2001’s top 25 tracks (by DJ MF)
The yearly tradition continues. Those lucky enough to have tuned in to my radio show, online, or via an old fashioned stereo, got to hear all of these.
Those who didn’t?
Well, y’all know you suck.
And so we look back at 2001, a year which started out extremely slow, and built up a huge amount of steam once summer passed.
25) Shit Can Happen – D12
You can have your poppy “Purple Pills” track. I thought about putting the diss track, “Girls” here, but then decided against it, as diss tracks don’t normally age too well. Instead, I went with what I now realize was the hottest song on the album, with it’s pounding Dre-like beat, and absolutely crazy Eminem verse at the end.
24) Give Em The Bizness – Rock
Rock, aka the Rockness Monstah of Heltah Skeltah has decided to split from the Bootcamp Clik. And while I’ve patiently waited for over a year for his “coming soon” release, as his website calls it, he did release this amazing white label track this year. Utilizing the Star Wars Episode I violins that you hear everywhere in Star Wars commercials, Rock just RIPS it, tearing into Duck Down owner Dru Ha. A hidden gem.
23) Out The Door – Sharky
Who’s Sharky? Well, I’m getting real obscure here, but he’s a dope MC out of Kitchener-Waterloo (where I’m at). A nice guitar sample, and a stuttery stop-start vocal style made this one of the hot jams of the summer up here.
22) Girls, Girls, Girls – Jay-Z
“Izzo” didn’t do it for me after more than 2 listens. This however did. That’s what happens when you get some clever lyrics about girls, and a hot to death sample I guess. The remix tries, but can’t compare to the original.
21) Q & A – J-Zone
If you haven’t heard of him, you need to. NOW. RIGHT NOW. J-Zone does it all, producing, MCing, owning a label, and he does it with such incredible flair, it’s crazy. “Q&A” is a track where a woman interviews him, and he responds in rhyme about the various facets of his life. Wet your pants funny, and some incredible movie samples thrown in.
20) Hot Ya Hot (Remix) – Akbar
The standout track on a standout album. The remix speeds things up, adds the standard M-Boogie Premo-like flair, and keeps the same great samples and rhymes. Essential REAL hip hop.
19) One Mic – Nas
In an album full of hot songs, it’s hard to choose one, but this tops “Stillmatic”. An incredible build up in intensity is the highlight here for the first two verses, which is then flipped to a slow build to a whisper for the final verse. Amazing.
18) Let’s Get Dirty – Redman
No matter how disappointing the sum of a Redman album may be (and Malpractice was disappointing), he almost never fails to drop a hype single. Rocwilder produces, and Red drops some hype lyrics about trying to get into a club. Dance to this. Hard.
17) Baby Phat – De La Soul
Sure the album is soft. Sure it ain’t classic. The strong single streak continues for De La though, with this slow paced, smooth ode to women with a little bit of meat on em. Just the way I like em too.
16) B-Boys Alpha – Cannibal Ox
In an album full of thrashy, abstract beats, this one stood out, mostly because it was the least abstract of the bunch, but still had edge. A great droning sound effect, infectious drums, nice scratches. This is underground hip hop as it should be.
15) Burn – Mobb Deep
Beat of the year? Maybe. Oriental keys, classic Mobb banger for sure on the production tip. A little lacking in lyrics, especially the once surehanded Prodigy, but the beat is so good, you can’t help but thug out to it.
14) Manipulation – IRS
Monolith members IRS drop a silky smooth relationship track here, with some crazy ODB scratch samples, and a silky bassline. Refined and understated, while still making you nod your head.
13) Easy To Slip – Solitair
Great sample will be the first thing you think when you hear this. Don’t front on Solitair’s skills though as he weaves a couple of street tales over a pleasant sounding slow cut that deserves all the attention it is now getting.
12) Acknowledge – Masta Ace
Remember what I said about battle cuts? Well, consider this a classic. It was hard to pare down to one track off of Ace’s incredible return, “Disposable Arts”, but I went with this because of the way it uses such a beautiful beat for such a dirty purpose- to tear High and Mighty, and Boogieman a new one. The High and Mighty diss was accidental, but Boogie caught it hard here.
11) Spit Forever – DL Incognito
Who? DL, that’s who. Coming out of Ottawa, DJ Techtwelve hooks up one of the best beats of the year, with a jumpy guitar sample over some stuttery drums. DL holds his own too, with a distinctive flow, and some nice rapid fire battle lyrics. A personal fave of mine.
10) Caca Gosa Vixen – Heltah Skeltah and Illa Noyz
Rock breaks down the math to start, and we’re treated to an incredible interpolation of a flute taken from “Fiddler On The Roof” courtesy of legendary producer PF Cuttin. HS takes it back to the old school here, and Illa Noyz provides a nice change of pace too.
9) Extreme Situation – Beatminerz feat. Cocoa B’s, Jahdan
The hottest track from a hot album, and the hits keep coming for Duck Down, as the Cocoa B’s bring back the old reggae/hip hop fusion they helped popularize years ago over a driving, ridiculously bass heavy and amped beat.
8) No Escapin’ This – Beatnuts
I wasn’t too happy with the Nuts and their latest, but I can’t deny the craziness of the lead single. Infectious, poppy, but at the same time still remaining true to their sound, with amazing backspins all over the place, and a nice female accompaniment.
7) Air Max 95 Mix – Tame One, Copywrite, J-Zone, Smut Peddlers, Skillz
With a lineup like this, success is a given. The only question is just how hot will it be. With the brilliance of Mighty Mi behind the boards incorporating each artists notable beats for their verses, you’ll be thinking you’ve listened to 6 different songs. Incredible.
6) June – RJD2 feat. Copywrite
Noted underground producer RJD2 returns with this instant classic track, which builds layer upon layer as it progresses, especially in the drum section. Copywrite then amazes by not dropping a battle verse, instead hooking you up with some nice insightful lyrics. The instrumental alone was worth the price of admission. With this kind of lyrical talent, the result is breathtaking, and will leave you aching for either a)a Copywrite solo, or b)a MHz LP.
5) Home Sweet Home – Ras Kass
Screw Jadakiss and his stealing of this Alchemist beat. Ras’ version is so good that it makes Jada look like a 5 year old trying to rhyme. High reaching screaming violins, and just an overall amped theme make this track the sleeper, and unfortunately hardest to find track on this list.
4) Ol’ Time Killin’ – Kardinal Offishall feat. Jully Black, Allistair, Kory Deez, Black Kat, Wio-K
Big enough artist list? Kardi keeps it with his Caribbean influences here, dropping a track just DRIPPING with a reggae vibe, including some nice singing from Jully Black, and an especially nice verse from Kory Deez.
3) Worst Comes To Worst – Dilated Peoples
You’re in heaven from the very start as Babu cuts up the beat like you can’t believe, and it only gets better as the sample is flipped so perfectly by the Alchemist, that you’re left wondering if he is God. Even better, the lyrics are better than the usual from Dilated.
2) Makeshift Patriot – Sage Francis
The most important track of 2001? Maybe. Probably. Recorded soon after 9/11, Sage viciously attacks the media for their exploitation of the events, and even questions the US government for the steps taken to curtail freedoms and some basic rights following the attacks. Just incredible. Needs to be heard to be believed.
And the number one track?
1) Pinky Ring – Wu-Tang Clan
“Y’all dudes is wack, face it the Wu is back”. And they ain’t lying. An incredible jacked horn loop, incredible fast paced drums. All 8 members(no ODB). Hype rhymes topped off by the metaphors of the Genius. Need I go on? The crowning achievement on an incredible album, and a track that may I say, is BETTER than anything they’ve ever done, including everything on the “36 Chambers”.
All done. Read em and weep. Go get these tracks / albums.