Kickmag’s 2007 Picks
An esoteric street paradise after 15-years of a solo recording grind. Producers Kanye West and Will.I.am shape rhythmic reveries around Common’ s semi-countrified delivery. His voices flows with an R&B sensuality that can change into b-boy battle mode when Premier gets on the track. He found his forever with this soon-to-be classic.
A grown-up and reflective funkster articulates life after Super Freak. Stone-City band horns are still sassy and syncopated on the one. Howard Hewett guests on the baby-making “Do You Wanna Play.” An excellent swan song for the bad boy that revived Motown, challenged Prince and strengthened his myth by becoming another rock and roll casualty.
Angular and still angry 20 yrs after the fact Chuck D, Flavor, Griff and the S1ws cast out the media and political warlocks with their aural authority. A collaboration with KRS 1 is a historical meeting of elders that eclipses its own preachiness in the midst of a million rappers who will not address the pathways to soullessness. Another milestone for hip-hop’s most politically consistent group.
The third act of Kanye’s education process is another audacious reason to like the man. Daft Punk is sampled, Dwele and Mos Def sing, Lil Wayne guest-raps and Kanye directs the whole thing with little thought towards convention. Purists diss Kanye’s democratic crate-dug production sources (“Flashing Lights”) as an enemy of hip-hop’s true street masculinity. But Graduation is what you get when you mix backpack rap with Diddy the sum of Dead Prez in shiny clothes and there is nothing anti hip-hop about it.
Another collection of classic soul from the St.Louis born singer best known for covering Aretha Fraknlln’s “Call Me.” Perry loves timeless melodies and good stories in a song. Thankfully his voice is one that handles the burden of timeless material by owning its core arrangement and filling each bar with love from his 40-year affair with R&B.
Sly And The Family Stone (reissued box set)
Funk foundations from the second-biggest Black rock star of the ’60’s. Arthur Lee’s was the first multi-cultural and co-gendered rock band but Sly’s was the first sucessful one. A catalog of hits, samples and signposts of an influential era. The box set recounts Sly and the Family’s growth from being a polished band to becoming a new paradigm in American music.