massive videos, really proud with how they turned out - enjoy!

the top 50 best songs of 2017

I said on Twitter a few months ago that of all of my year-end lists, this one is always the most complicated - because it's by far the most personal. With the constraint of a list of hits or talking about records in aggregate, you've manufactured some distance - but if you're just going through the list of the songs that spoke the most to you regardless of whether they were a single or not, there's no separation or barrier.

And when you add to the fact that 2017 was a tumultuous year - not just for me but for most of the world, although I did have my own share of trying times - it's a little unnerving to go through the cutting process and realize how dark it truly got. There isn't much escapism in this top 50, and what escapism does show up is very much colored by consequences waiting in the wings. I'm not saying it's downbeat - in comparison to the melancholy that colored a lot of last year, there are more pronounced moments of joy and triumph - but it is by far the most unsettled, pulling the least punches and ultimately producing a psychological profile of my year in 2017 I'm still not quite sure what to do with. But hey, all of these came from albums I covered this year, and I wouldn't have spent a month pruning this list to its form now if I didn't have faith in it - even though I can guarantee there'll be a fair few conspicuous entries that aren't here if you're comparing to other critical lists. So let's get this started...

Friday, June 30, 2017

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017 (VIDEO)

And there is THAT weight off my shoulder. Whew, ton of work to get that out... and yet it's not over, as I've got another special video dropping soon, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2017

There have been a lot of people who have said that 2017 has not been a good year for music, on the charts or otherwise... and from a certain point of view I can see it. Hip-hop in particular has had a really rough past few months, and between pop stars flopping, mainstream country continuing to spiral, and entirely too many records from established acts not living up to their potential, indie or mainstream, I can see why people are calling 2017 a disappointment.

I can also say that I don't buy it for a second, because for me, 2017 has been awesome. I already have plenty of songs to line my list of the best hits, and going into this point at the midyear, I have more records that I've scored 9/10 than ever before. Granted, it also seems like one of those years where the critical darlings aren't quite crossing over in the same way, and if you haven't heard of most of my favourites, that would be why - and that's not even counting the stuff I had to cut, and man, there were a few rough choices there. I think part of this comes from Patreon helping to shape my requests - once the scheduling got figured out as part of this experiment, things began to click and I started covering a lot of stuff I really loved. 

So you all know the drill by this point: twelve albums in order - an order that could shuffle by the end of 2017 - twenty-four songs in chronological order of my reviewing them (yes, I'm expanding the list, it's that kind of year), and keep in mind that if they don't make this list they've still got a real shot for the list at the end of the year, so let's get this started with...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

video review: 'run the jewels 3 (rtj3)' by run the jewels

Man, this was a ton of fun, really dug the hell out of this. Not as good as RTJ2, but hell, what is?

Anyway, time to deal with another collaboration that I missed (like seemingly everyone else), so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

album review: 'run the jewels 3' by run the jewels

Well this is a damn impressive way to start the year, that's for sure. Not Rae Sremmurd or Rachel Platten, only an album that was hotly anticipated by me ever since the last Run The Jewels album topped my year-end list of the best records of 2014!

And hell, if you were going to go back over the past few years in hip-hop and my favourites, you'd consistently see Run The Jewels near the top, mostly because they're a damn near perfect collaboration project that has consistently highlighted my assertion that music that goes hard as hell can still be witty and insightful, and that conscious hip-hop can still bang with the best of them. And while the first Run The Jewels project set the stage with sheer energetic bombast, RTJ2 showed the political firebrand side of both artists break into their set of weirder, nastier beats, from El-P's slyly curving punchlines to Killer Mike's monstrous wallops.

And so you can bet I was looking forward to this record a lot, easily one of my most anticipated of 2017 - and yes, I know they dropped a free version at Christmas during 2016, but the physical copy still is coming out this year, I have an excuse to be covering it now - but for the first time, I had some serious trepidation going in. See, if you're familiar with Killer Mike at all outside of hip-hop, it would be because of his very public campaigning for the unsuccessful Democratic primary run of Bernie Sanders. Now I could say a lot about my complicated and frustrating feelings surrounding the realistic implications and effects that campaign had on the election as a whole, but that would be getting seriously political and it would ignore the inevitable frustration with the system that Killer Mike has made public since then. And if that sort of disillusionment started creeping into the music it could make for a frustrating listen, and not just because of everything I just described but because Run The Jewels' politics have always been more naturally anarchistic: broad strokes and exaggerated, but hiding the nuance in the details, and more importantly not really fitting within the system so much as burning it down... and cynicism can be a really bad tone to set behind it, especially if El-P, who didn't really show off the same political drive in 2016 that Killer Mike did, doesn't really adopt the same progression. In other words, while I really wanted to love this album, I had considerable concerns going in: so what happened?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the top 25 best albums of 2014 (VIDEO)

And that's it for me for 2014! The last of the lists, probably one of the more controversial ones, but hey, it's what you get.

I want to thank all of you for sticking with me this long - if it wasn't for you crazy cats, I wouldn't have gotten this far or I probably would have spent my time elsewhere long ago. As it is, let's keep up the hustle, and I hope to see you all with more album reviews, Billboard BREAKDOWN, and maybe something new in that new year. Stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2014

And now, the final list, the most important and likely the most hotly debated selection, the top 25 albums of 2014. Some of these entries you will recognize as they've been acclaimed by plenty of publications already, but there are a few surprises here that definitely need their due consideration.

One thing to preface this list: while I have seen many year-end lists, these are all my personal choices based upon what stuck with me the most this year. And to qualify, they have to be one of the 210 albums I reviewed in full this year. And believe me, this list had a few painful cuts, but I'd prefer to keep this list smaller and respect the cream of the crop rather than reward albums that might not deserve the same acclaim.

But enough, wasting time, let's get this started!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the top 50 best songs of 2014 (part ii: 25-1) (VIDEO)

And there's part two. One last list to come, stay tuned!

the top 50 best songs of 2014 (part i: 50-26) (VIDEO)

That's part one, now part two!

the top 50 best songs of 2014

And now onto the third list, and by far one of the hardest to make. This year I discussed 210 albums and from there I had just under 700 songs that I considered eligible for this list. From there, the task of narrowing it down and ranking them was excruciatingly difficult, because I want to make sure this list was of the best of the best, and even with that I had to make some painful cuts. And once again, keep in mind these are not the hits. We have singles and deep cuts here, from artists who are defiantly mainstream to those lodged deep in the underground. And one more thing: for a song to land on this list, it has to have been released from an album I reviewed this year. If it was just a single, it doesn't cut it - but on a contrary note, if the single dropped last year or even the year before and the album was only released now... well, it qualifies in my books.

But enough wasting time, let's get this started with...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

video review: 'run the jewels 2' by run the jewels

Goddamn, this album was sweet. Seriously, get this record, it's one of the best hip-hop albums of the year. 

Okay, next up I'm hearing some interesting things from that Sam Hunt album, but I don't have high hopes. Besides, this Objekt album is intriguing the hell out of me, so it'll probably be next - stay tuned!

album review: 'run the jewels 2' by run the jewels

It's always a little unnerving going into album sequels - especially when those sequels aren't just to great albums, but records that I and many other critics would hold as some of the best of the year. And no, I'm not talking about Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V, which he unsurprisingly delayed, moving it to a week when it wasn't going up against the monolithic sales of Taylor Swift. I'm talking about an album from a duo that chose to leak the album for free, a rap duo whose unlikely pairing was greeted with apprehension last year and now has built to being one of the most heavily anticipated records of 2014.

Yep, I'm talking about Run The Jewels 2, the followup album to the self-titled first record from El-P and Killer Mike, the former an underground producer and rapper known for rhymes as layered and complex as his beats, the latter a member of Dungeon Family know for hard-hitting wordplay and a dominant presence behind the microphone. The pairing might have seemed odd in 2013, but when Run The Jewels dropped, the pairing made too much sense and ended up being my favourite hip-hop album of last year - and I wasn't the only one giving it that acclaim. 

And yet I have to admit, I was concerned about Run The Jewels 2. It was a follow-up to an incredible record full of fantastic wordplay, and it set the expectations dangerously high. And coupled with a list of guest stars that included Zack De La Rocha from Rage Against The Machine, Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia, Diane Coffee known for working with Foxygen, and acclaimed drummer Travis Barker, this record looked like something special - but could it match its predecessor in terms of wordplay and production?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the top 25 best albums of 2013

And now we're down to the final list - my top twenty-five albums of 2013. This year, I reviewed 135 albums - and frankly, I should have done more. But I feel it's a plenty big sample size to discuss my choices, and all of these earned their slots on this list. I'll also try to keep this as quick as I possibly can - I've already talked about all of these albums in detail, and you should all check out my reviews if you want a more in-depth discussion. Also, my list isn't exactly going to correspond with common critical consensus - there are albums I have picked that have been ignored, and there are certain albums that some critics lauded that I didn't find nearly as strong. Got all that? Good, because we're not waiting any longer, let's GO!

the top 50 best songs of 2013 (PART TWO: 25-1)

Whew, that takes care of that.

Last one is the long-awaited albums of the year - stay tuned!

the top 50 best songs of 2013

Some of you are probably scratching your heads with confusion at the title of this list and wondering, 'Wait, didn't he already make this exact same list a few days ago?' Well, this list is significantly different than the last one, mostly because we're no longer talking about the hits. No, these are the songs, singles or otherwise, that appeared on the albums I listened through this year and stuck with me. They aren't the hits - most of you might not recognize the songs I mention, but all of them bear the highest of my personal recommendations. That's right, from the 135 albums I reviewed this year, these were my favourite songs. I'm not segregating them by genre or success - singles or deep cuts all have a chance to make this list, which was initially reduced from thousands down to 436, which was then narrowed down to fifty. And believe me, even with that I had to make some painful cuts, and what is on this list will surprise you. So, without any more delay, here are my Top 50 Songs of 2013! Let's get started!

Monday, December 2, 2013

video review: 'run the jewels' by run the jewels (RETRO REVIEW)

Finally. Goddamn, I'm happy I got this out. Yeah, the video's not one of my best, but this was one of those tougher ones, and I'm just happy I got to say my piece.

Next up is Britney Spears. Brace yourselves, it's not going to be pretty.