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“Dolby’s Choice 10 Hip-Hop Tracks”

*The truth was there all along, he was an infant, an unborn, only shedding light and never receiving, so that he could never climb to the top of his plateau.

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America really isn’t a literary place. It’s like Martha Stewart trying to preach on kickboxing.
I even detest black writers, as a general rule. They’re either hillbillies, or wield such an infinitesimal amount of emotional investment in their own characters that it’s just an exercise in futility. The exception is Amiri Baraka. Poet, short story writer, music critic, he did some of his best work in music criticism, and in oral recitation on the Roots album Phrenology, his very peak sharpness as a scribe having come in his denouement to his white fellow beats, something about how their quest for “moral earnestness” was coming to resemble circular reasoning, and how he was going to pursue a pro-black zeitgeist to follow.
But anyway, I think the lively black artist realizes that they were never supposed to study things demurely, they’re supposed to have a sense of humor which is part of what hip-hop is, and through things like this they’re capable of greatness — not purely for the white man to enjoy, but for them to live in too, to maximize greatness for their own beautification. Rock and roll and hip-hop deconstruct everything — they’re like the two world wars. Uncompromising, they leave no survivors in their path, they’re cultural dominators. And who knows if it’s how it’s supposed to be, whatever, for every fire, a hydrant.
Plus, Salinger was weird. He’d like, drink his own urine and sh**.
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– Clipse – “Nightmares”
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Which brings me back to the whole black people thing. The reason why I like this song is that he says “tears flowin’ sincerely,” which reminds me of Pharell’s episode of getting choked up on that talk show introducing “Happy” to some random girl or something. This is why we’re on planet Earth. Considering this song, it’s hard to believe this album has any haters, but some people are just ignorant. And it’s really not the close juxtaposition of the earnest and the fragmenting that draws me here to this song, Ghostface and Raekwon are really the masters of that.
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– Das Racist – “Relax”
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The main reason I like this song is that he says “Singing classic numbers by Otis Redding totally shredding.” Other than that, these cats aren’t that great. See, I’m not THAT obsessed with black people. Oh wait, these guys aren’t even black.
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– Evidence – “Late for the Sky”
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This is one of those instances in which black people surprise me, by sampling, and enjoying, a song that’s especially white. But of course, they make it a lot better. More the crafter of albums than invincible emcee, Evidence does provide a refreshing, laid-back vibe to the entirety of this project, only to be aided by utter beat mastery in his ensuing moniker Lord Steppington.
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– Ghostface Killah – “The Champ”
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Basically all of the songs on this list are marked by extreme uniqueness — either in structure, in brazen unorthodoxy of intro, of just of style, but then there’s the Wu joints — they’re just the foulest. They’ve seen the most sh**. Ghost is just the champ. It’s like Michigan’s offense under Lloyd Carr — you know what’s coming, but can you stop it?
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– Gorillaz – “Clint Eastwood”
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Yeah, they’re Brits, but hence, anyway, continues my never-ending Del conundrum: his rapping on this song is irreplaceable… but I’m also a huge Blur fan… but I generally hate Gorillaz… but on 3030 it’s Dan the Automator’s beatmaking that I like better than the rapping. Whew. What a tangled web we weave. It’s incredibly satisfying going to a bar and finding that there’s a beer called “Positive Contact,” even more satisfying to find out that the female bartender knows that “Dan the Automator” made the beats in Deltron. A hell of a lot more satisfying than that nasty itchin’ beer was, anyway.
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– GZA – “Investigative Reports”
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Again, this is just the roughneck sh**, seen-too-much type sh**, sort of a plane ride through the insanity that is “Killah Hills 10304”… a little more pertinent and believable than that track manages to offer, and hoisted nicely by an incredible verse a la Raekwon and an unnervingly direct chorus a la Baby Huey.
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– Hail Mary Mallon – “Dollywood”
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These guys just amaze me, whether it’s with their directness, the deep, crushing drum sound, or just the uncanny way they have of making it sound like it’s all one, one “organism,” as 311 might say.
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– K-OS – “Commandante”
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It’s sort of arbitrary to pick this song over the other ones on the captivating ride that is Joyful Rebellion, but I’m sort of going for unique intros (I wanted to put Beastie Boys – “Car Thief” on the list, but didn’t want the first song to be by white dudes), and it’s just satisfying to hear this dude coming into his own with something of his special flavor, because his heart’s really in the right place and he’s got lots to say.
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– Mos Def – “Revelations”
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It’s doubtful that this would be anyone’s favorite song upon first listening to The Ecstatic, but then, pretty much everything on Def’s 2009 breakthrough is a grower. A taste of the original, and unique, is what you get though beyond a doubt, noticeable right away and this one emerges as the centerpiece — a little off-kilter, just the way it should be, morphing into a beautiful nod to Jamaica and the pioneer DJ Kool Herc.
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– The Roots – “What Goes on”
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When I was getting a tattoo I expected it to hurt a lot worse than it did, so I was replaying in my mind this music, a great function of music.

 

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