Gangsta Mittens
Words combined to express thoughts. Pictures displayed to convey emotion. Opening my brain to the world.

2004 revisited…

So in 2004 two groups of really talented people came together to make two really great albums.  2004 was the last time I can remember being head over heels in love with hip hop.
The albums were:
Foreign Exchange - Connected

and

Edo G. and Pete Rock - My Own Worst Enemy

I’ll talk about the second one first.

So ok… Ed O.G. or Edo G  or whatever it is… I liked his what 3 singles back in 1991 (Be a Father to Your Child, I Got to Have It, and Bug-A-Boo) but i was by no means an Ed O.G. “fan”.  So when I heard in 2004 that he had an album out it was kinda like… so?  And then I heard who was doing the majority of the production… Pete Rock.  I was immediately interested.  In November 2004 I was a first year law student hating my life.  I had always had a thing for darker grittier beats but the frustration of school mixed with the cold temps made my mood a bit darker.  When I first heard the album I was in shock.  I remember sitting the den and just listening with my eyes closed.  It all worked.  It was one of those rare albums that I could listen to in its entirety without even thinking of skipping a song.  I listened to that album on my way to and from school almost everyday.  I loved how it made me feel… and it made me appreciate Edo G (wtf is up with the name change by the way?).  Needless to say from there I went on to become a fan of his group Special Teamz (even though i lost all of their music when my hard drive died).  That was also the first time in a long time that I actually went checking for someone else based on something i heard.  As of late music hasn’t moved me that much to where i want to learn more and see what else an artist has to offer.

This second album actually came out first (June 2004).  It’s no secret that I spend a little bit of time over at okayplayer.  So when the buzz behind Connectedbegan I was kinda at “ground zero”.  It’s also no secret that I kind of like to hate on shit that other ppl are hyping up.  It’s ALSO no secret that I wasn’t a big fan of Little Brother at that time.  So from jump this album had some strikes against it. So ok… you got an album that I’m purposely not checking for because people are hailing it as the second coming of Jesus with a rapper that I didn’t care for… it was just so blah to me… BUT I love Von Pea.

Yes… it was really that simple.  I ignored the album until i heard Von’s joint… and I was immediately smitten with the entire damn album.  It started off innocently enough: I was just gonna listen to Von Sees… but because the album is sequenced so fucking perfectly, there was no point for me to turn that shit off.  In my opinion every single person involved in that album went above and beyond anything I had ever heard from them at that point.  Nicolay‘s beats were so “unhiphop” and yet so fuckin perfect.  Like if i had just heard the instrumental the LAST thing I would’ve thought about was hip hop. I am blown away at the idea that Phonte listened to that and was like ok yeah…  Imma rap over this here… and then the fact that he went in there and killed it… goodness.  ok… So yeah… Nic, Tay, Von… they’re all amazing.  But then so was everyone else!
Usually when there’s an album or a song with a bunch of muthafuckas there’s that one really weak link (see Illa Ghee on Alchemist/Mobb Deep’s “Hold You Down).  But everyone else stepped up to the plate too… I mean *I* was reciting Joe Scudda lyrics and most ppl know i’m not a Scudda fan at all.  But the best song on that entire album (sorry Von) is “The Answer”.  In 2004 I didn’t know what a Low Budget Crew was and quite frankly didn’t care… but after hearing that song?  I started trying to see what that crew had to offer.  The beauty of that song is that there are three totally different styles and yet it all comes together so seemlessly.

The song kicks off with Oddissee who I’ll admit to being fairly “eh” on.  Not hate… just not much interest… but putting him first was a good move cuz he sets the tone for how hard the song is gonna hit.  “I one of the chosen few…”  Perfect start to the song.  I don’t claim to know what an artist is thinking when they write songs… but I choose to believe that that line should be taken in two ways… one… he’s one of the best rappers out and two… he’s one of the three chosen to be on this track.  I couldn’t have said it better.
Each MC on this song one ups the one before him…  Despite the high bar that Oddissee sets with his confident lyrics, Phonte steps in and effortlessly one ups him.  I honestly feel like this album is the best stuff I’ve heard from Tay so far.  This album made me realize that my issue with Little Brother wasn’t that I didn’t like Tay and Pooh… it was that I didn’t like 9th.  Ok let me clarify… I quickly grew tired of hearing Tay and Pooh over 9th’s beats.  At that point in his career 9th’s beats were a bit monotonous… at least the LB stuff.   So while I could appreciate his talent, I don’t think that it gave Tay and Pooh the chance to really step out and be more versatile.   Anywho… Tay did his thing.. and once again set the bar pretty high thus proving that “fuckin with Tay ain’t in your best interest… on the real.”
Somehow though, Kenn Starr follows this with even more braggadocio and passion proving that he’s more than worthy of being on this track.   From jump his aggressive word play mixed with his laid back delivery (kenn starr is back off of hiatus/ y’alll been warned so back off us, why haters/ be actin’ like they strapped and packin’ gats when/ they not tough, they tough actin’ like tenactin) flawlessly completes this triumverate of rappers and makes this one of the best songs I’ve heard in some time. 
If it wasn’t for that song I don’t think I would’ve even cared or thought twice about:

Kenn Starr - Starr Status

or

Kev Brown - I Do What I Do

or even:

Oddisee - Foot in the Door

I don’t know if two albums will EVER come close to touching me the way those two did… but i’m hoping it happens some day.

3 Responses to “2004 revisited…”

  1. If this is a thinly veiled attempt at a love letter to Tay, well I’m huffy over here.
    If this is a way to put me on to some music I may have stayed away from (for the same reasons you stated… hating on what everyone else is riding hard for), then i appreciate it and I’ll have a listen.

    🙂

  2. Watch your back, yo!

  3. Edo G HAS TO be a typo

    it goes against all things sacred to classic hip-hop

    it’s like if a white person said The Notorious Big Daddy Kane


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