TOP 5 #GeekSwag ALBUMS [2007]: Dirty Little Angels.

TOP 5 #GeekSwag ALBUMS [2007]: Dirty Little Angels.

Only an idea such as this could come from a nerd/rap chat on one slow, boring weekend night at work–or, more apropos, from some Moody guy who clearly has no life (and the help of a few others!). Either way, #GeekSwag is the merging of hip-hop music and geek culture, and while it existed in rap earlier than 1996 (See: Ultramagnetic MC’s, Wu-Tang Clan, etc.), I found the final year of Hip-Hop’s Golden Age, arguably The Greatest Year in Hip-Hop Music of All-Time, to be the most apt time to begin this feature.

With all that said, this is the start of a constantly updating piece; so keep it bookmarked, come back angrier for more, and post all death-threats on GHG’s #GeekSwag Facebook Group. Music Nerds! Let’s go.

[Reminder: This is the Top 5 #GeekSwag Albums of 2007, which is a list of albums from hip-hop artists that have either: a consistent geek element in their music — themes that include fantasy, sci-fi, superhero, science, technology, martial arts, horror, etc — or those who are just independent-as-fuck. The following are not necessarily the Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of that year. Thank you.]

Top 5 #GeekSwag Albums {Archives}



*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2007*****

5.)

DJ JAZZY JEFF - The Return of the Magnificent

DJ JAZZY JEFFThe Return of the Magnificent

Not just the funny little guy who cameoed often on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, or the guy in the background of Will Smith’s old school 2-hit wonders (“Summertime”, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”), Jeffrey Townes was a perfectly admirable producer/DJ in his own right. After the “Hey! This guy is still around!?-ness” of his 2002 BBE debut, The Magnificent — a time that saw a resurgence of genuine hip-hop producers like DJ Spinna, Pete Rock, and J Dilla — Jazz found a way to top himself with The Return. Even better, his just-as-old-school guests rip Jazz’s melodic head-nodders to def too, as Big Daddy Kane, CL Smooth, Meth (“I wrote a 16 and threw it in a tek/ Shootin’ game at these fools now for foolin’ with a vet, yeah/ It’s Mr. Mef really now who did you expect?/ Another shit-talkin’ emcee with booty on his breath?”), and the Biz Mark all forget about father time. What makes this album geeky, in particular, is Jazz Jeff’s very “spacey” production, following the first half’s neo-soul. See: “Supa Jean”, “All I Know”. 4/5 Bibles.


4.)

EVIDENCE - The Weatherman LP

EVIDENCEThe Weatherman LP

To no offense of Rakka and Babu, for Dilated Peoples is one of those much-needed staples in hip-hop of course, but you just hadda know Evidence would eventually go solo and have success doing so. And there’s nothing wrong getting there with a little help from your friends. His now Step Brothers partner-in-arms, Alchemist handled 5 tracks on the debutu LP, while Ev, Babu, and Sid Roams provide the rest (with a pair of exceptions from Jake One and DJ Khalil). To Ev’s credit, The Weatherman LP has a very personally local, conceptual flair…relating any brewing industry storms to mother nature. When shit goes down, it can only end in God’s wrath of the flood. See: “Perfect Storm”, “Chase the Clouds Away”. 4/5 Bibles.


3.)

defjux2007

AESOP ROCKNone Shall Pass / EL-PI’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

Def Jux dominance. Just when you thought it was over, they pulled Aesop Rock and El-P back in. And Aes certainly gave it his all on arguably his best album (tough choice between this, Labor Days and Float–and, now, his new LP, The Impossible Kid) and last album on Def Jux, before moving onto RhymeSayers Entertainment. Part of the rise in quality is the return of Blockhead‘s production (along with Aesop, and a pair from El-P and Rob Sonic). Block has always been the divine soundtrack for Aes’ ever-dense ramblings; install a little more comprehensive AR on rhymes, a little more bounce to the orchestra and things wind up so acidically blissful…

(cont.) El-P matches his Def Jux labelmate/employee, not necessarily in terms of dense rhymes (although that’s often true, too), but more ultimately for his highly textured, apocalyptic masterpieces. I mean, there’s a sample that comes courtesy of Twin Peaks, and rhymes match the title of this very website to a T: “Why should I be sober when God is so clearly dusted out his mind?” and “I stood up for the God’s of ore mining/ In a military humvee with no bullet-proof siding”. Above all else, is El-Producto’s collabo with Cage on a Star Warsian prison ship, with no end in site but mindfucks and bitter liberation. The man who once labeled himself “independent as fuck” was now “underrated as fuck”–til’ Run the Jewels took over the world, of course. See: “The Harbor is Yours”, “Bring Back Pluto”; “Tasmanian Pain Coaster”, “Habeas Corpus (Draconian Love)”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


2.)

LUPE FIASCO - The Cool

LUPE FIASCOThe Cool

See: Although The Cool doesn’t stray too far away from the Rocafella-meets-neo-soul vibes of Lupe Fiasco‘s Food & Liquor, the clean sound gave me a second to ponder: Is this #GeekSwag, or not? But seemingly everything Lupe does is #GeekSwag, since he is a geek at heart but has that swagger to him that not too many emcees with the same topical raps do. Hell, not too many can pull off “Gotta Eat” without sounding like a Fat Boys/Biz Markie rip-off! Despite hugh hits like “Superstar” (great, but poppy), the grittiness of Chicago still floats around LF’s lyrical determination. He had a lot of personal things happen to him between releases, so you can sense much of the playfulness was set aside for more blood, sweat, and tears, too. “Go Go Gadget Flow”, “Hi-Definition”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


1.)

BLU & EXILE - Below The Heavens

BLU & EXILEBelow The Heavens

Heralded as one of independent hip-hop’s certified classics, Below The Heavens captured the 90s sounds of Souls of Mischief-meets-Black Star, with undercurrents of a more underground sound. It’s at times both soulful and energetic, melodic and menacing, and Blu‘s technical-yet-raw rhymes strike the perfect chord of playfully personal and astonishingly spiritual: “I’m trying to tell my folks that flowin’ ain’t easy/ I’m driving down this yellow brick road until it frees me/ I need a pen, I need a pad, I need a place to go/ to get this shit lifted up off of my soul.” Exile‘s wondrous backdrops also tell the story of a record-seeking geek (ala Dilla), erstwhile paving the near-perfect path for Blu’s deep and relatable confessions: “Every man has his own heaven/ the difference is the way that he envisions his/ so if you make your heaven pictureless/ by the time you die, you’ll be drifting in a imageless field/ so build your heaven with blessed thoughts–that’s real”. See: “Soul Amazin”, “The Narrow Path”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: CunninLynguistsDirty Acres, Sean PriceJesus Price Superstar, Pharoahe MonchDesire, RedmanRed Gone Wild: Thee Album, Talib Kweli & MadlibLiberation, Y SocietyTravel At Your Own Pace, Oh NoDr. No’s Oxperiment, Statik SelektahSpell My Name Right, Joell OrtizThe Brick: Bodega Chronicles, Hell RazahRenaissance Child, Ohmega WattsWatts Happening, Thes OneLifestyle Marketing, Sage FrancisHuman the Death Dance, DecompozeDecomposition, DoomtreeFalse Hopes, Army of the PharaohsRitual of the Battle, J DillaJay Love Japan, CivilaringzI, Killah PriestThe Offering, Beat KonductaVol. 3: …In India, Black MilkPopular Demand, CanibusFor Whom the Beat Tolls.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2006*****

5.)

JEDI MIND TRICKS - Servents in Heaven, Kings in Hell

JEDI MIND TRICKSServents in Heaven, Kings in Hell

Although this “Monsignor” rather enjoyed the latin strings and percussion accompaniment of Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind during Visions of Gandhi and Legacy of Blood, there’s no doubt that Servents in Heaven… was a true return to JMT’s martial arts-meets-medieval form. Vinnie Paz also offers a more ferocious than ever delivery on the duo’s 5th LP, renergized after “keepin’ it (mostly) gutta” amongst a slew of primetime guests on the last couple albums. Check it: “The slave master only let them speak in sign language/ plus they suffering from lung disease and eye damage/ fourteen hour shifts, seven days a week/ two shitty meals a day, very little sleep.” Certainly, you wouldn’t hear anything from Paz nearly as thoughtful as that, or as heartfelt as a not-so-good morning in Vietnam (which didn’t hurt to have the 2-minute lyrical blessing of R.A. the Rugged Man, either). See: “Uncommon Valor”, “Razorblade Salvation”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


4.)

J DILLA - Donuts

J DILLADonuts

Hard to believe that J Dilla — the legendary Slum Village/Native Tongues-meets-Neo-Soul producer, Jay Dee — accomplished his most cherished solo album from the extreme uncomfort of a hospital bed. Suppose it’s true what they say about “blood, sweat and tears”, yet you’d never know it hearing Dilla’s eclectic swing throughout this record. There’s a far more rock feel with Donuts, too, reeling in as a harsher, soul-led “statement” album than the funky pleasures Jay provided in his previous endeavors. Purely, its success lays in how Dilla unwrapped and unravelled samples like only a music geek could. See: “Workinonit”, “Geek Down”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


3.)

CUNNINLYNGUISTS - A Piece of Strange

CUNNINLYNGUISTSA Piece of Strange

Looking back 10-weeks ago, I never imagined I’d award such high praise for a group so sinfully overlooked (even by me). But, man, CunninLynguists’ first 3 albums are without a doubt Top Tenners in their respective years; hell, you could place A Piece of Strange at #1 of either 2005 or 2006 (it dropped in January), and I wouldn’t argue with you. With T.I., Luda, Dungeon Family, and Rap-A-Lot all falling off the hip-hop map of relevance, the South needed some sort of hip-hop charge (before there was Big K.R.I.T. and Killer Mike) and, damn, did they get it with CunninLyng. APOS also sees a return to the humor that Kno injected into the team, with Mr. SOS replaced by Notti (of Kinfolk). Him and Deacon wax much more than melancholy heartbreak this time around, too, although serious subjects remain at large (“America Loves Gangsters”, “Never Know Why”). If not as geeky as Will Rap For Food (duh!), it’s definitely more spiritual — and that fits the delicacies of GHG as well. See: “Brain Cell”, “The Gates”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


2.)

GHOSTFACE KILLAH - Fishscale

GHOSTFACE KILLAH – Fishscale

I mean… Tony Starks does it again. After 10 #GeekSwag retrospections (96-06), it’s widely apparent who the Kings of this geek-hop shit are: DOOMStarks. Not ironically, MF Doom blessed his then new bestie’s 5th album with “9 Milli Bros” (imagine, for a second, DOOM lacing an entire Wu album with his sinister 80s-elevator music-meets-60s-superhero-cartoons inspired backdrops), “Clipse of Doom”, “Jellyfish”, and “Underwater”. Even nuttier, Ghost had the ability to make even the most low-tempo, melodic R&B tracks with Ne-Yo sound dope. The dude just found a way to bring a raw and passionate originality to every track given to him, and Fishscale had the weight of Just Blaze, Dilla and Pete Rock to back that up. Thugs love it. Ladies love it. Nerds love it. Rap’s Ironman reigns Forever. See: “The Champ”, “Dogs of War”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


1.)

LUPE FIASCO - Food & Liquor

LUPE FIASCOFood & Liquor

Nerds were cool again! Thanks to Kanye, the mainstream had a “Cool” confidence about hip-hop intellect (yeah, we’re talkin’ pre-Kim Yeezy) and this other Chitown native easily jumped to the forefront of that. Lupe Fiasco expanded on the pop sound with intelligent songwriting and an even sharper delivery, giving features with Jay-Z and beats by The Neptunes enough appeal to the grimiest of backpackers. Yet, while underground emcees such as MURS also had songs about the fantastic (“The Emperor’s Soundtrack”) and skateboard life before Lupe (“Kick, Push”), Fiasco was able to widen the scale and bring these same alternative wits to an “MTV” crowd looking for something past Eminem. Food & Liquor was definitely a lyrical and spiritual journey I could take in nearly every day in ’06–and still find something new. See: “The Cool”, “The Instrumental”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Army of the PharaohsThe Torture Papers, Mr. LifMo’ Mega, MURS & 9th WonderMurray’s Revenge, Boss Hog BarbariansEvery Hog Has Its DayRhymefestBlue Collar, ApathyEastern Philosophy, J DillaThe Shining, VakillWorst Fears Confirmed, Zion I & The GrouchHeroes in the City of Dope, People Under the StairsStepfather, Yak BallzScifentology, P.O.S.Audition, Boot Camp ClikThe Last Stand, Chino XLPoison Pen, Apathy & Celph TitledNo Place Like ChromeMolemenKilling Fields, Five DeezKommunicator, Beat KonductaVol. 2: Movie Scenes, The Sequel, Ghostface KillahMore Fish, Dilated Peoples20/20, Aceyalone/RJD2Magnificent City.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2005*****

5.)

DANGER DOOM - The Mouse & The Mask

DANGER DOOMThe Mouse & The Mask

Oh, lookie here. Another album from MF DOOM. Had I been a bigger fan of Adult Swim all these years (while it has some cool stuff — Black Jesus, Mike Tyson Mysteries, etc. — I’m just not), I would probably have placed The Mouse & The Mask closer to the top. But the DOOM dickrider in me is sorta glad I didn’t. While a fun, quirky combo, Danger Doom pails in comparison to the blunt force trauma of Madvillain. Well–everything does! Unfair, I know. I’m super pumped Metal Faced DOOM works with various acts, and doesn’t just settle for what we know works. Best of all? This Aqua Teen Hunger Force-inspired–and guided–LP works best with the Comic-Con crowd. Guests are heavier hitters too, with Talib Kweli (“Old School”), Danger Mouse‘s Gnarls Barkley crooner Cee-Lo (“Benzie Box”), and the other half of DOOMStarks (“The Mask”) lending a most-pleasing Master Shake. See: “Mince Meat”, “Space Hoes”. 4/5 Bibles.


4.)

CAGE - Hell's Winter

CAGEHell’s Winter

Cage’s 2002 first album, Movies For the Blind, will certainly go down as one of hip-hop’s dopest horrorcore albums to date. Beating that is 2005’s Hell’s Winter, a Def Jux debut that blends the demonic lyrical stylings of Cage with a newfound, deeper self-sentiment. Lyrics like “Didn’t quit PCP, it quit me/ Reality rolled me up, took two puffs; then clipped me,” and “If the opposite of pro is con then look beyond this/ The opposite of congress must be progress/ What if the 2nd coming’s aborted and put in the dirt?/ I still don’t know what to wear with this orange alert” turned all those growing pains into growing gains. Listeners will hear much of that sorta angst-riddled introspection mixed with the sci-fi divine, while the production, as expected from the label of that stature, is pretty damn great. No doubt, any line-up of DJ Shadow, RJD2, El-P, and Blockhead is gonna make hell pay and freeze over tenfold. See: “Shoot Frank”, “Lord Have Mercy”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


3.)

QUASIMOTO - The Further Adventures of Lord Quas

QUASIMOTOThe Further Adventures of Lord Quas

By 2005, Madlib‘s weed-consuming alter-aardvark became the most fascinating personality in hip-hop. That, then, either didn’t say much about the state of the industry, or merely meant, more apropros, that creativity was at the forefront of respect. You could no longer survive on being “underground” or gimmicks alone. And those who thought Quasimito’s The Unseen was a flash-funk-in-the-spam were dead wrong. The Madlib Invasion was in full effect on this funner-than-fun follow-up, with plenty of Otis Jackson Jr.’s innovative, omniously blunted reggae chops, stripped down bass, and funk breaks…30-second 60s TV and garage rock samples; imaginative musings only an XXX-rated space alien could get away with; which led to strange songs that actually had a huge social message lying underneath. The Further Aventures… is, again, another album (much like Madvillainy) that needs to be heard front-to-back for full appreciation. See: “Closer”, “Bullyshit”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


2.)

EDAN - Beauty & The Beat

EDANBeauty And The Beat

While Boston’s “boom bap” scene was slowly starting to deteriorate, leave it to Berklee College of Music alum, Edan, to carry the red ‘B’ excellence with his own form of hip-hop: new old school. Case in point? “Prince Paul already used this loop/ But I’ma keep it movin’/ And put you up on the scoop.” In the veign of Madvillain, Count Bass D and so forth, Edan brings back the old, but with a touch only he could purvey. Better yet, Beauty and the Beat is basically a 35-minute Moog-driven track of wonder. Bass whips, sci-fi organ synths, saccharine strings, and 70s psychedelia (only cut into thirteen 2-3 minute tracks, so you’d buy it) are just a few of the elements Edan uses at his disposal. As an emcee, BATB lays lower on the old school bragadocio than Primitive Plus, as E’s various odes to pioneers of music and science connect to the rhythm than a mere barking over it. I mean, the homie “put[s] a nameplate on a asteroid belt”. See: “Funky Voltron”, “Making Planets”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


1.)

ATMOSPHERE - You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having

ATMOSPHEREYou Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having

Wow, dude. It took you this long to give Atmophere credit? No, man. I just never considered the Lucy Ford EP’s or God Loves Ugly as “#GeekSwag” albums. They were on some other shit (albeit wicked awesome, even if it was “EMO”), but I hadn’t heard anything too “geeky” come out of the lips of solo Slug since Overcast. Of course, the Atmosphere frontman’s guest spots and team-up contributions to Deep Puddle Dynamics and Felt were always nerdy-as-fuck; though just because something is indie/appeals to backpackers doesn’t necessarily make it geeky (i.e. Slug’s usual topics of record industry woes, politics, and romance). Above all else, it’s producer Ant‘s buzzy effects, throbbing basslines and chunky percussion throughout You Can’t Imagine that allows Sean Daley to relax a little on the mic–a little. Most topics are still chiefly about women, but at least Slug is a lot more geekier about ‘dem broads’ this time around (i.e. “The only women who love you are fans and family/ Mom has no choice, but fans leave you randomly”). Like the title says, the duo was just having more fun being — what else? — fucked. See: “Musical Chairs”, “Panic Attack”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Little BrotherThe Minstrel Show, Think DifferentlyWu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture, Sage FrancisA Healthy Distrust, One Be Los.o.n.o.g.r.a.m., 9th Wonder & BuckshotChemistry, Circle of Tyrants“”, The PerceptionistsBlack Dialogue, FeltA Tribute to Lisa Bonnet, Aesop RockFast Cars, Danger, Fire, & Knives EP, NicolayCity Lights: Volume 1.5, BusdriverFear of a Black Tangeant, The Joe Beats ExperimentIndie Rock Blues, Black Market Militia“”, Sean PriceMonkey Barz, BlockheadDowntown Science, Lone CatalystsGood Music, 9th WonderThe Dream Merchant, Beat KonductaVol. 1: Movie Scenes, O.C.Starchild, Blueprint1988.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2004*****

5.)[[TIE]]

MF DOOMMm.. Food? / GHOSTFACE KILLAHThe Pretty Toney Album

I see what you did there. You’ve got DOOMStarks on the mind, now, don’t chat? Well, yes. Yes I do. Still, it was easy to tie these two albums together–despite the fact that MF DOOM wouldn’t bless the Wu-Tang MC with any “herbs & spices” for another couple more years on Fishscale. Ironman’s 4th piece of heat, The Pretty Toney Album, returned Ghostface to the superior quality of Supreme Clientele, less poppy and “reachy” than Bulletproof Wallets; yet, its larger appeal came with more grit. With more fame, GFK could still remain the same soulfully-hardcore-yet-geeky guy, which placed him in that tiny clubhouse of emcees who could, back then, appeal to fans of both underground and commercial hip-hop (i.e. Nas, Jada, Cam’Ron, 50 Cent, Kanye).

(cont.) MF DOOM, after owning hip-hop below the surface in 2003 (as King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn), once again reigned surpreme in 2004 with three more significant outputs. While our #1 spot owes as much to its brilliant producer as to the man spitting dope rhymes, Mm.. Food? is an otherwise proper follow-up to his classic debut. Call this anagram Operation: Foodsday. Every track (all but 2 produced by MF) is named after a delicious dish, complete with the usually fantastic cartoon samples we’re accustomed to — Superman, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man — to fully complement his metaphorical hunger (“Kon Karne”, “Kon Queso”). The only thing that held this album from a higher position was the timing; several of the songs were leaked far ahead of its November, 2004 release. See: “Metal Lungies”, “Biscuits”; “Beef Rapp”, “One Beer”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


4.)

ILL BILL - What's Wrong With Bill?

ILL BILLWhat’s Wrong With Bill?

You knew it was only a matter of time before Necro‘s older bro would go dolo, after he broke through with Non Phixion on their classic debut. Ill Bill also made a name for himself on Uncle Howie mixtapes and collabos with El-P (“Simian Drugs”), The Beatnuts and countless others. Let’s just say that… on his debut, produced entirely by Necro, Bill doesn’t hold back. “I eat politicians for breakfast, ’til infinity it’s endless/ Bill and Hilary, George Bush: everybody’s gettin’ it/ Presidents, Supreme Court justices and senators/ run up in the White House, erase people, edit them
press delete: hit ’em in the chest with heat.”
Bill’s topics range from the hard-hittingly political (“American History X”, “The Anatomy of a School Shooting”) to ruggedly street (“Glenwood Projects”, “Unstoppable”) to the most imaginatively fantastic (“Death Smiles At Murder”, “The Final Scene”). See: “Alien Worksop”, “Canarsie Artie’s Brigade”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


3.)

KANYE WEST - The College Dropout

KANYE WESTThe College Dropout

There’s a reason why Kanye West has this post’s featured image despite placing 3rd in this particular Top 5: Impact. Yeah, I know my general tastes may stray away from your casual hip-hop fan; it’s a guaran-damn-tee The College Dropout would place #1 on most lists. I’m not mad at it. Hell, I know just having Kanye on a geek-centric list is going to piss some people off. But, hell, it’s not Yeezy’s fault he would eventually graduate (get it?) from #GeekSwag to #RichSwag, trading in his Dockers for Louis Vitton, and Capri Sun juice pouches for a wife with the fattest ass. Still, we’re talking 2004 when Kanye was the epitome of #GeekSwag. “Golly, more of that bullshit ice rap/ I got to ‘pologize to Mos and Kweli (probably)/ But is it cool to rap about gold/ If I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali? (Mali!)/ First nigga with a Benz and a backpack/ Ice chain, Carti lens, and a knapsack/ Always said if I rapped I’d say somethin’ significant…” Even if he was more “swaggy” than “geeky”, he thought himself as God/Jesus/Yeezus from he jump, which also perfectly ties in with our overall theme here at GHGeezy… See: “Spaceship”, “Get ’em High”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


2.)

MURS & 9TH WONDER - 3:16: The 9th Edition

MURS & 9TH WONDER3:16: The 9th Edition

Rap fans are funny. Illmatic is widely considered the greatest hip-hop album of all time (and you’ll hear no argument from me), yet whenever an artist drops an EP-sized album, they always get slammed for it being “too short”. But, make an album with close to 20 songs, and it “drags on too long.” Enter the start of a most beautiful friendship between Living Legend-turn-Def Jukie, Making Underground Real Shit, & Little Brother’s breakout beatmaker, 9th Wonder. While I’ll always associate the “3:16” with MURS’ shout-out to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin over John the Baptist (either or works for GHG), the lyrical content might actually be MURS’ least geeky. Still, the album has such unparalleled and raw emotion, over of the very best beats of 9th’s career. I can listen to these eight tracks over and over. See: “The Pain”, “The Animal”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


1.)

MADVILLAIN (Madlib & MF DOOM) - Madvillainy

MADVILLAIN (Madlib & MF DOOM) – Madvillainy

Like anything Madlib does, it grows on you. That’s not to take anything away from the insanely talented producer’s musical prowess, but I’d be lying to you if I felt the same way about Madvillainy back then as I do now (the same can be said from the hella acquired taste of Quasimoto, who actually makes an appearance on “America’s Most Blunted”). Madvillainy is also the album that heard the darkest MF DOOM yet: his vocal infliction was just deep. No longer was Daniel Dumile the conversationally playful cat heard on Operation Doomsday and his twin killing of Viktor Vaughn (who nuttily “guest-spots” on the MPD-diss track, “Fancy Clown”). Even upon first listen, DOOM’s scratchier, blunt-chill flow can even be off-putting to some who might misconstrue it as lazily uninspired. That’s first listen. Play it again and the rhymes will be akin to watching some newfound — and brilliant — nuances in an Oscar-nominated actor’s performance your second time to the box office…

(cont.) Plus, good luck finding better DOOM lines than these: “Mad plays the bass like the race card”, “The best emcee with no chain ya ever heard”, “Wild guess, you can say he stay sedated.” The same can be said for Otis Jackson Jr.’s productions. “Why are these songs only 2-3 minutes long?” you asked yourself during the mid-2000s era of hit-single albums. Forget that. Madvillainy is a seamless, carefully crafted concept album foremost. No track exactly separates itself from the rest; hell, not even the way some of the songs like “One Beer” do on Mm.. Food. But if Kanye’s production was the #NewSwag of 2004, Madlib’s was the #NewGeek, inspired by everything from chamber music & Hawaiian strings (“Meat Grinder”) to NES games & 80s cartoons (“Supervillain Theme”). In all, both members of Madvillain deliver multi-layered performances worthy of an Academy Award; or maybe just the highest spot in the #GeekSwag Hall of Fame. See: “Figaro”, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Money Folder”, hell, everything. 10/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: BlockheadMusic By Cavelight, InsightThe Blast Radius, Leak Bros. – Waterworld, Eyedea & AbilitiesE&AMasta KillaNo Said Date, RA the Rugged ManDie, Rugged Man, Die, Edo G. & Pete RockMy Own Worst Enemy, Non PhixionThe Green CD, P.O.S.Ipecac Neat, Danger MouseThe Grey Album, Jean GraeThis Week, 7L & EsotericDC2: Bars of Death, Viktor VaughnVV2: Venemous Villain, SupastitionThe Deadline EP, Jedi Mind TricksLegacy of Blood, Oh NoThe Disrupt, IllogicCelestial Clockwork, OuterspaceBlood and Ashes, Gore-texThe Art of Dying.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2003*****

5.)[[TIE]]

JEDI MIND TRICKS - Visions of Ghandi / CANIBUS - Rip the Jacker

JEDI MIND TRICKSVisions of Ghandi / CANIBUSRip the Jacker

Stoupe. Man, did the beatmaker slay 2003. First, he gave the ever-growing, cult fanbase of Jedi Mind Tricks more to love on Visions of Ghandi — so long as you don’t mind your hyper-symphony done Salsa; and then he went and blessed a lyricist plagued by inconsistent beat choices his whole career with Rip the Jacker. The Enemy of Mankind provided an energy-intense orchestra for Canibus‘ limitless bars of the scientific hardcore, just the right amount of symphonic violins, cellos and strings one can only hear on the Gladiator soundtrack. RTJ was, thus, the ‘Bis album we all wanted (hell, some would say even the JMT album they wanted, since views on VOG were then greatly polarized) despite the fact some heads slept on it due to previous efforts…

(cont.) On the other hand, JMT’s third album–and first post (on-and-off member) Jus Allah–solidified the persona that was “Box Cutta Pazzie” in Vinnie Paz, the new, true “Mike Tyson” (or, more apropos, Vinny Pazienza) of this rap shit. That meant: the absence of the religious conspiracy shit that made Ikon the Verbal Hologram so unique, for an exchange of more brutal lyrics (“I’ll stab you in the bladder with a dagger and watch you die in piss”) that would go on to match Stoupe’s newly preferred Latin influence. While this change alienated some backpackers stuck on the Psycho-Social alien conspiracy tip, Vinnie held his own with Visions‘ numerous legendary guest-spots: Sean Price, Ras Kass, Percee P, Tragedy, Non-Phixion, G. Rap. It’s not for everyone; it’s probably not even “geeky”, but I like it. See: “Genabis”, “Poet Laureate II”; “Rise of the Machines”, “The Rage of Angels”. 4/5 Bibles.


4.)

JAYLIB - Champion Sound

JAYLIBChampion Sound

Dilla and Madlib. Do I SERIOUSLY have to say anymore? I don’t. But I will. Besides how mind-boggling special these guys are behind the boards, they take turns rhyming over each other’s beats–which is just how a producer/emcee collabo album should. Now, there’s no doubt that neither Lootpack alumn Madlib (unless you want to count his addicting helium-voiced alter-ego, Lord Quas, in the mix) and Slum Village’s Jay Dee aren’t the strongest rappers to ever hold a mic. But, when it comes to makin’ beats, these men will wind up in the Top 5-10 GOAT conversation forever. That’s evident by this once-inna-lifetime ditty that sees each one of the legends’ signature styles (deep grooving basslines vs. choppy, organic jazz) compliment each other best. See: “The Mission”, “McNasty Filth”. 4/5 Bibles.


3.)

NON-PROPHETS - Hope

NON-PROPHETSHope

For those who found New England lyrical stalwart Sage FrancisPersonal Journals a tad emo-eclectic will have missed a hell of a gem with Hope. Teaming up with longtime friend, fellow Providence native and producer dynamo, Joe Beats, Sage shows he can go the “pure” hip-hop route–and ace it in spades. There’s a ton of rhyming dexterity here, as no two rhyme pattern or flow throughout the record sounds the same; what’s better is Sage’s attention to topical detail. He can reference the golden age era of hip-hop in the wittiest of fashions, all the same taking backpacking nerds to the final frontier. Throw in Joe’s buttery loops, kick-ass snares, some Xaul Zan comedy — and one hell of a GHG-related album cover –and you have yourself a certified underground classic. See: “Spaceman”, “Mainstream 307”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


2.)

LITTLE BROTHER - The Listening

LITTLE BROTHERThe Listening

Remember what I said about J-Live? That notion of geeks making dope music instead of dope-heads making geek music — heh — applies to Little Brother too. There might be the occasional video game reference on The Listening, but the #GeekSwag here is more in how this Native Tongue-inspired trio conducts themselves. 9th Wonder‘s “Black Jedi” studio is laced with Star Wars memorabilia; Phonte plays the “smooth” class-clown that gets all the ass (akin to GHG’s resident Traveling Nerd); and Rapper Big Pooh is the “Superkick” Kenny Sanders, a guy who goes from watching suplexes on TV to suplexing proposterous thug MC’s. Bottom line, folks, their debut was a snazzy, head-nodding breath of fresh air to anyone choking on that hip-pop smog. See: “The Yo-Yo”, “We Like the Way You Do”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


1.)[[TIE]]

VIKTOR VAUGHN - Vaudeville Villain / KING GEEDORAH - Take Me to Your Leader

VIKTOR VAUGHNVaudeville Villain / KING GEEDORAHTake Me to Your Leader

Shocker! MF DOOM once again stole another year of #GeekSwag, this time under the monikers of Viktor Vaughn (Fantastic Four fans need no explanation), a DOOM who raps over other doods’ beats, and King Geedorah, a DOOM that provides beats for other people. Both albums are excellent in their own conceptually different and eclectic way. One could get the feeling that Vaudeville Villain was sort of DOOM’s own “Marshall Mathers LP”, with the clear focus on rhymes leading to those more personal (i.e. underage girls, awry drug deals, “If I don’t study, I’ma cheat off Peter Parker”) and boastful (a search for a stolen video game, “Modern Day Mugging”). This team up with Sound-Ink also provided a more coherent sound structure, despite cleaner bells and whistles than usual for DOOM to play with; his connection with RJD2 on “Saliva” being the one notable exception.

(cont.) If VV is the street side of the Wu, then Take Me To Your Leader is the geek. Metal Fingers’ head turns into three, cuing back to the lo-fi, vastly more distorted grindhouse sounds of Operation Doomsday, heading this compilation on rhymes and everything else. While songs aim and range all over the place, the concept remains admirably novel: every guest emcee comes with a Godzilla-relative “AKA” much like…you guessed it. Longtime MF DOOM and KMD affiliates, Lil Sci (“Next Level”), Mr. Fantastik (“Anti-Matter”), Kurious (“Fastlane”), etc. do all the trippy greatness of the SP-1200 justice. It’s just sort of a shame we never got a chance to see DOOM play “RZA” and witness that type of Wu-solo growth from his Monster Island Czars (MF Grimm, notwithstanding). See: “A Dead Mouse”, “G.M.C.”; “Fazers”, “Monster Zero”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Soul Position8 Million Stories, Louis LogicSin-A-Matic, Aesop RockBazooka Tooth, MURSThe End of the Beginning, CunninLynguistsSouthernunderground, Ugly DucklingTaste the Secret, J-Zone$ick of Bein’ RichZion IDeep Water Slang V2.0, SoleSelling Live Water, Last EmperorMusic Magic Myth, VakillThe Darkest Cloud, MadlibShades of Blue, Shabazz the DiscipleThe Book of Shabazz.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2002*****

5.)

MR. LIF - I Phantom

MR. LIFI Phantom

If 2001 set the stage for the Definitive Jux takeover (with its compilaton and Aesop Rock’s Labor Days), then 2002 no doubtly sealed it. Enter the Colossus with Mr. Lif — another Boston emcee to blow up in the early-2000s — whose off-kilter flow and alien/mutant enunciation helped distinct himself from the already abstract roster. His lyrics were even better, many of which guised under the spector of b-boy messiah; here to save the local peasants from unrighteous commerce, providing more enthusiasm for creativity and individuality in a sea of wack rap. Lif was Def Jux’s new Son of Krypton and proved a steady run of sci-fi influenced tales on El-P‘s mighty indie label for years to come. See: “Earthcrusher”; “Iron Helix”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


4.)

BLACKALICIOUS - Blazing Arrow

BLACKALICIOUSBlazing Arrow

While the lyrical content of Blackalicious isn’t exactly geeky–more soulful socially-aware than anything–it’s the way the Gift of Gab sputters his thoughts like a last race to the death between Professor Zoom and Barry Allen that carries over that appeal. The bouncier, more explosive funk-driven production matches the album’s surname, too, with Chief Xcel living up to the magnitude of the duo’s mainstream debut. And while there’s far more guest R&B vocals here than about anything else you’ll see in #GeekSwag, that only proved that you can make coffee-shop-hip-hop that goes great with graphic novels. See: “First in Flight”; “Chemical Calisthenics”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


3.)

RJD2 - Deadringer

RJD2Deadringer

Despite having a stage name that has more to do with his own (Ramble John), accidentally, than that of the more famous, pesky droid, RJD2’s sample-based compositions offer plenty of geeky elements to relish. Deadringer took what DJ Shadow set 6-years prior with Entroducing and minimized it, funked it up even, allowing fans of all musical genres to show deeper apprecation for this newfound form of hip-hop instrumentation. Look no further than the sci-fi creeper, “The Horror”, which sounds right at home in any number of John Carpenter’s films. Even better, RJD2 showed a range of dexterity that would make any instrumentalist jelly, scrumming a few hynotically sublime joints for the catch-wreck of Blueprint and Copywrite. See: “Final Frontier”; “June”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


2.)

EL-P - Fantastic Damage

EL-PFantastic Damage

If you consider yourself a fan of hip-hop “independent as fuck”, then it’s not hard to recognize El-P‘s growth of excellence throughout the years. The guy is a flat-out hip-hop-producing GodWhoLovesGeeks. What’s nearly as nifty, is that the one El-Producto can rhyme his ass off too (“Motherfucker, does this sound abstract?/ I hope that it sounded more confusing than that”), evident in this day and time by his hyper-literate ability to keep up with the venemous Killer Mike in RTJ. But before El-P went on to bless the masses with arguably the best MC(s)-and-producer duo since Gang Starr (on Mass Appeal records, mind you), he gave everyone a follow-up classic to the flawless Can Ox debut, The Cold Vein. Imagine topics like a post-apocalyptic Disney World and the sub-par quality of Star Wars prequels (“Operate catapults and goosestep over the innocent/ Vagrant of Reganomics phase with books to burn at the pod race/ This is that Bronx magic without Lucas Arts graphics/ Crayon-colored green monsters and horrible child actors…”); imagine drum patterns and electric synths that scream of retro-future industrial funk. That’s Fantastic Damage, a landmark album that had dedicated listeners worried about their own fucked-up, obstensibly oppressive futures — just not his. See: “Stepfather Factory”; “Lazerfaces’ Warning”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


1.)

NON-PHIXION - The Future Is Now

NON PHIXIONThe Future Is Now

Hip-hop music has always been filled with complication and hypocrisy. On one end, you have a college-educated, good family grown Tupac Shakur who begged single teen moms to “Keep [Their] Head Up” and high-school clowned about “..Get[ting] Around”; then you have a 2Pac who was one half of “America’s Most Wanted”, who couldn’t stop rappin’ and rhymin’ about his “Ambitionz Az A Ridah”. So when some cynics were disappointed that Non Phixion (Ill Bill, Sabac Red, Gore-Tex and DJ Eclipse) — then best known for their polical Public Enemy plunge “I Shot Reagan” — wound up as misanthropically nutty as their chief producer Necro, as conspiracy-threatened as Jedi Mind Tricks (“Had the time of his life; a capitalist with a communist wife/ Started to fight and did to cats what God did to Christ/ Hardly the type to give garbage advice; he was larger than life/ He’d penetrate the roof of your car with a spike”) and The X-Files, and as braggadociously drug-riddled as the Next New York Emcee, all I could do was #smh. What’s wrong with vulnerability? These were a bunch of guys concerned about the well-being of their innercity people; who celebrated this concern with the occasional — and sometime excessive — drug and drink; studied up on secret aliens and even more deranged CIA cover-ups; and put down their PlayStation controllers for a minute to knock you in the mouth. Non Phixion’s music was grimy, boom bap and addictive, thanks much in part to Necro’s Contra-meets-Ikari Warriors gothic-styled synths, and a “who’s who” guestlist of beat-making legends (DJ Premier! Large Professor! Pete Rock!). Above all else, their magnificent mic chemistry spit gifts like Serpentor, and you Joes could never tell what was coming next. See: “Strange Universe”; “Cult Leader”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: J-LiveAll of the Above, Sage FrancisPersonal Journals, CageMovies For the Blind, EdanPrimitive Plus, One Be LoProject F.E.T.U.S., The DemigodzThe Godz Must Be Crazy, CopywriteThe High ExhaultedDJ Jazzy JeffThe MagnificentInsightUpdated Software V.2.5, Count Bass DDwight Spitz, Mr. LifEmergency Rations, FeltA Tribute to Cristina Ricci.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2001*****

5.)

CUNNINLYNGUISTS - Will Rap For Food

CUNNINLYNGUISTSWill Rap For Food

If you only listen to mainstream hip-hop (shame on you), then you will probably be clueless by this particular list. Hey, 2001 is around the time when indie hip-hop completely took over in terms of quality — and, even in some examples, popularity. In 2001, it was “cool” to be a backpacker: someone vying against the stream of jiggy/sell-out garbage flooding the urban radiowaves. The good news? In 2001, underground shit wasn’t hard to find. College radio played the music we loved, and you didn’t have to Google any bandcamp pages or hope for a critical tweet notification to get new indie music. Popular indie labels like Def Jux, Babygrande, Stones Throw had their CD’s at Tower Records and Best Buy. Enter CunninLynguists, who arguably made the best pure hip-hop out of the South since the fall of The Dungeon Family. Kno (and later 9th Wonder) has carried that production torch from Organized Noise, providing enough soul to justify the location of the duo’s more “advanced” lynguistics. This is geek rap in a sense that rap from the south can be more fun than “Chicken and Beer”, as Deacon the Villain delivered his twang with an educated, often heartfelt edge. Kno also offered a nice multisyllabic counterpart on the mic, often playfully parodying the rap game. “Stone Cold Stun[ed] the mic manager/ Knowin he’s amateur.” See: “Thugged Out Since Cub Scouts”; “Halfanimal”. 4/5 Bibles.


4.)

7L & ESOTERIC - The Soul Purpose

7L & ESOTERICThe Soul Purpose

Wicked awesome. Leave it to Boston to bring back the boom bap after rap went wack, perhaps creatings its own sub-subgenre of its own. The great thing about The Soul Purpose, however, was showing how much MC Esoteric would evolve since “Speaking Real Words” (and thus setting the stage for Czarface) with Wu-Tang’s Inspectah Deck on the duo’s ’99 debut EP. Battle rap was where its at, but Eso took it a few–and often funny–steps further over 7L’s heady scratches, smooth keys and sci-fi drums. The Vinyl Reanimators‘ sound, too, would vary much more than the futuristic boom bap, allowing Eso to joke about strange groupies and even stranger scenesters, all the while blessing the mic like a great cup of clam chowduh. “I bring the 4th degree of sorcery/ Orally, forgery authorities report to me, quarterly/ The way I corner borders be like Normandy.” See: “Operating Correctly”; “Jealous Over Nothing”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


3.)

AESOP ROCK - Labor Days

AESOP ROCKLabor Days

I’m not gonna lie: #GeekSwag is sorta reaching with this list. Without obvious selections like DOOM, Deltron, or Swollen Members, which geeks do we have to turn to? I guess geeks who make music, rather than musicians who make geek. So, without any gimmicks, I tried to find the stuff most appealing to the comic book crowd. Picture Aesop Rock as that Neil Gaiman of hip-hop; you don’t understand a gotdamn thing about any of the panels (his lyrics), but you fuckin’ love them and splurge all over them anyway. At least both artists, progressive in their own right, offer a multitude of repeated views/listens. While my personal fav Aes-Rock album is Float (how fuckin’ great were Blockhead‘s backdrops on that one?), Labor Days is where the one-time Definite Juxie began to tone down his abstract rhetoric–if ever-so-slightly–perhaps for Block’s more minimal, less intensely symphonic arrangements. Aesop’s production also offers far more melodic flutes and laid-back strings here than the previous LP, building a synergy with the words that would only open up to more listeners. “If you had one more eye you’d be a Cyclops.” See: “Daylight”; “No Regrets”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


2.)

J-LIVE - The Best Part

J-LIVEThe Best Part

You could essentially flip-flop this position with Masta Ace’s near-classic Disposable Arts record of the same year, and I’m sure not too many would argue. But for sake of being a geek (hey, I don’t remember J-Live ever “Sittin’ On Chrome”; although the former teacher’s no more of a nerd than, say, De La), I went with The Best Part. And that name still stands today as the highlight of J-Live’s otherwise delightful catalog. Much in the vain of Non-Phixion the next year, legendary beatmakers (Prince Paul, DJ Premier, Pete Rock) were checkin’ for him, this new lyricist outta New York that brought dope rhymes during a time where you needed luck finding some. While his music may not be the geek who lived it, his freshness definitely comes off as the guy who tells it. See: “R.A.G.E.”; “Wax Paper”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


1.)

CANNIBAL OX - The Cold Vein

CANNIBAL OXThe Cold Vein

Finally, a true 2001 “Geek” album. The Cold Vein, thanks in equal parts to the viciously hungry, contrasting flows of Vordul Mega and Vast Aire, and the super celestial sounds of producer El-P, is also a certified underground hip-hop classic. You don’t mention Madvillainy, The Future is Now, and Violent By Design without mentioning The Cold Vein. Every song sounds like it came from another planet, chirping with intense intergalactic riffs, electric synths, and Arcade game bleeps — a proper soundtrack to any Transformers-meets-Star Trek mash-up. Vordul is beastly monotone, coming at you like the Wu’s Masta Killa while Vast is the more off-kilter clown ala Ghost-ODB. “With beats that have to be registered as sex offenders before presented to the public/ I’ll exfoliate your face with the acid inside my stomach/ Binge and purge/ We live in thirty-second blurbs/ And if consumers stop existing we forget how to use words/ Just fuckin’ eat each other ’til the next ice age occurs.” Together they turn a tortured New York battleground to a post-apocalyptic treasure, an amazing hip-hop album made by geeks for geeks. See: “Battle For Asgard”; “Scream Phoenix”. 5/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Asheru & Blue BlackSoom Come, NecroGory Days, J-ZonePimps Don’t Pay Taxes, Def Jux Presents“”, Typical Cats“”, Dilated PeoplesExpansion Team, NetherworldsPalsMolemenRitual of the…Immortal TechniqueRevolutionary, Vol. 1), Ugly DucklingJourney to AnywhereGhostface KillahBulletproof Wallets, Moka OnlyLime Green.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 2000*****

5.) [[TIE]]

SOLE - Bottle of Humans / JEDI MIND TRICKS - Violent By Design

SOLEBottle of Humans / JEDI MIND TRICKSViolent By Design

I couldn’t have picked two entirely different albums to tie for the 5th spot (which also makes the first tie in this very feature). But what the Maine-bred, former Anticon emcee and the Philly rapper-and-producer duo have in common are lyrics both socially aware and controversial. While JMT relied more on Vinnie Paz‘ rugged conspiracy rhymes (and then member Jus Allah‘s off-kilter flows) over Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind‘s filthy basslines, commanding violins, and moody, genocidal samples…

(cont.)Sole opted for a more opaque and neurotic interior monologue (“What the fuck you gonna do to me/ I’ve had my ass kicked so many times/ My spine is aligned/ With the ability to only exist within my own sandcastle point in time/ Get it? Shallow threats and knives can’t kill me/ I am the ideal of soul / The idea of being my own idol/ A SUPERMAN superseding superficial people”) over a well-crafted selection of sorrowful strings, kick-drums and operatic vocal samples. Sole’s poetic stee-lo was also metaphorically abstract for certain, while Vinnie’s then Ikon personality shot for the more graphically coherent. Either way, both albums are certified underground classics not to be fucked with. “Please remove my name from your rap popularity contests.” Sorry, Sole. See: “Speech Cobras”, “Deer Hunter”; “Furthermore”, “Year of the $exxx $ymbol”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


4.)

QUASIMOTO - The Unseen

QUASIMOTOThe Unseen

This is #GeekSwag. With Quasimoto, you’re basically listening to a high-pitched, animated aardvark-alien rhyme over a collage of lost jazz and sci-fi funk. But back when I was a 20-year old college punk, I couldn’t stand it. Now, Lord Quas is, like, dude, the greatest ever. There’s no doubt that Madlib is a mad genius (heck, he managed to even make Yeezy sound good with the one dope joint on his new album), with the only real way to appreciate that short-song brilliance is to kick back, light a jay, and play The Unseen in its entirety. See: “Return of the Loop Digga”, “Bad Character”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


3.)

GHOSTFACE KILLAH - Supreme Clientele

GHOSTFACE KILLAHSupreme Clientele

Ghostface Killah is the only Wu-Tang member who managed to make more than one classic. Actually, hip-hop’s Iron Man would go on to have the most prolific and successful Wu solo career period. Supreme Clientele was that “Oh shit! The Wu ain’t dead yet!” album, with a hungrier-than-ever Ghost spitting some of the illest stream-of-conscious raps — often rhythmic and off-beat — and over The RZA and company’s wild assortment of boom-bap breaks and intoxicating kung-fu samples (which strangely went absent from many of the Wu albums around the time). See: “Apollo Kids”, “Mighty Healthy”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


2.)

BINARY STAR - Masters of the Universe

BINARY STARMasters of the Universe

You might just be asking yourself, “who?” But there’s no doubt that Michigan duo, One Be Lo (then OneManArmy) and Senim Silla, sparked the indie hip-hop scene with the 1999 bootleg Waterworld, which a year later saw this slightly-remixed, professional release in stores. If the subtle, interplanetary artwork and He-Man-inspired title don’t say it all, Binary Star’s superb (and sadly unheralded) lyricists’ soulful, highly personal music will. And with just the right amount of tenebrous jazz and boom-bap, M.O.T.U. might just be the most hip-hop album you will ever hear. See: “Slang Blade”, “Conquistadors”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


1.)

DELTRON 3030 - ""

DELTRON 3030“”

The most important sci-fi concept hip-hop album of all time. Backed by Dan the Automator‘s luscious, space operatic backdrops and Canadian Kid Koala‘s terrific turntablism, longtime Hiero head Del tha Funkee Homosapien weaved in and out of Dan’s draconian funk like a dystopian monk full of liberated epinephrine, orbitting around wack emcees and industry whigs with uncanny dexterity. Like Dan Nakamura’s Doctor Octagonecologyst had done previously, Deltron 3030 was an unprecedented staple to the geek-hop community. See: “Mastermind”, “3030”. 5/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Zion IMind Over Matter, BlackaliciousNia, Aesop RockFloat, Dilated PeoplesThe Platform, IllogicUnforeseen Shadows, Jurassic 5Quality Control, NecroI Need Drugs, Del the Funky HomosapienBoth Sides of the BrainWu-Tang ClanThe W, MicranotsObelisk Movements, De La SoulAOI: Mosaic Thump, Masters of Illusion “”Scienz of Life – Coming Forth by Day: The Book of the Dead.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 1999*****

5.)

ARSONISTS - As The World Burns

ARSONISTSAs The World Burns

These dudes got a track called “Lt. Worf & Chewbacca”. Need Moody say more? But I will. The Bushwick, BK-based crew toasted the underground scene with As The World Burns, a debut album filled with true-school rhymes, dead-lighting drums, futuristic backdrops and zany battle raps that can touch even the most acidic. While the majority of the album sees a ton underground battlin’, Q-Unique, D-Stroy, Freestyle, Swel Boogie & Jise One take their breakdance/b-boy heritage into the realm of raw sci-fi and horror. Flame on. See: “Venom”, “Rhyme Time Travel”. 4/5 Bibles.


4.)

RAWKUS PRESENTS - Soundbombing II

RAWKUS PRESENTSSoundbombing II

Have no fear, underground hip-hop’s next level Avengers are here! There’s no question that, in 1998, rap went wack, and this jiggy-pop (I see you: Nelly, Will Smith, Puffy!) was eventually gonna catch a comeuppance, a true soundbombing, if you will. The Rawkus compilation contained a who’s who of lyricists (El-P, Eminem, Talib Kweli), true school producers (Da Beatminerz, Hi-Tek, Beat Junkies), and the classics to back it up–with intent to take back the industry. “1-9-9-9” was arguably the year’s finest hip-hop anthem, and had the Common you loved before he fell in love with Pharrell. It was a great mix of established acts (Cocoa Brovaz, Pharaohe Monch) and names on the come up (Thirstin Howl III, R.A. the Rugged Man, High & Mighty), essentially giving an outlet into the mainstream for this new breed of hungry hip-hoppers. See: “Crosstown Beef”, “Mayor”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


3.)

EMINEM - The Slim Shady LP

EMINEMThe Slim Shady LP

If Method Man is rap’s Ghost Rider, and Ghostface Killah is hip-hop’s Iron Man, then Eminem is music’s Deadpool. I mean, seriously–in addition to the “poverty humor” that Em provides, this guy was a loose cannon; he had the whole multiple-personality, hired-assassin thing going for him too. Just ask Nick Fur.. I mean Dr. Dre. Of course, Andre Young’s #1 best-selling prodigy (even more than Snoop D-O-G-G!) often pushed his terrifying fantasy-flows to the wayside for more personal, domestic-driven angst and pulverizing pop-celebrity punches. But sans “My Name Is”, The Slim Shady LP takes you into the deranged POV of Em’s alter-ego (sorta like Bruce/Clark into…you guessed it), dropping jaws with elastic battle raps sprinkled with pop-shock and horror. After all, Marshall would go on to make nimble references to Spidey, Zod, Odin and a slew of other superheroes in future gems like “On Fire” and “Rap God”. See: “Brain Damage”, “Bad Meets Evil”. 4.25/5 Bibles.


2.)

SWOLLEN MEMBERS - Balance

SWOLLEN MEMBERSBalance

A near-perfect #GeekSwag album. To most hip-hop listeners, the barbaric, medieval raps of Madchild and scientifical madness of Prevail might deem too nerdy; for the rest of us geeks, it’s absolutely glorious. This dudes are the Canadian rhyming versions of Loki and Thor, exchanging “pleasantries” over insanely great and gritty drum samples (courtesy of Alchemist, Zodak, Evidence, etc.) that sound like a wounded viking’s last days in the darkest of dungeons. Balance is everything a comic book nerd could want from hip-hop, with fresh appearances from guests such as Everlast, Del, and Aceyalone. See: “Circuit Breaker”, “Horrified Nights”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


1.)

MF DOOM - Operation Doomsday

MF DOOMOperation Doomsday

You didn’t have to bother scrolling down to know which dog won this race. If the cover doesn’t say it all — the music will. Nearly every single track on Operation Doomsday incorporated samples from the 1967 Fantastic Four cartoon and more geeky pop culture fun. Hanna Barbera fans, stand up! And more than just the bizarrely great music itself, Metal Faced DOOM rhymed as Hip-Hop’s #1 Supavillain, owning that Motha Fuckin’ mantle in the process (a crown he still possesses, despite being more of an abstract entity these days). DOOM’s aloof flows and conversational consciousness was new to the game in ’99, as was Doomsday‘s source of inspiration: 80s’ elevator music. Throw in some ol’ school 808s, shifty jazz vocals and an overall Marvelous assortment of samples, and you have a certified classic — the true origins of #GeekSwag. Bow down. See: “Gas Drawls”, “The Finest”. 10/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: LootpackDa Antidote!, Pharoahe MonchInternal Affairs, Mystik JourneymenBlack Sands ov EterniaMethod Man & RedmanBlackout!, J-ZoneMusic For Tu Madre, Dr. DooomFirst Come, First Served, RubberoomArchitechnology, Deep Puddle DynamicsThe Taste of Rain… Why Kneel?, Peanut Butter WolfMy Vinyl Weighs A Ton, Handsome Boy Modeling SchoolSo…How’s Your Girl?, Company FlowLittle Johnny From the Hospital.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 1998*****

 5.)

BEASTIE BOYS - Hello Nasty

BEASTIE BOYSHello Nasty

The 1998: A Space Odyssey of hip-hop, Hello Nasty was a return to form for the Beasties; a sonic adventure sprinkled with interstellar dreams, electro funk (via the indellible Invisibl Skratch Piklz’ Mixmaster Mike), and retro video game samples and other pop culture mentions (i.e. “…if you ask me, turn up the bass/ And if you play Defender I could be your hyperspace” and “Things get hectic quick/ From the satellite dish to your joy stick/ It’s the night of the living cable box/ Wires coming up from around the block…”). Hello Nasty also drove these legendary-yet-oft-pigeonholed “alt-rock party rappers” (for peeps who forgot Paul’s Botique!) back the block party, with plenty of “Body Movin'” grooves and more traditional hip-hop sounds. Even one of their all-time biggest smashes, “Intergalactic”, referenced the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. It doesn’t hurt that the Beasties also appeared — not only musically, but visibly — in NBA Jam, NBA Street, SSX Tricky, and their own Kaneko arcade game. See: “Super Disco Breakin'”, “The Grasshopper Unit”. 4/5 Bibles.


4.)

STYLES OF BEYOND - 2000 Fold

STYLES OF BEYOND2000 Fold

The first time I heard “Spies Like Us”, it gave me that “Oh Shit!” 007-feel. It was also the first hip-hop song that didn’t blatantly use James Bond for commercialism; these dudes just loved pop culture and wanted to make good music inspired by such. The funny thing about these S.O.B.’s (heh) — who’ve been a part of more popular mega-groups such as Fort Minor and the Demigodz — is that their future offerings wouldn’t sound that distant alongside alternative beach-rock like Slightly Stoopid, Pepper or B Foundation. The futuristic 2000 Fold, however, is absolutely one of those albums that helped pioneer what is now known as “underground” or “indy” hip-hop, and we have Tak and Ryu‘s Terminator and E.T.-inspired flows to thank for it. See: “Style Warz”, “Hollograms”. 4/5 Bibles


3.)

KILLAH PRIEST - Heavy Mental

KILLAH PRIESTHeavy Mental

Heavy Mental is arguably the most relevant Wu-Tang album to GHG, simply due to the heavy Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology and theology. Not that the cool nerd-clergy here at GodHatesGeeks take any of that shit nearly as seriously as the one Killah Priest; but combining the hefty martial arts influence of 4th Disciple‘s very disciplined production and the Sunz of Man emcee’s thoughtful lyricism was kind of a big deal; hell, I’d argue that it had a good hand in inspiring the future JMT classic Violent By Design. And much like that other lyrical onslaught to receive a “3” in The Source, Soul On Ice, Heavy Mental is one of those embarassingly underrated and unappreciated albums for its time. See: “Blessed Are Those”, “Atoms To Atom”. 4.25/5 Bibles


2.)

ACEYALONE - A Book of Human Language

ACEYALONEA Book of Human Language

Like the above 2000 Fold, Aceyalone‘s A Book of Human Language is one of the albums that helped spearhead the late-90s/early-2000s underground scene; but, perhaps more importantly, it also inspired the term “concept album”. Since every song is arranged like chapters of a book, Acey’s 2nd LP is absolutely not for those with ADD, or those looking to get “jiggy” (do people still use that term? #jk). And other than maybe the video just down below, nothing really stands out on its own; it’s required that you give Acey your full “60” to fully appreciate his musings about shit not casual enough for most hip-hop listeners. It also must be noted that A Book… hasn’t necessarily aged as well as the perfect scores it received waybackwhen. Still, there’s no denying Mumbles‘ often titillating, moody jazz sampling of Coltrone and Coleman and the Freestyle Fellowship emcee’s seething topics of death, despair and off-kilter pop culture (“The Jabberwocky” is an obvious ode to Alice in Wonderland) have its place in hip-hop royalty. “I’d rather stimulate your mind than emulate your purpose.” Aye aye, Reverend. See: “The Grandfather Clock”, “The Thief in the Night”. 4.25/5 Bibles


1.)

DMX - It's Dark and Hell is Hot

DMXIt’s Dark and Hell is Hot

How the EFF…!! Slow your (Ruff Ryders’) roll for a second. DMX is the definition of a comic book persona; as one of those larger-than-life characters in Hip-Hop (similar to his Def Jam brethren, Redman and Method Man), X was one of those few rappers that both street thugs and comic book geeks could enjoy. Whether you look back at his earlier work as Horrorcore or Noir-Rap, DMX was a pioneer of both subgenres. He may not have been the first to do it (see: Geto Boys, Big L, Gravediggaz, Kool Keith, etc.), but there’s no doubt he delivered extreme popularity to the trangressive, slasher-film topics of the occult and the insane. It’s Dark and Hell is Hot had its mix of Nightmare on Elm Street chants (“One, two, X is comin for you!”), suitable Dame Grease backdrops, and notable conversations with Satan (and/or himself), all the while using the Son of Batman’s name in the process (“God, I know the Bible says popping caps in all those dudes is wrong/ But since you told me to do it, I guess I’ll just follow your plan/ Don’t worry, I got your back God!”). As NY set as his personal post-apocalypse, DMX was no less a cross between a very schizophrenic Blade and Punisher. No wonder Deadpool is shook. See: “Look Thru My Eyes”, “Damien”. 4.25/5 Bibles


Honorable mention: DMXFlesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, People Under The StairsThe Next Step, Lyricist LoungeVol. 1, Method ManTical 2: Judgment Day, Ras KassRasassination, Hieroglyphics3rd Eye Vision, CanibusCan-I-Bus?.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 1997*****

5.)

DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN - Future Development

DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIENFuture Development

Hell, this was one of the hardest albums to find ever–and it was only on cassette, only available online. I remember wondering how stupid it was that one of 1997’s finest was also its rarest gem (I wasn’t so “up” on buying albums online until about 2-years later); but, I’m sure a guy like Del the Funky Homosapien wouldn’t have had it any other way. All of the beats from Del and fellow Hieroglyphic folk A-Plus and Opio had a sci-fi synergy unheard of at the time (hence the title name), while Del sounded so much better on this than the “chillin’ with cousin Cube” older-school works of “Mr. Bob Dobalina”. The future was developing. Geek rap was born. See: “X-Files”, “Lyric Lickin”. 3.5/5 Bibles.


4.)

JEDI MIND TRICKS - The Psycho-Social, Chemical & Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness

JEDI MIND TRICKSThe Psycho-Social, Chemical & Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness

It’s hard to believe that the “Boxcutter Pazzy” we know better as Vinnie Paz was also the same Ikon the Verbal Hologram from this album. Not that Vin has strayed away from any of the socially conscious topics of history and astronomy on the next 7 albums that have chiefly focused on violence and religious corruption. It’s more about the flow. There are fans who prefer the more “science nerd” rhyme stylings of Ikon than the harder personality of Vinnie P. Uh, Dorks! There’s no doubt that Vin’s gruffier flow and Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind‘s sound is a lot more accessible (and enjoyable) now; with the only downside being that those new to Jedi Mind might not hear all much in common with the sci-fi franchise of the same name. If that’s what you’re looking for, search out this album. See: “Chinese Water Torture”, “The Immaculate Conception”. 3.5/5 Bibles.


3.)

MOOD - Doom

MOODDoom

Although DJ Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli — Reflection Eternal — are favorites among hip-hop nerds worldwide, I bet not too many knew they did, indeed, begin their prestigious hip-hop careers as true geek musicians. Peep Mood’s Doom. No, not M.F. Doom (we’re only 2-years away from that; patience, young padawans!), but a Cincinatti classic filled with haunting instrumentals from Hi-Tek and Lone Catalyst co-founder J. Rawls, and rhyme topics of divine psychosis, not unlike that of Ill Bill, Killah Priest or J.M.T. See: “Nuclear Hip Hop”, “Peddlers of Doom”. 4/5 Bibles.


2.)

COMPANY FLOW - Funcrusher Plus

COMPANY FLOWFuncrusher Plus

Let it be known that, with the exception of the #1 spot just down below, this #GeekSwag list is entirely different than my overall Best Hip-Hop of ’97 list. You won’t see the enjoyable NY-gritty (or jiggy) efforts of Capone-N-Noreaga, O.C., Camp Lo, Jigga or Biggie from that year on this geek-inspired list. However, 1997 also proved to be the true origins of the “Underground” Hip-Hop scene: Rawkus was Soundbombing, and the year also delivered the birth of both Def Jux and Army of the Pharaohs. But I won’t front: My mindset as a confused 17-year old whiteboy was completely different than it was now. I was more of a mainstream hip-hop fan (not necessarily commercial, like Will Smith and shit, mind you), with a first car more likely to bump the Hot Boyz and not El-P, Juss One and Mr. Len. Still, a few years — and thousands of UGHH.com forum battles later — I realized that Funcrusher Plus is the true posterchild of Indie Hip-Hop. Everything about this album is fuckin’ weird, strange and alien–and us geeks are all the better for it. See: “8 Steps to Perfection”, “Collude/Intrude”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


1.)

WU-TANG CLAN - Wu-Tang Forever

WU-TANG CLANWu-Tang Forever

Are you honestly that mothafrackin’ surprised? From the lyrical webbings of a future Czarface rhyme-slayer who once “[swung] through your town like your neighborhood Spider-Man,” comes the double-LP follow-up to the album that, arguably, started this whole #GeekSwag shit: Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers). While Wu Forever isn’t without its share of solo mishaps (“Dog Shit” and “Black Shampoo” are nearly unlistenable; let’s be real), it’s easy to look back at this album like fine wine; a fervent, grimy run of RZA (and 4th Disciple) tracks that kept with the traditional Kung-Fu themes and superhero street heat. And who could forget the most Marvel-ous verse on the album from Wu’s Daredevil, Inspectah Deck? “Triumph” felt like the end of an Avengers movie when all 9 members tear down Thanos. And don’t tell me Ghostface didn’t remind you of a certain billionaire playboy shellhead on “Impossible”. 4x platinum and still #GeekSwaggy-as-fuck? Yeah. Wu-Tang, in their hey-day, were true rap superheroes. See: “Hellz Wind Staff”, “Reunited”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Boogie Monsters – God Sound, MURS – F’Real, Muggs Presents – Soul Assassins: Chapter 1.




*****TOP 5 #GEEKSWAG ALBUMS of 1996*****

5.) 

REDMAN - Muddy Waters

REDMANMuddy Waters

Wait, what’s so gee… ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Redman is a cartoon character! He was an Amiibo before toys existed on top of game consoles! Muddy Waters was also “poverty geek rap”. Hailing from Dirty Jerz, Reggie Noble never sacrificed his over-the-top comical persona no matter how much mainstream success came his way (See: How High, St. Ides). Filled with cartoony funk loops from Erick Sermon, Rockwilder and Reg’ himself, Muddy Waters is still, arguably, Redman’s best lyrical work to this date. Also, while his 2000 effort Doc’s Da Name packed more nerdy pop culture references than this, Muddy still offers more of a personable flair than the smoked-and-dreary excellence of Dare Iz A Darkside. See: “Iz He 4 Real”, “Do What Ya Feel”. 4.5/5 Bibles.


4.)

GHOSTFACE KILLAH - Ironman

GHOSTFACE KILLAHIronman

Ironman. Yeah. Duh. Any album with a Marvel Avenger in the title will usually get the nod. Oddly enough, this was around the time Tony Starks (ah!) also tossed the mask to the wayside–allowing the ladies to decide whether his “C.R.E.A.M.” was worth following on tracks such as “Camay” and “All I Got Is You.” But! Other than those aforementioned R&B-inspired singles, Ghostface Killah sprayed plenty of “Poisonous Darts” over RZA‘s kung-fu soul. And with a little help from his friends (including the Chef Raekwon on 13-tracks), the more vulnerable Ironman kept his heady superhero-on-the-street reality raps in tact–with a wicked Speed Racer-inspired anime video to boot. See: “Assassination Day”, “Box in Hand”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


3.)

DR. OCTAGON - Dr. Octagonecologyst

DR. OCTAGONDr. Octagonecologyst

What? Were you expecting something other than a “halfsharkalligatorhalfman”? Moron. Actually, Kool Keith did more with Dr. Octagonecologyst than just drop a dope Geek album; oh, he also set the stage for “persona rap”. While the ol’ Ghostface had the mask, Keith had the entire persona. It was no longer Keith Matthew Thornton on the mic, but a rather nefarious, space-travelling pussy surgeon that crossed several genres of geek music: trip-hop, horrorcore, and, hell, even turntabilism (via DJ Qbert). Dan “The Automator” (who would later provide production to another one of the greatest #GeekSwag efforts ever in Deltron 3030) laid out his most wacky, psychedelic instrumentals yet–and Keith’s unparralled sci-fi humor and surrealistic non-sequitors were the staple of more Nerd Rap to come. I’d also argue that only MF Doom has ever come close to this level of Geek lyricism. See: “Earth People”, “Interstellar Time Travel”. 4.75/5 Bibles.


2.)

RAS KASS - Soul On Ice

RAS KASSSoul On Ice

An album that only ages like fine wine, Soul On Ice has also always been one of the most criminally-underrated albums of all time. Now that the modern-age backpackers (i.e. underground hip-hop fans) rejoice Ras Kass‘ debut beyond just the controversial “Nature of the Threat”, and understand — finally — that the more melancholy Bird/Flip/Voodoo/Ras’ backdrops were actually the righteous soulfully sinister sound for the next-level lyrical content at the time, SOI earns a lot more respect than it did 20-years ago. But who could blame heads that just weren’t ready? And while the most #GeekSwag-relevant track Razzy had at the time, the Diamond D-laced “Soul On Ice (Remix)”, didn’t make the original LP, there’s plenty of juicy scientific raps and geek culture references to embrace (“She know my name cause I got more game than Sega CD”). See: “Ordo Abchao”, “If/Then”. 5/5 Bibles.


1.)

OUTKAST - ATLiens

OUTKASTATLiens

The comic book-styled cover would be enough to give this the top spot alone–but then we’re talking one of the most flawless hip-hop albums ever. Yet, when it comes to ‘Kast, there’s no doubt that everyone has their favorite style from Big Boi and Andre 3000. Some still prefer that original twangy Southernplayalistic sound; others, celebrate the laid-back musical celebration that is Aquemini. No surprise then, that #GeekSwag would choose the “moody” trunk-popping sci-fi sounds of ATLiens (hell, look at the title name!). Sans Run the Jewels, hip-hop fans haven’t witnessed this high level of Street (Big Boi)-meets-Geek (Andre) emcee tag-teaming in forever.. over funky, futuristic Organized Noise/OutKast & Mr. DJ beats that make you proud to be a geek, nonetheless. See: “Wheelz of Steel”; “Extraterrestrial”. 10/5 Bibles.


Honorable mention: Busta RhymesThe Coming, Siah & Yeshua Dapo EDVisual, DJ ShadowEntroducing…, Cella DwellasRealms ‘N Reality, JuggaknotsClear Blue Skies, Heltah SkeltahNocturnal, Jeru the Damaja Wrath of the MathPrince Paul Psychoanalysis: What Is it?, Kwest Tha Madd Lad This Is My First Album.

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