« Two thousand zero zero party over oops out of time, so tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine ».
« Yo, there’s only one year left! ».
Prince was so eager for the new millenium to begin that he wrote a song about the old millennium’s last party seventeen years early!
Busta showed his excitement for the arrival of the two thousands by counting down the years on record every chance he got.
I think it’s safe to say that when 1999 rolled around, the majority of the world’s population was extremely happy to be around to witness the transition. We expected a lot, a whole lot. Me, I had one question: will rappers use the change of millenium as an excuse to reinvent the art form? Will they butcher the music I love for the sake of being futuristic?
I certainly hoped not, but if they did, I’d be ready, equipped with a stash of albums carefully and lovingly put together. My favourites from each year for the past twelve years. Very serious business. See for yourselves. This is my top five from 1999.
Mos Def’s – Black On Both Sides
Before he changed his name to Yasiin Bey, the man was known to the world as Mos Def. He and Talib Kweli were still enjoying the success of the legendary Black Star album they’d released the previous year, when he unleashed his solo debut on an unsuspecting world. Black on Both Sides is a very, very impressive piece of work, and arguably Mos Def’s best offering. As its title implies, it is an ode to blackness, to black pride, to hip hop, and of course, to Brooklyn.
Favourite cut : Brooklyn
Pharoahe Monch’s – Internal Affairs
Pharoahe Monch is hip hop royalty. I was introduced to his music while he was part of a group called Organized Konfusion. I had a copy of their sophomore full length offering The Extinction Agenda (what a title!). Eventually, he and his partner Prince Po parted ways and in 1999, Pharoahe blessed us with his solo debut, Internal Affairs. It was a fitting debut. Lyrics, complex lyrics, and more complex lyrics. Monch was in rare form and the album felt like it was a direct love letter to us, his day one fans.
Favourite cut : Behind Closed Doors
The Roots’s – The Roots Come Alive
To this day, i am convinced that this is the only live rap album that is worth anyone’s time. That’s probably due to the fact that this is an actual band of musicians, who have been honing their craft on stages, long before they had their first record deal. I’ve actually been to a couple of their concerts, and each one was a unique and beautiful experience. The Roots Come Alive is a clear reminder of what can be achieved when world-class musicians and a world-class MC, put together a show with a single purpose : to provide spectators a world-class experience.
Favourite cut : Love Of My Life
Prince Paul’s – A Prince Among Thieves
A masterpiece. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. I haven’t heard anything like it since. I was shocked. I remembered Prince Paul from Stetsasonic and Gravediggaz, and I was aware that he’d been part of a couple of De La Soul projects, but I had no idea that he was a genius. Because, undoubtedly, he is a genius. No regular or simply above average mind could produce such a piece of art. Genius.
Favourite cut : The Whole Album
Method Man & Redman’s – Blackout!
I am of the opinion that rappers don’t age well. More specifically, rappers who found success during the 90s, have trouble maintaining success or staying relevant in the 2000s. Flows have changed, audiences have changed, sounds have changed, writing has changed. Those that are able to seamlessly navigate these eras are very few, and lucky for us, two of them decided to join forces and form a group. Method Man and Redman are vampires. They don’t age. At all. Blackout! was released 21 years ago and still sounds as fresh as it did back then. Meth and Red have got flows, bars and beats for days. For raw yet fun hip hop, no need to look any further.
Favourite cut : Y.O.U.
So there you have it guys! Now tell me, what were your favourites from that year?