Another year under the belt, which means it’s time for my annual Best and Worst awards, where I pay respect, and disrespect, to some of the year’s standout moments. Check it out and feel free to chop it up with me in the comments.
Worst Moniker: Elo The Cosmic Eye (“What Goes On Pt. 7” from Do You Want More?!!!??!) – It sounds like he tried too hard to come up with something that sounded deep, but instead it just ended up sounding downright corny.
Honorable Mentions: Microphone Nut (“Da Graveyard” from Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous) and Keith Nut (“Watch Out” from Jealous Ones Envy) – Anyone who has “Nut” in their alias is worthy of a nomination for this not so coveted award.
Worst Song Title: “Fed Up Wit The Bullshit” (Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous) – Sometimes it’s cool to be blunt and straight to the point, but on other occasions (like when titling your songs) it’s nice to use a little creativity. On the bright side: Lifestylez is two for two with nominations so far.
Worst Album Title: Da Miilkrate (Miilkbone) – That shit just sounds corny. Plus, I can’t overlook the fact that he used the N-word two too many times.
Worst Album Artwork: Aglio E Olio (Beastie Boys) – It looks like something my six-year-old son would draw. Scratch that, my son would draw circles around that hot mess.
Honorable Mentions: Destination Unknown (1 Way) – The picture quality, the elementary letter styling of the group name and album title, plus the matching outfits, all screams extreme corn. I Wish (Skee-Lo) – If Facebook was around in ’95, this is what some of ya’ll’s profile pics would look like. Pass It On (Mike E) – Why is this negro voguing with a pastel background?
Worst Song: “We Rule” (Special Ed) – DJ Akshun serves Special Ed, arguably, the worst instrumental in the history of hip-hop, and I’m not exaggerating. If the instrumental by itself wasn’t bad enough, Ed almost lulls the listener to sleep when he adds his new-found constipated-boring flow.
Honorable Mentions: “Blowin’ Up The Spot” (Ill Will -from the D&D Project) – I can’t believe KRS-One co-signed for this hot garbage. “Aint Nothin’ But The Word” (Mike E – Pass It On) – This was godawful…no pun intended. “Posers” (1 Way – Destination Unknown) – If this was released in ’88 instead of 95, it might work. On second thought…no it wouldn’t.
Worst Album: Destination Unknown (1 Way) – The issue I pointed out on “Posers” in the previous category ends up plaguing most of the album as well.
Honorable Mentions: Pass It On (Mike E) – A prime example of why most people think Christian hip-hop is corny. Revelations (Special Ed) – Ed’s oddball flow paired with the mediocre music makes for a very underwhelming listen. Aglio E Olio (Beastie Boys) – The only reason this one didn’t win in this category is because it wasn’t trying to be a hip-hop album.
Best Moniker: Shorty Shit Stain (raps on ODB’s “Proteck Ya Neck II” from Return To The 36 Chambers) – The shits hilarious (no pun intended) and ill at the same time; and it just slides off the tongue easy like drinking a gallon of Crisco.
Honorable Mentions: Kandi Kane (made a few cameos in ’95: Naughty By Nature’s “Connections” and Miilkbone’s posse joint “Set It Off”) and Evocalist (one half of The B.U.M.S.) – two ill alias from emcees with skills that match.
Best Song Title: “Verbal Intercourse” (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…) – Collectively, Wu-Tang may have given us the best song titles in hip-hop history, but this one might be the greatest. By the way, the song ends up being just as great.
Honorable Mentions: “Death Of A Demo (Nine Livez). “Tricycles And Kittens” (Subliminal Simulation) – Who would have thought that two random nouns connected by arguably the most popular conjunction in the English language would sound so dope together? “Unfuckwittable” (Last Chance, No Breaks) – Too bad Jamal’s album wasn’t as dope as this song title was.
Best Album Artwork: Return Of The 36 Chambers – To use your Welfare ID card for your album cover (which would later get ODB in trouble with the authorities) during the beginning stages of the bling and floss era, was brave, hi-larious and clever, all at the same time.
Honorable Mentions: Do You Want More?!!!??! – The dark blue filter placed over Black Thought, Questlove and Malik B’s (rip) pic is super slick and a great representation of what the album would sound like. Sittin’ On Chrome and III: Temples Of Boom – I’m a sucka for cartoon/ drawing style album covers.
Best Album Title: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…– That shit just sounds hard. Period.
Honorable Mentions: Poverty’s Paradise, Liquid Swords, Mental Releases.
Best Song: “Shook Ones PTII” – Havoc’s leery bass line clashes with a celestial loop, while he and Prodigy (rip) spew some of the most vividly frigid bars hip-hop has ever given us. Easily in my Top Ten GOAT hip-hop songs.
Honorable Mentions: “Dear Mama”- If you can’t feel Pac’s emotion on hip-hop’s greatest mama tribute, you might not have a pulse. “Born To Roll” – Remember that time when Masta Ace remixed “Jeep Ass Niguh” and turned it into a disgusting banger that would become his biggest crossover hit? “Last Dayz” – Onyx spews dim and hopeless bars over one of the darkest and greatest hip-hop beats of all time; all punctuated by a brilliant bone-chilling closing verse from Sticky Fingaz. “I Wish” – Don’t act like you weren’t fuckin’ with the song that made Skee-Lo a one hit wonder.
Sleeper Album: Nine Livez – This album pairs a ferocious emcee (with arguably the greatest rap voice of all-time) with phenomenal production, but through the years, it has been grossly overlooked. Is it because of that Froggy Frog thing he did?
Honorable Mentions: All We Got Iz Us – This masterwork of darkness has never gotten nearly enough credit for its greatness. Lyfe ‘N’ Tyme – The B.U.M.S give us a nice blend of shit talk and mature content over a batch of ear pleasing jazz and soul-driven instrumentals.
Best Album: The Infamous – Prodigy and Havoc spew cold and callous, and sometimes, introspective bars over damn near flawless production that results in one of the greatest albums in the history of hip-hop. Thug music never sounded so beautiful.
Honorable Mentions: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…– Rae and Ghost’s chemistry is undeniable on “The Purple Tape”, and Rza’s dusty boom-bap beats suit the duo, beautifully. Dah Shinin’ – Da Beatminerz master their brand of melodically muddy production that they introduced us to on Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage, and Steele and Tek sound right at home rhyming over it. Do You Want More?!!!??! – The live jazzy hip-hop instrumentation The Roots introduced us to on Organix, fully culminates on their sophomore effort, while Black Thought continues to blossom into the chiseled beastly emcee that he is today.
That concludes the Best & Worst of 1995. Thank you for going on this journey with me, and I hope you stick with me as I begin to re-walk through 1996, very soon.