Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Government Names 2006 Baltimore Hip Hop Poll Results

OK, the results of the poll are in! But lemme say something first.

All year, I've been trying to keep track of the bounty of Baltimore hip hop releases that the scene is churning out every week, or really every day, and anticipating the chance to try to sum up 2006 with a big list and filter all the output down to the very best. And for most of the year, I've debated whether I'm fit to make that decision myself or if I should let the public make the call. So I decided to roll the dice on democracy and let people vote, with full knowledge that it was an experiment, and I'd be lying if I said the way it went down wasn't a disappointment.

In terms of turnout, I was pretty pleased that I got over 70 votes. But only about a dozen of those were good, thoughtful ballots comprised of more than one or two albums. The overwhelming majority of e-mails I got were from voting blocs operating on the behalf of a handful of artists, who not coincidentally make up the top 5 of the list. I'm not about to change the rules or throw out votes or anything, because I think the best policy is to take people's votes at face value and count them all equally, but that's some bullshit. Waves of votes for one artist would come in all at once, presumably after the artist or a friend sent out e-mails asking them to do so, which as I said at the outset, is OK and not against the rules per se. But it was just so blatant. One guy referred to the album he was voting for as a song and hilariously thought the poll was for "the best lyrics ever spoken." And I noticed people on their MySpace bulletins, not artists themselves but people trying to help certain artists, openly encouraging their friends to vote for an album whether they've heard it or not, which really damages the legitimacy of the poll results. I always knew there was a possibility that this poll would more ably demonstrate who's got the hardest working street team than whose album was listened to and enjoyed the most. I just really hoped there were enough fans that would come out of the woodwork and make their voices heard that it would drown out the bullshit. But, it's clear that this scene still has a dearth of fans relative to the number of active artists that are out here making worthwhile music, and that's a shame.

So what I'm saying is, fuck this poll. It doesn't mean anything. And I don't mean that as any disrespect to any of the artists who won. It does irk me a little that the top album is the one I haven't heard, but I met The Homicide Rapper a while back, and he seems like a good dude (he gave me a different CD from the one that most people were voting for, but the disc was fucked up and most of it won't play in my computer), so I'm not hating on him or anyone else. But to me this all looks like a hollow victory. You could chop off the top 5 and start the list with Mully and it would more accurately reflect what people who listened to a lot of different albums liked the most (and I say that as someone who particularly liked the PX and Cutthroat albums). I'm pretty much only posting this list at all because I already put so much time in it and got so many people to participate. But because so many people felt like juking the stats, and there are just too many good releases that didn't place in this poll (Little Clayway, DK, Ray Lugar, Annexx Click, Yung Huslas, Labtekwon, Hots, Gritty Gang, Alevan, B. Rich, Ray Victory, Finacy, and so on and so on) that I can't put my full support behind the results. So I'll be posting my real year-end wrap up, which will be extremely subjective and partisan and decided by me alone, later this week. Deal with it.

Some quick notes: everything in the top 25 received at least 3 votes. Some artists putting out multiple releases ended up splitting the vote; for instance, if all of the votes for Skarr Akbar mixtapes had been for the same release, he would've ended up at #4, instead of at #10, #11, and #31.

1. The Homicide Rapper - Sweet Dreamz
2. Billo “The Hood Rockstar” - Daily Grind Vol. 2 “We Got Another One”
3. Mike Malachi - Malachi’s Way
4. Cutthroat - Words Can’t Explain It Chapter 2.5
5. PX (Parts Unknown) - Hood Therapy
6. Mullyman - Still H.I.M.
7. Dirty Hartz - It Is What It Is Vol. 2
8. M.O.L. - Money On Da Low
9. UnReal - Dat Boyz A Problem
10. Skarr Akbar - The Bidding War Stars Now!
11. Skarr Akbar - The Cerebellum: General Part Four
12. PenDragon - Revenge Of The Harm City King
13. Tyree Colion - Tyree Colion presents Hustle Hard Blvd
14. Barnes - The Last Shall Be First
15. ShellBe RAW - Do You Like It Raw?
16. B.O.M.B. - King Of Da Streets Vol. 1
17. Comp - Independence Day: Bang-A-Rang Mixtape Vol. 3
18. Bossman - BulletProof B
19. Huli Shallone - Huli Shallone
20. Midas - Pay-Per-View
21. DNA - True Crime: Harm City, Volume 5
22. Backland - Back In Business
23. Bigg Patch - Goldenboy Volume 2
24. C Love/DNA - Respect, Vol. 1
25. Profound and Ogun - Oil And Water 2

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It be like that Al....LOL!

You tried. This just proves that folk still don't have a fan base.

Its a sad state of affairs. Who is #1? LOL!
i dont know any of them cats in the top five except billo. i picked up his album at sonar and seen his show and i was impressed for real. my vote would be him and comp
I have to say first that I have never really given a damn about local polls of "Who is the most popular", "Who is the hottest" and so forth, but when I read the comments I felt it necessary to speak my mind.

I understand there were only 70 votes for a whopping 50+ choices of what was the favorite album/mixtape. By those numbers, if even every single rapper and their producer voted for their own project, there would be far more votes than you received. I admit I have little to no knowledge of the first four artists on the list, but it seems that they only needed 3 or more fans to win, hardly what I would consider "stuffing the ballot box". "Billo", for example, was just recently reviewed by you, and had a show Dec 7th. Is it impossible for him to have 5 people who liked his project enough to send you an email? Just because I dont have it doesn't mean I can say he doesnt have fans- how can you disrespect like that?

What I take offense to is your statement that

"[i]You could chop off the top 5 and start the list with Mully and it would more accurately reflect what people who listened to a lot of different albums liked the most (and I say that as someone who particularly liked the PX and Cutthroat albums)"[/i]

Although I appreciate the fact that you like the album, and we do appreciate the write up, how is it that you shit on us like that?

So you are saying that it is improbable that 4 or more people that like the PX album may send you an email? That is how I read it. And yes, I did vote for me when I got an email! But lemme give you some info...

I can count on one hand the number of titles on your list that have a barcode. Obviously when you sell a product at a few hundred locations you are going to probably make more of an impact then when you sell at one location (your backpack). I invite you to go to an FYE in Maryland (try Mondawmin) and see how many times the "Hood Therapy" album has been restocked and/or reordered. We sell 200+ units AT A TIME to the various stores through our distributor so our imaginary supporters can buy them for $15.99 a pop plus tax. Better yet, google the album and see how many languages you can find selling this album online. I know what numbers we are doing and what many others are doing, as I have touched many of those projects listed through mixing, mastering, etc.

Most local mixtapes are lucky to sell 50 copies or less before the artist winds up giving them away. Bottom line, selling mixtapes here is like selling ice to Eskimos. You cant go into a room full of artists (ie The 5 Seasons) and expect to sell your shit. The few that have some established distribution methods outside of their trunk are lucky still to sell 500 copies- not exactly a best seller. With the exception of a few titles on that list, you dont have a lot of mixtape movement, so who are you to say what[i] "more accurately reflect what people who listened to a lot "[/i]. Just because you see somebody in the same venue week after week trying to sell the same CD doesnt mean people are listening. It means they aint moving their shyt.

I have always questioned the legitamacy of several publications in this area regarding Hip Hop because of their limited scope. Sonar and the 5 Seasons is not indicitave of all Baltimore Hip Hop, although reading most articles you wouldnt know it, because the writers never leave their little circle. Get out of the Matrix!

Just because I never saw Cutthroat or Malachi at an Elements Party doesnt mean they are not contenders- I wouldnt disrespect them like that. If you are unhappy with the results of your poll, do better next time by taking time to make a clear consise BALLOT with specific questions like a) Which mixtape has the best artwork, or b) What store distributed album did you like the best, and c) Which "Out the Trunk" album did you like the best, or d) What were your top 3 pics, or e) Which Group/Female Artist/Solo Artist, etc... you get the picture. Your conclusions regarding the results are very negative and disrespectful to ALL involved, not just the top 5 that you would "get rid of".

LB of PX
the problem is these writers! biased and bullshit!!!!!what fans do yall have? the same old folks who aint goin no where in the game!!!!!!!!!!
I already talked to someone from PX about this in private and explained that I wasn't trying to disrespect anyone, although I definitely kinda went too far because I was pissed off. But basically I was just putting a disclaimer up there so that noone took the poll too seriously and started using those stats as a way to feel better about other artists. But since you don't give a damn about these kinds of polls, you don't have to worry about that.

Also, you misunderstood what I was saying, which was that everyone on the top 25 got AT LEAST three votes, most got many more than that. And I honestly doubt that if I tried this again I'd do a more specific ballot like you suggest, although I like the idea. It was hard enough to get people to understand the super-simple guidelines I gave, I think making it any more complicated would just cause a lot of mix-ups. But aside from that, you had good points, and I've definitely seen PX's grind and evidence of their success. But I also saw someone on MySpace telling people to vote for PX whether or not they've heard the record, which made every vote I got for you from that point on suspect, even if y'all had nothing to do with it.
That Billo shit is the hottest shit on that list, and the only other person in the top 5 that i have heard of is cutthroat. You should be more specific with negative opinions about the poll instead of attacking an entire group of artists for illegitimate voting tactics.
Honestly I didn't vote for myself when i sent my ballot(you got it from my t-mail) I voted for skarr, mully, billo, barnes, comp, huli and etc. When i sent out my bullentin I told people to read this and most of the people I sent it to heard the album. I have no type of street team that I asked people to stuff the ballot box. I sold some of my cd's and handed them out downtown and told people to e-mail them if they enjoyed. Most people haven't heard the releases on the list but have heard my cd. I thought that entitled them to vote. I only sent two bulletins total on myspace and personal ones to people who have heard the music. It wasn't like a full fledged campaign or pulling a Diddy and saying vote or die! But it's all love at the end of the day! I'm not signed so at the end of the day were all just struggling artist trying to gain anyone attention!

Mike Malachi
Book of Malachi
Early January
Yeah, Mike, I meant to tell you, it would've been alright for you to vote for yourself. You had a good ballot, though, thanks for that. I really feel bad now for putting my foot in my mouth and kind of insulting y'all artists, I didn't mean to and was really just frustrated about some other shit. Hope there's no hard feelings.
Kneel Knaris of PX:

Personally Al you seem to be genuine in your efforts to cover Baltimore hip hop in its entirety. However, it gets tricky when that task is undertaken by an individual who is passionate about what it is they do.

Under normal circumstances I wouldnt even comment. Im the one that would "see you when I see you" but in this case I dont see any harm in what you did or your reactions to the outcome. PX is comprised of three individuals, three opinions and three reactions to various situations. Make sure you note that accordingly.

BlankMan communicated with you in private, LB voiced his opinion on your blog, and I will do neither.

All in all just understand that we too are passionate about music in general and everything we do is to further the Baltimore cause. We cant be responsible for "fans" posting erroneous comments that dont come from Street Legal or PX. I think Marshall Mathers identified them as "Stans"! Dont count the ballots, compose your own wrap up, or do whatever you feel you should. But dont make it seem as if PX came out of thin air. And to everyone who misread LB's post, the Baltimore City Public School system did you a huge disservice.

Kneel Knaris of PX
HOOD THERAPY in stores NOW and has been since 9/26/06!!!!!
MAN....only in Bmore.

Rappers always talk tough, but often appear to be the most sensitive people. <-----general statement. I know a lot of rappers.

If this was some where else (i.e. Houston, ATL, NYC, etc)......there would be 6 Al's (many would actually shit on ppl on purpose and post as anonymous)

and what you gonna do when you get mad at them? Track them all down and let them know that you didn't like what they chose to write.

I always feel like ppl should be happy that a writer thought they were relevant or interesting enough to mention them. REAL TALKE If you've ever tried to get a write know how hard it is to make a writer interested in your story. Its NOT easy at all.

Govt Name's fans (me included) thought it was awfully couragious of him to take on this type of project.

Who else is doing it??? who else is even thinking about a "Baltimore Hip Hop year in review"?

Did anyone tell that man thanks? If I missed that...sorry.

I am not going to lie.....I would never venture to do a survey...LOL!

I know I would of had some "extra" or nit picky sh*t to say...that's just me. Love or leave it alone.

I too am a passionate person (i let you know when Im pissed or hurt) and liable to say anything on MY blog

(weblog aka an online JOURNAL aka my/his/her PERSONAL THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS)

.....but I really think thats why ppl read it.

I am sure Al has his favorite artists and CDs, but he talks about everyone (I love how he finds positive things to say about CDs that IMO really suck....LOL!) He makes me step my game up!!!

What if Al was a shrinking violet and just gave up on blogging because of how folk snap on him because they don't like how he wrote something about them for FREEEEEEEEEEE (when he could have talked about ANYONE!!!!) so gracious. He never bucks back like I would.

His blog is a volunteer job. I appreciate that he is on his job.

If there is no govt names.....
........then we all suffer. Baltimore hip hop has so few non rappers talking about what is actually going on on a day to day basis.......think about that.

Be happy, but don't get too too happy because Rolling Stone does a story on B because that is far and few in between

....lots of life is going on in between.

Besides.....they are never gonna talk about you gonna come to bmore and not talk about Skarr? Who did they consult...LOL! not hatin, budderaaaaaaaaaaaaah Im out here watching....observing and writing about the scene.

We were "Stunner shaeds" in Bmore? Where....Southside?

Obvioulsy they were not in the loop....but there is no doubt that Al is. a great asset!!! He is witty, sarcastic and tells it how he feels. I love it!!!

Keep it up!!! Baltimore needs you far more than they know. For many.....critcism is foreign and fewer know what to do with it.

While we all love a "best of" or "top" distinction, but it does nothing but breed dissatisfaction.....with the artists.

We as a community MUST get past this. My CD was next to last.....& I KNOW it was better than most everyone's....LOL! You don't see me getting mad. Its just gonna make me work harder to make sure that more ppl hear and love my next one!!!

Anyways....yall have a good one...

he he!


Make sure yall cop that new Skarr CD...available in all DTLR!!!!

B'More Baby!!
Kneel Knaris of PX:

Courtney are we reading the same comments? The point that PX addressed to Al is one of "stuffing the ballot box" and has nothing to do with his critiques of any project. His opinions on the voting is what sparked the controversy for us. It is in no way indicative of his write-ups and I know that Al understands this. \

We are in a worldwide arena and if we concerned ourselves with everyone's opinion of our music we wouldnt make it. Sure we have had radio stations piss on our single but for everyone of those there are 8 more loving it and rotating it. Do I get people to call there and say screw them? No. Critiquing my music is not an attack on my character as is being accused of cheating.

As far as we are concerned its a moot point. Al said what he had to say, PX said what they had to say and we can all agree to disagree and walk away as men with no feelings involved.

P.S. I too think my project is great but didnt vote for it! That to me is stuffing ballots.
Keep up the good work AL! Kenneth
Haha, Kneel Knaris is kinda right, C Love, I don't think there's any real bad blood between anyone here, we're all kind of on the same page now and I apologized for going a little too far. But thanks for having my back!
Your comments were to Al. He is the only one that could comment directly about the points your raised. comments were general.

PX (all of yall) are passionate and fair when it comes to making a decision on something. I would put money on that.

To be honest....I didn't even get how Al came about the results. I skimmed it this point...I was CD was #24.

...I was just trippin because the results didn't come out the way I thought they would and also because I don't even know the first guy AT ALL...never even heard of him. Now...thats not to say his CD is not that piff, but he beat out a whole lot of other ppl that I know are known and who have SOLID projects.

I was speaking in general......not about comments by anyone from SLE - at all. Please believe me. I have nothing but respect for you least you speak your mind on all topics not just when someone says something about your music. Not everyone is like you and so I was speaking on that.

Sadly..........there are a lot more ppl that are casting this survey aside as b.s. than there are ppl that look at the results and wonder what they are not doing right.

Al is very necessary to the music coming out of this place growing in quality and reach......... and perhaps I used too many words to make thay simple point.

Also...I voted for my project (not as my #1 pick tho) because it was a compilation that featured a good representation of Bmore Hip Hop. I liked every song on there. I felt that is was a strong contender. I didn't even do all that I could have done to get ppl to vote....I now wish that I would have. Also, Elected officials vote for themselves...there is nothing wrong with that. That is not stuffing the ballot.

NO beef all!!! I applaude everyone for their successes and failures this year. Failures because they make us grow. As we all know...if I said these same things to you in person there would be no misunderstanding because you could ask me to clarify...this is in text so its so hard to understand intent and/or mood. Please consider that.

I hope that the next survey is taken seriously...if we can't do this will we ever have the hip hop Award show that so many people are asking me about? We would have to come up with a panel....then ppl would b*tch about that too...LOL!

anways.....the back in fourth is great!
Kneel Knaris of PX:

Thats why I love my city! We can have healthy dialogue and no one gets bent out of shape! Al I have a pound for you when I see you and Courtney you know I always have a hug for you!!!
all these comments, one things for sure al. U DEFINITLY GOT THE PEOPLE TALKIN!!!! i love it

skarr, huli shallone, bossman, billo, and px. i can honestly say ive heard all there music this year. just got mullys new cd so i cant judge it yet because i havent listened enough. not sayin these guys are the best in town.....but thats what was best this year in my opinion. i thought it was a great year in b-more, keep it up and thats everyone thats involved in the movement...

down the hill
wow....well I voted for unreal because I honestly think its a great cd. I also waited until the last minute to vote because I didn't want to send in a ballot with just a vote for him. I took the time to gather up the cds that I had and may not have listened to recently and went out and got peoples cds so I could honestly cast a vote. Al I for one thank you for all of your write-ups becuase you are one of the few writers that consistently writes about UnReal and our company.I feel what a lot of artist feel it seems like the same individuals get shine or coverage regardless of the quality of the product. Its a business...we all should learn its not what you know but who sometimes. I though your comments were just about the votes you received in general. No matter what these polls never really work anyway. I think this poll turned into a gage of what people are listening to and not necessarily the "best" hip hop albums. I just felt like I could'nt vote for a best album without hearing the other choices. You can't say that Album A is better than B-Z if that's all you've listened too. What I've learned is that Baltimore is not the end all be all to my dreams for myself, my company or my family. The majority of the work I get for my clothing it Out of town or out of the country thanks to the net and myspace. As much as we all would like to get crazy love from our hometown sometimes you gotta go abroad and let your town love you you later. We can't stop moving because we don't get best artist of the year or best album on the poll...or a cover story in the city paper. And sometimes grindin harder ain't gonna get it either....some of us may never get a write-up until we blow up somewhere else and then the city catches up. Some aint gonna get just cause they don't deserve it...SOmetimes you just gotta let people catch up to your movement...hge
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