My homie DJ Still Life is one of the best minds in the music game. He went IN on his Best of 2009 giving double the required amount of musical goodness. Check Still Life on East Village Radio, every Thursday from 8 – 10 EST for a dope selection of old and new music.
Fashawn- Boy Meets World
More than producer Exile’s other album collaborations with emcees (Blu, Emanon, etc.) I feel like this is the one where everything really comes together. The beats especially are phenomenal, flipping everything from classic Solomon Burke to Joanna Newsom. Relatively young emcee Fashawn’s stories feel like they’re inspired by actual experience, forgoing the larger-than-life entertainment model in favor of something that’s a bit more down to earth.
Uproot Andy- “El Botellon”
This was an eye opening year for me as far as latin/tropical sounds, and this tune from Uproot Andy (as well as the whole Bersa Discos EP it comes from) is an absolute smasher. Great shuffling beat with a distinctive guiro pattern and a mallet melody line rattles inside your head for days. This one’s an anthem at the Que Bajo party Andy does w/ Geko Jones, and it’s truly an experience to see folks lose their shit to something rooted in these kinds of worldly rhythms. Definitely keep your eyes on this dude, he’s got a cache of custom remixes to destroy dance floors from Brooklyn to Bogota.
Atlas Sound ft Panda Bear- “Walkabout”
For the most part I’m trying to steer this list away from some better documented tunes in favor of personal favorites which saw serious burn on my decks and in my iPod, but I couldn’t leave this one off; it’s too good. It takes so much of what I like about West Coast sunshine pop, Motown stompers, and electro experimental weirdness and makes something that registers on all those levels, yet sounds like nothing I’ve heard before.
Zion I- “Coastin'”
I really thought this song would be Zion I’s “Flashing Lights,” but while it definitely gets hands in the air at live shows (youtube their performance at this year’s BFD for some evidence) it didn’t seem to break through to the casual listener. It’s only a matter of time though before they’re performing at the MTV awards.
Akira Kiteshi- “Pinball”/”No Glitch”
Nothing coming out of the dubstep diaspora smashed my face as hard as these two tracks this year. Building on some of the heavily compressed / selectively quantized sound coming out of Los Angeles right now, these guys added some of the fiercest bass drops to woozy and intricate sound beds for some sounds to make you head for the bomb shelter.
Stevie Nicks- “Stand Back” (Eli Escobar disco remix)
Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that my brain always changes the lyrics to “Fall back (fall back),” no song spent more time providing the mental soundtrack to my wanderings throughout the city. Eli’s remixes are pretty much law, and this is one of my favorites.
Pisces- A Lovely Sight
I didn’t think Chicago’s Numero label could climb much higher in my estimation, but I was wrong. This never-before-released 60’s gem plays like a best-of selection from different corners of my favorite examples of psychedelia. There are fuzz rockers, lysergic ballads, goofy nonsense songs, and chunky breakbeats, all from the same band. Considering the glut of mediocre psychedelic reissues based on obscurity alone, it’s refreshing to see something unearthed with so much musical merit of its own.
Jahdan Blakkamoore- Buzzrock Warrior / Bazooka Shot mixtape
Like the Pisces album above, Jahdan and his Dutty Artz crew pull my favorite elements from different examples of a cultural movement (in this case global bass culture): dubstep, dancehall, grime, cumbia, commercial r&b, uk funky, etc. and make something that sounds totally unique and fresh. The record sounds like a party at the end of the world.
Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics- Inspiration Information
Truly an inspired collaboration, this album gives open minded beat heads and jazz aficionados alike something to treasure. While I’m an enthusiastic fan of both artists’ output, they compliment each other especially well: Mulatu adding a necessary melodic flair and authentic Eastern depth to the Helicentrics’ percussive beat scapes while they in turn furnish the Ethiopian composer with a low-end rawness that’s been missing from his later output.
Ordinarily a collection of cranked up tropical dance burners would more likely provide fodder for a list of outstanding singles (as opposed to albums), and in fact it’s true that this doesn’t so much play like a front to back album as a collection of tracks, but every inclusion is so solid that it merits an album nod. These tracks encapsulate ecstatic sweaty abandon to an extent where you can see the logic in deciding to adorn the cover with a solitary airhorn.