Sunday, February 1, 2009

Best Songs of '08

10. "Who" - Joe Budden
16 minutes of hip hop dissertation. Joey is the rapper I want at Senate hearings waxing poetic. Who ruined hip hop? The rap world points lots of fingers, and all targets are dissected here. I can't explain anything better than simply listening to this track would. Perfect example of blogging on beat. (c) Charles Hamilton

9. "Going On" - Gnarls Barkley
Truthfully, I could simply put The Odd Couple track list on here and feel justified. But this is the one that squeaked slightly ahead to blow my auditory system away. The beat comes in resounding majestically as Danger Mouse is so accustomed to doing, and Cee-Lo soulfully and lyrically traces the soundscape like something else. "The touch and feeling of free is intangible, technically. Something you've got to believe in." There's an immediate sense of specialness in great songwriters, and Cee-Lo definitely has it. 

8. "Street Lights" - Kanye West
Spoke on it a couple times already, but I think this song is gonna be a staple on soft rock stations in future decades ... if there are still soft rock stations in future decades. The melody of this song is simply intoxicating and you'll know every single word after first listen. Kanye has an amazing ability to select a distinctive noise and turn it into an integral portion of the overall composition. Exhibit A is the first noise of whatever instrument you hear once this song starts. "See I know my destination, but I'm just not there." A masterpiece among many on 808s.

7. "Playing With Fire" - Lil' Wayne
This is Weezy's lane. His strength as an emcee is in his vocal inflection and amorphous flow. As seen by its ranking in my '08 Top 10 Albums, the latest Carter was very impressive to me as a not-exactly-fan of Dwayne. The story is emotively invoking and listener-involving and I can't ask for a whole lot more and still hold my non-hater card. Personally though, I think this is as far as he should have ventured into rock music, but who am I to tell the (self-proclaimed) best rapper alive what to not do? All in all, too bad the song no longer exists because of Rolling Stones sample issues.

6. "An Ocean of Stars" - brandUn DeShay
It's not like his whole mixtape wasn't absolutely amazing, but this is the song that slapped me in the face. Ranks up there with the greatest all-time stories ever told in a rap song. And I'm talking "Renee" and "Children's Story" and "Art of Storytellin', Part 4" up there. No joke. This song consists of the most saturated metaphors you'll find this side of a Lupe cheeseburger song and yet they're all relatable and understandable. "I said I could take you higher." Yup. brandUn's a beast. Expect Volume: Two! for the Show to be in on the '09 best-of lists once it drops. Guaranteed.

5. "I'll Be in the Sky" - B.o.B
Some have said Bob is almost too 3000-like. Maybe that explains why I'm drawn to his music so naturally. But I don't think that's it. I'm pretty sure it's more cuz he's so ridiculously talented and has the uncanny ability to spit about something interesting and couple that with stellar unique beats and catchy choruses and still be distinctive. Wait ... that sounds like Andre. Crap. But I swear to you, this song reeks of Bob and no one else. You'll have the piano accompaniment stuck in your head the rest of the week. And you won't even be annoyed by it.

4. "Royal Flush" - Big Boi feat. Raekwon & Andre 3000
This dropped crazy early in the year, but it's frickin' OutKast and Wu-Tang!!! Even though Big's album is delayed like crazy, this single is flexing lyrical firepower. Big succinctly dissects world issues and reminds you who he is and why you better pay attention, Chef spits classic hypnotizing Wu matters, and finally 3K flies off somewhere else and chronicles his and your life in more bars than any other rapper could fill with name drops. "Do you B) hit the streets hard with a flare? Or do you A) go to school for heatin' and air? Dare make an honest livin'? Or make a crooked killin'? Do a little bit of both until you're holdin' on a million?" That is OutKasted. Are you ready for potentially 3 records this year from the two dope boyz prolly currently driving in something else besides a Cadillac? I don't think you are.

3. "Love Lockdown" - Kanye West
I'm still not tired of this song yet. I can't tell you how fiendishly I check the net for when this would finally leak. I bumped the live VMA rip countless times waiting for it in full glory. And with all of Ye's re-tweaks, the product was perfected as the love-or-hate R&B venture of one of the world's few true rock stars. The music video still freaks me out, but I love it. I've just been enraptured by the composition and direction of the song since its first public inception. You may be almost too used to it by now from the radio, but this song sounds absolutely nothing like any other R&B or rap composition and while the lyrics are somewhat generic, they're genuinely heartfelt and meaningful to anyone. It was a completely different direction from a completely different artist that no one foresaw. And, again, either you love it or you hate it. But I'm leaning more towards the former.

2. "Air Conditioner" - Charles Hamilton
The song that cemented my view of Charles Hamilton as the real deal. It features his signature distorted/echoed/layered chorus that completely overrides his self-proclaimed lack of singing ability and metaphorically explores life through the breeze of an air conditioner. His flow is so laid back, but accentuates the smooth humming sample loop and tells a love story (imaginary or not) that's simply thoughts resting rhythmically on a bed of cool music. "Because you're not even real (I feel you), therefore you gotta be real (I'm near you), and yet you follow me still (my rear view), shows where you are." That chorus is imprinted in my mind more than anything else in the world ... Except ...

1. "Day N Nite" - KiD CuDi
"The lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night. He's all alone, some things will never change. The lonely loner seems to free his mind at night. At, at, at night." I'm convinced. Trust me. Single of the year. Cudi made people wanna flow like him.

... this was whatcha all been waitin' for ain't it?

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