Monday Meme Mutterings V
Ray On My Mind

Millennium Love Below

OutKast's Hip-Hop Masterpiece

Man, I need to stop biting:

I copped this music list from David via his hella-hot blog I'm So Sinsurr. Someone challenged him to create a list of his twenty favorite albums of the 2000s (millennium), so far.

So, you know I had to do one.

I used a cheat sheet with my picks -- my selection was compiled with the help of my year-end lists from the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop polls in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

So without further ado, here's my "Favorites of the 2000s" list:

20. The Roots -- Phrenology (MCA) [2002]
19. Jean Grae -- Attack of the Attacking Things (Third Music) [2001]
18. Jurassic Five -- Quality Control (Interscope) [2000]
17. Van Hunt -- Van Hunt (Capitol) [2004]
16. Nas -- God's Son (Columbia/Sony) [2002]
15. Jill Scott -- Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 (Hidden Beach/Sony) [2000]
14. Murs -- 3:19--9th Edition (Def Jux) [2004]
13. Kem -- Kemistry (Motown) [2003]
12. Eminem -- The Marshal Mathers LP (Aftermath/Interscope) [2000]
11. Scarface -- The Fix (Def Jam) [2002]
10. OutKast -- Stankonia (Laface/Artista) [2000]
09. Donnie -- The Colored Section (Motown) [2003]
08. Ms. Dynamite -- A Little Deeper (Interscope) [2003]
07. Ghostface -- The Pretty Toney Album (Def Jam) [2004]
06. Kanye West -- College Dropout (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) [2004]
05. Jay-Z -- The Blueprint (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) [2001]
04. Little Brother -- The Listening (ABB Recordings) [2003]
03. The Avalanches -- Since I Left You (Sire/Modular) [2001]
02. Cannibal Ox -- Cold Vein (Def Jux) [2001]
01. OutKast -- Speakerboxx/The Love Below (LaFace/Arista) [2003]

This list represents my tastes in mostly two music genres -- hip-hop and R&B. Just for the record, I also listen to rock, jazz and reggae music. But the majority of my listening time is devoted to hip-hop and R&B, because of my day job as a full-time urban music writer. I was going to add some rock, jazz and reggae albums onto the list but that would require me to sift through my vast music collection and recall certain CDs. That would take forever -- I have so many CDs, so little time.

As for the list:

OutKast made the list twice, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone -- Andre 3000 and Big Boi have consistently released quality work since 1994. I bookend the top 10 with both of their CDs -- Stankonia and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Two great recordings. Respect their shit, man.

Cannibal Ox followed in second place with their classic CD Cold Vein. I'm still blown away by the production (props to juxie El-P) and the introspective, truth-serum rhymes of street poets Vast-Aire and Vordul. Cold Vein is an all-time classic.

In the third spot are The Avalanches. They are an Aussie turntablist/band -- think the Ex-cutioners meets the Roots. Their CD Since I Left You is considered a Zeitgeist album -- a collection that pushes the spirit of hip-hop -- in this case, turntablism -- into forward-thinking realms. Remember DJ Shadow's 1996 CD Entroducing . . . ? That's a Zeitgeist album. Entroducing . . . still, to this day, is considered an all-time classic that trendscended hip-hop. Since I Left You is the Entroducing . . . of the millennium. It is an awesome sonic achievement.

Some would probably disagree with my inclusion of Kanye West's debut CD College Dropout on the list. But mark my words; ten years from now, Kanye's disc will be considered a great album. I think College Dropout will hold up over the years. Kanye is experiencing an over saturation right now -- both with video and radio airplay -- and he's having a love/hate relationship with his fans because of it. But that's the nature of the business. When you are hot, you are hot. Don't hate the playa, hate the game. More power to Kanye!

And the Roots' CD Phrenology -- their misunderstood and least favorite album amongst fans -- is on my list. Honestly, I really liked the recording and the band's adventurous musicianship that was displayed on the disc. It's not a classic like Do You Want More?!!!??! or the equally brilliant Things Fall Apart, but it's a noteworthy recording nonetheless. Plus, any band or artist(s) that decides to challenge the state of hip-hop/rap music gets props in my book -- misunderstood or not.

Speaking of misunderstood, MF Doom often gets misunderstood with his left-field style of hip-hop. His latest CD under a new alias Madvillian titled Madvillainy is getting mad props for it's inventiveness and fun. I like how veteran beatmaker Pete Rock described Madvillian's sound in the June/July issue of Complex magazine:

"This shit is dumb underground. It's just a little under the railroad tracks under Harriett Tubman. It's cool, [but] nowadays, you got to make shit understandable. This shit here -- you in your own world."
I actually think that this is a complement. It's funny as hell, but I think Pete gave Madvillian props. Anyway, Madvillian is definitely in his own world and thanks to studio wizard Madlib's jazzy, orchestral productions, Madvillainy is A-grade hip-hop; one of the best producer-rapper collaborations in quite some time.

I say all this because some may wondered why Madvilliany is not on my list? While I enjoyed Madvilliany, I fell in love with the rapper-producer tandem of Murs and 9th Wonder. Their tag-team effort on 3:16--9th Edition also needs to be recognized, as well. It's a quality hip-hop effort featuring Murs' descriptive story-telling rhymes and 9th's soul-stirring beats. It's the sleeper disc of 2004, and it's being overshadowed by the critical raves of Madvilliany. But I'm not mad. 3:16 is great indie rap.

In R&B, only the soulful stuff graces my list. The usual suspects are there -- Jill Scott, Donnie and Kem. This year, Van Hunt's self-titled CD is the only R&B/soul disc ringing in my ears right now. Yeah, Usher is the man right now, but his disc Confessions had too many peaks and valleys for me. The first five joints on Confessions are great, but the rest of collection sounds like medicore R&B.

I was able to get my hands on some of Usher's unreleased joints that were left on the cutting room floor. Oddly enough, the tracks Usher cut sound better than the ones he kept on the finished product.

Enough of my blabbering. The year is not over yet.


5 CDs from 2003
4 CDs from 2004 (thus far . . .)
4 CDs from 2001
4 CDs from 2000
3 CDs from 2002

10 male artists
7 groups*
3 female artists
* (two or more members; OutKast is mentioned twice)

7 East Coast Artists
(The Roots, Jean Grae, Jill Scott, Ghostface, Nas, Cannibal Ox and Jay-Z)
4 Southern Artists (OutKast*, Scarface, Little Brother and Donnie)
3 Midwesterns (Kem, Eminem and Kanye West)
3 West Coast Artists (Jurassic Five, Van Hunt and Murs)
2 Overseas Artists (Ms. Dynamite and The Avalanches)

* OutKast is mentioned twice on the list

4 CDs from Def Jam (as a distributor)
3 CDs from Interscope Records (as a distributor)
2 CDs from Sony Music (as a distributor)
2 CDs from Arista (as a distributor)
2 CDs from Def Jux
2 CDs from Motown
1 CDs from MCA
1 CD from Sire/Modular
1 CD from Capitol
1 CD from ABB Recordings
1 CD from Third Music