Sunday, October 21, 2007

a playlist (in no order)

What do these songs have in common?

~Black Ice (Goodie Mob w/ Outkast)
~Swing (Camp Lo w/ Ish)
~Runnin' (Pharcyde)
~One Love (Nas w/ Q-Tip)
~Steady Mobbin' (Lupe Fiasco)
~Thought Process (Goodie Mob w/ Andre3000)
~Crumblin' 'Erb (Outkast)
~Sharp Shooters (Dead Prez w/ Talib Kweli)
~Hate it or Love it (Game w/ 50 Cent)
~Pearly Gates (Mobb Deep w/ 50 Cent)
~T.R.O.Y. (Pete Rock & CL Smooth)
~Say Hey There (Atmosphere)
~Fucked Up (Dead Prez)
~Travellin' Man (Mos Def)
~Same 'Ol Thing (Tribe)
~Moment in Time (Pharcyde)
~Speed Law (Mos Def)
~Baby (the Roots)
~Pour Me Another (Atmosphere)
~Bread and Butter (the Roots)
~Fu-Gee-La (the Fugees)
~Shook Ones pt. II (Mobb Deep)
~Bleeding Hearts Club (P.O.S. w/ Slug)
~The City (Wu-Tang... well, Deck specifically)

I do dishes a lot because my sink is the size of a shoebox. I also work out every day. These two activities require an ITunes playlist that doesn't have to be babysat, something i can just listen to straight through while i'm not at the computer. The above songs are all rap songs i can listen to at any time, in any mood. There's no "look how cool i am" factor or songs added simply because i respect the artists rather than like listening to them (no Coup, no Brother Ali, no Blue Scholars, no PE, etc.). It was an interesting excercise.

I didn't transcribe the whole list, just a healthy selection. A few random observations:

1. Lots of Pharcyde, lots of Dungeon Family (Outkast, Goodie Mob), which i think is telling. Both groups had the perfect formulas of beats + emcees for the time, and they knew how to write actual songs-- interesting lyrics, creative flows, pop appeal, personality, the total package. And on both the Goodie Mob songs, Andre kills it-- his verse on Thought Process was my favorite growing up.

2. A suprising amount of 50 Cent, a surprising amount of Mos Def (two artists i'm not big fans of). But i guess they can make solid songs. Pearly Gates is the only song i kept when i deleted that awful G-Unit Mobb album.

3. Remember the Fugees? I know, dumb question. But remember how superlatively great Lauryn Hill was? Remember when Wyclef was a genius? Hell, i even thought Pras was dope. I think Fu-Gee-La is my favorite song of theirs. That pre-chorus is ridiculous.

4. Exposing my backpack: when it comes to both the Roots and Atmosphere, i guess i really prefer their later work. I think both acts have gotten better and better with age, though i doubt i'll find many people who agree with me. Game Theory was an absolutely brilliant album, better than anything they've ever done (at least sonically... the lyrics i could take or leave). And Atmosphere's last album was so solidly put-together, really inspiring.

5. I could have picked any three Camp Lo songs really. That's how good Uptown Saturday Night was. I think i like Swing because of Ish's verse and the "welcome to new york the illest of all places" line, which is just monsterous. But that whole album is never far out of rotation.

6. There were a couple songs i had on here at first but took off because of the "fast-forward" factor; when listening in mixed company (or just by myself, really), i ain't really trying to hear Gangstarr's "The Militia" or UGK's "International Players' Anthem" or Mobb's "Burn." They're all amazing songs, but i always have to cringe at one or two spots in them.

7. Can i just say that P.O.S. is a beast? I think he gets written off sometimes because of the punk rock connection, on some "oh he's just a punk kid trying to rap," but he's really a great emcee. From his albums to a bunch of different guest appearances, he always has something interesting to say and presents it fresh.

8. T.R.O.Y. is still a perfect rap song. Cliche choice, sure, but absolutely undeniable. And honestly i think CL is what does it for me, as great as the beat is. CL's verses are just so powerful-- kind of impressionistic, just hinting at deeper ideas, beautiful.

9. I guess all in all, it's a pretty predictable, almost boring list. Not a lot of left-field stuff. It's all American. It's all men (except Lauryn). Mostly either underground stuff or underground-friendly (like Outkast) stuff. Mostly late 90s stuff. It's very "hip hop," for lack of a more appropriate term. Maybe i'm not as weird as i think i am.

But again, an interesting excercise. Try it sometime.

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