nofrillz 1st Annual Favs: 2008

My 1st annual favs list. 21 of them made it this year & i’ve added some honourable mentions too. Most bloggers will have a nearly but not quite list too so i’ve decided to add give mine a mention as well. Let me just say, this is in not my own version of a top of list & they aren’t in any particular order. These are just my personal favourites from the last 12 months. I didn’t really have any criteria as such, but we all have albums that we liked more than others & these are mine. Let me know what your favs were people. If there are any of them that you haven’t heard then download the tasters & let familiarity breed niceness.

Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It

Any album that carries a lot of soul, while still sounding so polished & also contains my favourite Non Hip-Hop track of the year has to be on my list. Raphael Saadiq has created a modern classic that, years from now people will be going back to in the same way that we go back to Songs in the Key of Life. To any singer/songwriter, past, present or future, this is the benchmark.

Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make That Shit Gold

Stupid question of the year. Someone asked me ‘How can you claim Mobb Deep & The Wu-Tang among your all time favourites, then turn round & listen to Atmosphere?’ My answer: ‘Because it’s very easy to listen to one of the best Hip Hop releases of the year’. Seeing as WLGYLYMTSG also contains arguably my single favourite Hip Hop song this year (In Her music Box), you who had the audacity to ask me that in the 1st place, should be asking yourself why you aren’t listening to music of this quality? And on top of that, Ant has to be one of the most underused producers in Hip Hop.

People Under The Stairs – Fun DMC

Sometimes Hip-Hop should be exactly what it says on the tin. Thes & Double showed us what it was all about in the first place with Fun DMC. An album that doesn’t try to do anything other than be an enjoyable listen but is a whole lot more besides. Thes changed up his beat making game for this one & although all of the core PUTS elements are there, there’s also something extra that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s that something that put FD on my list.

Nicolay & Kay – Time:Line

The sublime greatness of Nicolay’s sound on here doesn’t need to be explained anymore. But conceptually & lyrically this album was overlooked by many (including myself at first). To chart life from start to finish is a feat in itself. Kay did it in a classy, understated way. He will have known that Nicolay would have got the immediate plaudits & that some of us would have questioned his half of the partnership. It took me about 4 listens realise just how good a job Kay did.

Elzhi – The Preface

When an MC that spits as much fire as El does, gets together with a producer with the gifted talent of Black Milk, Hip Hop really shows what it’s capable of. Rarely have I heard an MC spray such constant verbal bullets. But with that said, I still think Royce just about steals the whole show with his bomb proof bars on Motown 25. Damn!

The Knux - Remind Me In 3 Days

Talent such as this is always meant for big things. These guys came at me completely out of the blue with their brand of Hip Hop. Should Outkast's desire to pursue any new avenues together diminish, these guys are more than capable of taking their mantle to a new level. Remind me... easily carries the most original sound I've heard this year. Definite superstars in waiting.

Jazz T – All City Kings

His beats may carry a sense of organised (Jazz infused) chaos but such is the quality of said chaos that his mention here was inevitable. Conceptually there isn’t much to discuss but that in no way takes away from the overall execution. The MC’s in (Tim Dog, Kashmere, Percee P & Yeshua) on proceedings are all there to tell us how good they are & Jazz provided one of the illest/my favourite backdrops this year.

Lizzy Parks – Raise The Roof

The sexiest (both in looks & sound), this year. I dare any red blooded male to listen to this lady sing & not want to get to know her better. She has one of those voices that when i listen to it, life seems just that little bit better. Ben Lamdin (Nostalgia 77) & Riaan Vosloo (Nostalgia 77 Octet) should be scoring movies, such is the quality & depth of the sound here. If there is one artist I would love the chance to see live (for more reasons than one) it’s Lizzy Parks.

Ugly Duckling – Audacity

These guys just don’t know how to make anything other than great hip Hop. Once again, this is an album that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. There is a newly found sing-a-long element that Dizzy & co have added to their game. I was singing the hook to ‘I Won’t Let It die’ non-stop for days. This album also showcases just how much these guys love what they do & not unlike PUTS, this come across on every track.


Even in ‘underground’ circles, these guys never seem to be on many folks lips. How Hip Hop of this quality keeps getting over looked I will never know. All the releases to date from these guys is a necessity in all self respecting, so called true Hip hop enthusiasts collections. Brilliant.

Jazzanova – Of All The Things

This is the most versatile of the artists on my list. Of All The Things shows that these folks can turn their hand to anything & make it work. There’s something on here for everybody with Funk, R’n’B, Deep Soul, Smooth Jazz, Straight Hip Hop & a lot in between making an appearance. And with a guest list that should wet many appetites (Ben Westbeech, Joe Dukie, Phonte, Dwele, Leon Ware etc), they covered all angles. The fact that they’re on point with all of them only make it all the more enjoyable.

Robin Thicke – Something Else

We know that this guy (in tandem with Pro J) is a supremely talented songwriter/producer. We, for the most part, agree that has about as soulful a voice as you’ll here for many a year. But it’s the way that all was bared for us to see (or in this case hear) that set this album apart amongst it’s counterparts. Feelings, emotions, views on life, political commentary, it was all on Something Else.

Funky DL – The Jazz That Was Forgotten

DL has been around for what seems like an eternity. Now, in that time although conceptually he has grown, technically he’s still the same MC. I’m not sure whether overall that is a good or a bad thing, but in the context of this album alone, it’s the right thing. The clue to the supreme niceness of this album is in the title. Jazz Hop is the way of the walk & DL knows the right steps to take. Jazz samples have always been a staple of the Funky DL diet but This album was when it all came together.

Black Milk – Tronic

This guy has been busy as hell this last year & a bit. Yet he still saved his best beats for himself with his 3rd superb solo release. The albums vibe is exactly as the title describes. Futuristic electronic samples & sounds coupled with the kind of snares & kicks that Primo would be proud to claim as his own. Black Milk sooner or later will surely be the next go to guy in Hip hop.... Right???

The Foreign Exchange – Leave It all Behind

It’s that man again. Personally Nicolay is my beatsmith of the year. To have been the sole producer for 2 of the years best albums is something Dre & Tim would have trouble with. Yes we all wanted Phonte to spit. But now the smoke has cleared it’s obvious Kanye isn’t in the same league vocally as Phonte or sonically as Nicolay. Yet we all know who’s gonna push more units. I can only imagine what’s possible on the next one. Beautiful.

Q-Tip – The Renaissance

All those false dawns have been worth the wait & then some a Q-Tip comes back with a big bang. This was the album I had hoped for. It seems that unlike some, time hasn’t dulled his craft. Q is his usual charismatic self on the mic, while the soundscape is worthy of any future ATCQ reunion (come on you know you want to). An upbeat bounce from start to finish, I’d forgotten just how good a producer the man is. Now if only....

Algebra – Purpose

Erykah has it, Jill has it, Alicia has it & Algebra has it. That special something, that distinguishes them from the rest. Kedar’s still got it too & he is perfect person to oversee such a talent. Neo-Soul has been operating in its more conventional cousin’s shadow for the last few years & it’s a damn shame that more of the good people don’t know anything about Algebra. This is the songstress that can put music of this type back on the radar.

Sonny Jim – Trading Standards

Sonny must be a popular MC judging by the guest list on this album/mixtape. Soweto Kinch, Orifice Vulgatron, Verbal Kent, The IRS, Skrein, Cappo, Jehst, Verb T, Stig & more help means this cannot be overlooked. One neck snapper is followed by another without a single press of the skip button in sight. Such a naturally gifted MC who releases material of this quality should really be pushing this as an album. But hey, when Hip Hop is this good who am I to judge.

Solange – Sol Angel & the Hadley Street Dreams

Be honest. How many of us actually thought that this album would be any good. When I heard the 1st single my initial expression was, eh?. But once that had grown on me I bought the album & was more than pleasantly surprised. As vocally superior as big sis is & as polished as ‘I am’ may sound SAATHSD, carries a better vibe throughout & has a lot more variety. Solange has definitely proven she has a lot more balls (metaphorically speaking) than her, rather more established, sibling.

Green Tea – Dosage II: Choices

Neo-Soul with a major dose of headnodability, Dosage II is one of those albums that, as I was flicking through the rack something just told me to grab it. Luckily that spare tenner is money well spent as I have wiled away many a recent afternoon with this lady crooning in the background. And to think I had never even heard so much as a murmur of her name before. Don’t you just love a new discovery.

Dela – Changes Of Atmosphere

Frances great new hope strikes back even better second time around. He’s found a happy medium between his last album & his Soul Village period. In case you haven’t noticed I’m a major Jazz Hop head & this is Jazz Hop of the highest order. With a guest list of immense quality (J. Sands, Naledge, Blu, Dynas, Supastition, J-Live...), Dela should be a very busy man from now on.

Wax & EOM – Liquid Courage

The 2nd album on this list that came at me from leftfield, I wasn’t expecting much from Liquid Courage. Let’s be honest we all know where the term liquid courage comes from (But apparently these guys took the title from movie ‘The Dark Knight’). I won’t make that same mistake the next time I see a project with either of these guys involved. There is a generic Hip Hop spine but it’s been twisted & contorted to great effect. Wax can change tact at the flick of a mic switch & EOM’s sample usage is as superb as it is quirky.

Jack Flash – The Union Jack Album

Superbly polished, soul inspired beats are coupled with a easy on the ear conversational rhyme style. Jack flash is in his element when telling a story, which matches the laid back samples. Yet what pushes this album to the fore is that as chilled as the samples themselves may be, they are coupled with some fearsome fearsome (think Buckwild). I said earlier but I repeat, those who think that UK Hip Hop standards are slipping should be using albums such as this as a marker.

and don’t forget these...

Giant Panda – Electric Laser / What I like to call B-Boy niceness

Murs & 9th Wonder / Sweet Lord

The Antidotes – L.A. Lights / Like PUTS, like Ug Duck, get this album

Million Dan – Spektrum / Ragga tinged Hip Hop at its best

Belleruche – The Express / Tru Thoughts are like P. Diddy, they can’t stop

M9 – 144,000 / East coast USA, eat your heart out

Evil Ed & conspicuous – The Get Together / Brit head nodding niceness

Oddisee – 101 & 102 / Not all new but all top notch

another Dyme piece

More goodness from good people. These guy's don't know how to make bad music.

Another atomisation

New music from Pugz... niceness

Visual wizardry

This right here is the visual equivalent of Carlsberg.
probably the best music video in the world.

edit: Jay Electronica has already stated that he did not have anything ot do with this vid. If not then who the hell did? does the maker not realise that his is a work of genius? I know the chances are slim but if you read this, drop me a line/email bruv!!!

My ass is in pain (that doesn't sound right)

There's a method in the madness (& he's funny too)

Cy(n) Language

A Christmas present from Cy to all of us. Enjoy!


Raaaa, dis brudda's Ragz bredrin!!!

Eric's been a busy bee (what's new) as of late. I knew he had something in the works but now he's associating himself with the likes of DJ Ragz!?! For those that don't know, Ragz is the production half of the Pete Rock & CL Smooth for our times (unless Pete & CL make a comeback [hint]), Jazz Addixx. I've mentioned that name on more then one occasion over here so you should know by now. This IZ a mixtape, NOT a pause tape. D L & in the words of Mr. Rodney Smith, witness the fitness. Enjoy

Prevervation (Mixed by DJ Ragz)

Check that Dyme piece

I can't believe that these guys aren't on the tip of a lot more tongues. Dyme Def 1st came to my attention when I copped 'Space Music' on the off chance that might might be an OK album. What an understatement. Oned of my favourite album of recent years has now been superseeded by one of my fav releases of this year (check in 31st of December). 3BADBRUTHAAAS actually came outa few months ago but somehow I forgot to sing it's praises in public... until now. You can pick up the album on iTunes. But to tide you over before you spend your hard earned cash (money well spent i promise you), peep these. Enjoy!

Dyme Def - Dreamin'/Jungle/Women Be Get'n It

Mekanikz Anonimuss

Recently, I was going through some of my old cassettes and I came across the entire stash of mixtapes I’ve done throughout the years. And these aren’t pause tapes, trust me, they’re MIXtapes. Most of them I hadn’t heard in years; maybe close to a decade for some of them. It gave me the idea to do a kind of retrospective—a chronological backtrack if you will—of my mixtape ‘career’. I didn’t actually get one in the stores until ’99 so I use the term ‘career’ loosely, but the entire reason I became involved with this music was to make mixtapes. Most of my heroes are mixtape DJs so I aspired to follow in their footsteps.

I’m gonna go back to what I think is the first legitimately dope mix I did, because I realize what’s classic to me beyond that most likely wouldn’t be classic to you.

So, starting with my most recent, most intricate mixtape made in 2008, every week I’m gonna post backwards all the way to ’96. Let’s go!

Right click & save as...
Mekalek's Party Mix

Don't Ill

Click the pic & read. Sorry to say it but judging by some of the remarks i read on certain blogs, some of you out there need a better understanding of what's going on with the music.

I love fried spicy Kalamari

Cervantis & The Squid Ninjas (thanks for the heads up CB) are giving away his Mixtape Speak Physics Volume 1. He's got Joe Dirt & Skamma up on there plus sounds by Metabeats. Freeness on the downlow(d) plus everything else on the sight is cheap as chips (nearly), so check it out.

Cerventis - Speaks Physics Volume 1

Squid Ninja's site (buy stuff here)

Understanding Dialekts

UK stand up! The Dialektiks are a Sheffield duo that are 2 sides of the same coin. There is a definite Jazz Hop spine but you can hear the clash of other sounds on Intelligent Design, & that is exactly what comes forth. Rather than take atentionway from what these guys are about, the brash, quirky samples are a great contrast for Newspeaks understated delivery. I like this a lot & the vibe is something different from what the UK is offering right now (which, by the way is no bad thing at all).
Click the pic below & Enjoy!

edit: and before you ask, no i'm not dissing the rest of UK hip hop

Toolie's done it again (again)

The title & tracklist should be explanation enough
01 - Black Milk - Colors (2.1) [Intro]
02 - Blaq Poet - Ain't Nuttin' Changed (prod. by DJ Premier)
03 - The Cool Kids - Delivery Man (9th Wonder Remix)
04 - Jazzanova - So Far from Home (feat. Phonte)
05 - J-Spliff - State of Mind (feat. Sean Price)
06 - Nature - Runnin' Out of Time (prod. by Dub Sonata)
07 - Butta Verses - Ask for It
08 - Cappadonna - Somebody's Got to Go (feat. Ghetto Philharmonic)
09 - Visual - Grown Man Minutes (prod. by Rashid Hadee)
10 - Evidence - The Cold Weather
11 - Sentense - Inner Demons (feat. Reks & Why-D)
12 - 8thW1 - HeartBeat
13 - Mirage & Concept - Freedom
14 - The Wrist - Exit 9
15 - Super Smoky Soul - Knockout Kings (feat. Guilty Simpson)
16 - Fresh Daily - Get Over (prod. by Illmind)
17 - Common - Resurrection (Beatnick & K-Salaam Remix 2008)
18 - EPMD - Left 4 Dead (feat. Skyzoo) (prod. by 9th Wonder)
19 - Cymarshall Law & Mr Joeker - Truth (feat. Skit Slam & Supastition)
20 - Son Of Ran & Messengers - Heart Breakers
21 - Jean Grae & Blue Sky Black Death - It's Still a Love Song
22 - Freeman (of IAM) - Les beaux jours [Bonus Track]

DJ Toolz - Undaground O-Eight 3.0

Loud is the new Loud

All i'm gonna say is.... Get Familiar (UK stand up!) Nice 1 CB

Loudmouth - 55 Freestyles Vol. 1

Humming the light fantastic

Intstrumental albums aren't really my thing... unless there's something that makes it stick out from the crowd. Kid Hum's upcoming genre bending piece of Hip Hop instrumentalism (phew), does just that. Hip Hop takes many turns on this one & some oof the samples tell s story all by themselves. The taster should find you in agreement. I dropped his free remix album, Songster, for the good people too (& it's bloody superb). Enjoy!

Kid Hum - I Don't like You Either

Kid Hum - Bells

Kid Hum - Rain

Push it along

Knuckle Up Homie (again)

The Knux - Cappucino (Download)

edit: i posted a more than favourable review of the very album. Only to have the powers that be have it taken down because I gave away 4 tracks (out of 17) in the same post. At a time when there are other blogs giving away the full album, quite frankly that taking the P%$s. But then i get an email asking me to put up a post about the very same album. It's a funny old world.

Wispa it loudly

Willo's the next major breakout of the now highly anticipated Asscociated Minds camp. He's appeared on many a top notch release this year (Evil Ed & Conspicuous and Sir Smurf Li'l amongst them), as part of The Colony. Well, The Minds have put together this little number fot the good paople to partake of Willo's earlier works (hence the title).

1. Mars To The Manor
- produced and recorded by Conspicuous The Coroner
2. Rider Music Freestyle - feat. Cobane & Ophkea
3. Cark - produced by Ophkea
4.What Kind Of Girls? - produced by Hansel The Unicorn
5. Razor Blades (Evil Ed Switchblade Remix)
6. Real Eyes Dub
7. Excalibah Dubstate
8. 2 Pounds - produced by DJ Excalibah
9. I Wanna - produced by the elusive Peeping Tom

Willo Wispa - The Earlier Escapades Of....

OH yeah, he's Gone

DJ Gone, Genre crossing turntable assassin extraordinaire, has a new release in the workd. Sin City brings some of the best that UK Hip Hop has to offer across 27 tracks (plus intro/outro) of niceness. Taskforce, Ramson Badbones, Ric Branson, Teef, Million Dan, M9, Mystro, TB & Mr. Drastik are about a third of the artists representin'. Tasters Ahoy!

T.B - Remarkable

Mr. Drastik feat. Stylah & Iron Braydz - Paranoid Music

Malik - Ain't The Devil Happy

Million Dan Freestyle

DJ Gone's Myspace

2nd's away....

It's here. Delayed but well worth the wait. There is now the option of downloading, or reading it online. Check for my Foreign Exchange review.

this is an Equal opportunities blog

Got this in the mail from 2 up & comers. Young guys got something, no doubt about that. There are a few real gems on here & overall it's a solid effort Conceptually theres room to grow but 1 MC 1 DJ is the basic foundation of Hip Hop. I'll be keeping my expectations high for the next one fellas & i'll try & have a few words with you soon. Enjoy!

Da Equation - Y=MC+P

Da Equation's Myspace

Wax Lyrical (EOM gets a mention too)

When Kevin drops something in my inbox it invariably means that I have to take notice since he doesn't do it that often. But when he does it is always quality Hip Hop. And so his streak continues with Wax & EOM's Liquid Courage. i'll admit when i 1st saw the artwork i was a little skeptical at what these guys were gonna bring to the table (sorry Kev). As the saying goes 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'. Soulful head nods from the get go. EOM has a quirky way with his neats & tends to pick his samples from a more eerie place than most. Heavy guitars, a fully voiced male choir (as a sample!?!) & what appear to be Native/South American pan pipes (amongst others) all make an appearance. Thus making for a more interesting spin on the beats (these guys even have Reggaeton covered). Wax's voice is about as close to the right side of annoying as you can be without actually being so. Yet how can a cross between Sadat X, Eminem & Eazy E still sound this nice. Quite simply, if you can spit, just about any tone becomes more than bearable. Wax veers between comedy & emotion easily & breaks things up by singing a few of the hooks. The adventures of Larry & Tina are a perfect example of when the tone & vibe of a song suits this perfectly. The symmetry between the Wax & EOM is uncanny. Whenever Eom decides to reign things in for the beat, Wax escapes the leash & be it a verse or hook, lets loose somewhere on the track. His Hip Hop vocab seems to be limitless as he skates from one topic to another with ease. Apparently what was meant to be an EP ended up the being the 17 tracks currently blaring from my Ipod. Liquid Courage eh? Quirky Jazzhop is one of he names I call it. Top quality is the other. But with a few kinks ironed out, the next one (there better be) will be even better.

p e a c e

I'm feelin' this tune

Bringing up the front

It may say coming soon but it's here right now. J. Nolan's done it again, this time with the help of Yung B. This guy just puts out one quality release after another. As soon as i heard the intro i knew i was gonna like this one. Not a single weak beat to be found & J. continues to tread on the concious side of a street laced fence. Imma try to get a Q&A up with J some time soon so look out for that. The quality of freeness just gets better & better. Don't forget to say thanks. Enjoy!

edit: the Celebration & With You beats are ridiculous!!!

Yung B & J Nolan - The Upbringing 2.0

J. Nolan's Myspace

Yung B Da Producer's Myspace