Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Top 20 Baltimore Hip Hop Releases of 2009

I posted about 80-something albums and mixtapes on Gov’t Names in 2009, more than any year before, but I have to admit that between staying home with my son for the last 3 months of the year and generally being busy and overwhelmed for the rest of the year, I really feel like my attention was scattered and I don’t know how much I really appreciated everything I heard. And there are a ton of notable releases I either haven’t gotten around to hearing yet, or have heard but haven’t posted about, and while probably spend the first couple months of 2010 catching up on those. Still, I’m pretty confident that barely anyone’s heard as much as I did this year, so I’ll keep pulling together my favorites for a big year-end list for whatever my opinion’s worth. I’ll make the same offer I did last year even though nobody took me up on it then, though, that if people e-mail me their own top 5 or top 10 or whatever, hopefully I can get enough to make that a whole other post (I’m probably never going to attempt a reader poll again, though, that was a mess). I feel like, with more of the stuff I write about here readily available for free download than ever, on DatPiff or AllBmoreHipHop or whatever, there’s really no excuse for anyone who reads this site to not hear a lot of it and form their own opinions, and I’d love to hear them.

1. The Get Em Mamis - TerAwesome (RCRD LBL)
It’s funny, a lot of my music critic friends and contemporaries seem to get excited about any female rapper that comes down the pipeline, and while I’m obviously a big supporter of female MCs especially here in Baltimore, I still feel like they need to be held to a standard just like anybody else. And really, Nicki Minaj and Lil Mama are just garbage, even compared to rappers who were doing it big a few years ago like Trina or Remy Ma. So I’m really glad that Roxzi and Symph from G.E.M. are really stepping up and making great music that you don’t have to adjust your expectations for based on their gender.
download TerAwesome from RCRD LBL
The Get Em Mamis - "Boss Bitch Business" (mp3)

2. The Boy Blesst - Charmicidle (Reign Music Inc.)

I’ve been into Blesst’s mixtapes for a couple years, but he was always just one of many mixtape rappers I liked out of many. But this year he set himself apart by making a real album, where pretty much every track has a good beat and a strong hook, every verse has some dope rhymes and says some real shit, which is somethig that so few of his peers have managed to do. This album is so laser-focused it’s crazy.
buy Charmicidle from
The Boy Blesst - "Good Times Roll" (mp3)

3. Cutthroat and Bear - Silent Flutes (For The People Entertainment)

I was initially attracted to For The People for how big and prolific their roster is and how unique their whole organization is as much as for their music. But I always saw the potential and the creativity there, and they really delivered a release that lives up to that promise this year.
buy Silent Flutes from Amazon
Cutthroat and Beat - "Squadre Name" (mp3)

4. The Black Sunn - GodSound (2dopeboyz/illRoots)

The Black Sunn has to be my favorite newcomer of the year, even if he’s probably been doing his thing for a minute, and getting introduced to someone who’s got his own sound and is really making great music right from the jump is one of the things that really keeps me excited to keep doing this site.
download GodSound from 2dopeboyz or illRoots
The Black Sunn - "Tune In" (mp3)

5. Kneel Knaris - Going Sane In A Crazy World (Street Legal Entertainment)

I remember last year hearing that both members of PX (Parts Unknown) were working on solo albums, and figured they might be coming out around the same time. As far as I know, though, only Kneel’s has come out so far, and he really set the bar high and took his music to a whole new level, really getting high concept and autobiographical at the same time. This might not be my favorite album on this list, but it’s definitely the most ambitious.
buy Going Sane In A Crazy World from Amazon
Kneel Knaris - "Something To Talk About" (mp3)

6. ScholarMan - GameShift: The Movement (Soganic Music)

ScholarMan was another artist that was new to me in 2009 that really impressed me, and he put out a whole lot of music this year, including a couple EPs, but this full-length was my favorite release so far.
buy GameShift: The Movement from Soganic Music
ScholarMan f/ K-Mynez - "What You Puttin’ Back" (mp3)

7. Chubb Rock & Wordsmith - Bridging The Gap (Godigital/Unruly/Koch Records)

I wasn’t sure if this old school/new school New York/Baltimore combination made any sense, or whether Wordsmith would really get the room to do his thing like he does on his many many solo mixtapes, but after all the wait I have to say this album really came together well.
buy Bridging The Gap from Amazon
Chubb Rock & Wordsmith - "Soul Baby Blues" (mp3)

8. Comp - The Man With The Hand (Bang-A-Rang/Shape Shifter Entertainment)

5 years after his Def Jam deal came and went, Comp finally made a non-mixtape album, and it’s way too personal and funny and weird and harrowing than anything a major label would’ve allowed from him.
buy The Man With The Hand from Amazon
Comp - "Short Film" (mp3)

9. Height With Friends - Baltimore Highlands (Wham City)

I’ve liked Height’s unique take on rap since the first guest verse I heard from him way back in 2002, but it was this year that he really seem to come into his own and kind of create a whole movement of likeminded MCs and producers, many of whom collaborated with him for this album.
buy Baltimore Highlands from Wham City
Height With Friends - "Code Of Love" (mp3)

10. K-Mack - Night Ryda (Knokville Entertainment/Banga Bill Enterprise)

Sometimes I wonder if it takes a MC or producer that have been at it since the mid-’90s, like K-Mack and Banga Bill, to make a record that sounds this tough and really maintains the feel of that era, without actually feeling forced or retro.
download Night Ryda from AllBmoreHipHop
K-Mack - "B City" (mp3)

11. Los - Welcome To Swaggsville

You may notice that there’s not a single mixtape in the top 10 of this list, it’s all albums with original production, and that’s because for the most part I’m fucking sick of mixtapes and hearing people rap over the same tired radio beats over and over and over. But if I’m gonna listen to any, I’d prefer it’s someone who can really kill every beat like Los.
download Welcome To Swaggsville from
Los - "Say You Will" (mp3)

12. Barnes - Block Work Featuring Barnes (DJ Jabril)

This is an example of a record I didn’t really think of much at first, or at least I didn’t like it nearly as much as Barnes’s first album, but I was really convinced to go back and listen to again after hearing about people really thinking highly of it. And that doesn’t always work, someone else was really insistent that I give their shit a second chance recently and it still sounded weak when I went back to it.
download Block Work from AllBmoreHipHop
Barnes f/ Bump - "Ay Boy" (mp3)

13. Mike Malachi - Malachi's Way II: Malachi's Revenge (Music In Me Production Inc.)

The underrated Mike Malachi and his producer Ron Rico came back hard this year with an album that feels like a step up from their previous efforts, but still a natural progression and very much a piece with their earlier albums.
download Malachi's Way II: Malachi's Revenge from DatPiff
Mike Malachi - "The Showstopper" (mp3)

14. Shy Lady Heroin - Queen Of The Streets (Money In Da Bank Ent.)

Last year’s Queen Of The Mic champ really upped her profile this year with a ton of live performances and this mixtape, which I wasn’t real into at first but has grown on me.
download Queen Of The Streets from AllBmoreHipHop
Shy Lady Heroin - “What You Want" (mp3)

15. Haz - The Game Need Change (DJ Radio)

I heard a lot of generic hardcore street rap mixtapes this year, but very few of them managed to flow as well as this one and not wear out its welcome.
download The Game Need Change from AllBmoreHipHop
Haz - "100 Bar" (mp3)

16. PenDragon - HomeRun King (Team Arson)

Drag remains one of the city’s best underdogs, making dope beats, dope rhymes, good videos, etc.
download HomeRun King from
PenDragon - "Never Stops" (mp3)

17. Skarr Akbar - The Street Album B4 The Album (Akbar Enterprize)

The perennial favorite continues to drop solid projects year after year after year after year after year, this list wouldn’t be complete without a Skarr tape.
download The Street Album B4 The Album from AllBmoreHipHop
Skarr Akbar - "Dear Diary" (mp3)

18. Al Great - Greatness (Alevan Music Group/DJ 5 Starr)

I met Al Great a few weeks after posting about this mixtape, and turns out dude was really kinda mad about it, and I didn’t even think I was that harsh, I really just want him to put out another album with original production because he’s had a few mixtapes in a row.
download Greatness from AllBmoreHipHop
Al Great - "Circles" (mp3)

19. Mania Music Group - Demos, Freestyles And Outtakes 2007-2008 (Year One) (Mania Music Group)

Mania’s profile continued to rise in 2009, even if their output wasn’t as relentless as their initial flood of material in 2008, but really even this odds’n’sods collection is as good as what a lot of artists were putting out as their best shit.
download Demos, Freestyles And Outtakes 2007-2008 (Year One) from
Rapman Ron G - "Break (Demo)" (mp3)

20. NOE - Deal Or NOE Deal (DJ Daa One)

Soundalike or not, NOE’s got lyrics for days and continues to be someone worth watching as he makes more and more industry moves.
download Deal Or NOE Deal from AllBmoreHipHop
NOE - "92Q Freestyle" (mp3)

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This month on the Baltimore City Paper's Noise blog I had live reviews of Always Dope with Kane Mayfield of Mania Music Group and Troy Brown and Trace Blam @ Red Maple and Jumpcuts and Mother Nature's Son and Free Energy @ the Metro Gallery.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Gov't Names is going on holiday break. My top albums and mixtapes of 2009 list will go up next week, and then regular posting will resume in January.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nycist - The Black House (DJ Nastay)

Nycist is a rapper from Baltimore that hit me up a while back to ask me to check out a mixtape he has up on I've never heard of him and don't really know anything about dude other than that he's apparently he's cool with Articulate, but I fuck with this mixtape, it's a good high energy record without getting obnoxious or sacrificing lyrics.

Nycist - "Us Vs. America" (mp3)
This is the first song on the tape and has a really cool cavernous booming sound that you don't hear on a lot of underground hip hop. I recognize some of the tracks on here as industry beats but there's some really good beats on here than I guess are original, I'm curious who did the production.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Doo Dew Kidz (DJ Booman, Jimmy Jones) & Mullyman Video Shoot!!! RESCHEDULE DATE!!!! SATURDAY 12/26/09


WHEN: Saturday, December 26th 2009

WHERE: CLUB PARADOX 1310 Russell St, Baltimore, MD

TIME: Noon to 8pm

DETAILS:No particular style, just dress fly and clean! Come to party! This is not a stand still and look cute video shoot! Come prepared to dance and have fun. Ladies dress sexxy, fellas you gotta be fresh. Wear Orioles and Ravens Gear as well!!!

The song is called "Step Aside" and you can get familiar with the song by listening here

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Monday, December 21, 2009

P.T. Burnem - Paper Cranes

P.T. Burnem is another one of the newer acts out of the Baltimore indie hip hop scene that I've got into this year from contributing to the Height With Friends album and performing at the Baltimore All-Rap Round Robin. And it's funny, the impression I got from his performance at that show was that he was almost on some futuristic sci-fi rap tip, maybe because he was wearing weird goggles and kinda giving off this serious vibe compared to some of the other acts there. But really his stuff is pretty approachable and easy to understand, really talking about some normal real life shit, and he has a deep voice and concise delivery that I think make him sound a little more like a traditional hip hop head than most white indie rappers tend to come off as. Height makes some guest appearances and there's some kind of far-out rock instrumentation on here like there was on his album, but the whole thing hangs together as an album really well despite being kind of all over the place. P.T. Burnem is playing at the Charm City Art Space this Tuesday.

P.T. Burnem - "Baltimore 09" (mp3)
This song kind of doubles as one of the more accessible traditional hip hop songs on the album, and a scathing indictment of the Baltimore hip hop scene.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Doo Dew Kidz - "Doo Dew Xmas" (mp3)
Merry Christmas from DJ Booman, Jimmy Jones and K.W. Griff!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

DJ Quicksilva f/ Pork Chop, Skarr Akbar, Q, Smash, 100 Grandman, Barnes, Tiara Laniece, Los, Comp, Bossman, Paula Campbell, JP and Mullyman - "Where They Do That At? (Bmore Remix)" (mp3)
It's funny, I was just thinking recently about this song, which the station DJ Quicksilva works for, WKYS, has been playing so much, and the D.C. remix I'd been hearing more recently, and wondering if Quicksilva spinning at a Washington station the last few years had kinda made him forget his Baltimore roots -- his Hot Boy Vol. 1 was one of my favorite Unruly mix CDs back in the day, and Tim Trees credits him with being the first DJ to break "Bank Roll." But it turns out I shouldn't have worried about that, because apparently the Baltimore remix has been out for a few weeks, but I somehow didn't hear about it until Brandon on No Trivia mentioned it, and it's got a really impressive lineup. Really, of all the Baltimore posse cuts there've been over the years, this might be the single biggest gathering of prominent MCs on one track that I've ever seen. Shame it happened with such a goofy-ass song that's a bigger hit in D.C., though, and even at 6 minutes there's only enough room for each rapper to do a little 8 bar verse so nobody gets to really stretch their legs or leave a big impression. Anyone have any idea who Tiara Laniece or JP is?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Born King aka Killa Fifth - Night Vission (Mad Thinkah Productions)

Born King has dropped albums on Halloween for three years in a row now, from Krad Edis in 2007 to The Secret Order in 2008 to this year's Night Vission, in addition to a couple other albums he's released in the same time frame. He told me that this year's Phat Laces was the last proper Born King album, and Night Vission is his last album under the Killa Fifth alias. I'll believe it when I see it, though, considering how prolific he's been, and hopefully either way he'll keep making music, because he remains as inscrutable and uncompromising as ever, even as his ideas and his message become more focused and articulate with each release. You can download the album here.

Born King aka Killa Fifth - "Mission Statement" (mp3)
I mentioned last year that Born King had a great song on his MySpace page that hadn't been released on any of his many albums, and he finally went and put it on one, which makes me really happy, because this song is really aptly titled and sums up BK's whole approach and philosophy really succinctly. The whole song is kinda written to the Baltimore hip hop community, really giving it some tough love, and he shouts out folks like Labtekwon, Concrete Foundation, Pen Pals, YBM and Mike McIntosh at the end of the song, which is pretty cool since Born King is probably one of the only rappers in the city these days that sounds like he's following in Lab's footsteps.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Doo Dew Kidz (DJ Booman, Jimmy Jones) & Mullyman Video Shoot!!!

WHEN: Saturday, December 19th 2009

WHERE: CLUB PARADOX 1310 Russell St, Baltimore, MD

TIME: Noon to 8pm

DETAILS:No particular style, just dress fly and clean! Come to party! This is not a stand still and look cute video shoot! Come prepared to dance and have fun. Ladies dress sexxy, fellas you gotta be fresh. Wear Orioles and Ravens Gear as well!!!

The song is called "Step Aside" and you can get familiar with the song by listening here

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ironsoul - Marcis (Ironsoul Music)

I'd never heard Ironsoul before checking out this album, and although I tried to listen and give the whole thing a chance, unfortunately it's a type of underground hip hop that I almost never enjoy. That is, it's a guy bellowing humorlessly like he really really means it, man, over stridently flat-footed beats. Nothing against the guy, it's actually probably one of the better albums in that style that I've heard, it's just not my cup of tea. Marcis has guest appearances by A-Class, Reg from Pro & Reg, McCracken from Minlus & McCracken, and Bishop, and is available for purchase on

Ironsoul f/ Mic Brown and A-Class - "Bottom Dollar" (mp3)
I think A-Class is one of the best rappers Baltimore has, so right off the bat the last track on here that features him is one of my favorites.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kane Mayfield of Mania Music Group, Wordsmith and Jade Fox
opening for Bilal @ Ram's Head Live
Wednesday, December 16th

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Friday, December 11, 2009

OOH - "Let The Light..." (mp3)
OOH from Brown F.I.S.H. sent this song to me describing it as a "holiday single," but really that's a little deceptive. It's actually a funny, mean, ugly-ass rap song that happens to sample The Nutcracker and have some Christmas-related wordplay. All that means is that this will still sound just as good in January, though.

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This week the Baltimore City Paper ran its annual Top Ten Issue. And in The Year in Local Music, I wrote the blurbs for the #1 album, the Get 'Em Mamis, and the #7 album, Cutthroat and Bear, and also voted for placing albums by Wordsmith and Chubb Rock and Wye Oak, and enjoyed a lot of the other albums on the list. I also voted in The Year in Music list, but I didn't blurb anything and the only album on my ballot that got in the top 10 was DJ Quik & Kurupt.

(photo by Josh Sisk)

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Black Sunn - GodSound (2dopeboyz/illRoots)

I posted about a previous album and EP by him before, but this is by far the biggest release The Black Sunn has dropped to date, with co-signs from a couple big blogs, 2dopeboyz and illRoots. Anyway as I've said before, I think this kid is a promising talent and seems to have a good handle on his sound, what beats he likes and what he wants to rap about, which isn't especially distinct, is really pretty garden variety old school conscious rap, but he does it well. There is a little more R&B on this record that I'd like, but it's alright.

The Black Sunn - "Dread Man" (mp3)
It's kinda funny to me how this song has a reggae feel and theme, but really the sample is The Police's "The Bed's Too Big Without You."

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A couple months ago I posted Ace's single "Story To Tell," featuring Will Starr and produced by Banga Bill, and here's the video for the track.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

The Boy Blesst - "The Difference" (mp3)
This track as it was e-mailed to me was labelled "ft. Jay-Z," but of course I never thought for a second that it actually featured Jay-Z, and unsurprisingly it's just got a hook that samples a couple lines from "U Don't Know." I will never ever ever understand why people do that. Are they really trying to fool the 1% of the population that's gullible enough to think an independent rapper actually got a guest verse from Jay-Z? But I checked out this track and am posting it because Blesst is dope, and he released a great album this year, and this song is really good, so fuck even pretending Jay-Z or whoever is on it.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Recently on my other blog, Narrowcast, I counted down my 100 favorite albums of the past decade, and the list included a number of entries by Baltimore artists, hip hop and club music as well as rock:

17. Lake Trout - Alone At Last: Live With DJ Who (Phoenix Media Group, 2000)
23. Wye Oak - If Children (self-released, 2007; reissued by Merge Records, 2008)
29. Blaq Starr - I’m Bangin’ (JB Starr Productions, 2006)
35. Tim Trees - Dalton Vol. 1 (Bdamore Records, 2001)
41. Cex - Being Ridden (Temporary Residence, 2003)
47. Karmella’s Game - The Art Of Distraction (Speedbump Recordings, 2006)
53. The 410 Pharaohs - 410 Funk (Strictly Rhythm/Ill Friction, 2008)
59. J Roddy Walston and the Business - Hail Mega Boys (Morphius Records, 2007)
65. Lungfish - Feral Hymns (Dischord Records, 2005)
71. Bossman - Law & Order (Double Down Entertainment/1Up Productions, 2004)
77. Avec - Lines (Civil Defense League/Doghouse, 2007)
83. Dan Deacon - Spiderman Of The Rings (Car Park Records, 2007)
89. Rod Lee - Vol. 2: Operation Not Done Yet (Club Kingz Records, 2002)

By no means do I consider that any kind of definitive list of the best Baltimore albums of the past 10 years, for what it's worth, those are just the personal favorites that I happened to want to include on there.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Drebabes - Get Into Dat Drebabes Pt. 1 (Zone 3 Music/Team Arson Music Group/Hoodstruck Ent.)

A few months ago DJ Booman e-mailed out a track he produced for a rapper named Drebabes, and the guy had pretty much the most annoying voice I'd ever heard and almost every vocal tic and mannerism I hate the most in modern rappers, including sloppy enunciation, unnecessary shouting and Lil Wayne-style fake laughs at his own jokes. So I was pretty much so traumatized that I listened to it once and then tried for forget ever encountering it. Then, more recently, Drebabes e-mailed me a link to his new mixtape on DatPiff, and since I'd completely blacked out my previous encounter with his music, I ended up downloading an entire hour of it. But I'm a good little worker bee and sat through the whole thing and am here to tell you about the experience. And honestly, I'm not saying all this to be mean, because the guy was totally nice when he e-mailed me, and for all I know he could be a good lyricist or have some good ideas. I just really dislike the sound of this man's voice that it's almost physically painful for me to listen to. Maybe you disagree, I'm just putting it out there for you to make your own decision as always.

Drebabes f/ Street Heat and Cashus Clay - "Throw Up" (mp3)
This is probably my favorite track on the mixtape, Drebabes is on the 2nd verse. Whoever's on the last verse that says "this is my jam, naw fuck it, it's Smucker's," that shit cracked me up.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Architects Recording Studio presents Street Radio Vol. 5 (hosted by DJ Radio/blends by DJ 5 Starr)

I reviewed this mixtape recently for the City Paper's Noise blog, probably not the strongest entry in this series but I think better than Vol. 4 from a few months ago. It's got a couple songs I've posted about on here like Bossman's "Off The Record Part 2," Dave Da Barber's "Trapped," and Tonio: From Da Top's "17" featuring Skarr Akbar, Drop and Los, along with tracks by Comp, Ogun, Barnes, Savage Da Beast, Paula Campbell and Al Great, among others. I still don't know what the fuck DJ Radio is thinking when he says shit like "log on, faggot" after plugging a website, which I've heard him do on 2 different mixtapes now, like does he think insulting the listener is gonna get them to do what he says? When I linked the review on here the other day, I got an earful from an anonymous commenter that I like to call The Beacon Of Truth, who was super mad that I liked a Tony Bosco track and didn't mention Barnes, among other things, had an entertaining back and forth there. Anyway, you can download the mixtape over at and make up your own mind.

Barrs f/ Little Clayway - "The Murderous" (mp3)
Clayway is someone whose music I bump more because of his personality and his stories than straight up rhyming skills, but I gotta say he really kills his verse on this, never heard him sound this mean before. Just saw Clayway recently and got an advance copy of his new double CD, Everybody Rappin', so keep an eye out for that coming soon. I still can't believe there's a rapper named Barrs and a rapper named Barrz on this mixtape. We're running out of fuckin' rapper names.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

note: doors for this show are at 10:30, not 9:00 as listed

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

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Blakroc f/ NOE - "Hard Times" (mp3)
Blakroc f/ NOE and Nicole Wray - "Done Did It" (mp3)
I've talked before about NOE's unfortunate tendency to try to distance himself from comparisons to Jay-Z while at the same time aligning himself with Jay-Z's enemies and former friends, and that pattern continues with his appearances on the Blakroc album masterminded by Dame Dash that was released last week. It's one of those awkward rap/rock collab type albums, with music by shitty blues rock indie band the Black Keys, and raps by a weird assemblage of whatever rappers will still work with Dame Dash, including Ludacris, Mos Def, and some Wu Tang cats. And of course Jim Jones is on here along with NOE, who guests on these two tracks, which are alright, even if the production sounds a little off to me. It sounds like Nicole Wray is saying "Baltimore has really got me down" on the chorus of "Done Did It."

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