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Songs that defined the decade!

by Angie B. Freshhip-hop

[Ed: Angie B. Fresh is the host of ‘The Corner‘ on CFUV 101.9 FM in Victoria, B.C.  She’s also the newest contributor to 4080 Records!  Read on for her inaugural post: a passionate, articulate survey of the last decade’s best hip-hop.  And if you know what’s good for you, tune in to her show every Friday from 5-6 p.m.]

Being a child of the late 80’s, this past decade has been the first I can remember from start to finish.  And while I can’t speak for my generational peers, I will always feel as though the 00’s belonged to me.  Rolling Stones called it the “decade of lost chances”, Time called it the “decade from hell”, but I look back on the double-zero’s as the decade of my musical awakening.  Thanks to my brother, I was introduced to hip hop in my early teens and its been my passion ever since.  On that note, I’d like to take a quick look back on the music that served as a soundtrack to my life.

In the interest of keeping this short and sweet, I picked one song per year.  Consider first that Pitchfork Media‘s feature on the best music of the decade contained 500 songs.  Picking just ten favorites was not an easy task, but here goes!

Common – The Light
For a long time after I heard this Grammy-nominated love song I only had ears for Common.  Produced by the legendary Dilla, this soulful and sensual tribute is uplifting and romantic in the most genuine way.  Common’s well articulated love and respect for his woman had ladies everywhere wishing they were Erykah Badu.  “It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine”

Nas – One Mic
An instant classic from one of the biggest names in rap, One Mic still gives me goose bumps.  The slow and subtle start, the crescendo into his rage-filled declaration of power, no wonder critics called in legendary. Two years ago I took a short road trip with a few fellow heads to watch Nas perform in Vancouver.  Hearing the opening bars to this track live was an experience of almost spiritual proportions.

Talib Kweli – Get By
I can clearly recall the first time I heard this song; 7 years have passed and I still love it. Produced by Kanye West, it became Talib’s biggest hit to date as a result of its commercial appeal.  The beat is deliciously funky with its piano loops, handclaps and Nina Simone samples, while the lyrics are positively righteous: “They need somethin’ to rely on/ We get high on all types of drugs, when all you really need is love, to get by”.

Little Brother – The Listening
9th Wonder’s beat samples Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” while Phonte and Big Pooh lament the fact that no one listens to full albums anymore or pays enough attention to the lyrics.  This is a song about hip hop by hip hop fans.  “I got suspicions your ear’s to the street where we’re whispering/ are you listening?”  I know I was…

Danger Mouse & Jemini – Ghetto Pop Life
Epic beats from one of the most versatile producers in hip hop, nay music, combined with the inventive and energetic flows of a very talented but underrated MC resulted in a near perfect album.  It was hard for me to pick just one track off this album as the whole thing is clever, creative and fun so I opted for the title track.  It’s a real shame that this project was so slept on because the kind of musical chemistry found with this dynamic duo doesn’t come along often.

Zion I – Bird’s Eye View
Zumbi’s lyrics in this ode to hip hop don’t really put it in the same realm as “I Used to Love H.E.R.”, however the sincerity of his unconditional love for the culture is obvious.  And when his poetry is coupled with the beautiful synthy production provided by Amp Live- complete with subtle strings and pretty piano loops, what you get is a deeply soulful tribute.  “She’s my heart, my mind, my spirit and my bones/ She’s the only one I know that would go across the globe/ Meet me in a foreign land, treat me like I’m home”

Lupe Fiasco – Daydreamin’
This was a tricky pick for me because of the commercial success it garnered.  However I truly believe that good music is good music despite who listens to it.  I was late getting into Lupe, but once I did I knew I was hooked.  The master of metaphor, his slippery lyrical prowess is in full effect in this Jill Scott collabo.  The concept is imaginative, the sound is wonderfully jazzy, what more could you ask for?

Blu & Exile – The World Is (Below The Heavens…)
This album came out of nowhere and then proceeded to blow my mind again and again the more I listened to it.  If you were like me you were asking yourself where the heck this kid Blu came from (he was 22 at the time of its release).  Exile has since become one of my favorite producers,  (check last year’s “Radio” if you like instrumentals) and Blu one of my favorite MCs.  Every beat is perfectly matched to its lyrics; every verse is revealingly heartfelt; this is an album I’ll be listening to for years to come.  “Hell is what you choose to call the present/ That’s why you’re going through it/ I just choose to call it stressin’/ To tell you fools the truth, I don’t feel that’s what I’m destined/ So you can call it hell but bro, I’ll just say I’m below the heavens”

Q-Tip – Gettin’ Up
This sophomore release was a long time coming and worth the wait.  Being a Tribe fan, I welcomed that familiar high-pitched voice back into my playlists immediately.  The vibe is mellow and warm at points yet Tip sounds enthusiastic and energetic throughout. With help from the likes of Raphael Saadiq, D’angelo, and Norah Jones, Q-Tip put together a smooth sounding and perfectly timed celebration of life and love; you can’t help but get into the spirit.  Welcome back Tip!

Tanya Morgan – She’s Gone AKA Without You
Hands down my favorite album of the year, Brooklynati had me wishing I could take up residence in this fictional locale and spend my nights watching the “Hardcore Gentlemen” perform their 15 year old hit 15 times (only people who have been to Brooklynati will get that one).  “She’s Gone” has been described by some as our generation’s “I Used To Love H.E.R” (so I like Common okay??) and it’s just one of the many infectious tracks on the album.  Production from Von Pea and Aeon will have you reminiscing about the so-called Golden Era of hip hop when well-cut jazz loops and soulful samples laid the canvas for thoughtful, witty rhymes. This is one you can pop in and listen to front to back and not have to hit that skip button.

Image from: http://media.photobucket.com/image/hip-hop/nycson98/LoveofHipHop-Collage.jpg


4080Records Presents: BlakRoc

The BlakRoc project is getting mad press these days, so we thought we’d update our last post and bring it back to all you loyal readers.  As you know, the concept is that the Black Keys (a rock band) have collaborated with 11 hip hop/R&B artists.  They’ve done stuff with the RZA, Mos Def, Ludacris, Pharoahe Monche, and Q-Tip.

Now, I haven’t been a big fan of these type of collaborations before.  I mean, quite honestly, Mos Def’s affinity for this (remember The New Danger?) style has been the most to me, but even that didn’t win me over.  Still, BlakRoc does a decent job of blending this all together in a way that sounds dope.  

Below is their collaboration with our man, the mighty Mos Def to give you a little taste.


Q-Tip – Renaissance Rap


Q-Tip – Getting Up


New Q-tip video

We’ve all been excited for Q-tip’s new record to drop.  As we previously reported, The Renaissance is about to drop, and I for one cannot wait.

Check out the first single: Move.


Lupe Fiasco Remix Dopeness and New Heat From Q-Tip!

Lupe takes a break from lunch to record some new fyah

Anticipation for Lupe’s “Paris, Tokyo” remix has been building since it was first announced a few months ago, and now that it’s finally arrived heads across the interweb are scrambling to get their hands on it.  And thanks to 2dopeboyz.com, we’ve got a copy for your listening pleasure available below.  Also available is a surprisingly catchy jazz remix of the same song by Chris and Denise Paultre.  And, to add to the overall goodness of this post, we’ve also upped some new Q-Tip, courtesy of From Da Bricks.  So get your listen on and enjoy!

Lupe Fiasco – Paris, Tokyo (Remix) ft. Pharrell, Q-Tip & Sarah Green

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Chris and Denise Paultre – Paris, Tokyo

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Q-Tip – Gettin’ Up

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Q-Tip finally releasing The Renaissance

It’s finally happening.

I guess touring with the Rock the Bells festival has inspired Q-Tip to finally put out his record, The Renaissance.  This thing has been ready for release for at least a couple of years, but somehow the label just hasn’t managed to do it.

I was worried for a while, especially with what happened to Kamaal the Abstract, but thankfully my fears have been misplaced.

So, on to The Renaissance.  Tip’s first album since Amplified, it’s not a bad album.  I heard a sneak preview of it a little while ago, and so far it seems that at least Andre 3000 and D’Angelo are making guest appearances. Now, the sneak I heard could have been a pre-release, so the new album may have a different lineup.  The LA times is reporting that Norah Jones is making an appearance

The sound of the album is a lot more like the Q-Tip of old, then the odd cat who brought you Breathe & Stop while dressed in a fur coat.  For that, I’m super thankful.  All the reviews so far seem to say that this new album harkens back to the days of old, back to when Tip and Tribe were ruling with an amazing flow and a down-to-earth style.

The sad part of this whole equation is that Tip’s been hurting for this release.  Apparently he’s created several albums of music, had at least 3 full albums that he hasn’t managed to release.  He tried to release two (Kamaal the Abstract, and Open) and somehow the labels he was on couldn’t see to do it.  I guess that was because at the time, classic hip hop wasn’t selling as well as the neo-gangsta trite.  But now that people are starting to return to the old ways, and festivals like Rock the Bells are re-inspiring interest in the hip hop masters, the labels are finally starting to see the light.

Oh Q-Tip, we here at 4080 have definitely never forgotten you.

Here’s Getting Up, courtesy of XXL mag.

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[Source: LA Times]


Smirnoff Vodka makes underground hip hop

Smirnoff Vodka has launched a new website called the Smirnoff Signature Mix Series. It pairs some pretty sick emcees with various amazing producers to produce what could be seen as some sellout tracks. They’re remixes for the modern day of some old classics. And each one comes with a drink recipe, so check it out here.

At the site you can download the tracks and watch some pretty awesome studio footage of them being recorded, so I highly suggest it. But, for your auditory pleasure, I’ve gone ahead and streamed the tracks for you. So check them out below.

Common with Just Blaze – The Light ’08

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KRS-One with DJ Premier – Criminal Minded ’08

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Q-Tip with Cool and Dre – Midnight

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Common and Q-Tip Join Forces

Yes, this story is a year old. Yes, that means we suck at staying on top of things. And yes, sadly it means it may not happen. But we’re not giving up hope.

According to XXLMag, Q-Tip and Common have decided to form a new group, to be called “The Standard”. It’s groundbreaking news, or rather it was when the news first came out last September. The rumor was that after the Abstract and Common came back from touring together, they’d get in the studio and start recording an album.

In fact, it sounds pretty dope if you ask me.

As far as the production on the album, though, fans can expect Q-Tip to handle the majority. “I’m probably gonna do a lot of it,” ‘Tip says. “And we’ll get Kanye [West] on a couple things, but you know, that cat is busy.”

I’m not even a huge Kanye fan, but since he’s got what I like to call the “Timbaland touch”, it really can’t hurt to have him on your album. Kanye and Common have done some magic together on his last few albums, so i guess I really can’t complain too much.

Still, as far as I can tell so far nothing has really developed from that news story, but I’ve still got my fingers crossed they’ll come out with something. Since so many of these stories just fizzle out, I’m not going to hold my breath, but you never know.




“I think it’s pretty evident – and everybody says it – that hip-hop is definitely not as good as it once was. It’s sort of like disco was. “There was a time when disco was the s**t and Steve Rubell had Studio 54. But the minute you heard Disco Duck by Rick Dees, that was the telltale sign that disco was over. I think that if hip-hop continues on the path that it seems like it’s going down, then it looks like it’s not going to hold up.”

That’s the way Q-Tip phrases it. And I have to agree. Hip hop, at least a lot of the popular form of it, is not nearly as good as it once was.

Still, it’s tragic that Q-Tip is joining the seemingly endless parade of artists who claim hip hop is dying. It doesn’t really help the cause that much, and may just ensure it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think there is enough new talent out there to keep hip hop from going the way of disco, but not without some effort. So some of the more underground artists out there will need support to get their music out. That is the only panacea for hip hop.

I can’t bring myself to say that hip hop is dead. I just can’t. Not when so many new amazing artists keep popping out of these underground scenes. With Mos Def and Common still making music. In fact, I’d say hip hop is becoming admirably international as time goes on.

Perhaps hip hop is dying in the pop sense. Maybe it’s true what Billboard claims, that hip hop sales have declined 40% since 2000. Still, maybe that’s a good thing for the art form. Maybe this will push it back to the streets, get things back to the roots and away from musical trainwrecks like the G-Unit.