2008 – Above all, Hip-hop in all its multifaceted glory
- K’naan The Dusty Foot Philosopher (A)
- Randy Newman Harps & Angels
- TV on the Radio Dear Science
- Lil Wayne Tha Carter III
- Orchestra Baobab Made in Dakar
- Honey Honey Loose Boots [EP]
- Drive-By Truckers Brighter than Creation’s Dark
- Girl Talk Feed the Animals
- Sleeping in the Aviary Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel
- Steinski What Does It All Mean? : 1983-2006 Retrospective
- Conor Oberst Conor Oberst
- Black Kids Partie Traumatic
- DJ Yoda Fabriclive 39 (A-)
- Santogold Santogold
- Dan le Sac v. Scroobius Pip Angles
- Menya The Ol’ Reacharound [EP]
- T.I. Paper Trail
- Robert Forster The Evangelist
- William Parker Quartet Petit Ouiseau
- Stew Passing Strange -Original Broadway Cast
- R.E.M. Accelerate
- Hayes Carll Trouble in Mind
- The Roots Rising Down
- Hamell on Trial Rant & Roll: Terrorism of Everyday Life
- Be Your Own Pet Get Damaged [EP]
- Mike Edison I Have Fun Wherever I Go
- Taj Mahal Maestro
- Raphael Saadiq The Way I See It
- El Guincho Alegranza
- Kate Nash Made of Bricks
- Jean Grae Jeanius
- Nas (Untitled)
- The Mighty Underdogs Droppin’ Science Fiction
- Les Amazones de Guinee Wamato
- The Magnetic Fields Distortion
- No Age Nouns
7 0r 8 hip-hop albums in my top 17, my highest count since I don’t know when. But, OK, three of the six are DJ bricolage, more or less invented in 1983 (with some inspiration from Grandmaster Flash) by Steinski, whose collected works I list at #10, not really a new album, but the best of it has never been available legally before, though I’m not who says it’s legal now either). (Girl Talk and DJ Yoda are the others).
It was Lil Wayne’s year, of course, but I’ll take K’naan not just for his far-seeing grace (and humor) under pressure, but for his tunes as well.
Aside from Lil Wayne himself, whose collected works I caught up with and immersed in throughout June, the biggest surprise for me was TV on the Radio. I was pretty skeptical through Cookie Mountain, and never thought than any of the new prog bands would take their music this far or slam it this hard and focused.
My hopes for Suzanne Santo (Honeyhoney) great new singer-songwriter (OK, so the guy does a lot of the writing anyway) have been dashed by a surprisingly dull major label debut — after all this time, why do majors still think the thing to do with a new artist is round off their edges, fade them out through a few runs in the wash. Or maybe they just didn’t have the songs. In either case, their indie debut Loose Boots makes a strong case for the EP as a form. I have three on my list, which probably hasn’t happened since the mid-’80’s, if then. One, Menya’s, possibly the first band in history to gain notice specifically because they happen to be former students of a widely known rock critic, is in the classic record–and-release-what-you’ve-got-now mode of indie debut EPs. But the other one, Be Your Own Pet’s, is weird. With an indie album behind them, they got their major label debut this year, and I was real into it, in fact getting into an absurdly heated argument with Kenny while driving back from the Sierras towards his Central Valley home last summer about how hooky it was or wasn’t (real topic: But what are hooks?). But later I had to sheepishly admit that Kenny was also right, because when I’d set up the playlist in itunes, I’d absentmindedly led the album with the 3-song EP I’d downloaded from emusic. The EP turns out to be an indie release of three songs the major found too “violent,” including “Becky,” a tale of high school murder I found as hilarious as BYOP intended. After the EP, the album never reaches those heights again, hooks included. So the EP is the keeper (including the indie debut, which I found not-quite-there).
The Mike Edison album is rudimentary boogie-rock over shouted tales of mayhem from a former editor of magazines about wrestling, marijuana and porn. I kept coming back to Hayes Carll’s somewhat ordinary assortment of grounded relationship songs and rock life for “She Left Me For Jesus,” which is everything you might imagine and more.
Oh, and Kenny & I came up with our ’08 hip-hop tags independently — mine was a draft in December. Does anyone else think was a standout year for hip-hop?
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