Tuesday, December 24, 2013
1. Consumerism (Lauryn Hill): Hill says she “felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it.” Coming from someone as smart and complicated as Hill, such a discussion is more than welcome.
2. Anxiety’s Door (Merchandise): a throwback to big hair bands, Merchandise presents an unforgettable guitar riff and awesome song of lost love and that guitar riff will become immortal.
3. 1 Train (A$AP Rocky feat. Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown): sandwiches its momentary Rocky gaffes with thrills of pure lyricism and stunning guest skill-set tracks which see Danny Brown and Kendrick Lamar bring the house down in style.
4. Black Skinheads (Kanye West): we’ve heard him discuss the poor treatment of black Americans in their own country before, but we’ve never had Kanye lecture us on how this problem perpetuates as a result of capitalism and blind consumerism.
5. Red 2 Go (Danny Brown): It is unimportant that he has smoked more than his lungs can handle, a true Danny Brown would never stop smoking the kush and floss greatness about it.
6. Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (Kendrick Lamar): his isn't an alpha male's boast. It's a pipsqueak's first pass at a chest-puff. It's also a monster of a radio-ready single, with Kendrick rapping in three voices (in double- and triple-time, no less) over an insane beat.
7. No Bueno (Angel Haze): The furiously gifted young rapper Angel Haze made her name with a pair of mixtapes last year, and now she's set to follow them up with delightful misogyny. No Bueno cuts hard on teeth that would stereo-typically be done by men.
8. Q.U.E.E.N (Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu): the Kansas-born neo soul singer is making music that really stands out and Q.U.E.E.N. is no exception, with its fun soul vibe in stark contrast to the dance club sound of most R&B releases of late.
9. Full Of Fire (The Knife): absent for seven years, The Knife returns just as sharply from whence they left off. Full of Fire spits out death ray beats and electronic spasms of pure joy.
10. Doing Nothing (Blu): that Blu incorporates heavy jazz juxtaposed with hip/hop beats and makes this track bounce is stunning enough. That it’s the same formula that dominates his album makes it even more phenomenal.
11. Tunnel Vision (Justin Timberlake): Justin’s sex appeal resurrects itself from all the attempts to sanitize it. Timbaland responds by throwing the kitchen sink in, creating lovely havoc in the background.
12. My Song 5 (Haim): the definite standout on their charming debut, the track verges pop and rock into a thrilling type of Dirty Projectors-esque rave that unearths many levels of cool that’ll no doubt soon be copied
13. Love Game (Eminem feat. Kendrick Lamar): a throwback and also an inner attempt to scratch new possibilities. Kendrick's verse is more oblique than Eminem's two, and more innovative…it’s his way but Eminem isn’t left far behind. This is the most anti-rap song in his arsenal and, against all odds, he’s pulled it off in fine style.
14. Evil Twin (Eminem): if rapping were a purely athletic competition, Eminem would be Michael Phelps and Mary Lou Retton combined: pure agility and flexibility, like an unstoppable bullet with only white-hot hate in his wake. His flow only gets more baroque and knotty and outrageous with age.
15. Feel The Love (Rudimental feat. John Newton): It’s propulsive, full of energy and frenetic beats married to Newman’s sublime vocals that bear the sweetest fruit. Give in and ride away on a sheer wave of happiness.
16. Wonderbread (Danny Brown): the song details Brown’s trip to the store and he witnesses the shooting of a junkie. It’s a cautionary tale, sadly one that plays out often in the ghetto
17. Fucking Problem (ASAP Rocky feat Kendrick Lamar & Drake): the snappy beat alone guarantees its greatness but Drake and Kendrick brought the tools to blow us away.
18. Soviet Bicycle (Norwegian Arms): a stunning freak folk nugget that shimmers as much as it throws down a challenge to more established folk like Animal Collective.
19. BBD (Azealia Banks): Azealia returns with a subdued groove but manages to still hit it out of the park, while just paying minimum attention. Let’s hope this is heralding more goodies from her upcoming LP.
20. Egospect (Sheep, Dog & Wolf): the blistering title track from McBride’s debut leaves a smouldering hot trail, snapping up electronic sparks that culminate into one grand statement.