Undoubtedly, this year will go down as one of the worst in recent history. It started out extremely well for many of us, then spring came, and life as we knew it was flushed down the toilet. However, we can’t be completely pessimistic. We can’t be out here living life pissed off and ungrateful. We must become silver lining weavers. We must strive to find the little things and appreciate the hell out of them. Example : this year marks the 20th anniversary of a few excellent rap albums. Let’s take a look at the five releases I was mostly fond of in 2000.
Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele
When I heard Ghostface’s Ironman in 96, I knew it would take a lot for another album to dethrone it as my favourite from the Wu camp. Once I was done with my first listen of Supreme Clientele, I hadn’t changed my mind, but I was forced to admit that it was a superior album… in every way. It’s obviously his best album but more importantly, it’s one of the best pieces of work from the past couple of decades. It’s hard, fun, street, lyrical, groovy, soulful and sometimes completely senseless. It encompasses all these aspects in a way that shouldn’t be possible. It’s a masterpiece.
Favourite cut : Nutmeg
Common’s Like Water For Chocolate
That album could’ve been a disaster. It was preceded by the excellent One Day It’ll All Make Sense – the reason why i decided to follow the emcee – which itself was preceded by Resurrection, the album which gave us what some consider to be the perfect love letter to hip hop, I Used To Love H.E.R. Common had his work cut out for him and fortunately for all of us, not only did he live up to the task, but he also had a completely different sound than anything he’d done by then. He had evolved as a man, and as an artist. As a fan, that is all I could ask for.
Favourite cut : Heat
Reflection Eternal’s Train of Thought
The almighty Rawkus Records was determined to provide backpack rap fans with gem, after gem,after gem. A couple of years earlier Talib Kweli was part of a phenomenal project, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. An all rounder. A superb album. So it’s easy to understand how high the level of excitement was when it was announced that Kweli and elite beatmaker Hi-Tek – who had a few jewels on the aforementioned Black Star – would be pairing up for a full length offering. It was a match made in heaven. I have to admit that I surprisingly became disinterested in Hi Tek’s sound, but Talib Kweli has earned my respect and ears for life.
Favourite cut : Good Mourning
Wu-Tang Clan’s The W
There was a time in my life when I was convinced that The Wu could do nothing wrong. Because of their first two albums, and the handful of solo releases by most of the core members, I’d become biased. Having said this, I can say with certainty that The W deserved all the praise I gave it. I already knew that their chemistry was unmatched, that they rapped their asses off, and that RZA was an insane beatsmith. Still, somehow, they managed to surprise me. Hats off to the Wu-Tang Clan!
Favourite cut : Let My Niggas Live
Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles’ Industry Shakedown
Some 20 years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a Gangstarr show in Montreal. At some point during the evening, they brought out Freddie Foxxx, whom I’d only heard on an old song entitled So Tough, and of course Militia. I remember being blown away by Foxxx’s performance. The dude was intense! Industry Shakedown was exactly what one could expect after watching that performance : about 18 different versions of his verse in Militia. Foxxx had been rapping for a little longer than his contemporaries and it showed in his lyrics, delivery and cadence. He should’ve sounded outdated but somehow managed to be relevant and stick around. The album’s production was extremely good, since Foxxx got help from giants Diamond D, Pete Rock, The Alchemist and DJ Premier.
Favourite Cut : 24 Hours
So there you have it! My faves from the year 2000. What were yours?