Happy New Year! I know we’re all ready to dive head first into 2011, but before I get started here at Westcheddar, it’s important that I look back at 2010 and all the great recordings that were released. So without further a due, I present Westcheddar’s Year In Music 2010!
Big Cheese Of The Year- Kanye West
Kanye came back strong this year after his VMA’s fiasco, releasing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was deservingly slobbed on by every music critic on earth. Equally impressive was his G.O.O.D. Fridays series, where he released a new song or leak from his album every week from the early summer until the winter. Crazy production across the board, crazier lyrics, ridiculous guest appearances, and in the end we were left with a monstrous body of work to hold us over well into the new year. And he made a “film” too!
Cheddar Platter- Kanye West’s Top Ten Songs of the Year
1. “Devil in a New Dress”– The original version of the song, without Rick Ross and the extended bridge (I admit Ross does go in on his verse, but the song didn’t need him), played daily throughout the summer in my car and crib. Best line: “I hit the Jamaican spot at the bar take a seat/ I ordered ya jerk, she said ‘you are what you eat'”.
2. “The Joy” with Jay-Z– A Pete Rock head nodder, a Curtis Mayfield sample, a nostalgic Jay-Z third verse, and some of the best (and dirtiest) Kanye lyrics I’ve ever heard. Best bars: “Gave her a handshake only for my man’s sake, she in her birthday suit ’cause of the damn cake/ now there’s crumbs all over the damn place, and she want me to cum all over her damn face”.
3. “Hell Of A Life”– Kanye spits of life marrying a porn star, and sings an autotune rock hook over the hardest beat on the album.
4. “Dark Fantasy”– What a bananas intro song, co-produced by Rza. It’s everything we would ever dream about in a custom made Rza beat, but not too Wu-Tangy for ‘Ye to sound at home on. The perfect beginning to his beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy.
5. “Monster” with Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj– Nicki might have had the verse we all hit rewind on the most, but ‘Ye is no slouch on this. Hard to believe Hov had the weakest verse, though conceptually it was the most spot on.
6. (tie) “So Apalled” with Jay-Z, Pusha T, Cy Hi The Prince, Rza, and Swizz Beatz– Talk about a new school posse cut. Kanye takes a stab at his own Wu-Tang style beat, nails it, kills the first verse, and let’s the rest of the boys get pissed off on the track too. Fuckin’ ridiculous.
6. (tie) “Lord, Lord, Lord” with Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon, and Charlie Wilson– Nas rocked this beat a decade ago, but it takes a genius to realize it needed to be revisited. In the wake of Cam’ron and Jimmy Jones’ diss towards Kanye, he spits his hardest verse of the year. Best line: “I only hang with white boys who like black sluts.” And I’m still trying to figure out what Mos is talking about in the first verse with all that “order of the random” stuff.
7. “Blame Game” with John Legend and Chris Rock– John Legend sings curse words, Kanye uses his most extreme vocal effects to date, and Chris Rock asks, “who reupholstered your pussy?”, over the album’s smoothest beat. Weird, in the best way.
8. “Runaway Love RMX” with Justin Beiber and Raekwon– Want a radio R & B remix with a timeless Wu Tang instrumental and the oddest combination of artists ever assembled through a Twitter discussion? Press play. It’s actually really good.
9. “Runaway” with Pusha T– Who else besides Kanye West can rock the VMA’s with a song no one has ever heard before, and have the guts to bring out the biggest drug slinging rapper in the country as a guest. I guess he knew that with one listen we’d all be singing the hook for the rest of the year.
10. “Power”– It’s hard not to put this on the platter and give it shine. This was THE comeback starter, the one that made everyone pay attention. It was the warning shot of what was to come. Kanye West was back, rapping extremely well, over beats that were better than anything he had ever released before.
Hip Hop Cheddar Chunk of the Year (Album)- Drake Thank Me Later
Sorry Kanye, you are the man, and your album is absolutely incredible and it deserves top props (which is why the entire beginning of this Year in Review is dedicated to you), but I think Drake should get the nod for Hip Hop Cheddar Chunk of the Year. Thank Me Later is packed with hits, unforgettable guest appearances, top notch production, and a cohesive sound perfect for the radio, car, club, and crib. And it tells the story of a young rapper dealing with new superstardom better than anyone else has ever told it before, from the insane party life to the reality of handling the friends and family he left behind. It’s honest, and earnest. My favorites include “The Resistance”, which is an introspective showcase of Drake’s singing and rapping abilities, “Karaoke”, “Up All Night” with Nicki Minaj, and “Light Up” with Jay-Z playing the role of Drake’s older rap sibling. And that doesn’t even include the radio’s favorites “Over”, “Miss Me” with Lil Wayne, and the Kanye West produced “Find Your Love” (video below). My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a critic’s dream, and it’s fucking amazing, but I think the common man was able to digest Drake’s album a little easier. In fact, I asked a bunch of people I work with who live in the 914 what album they LIKE better, and they all said TML over MBDTF. True story. Plus, Drake’s joint was definitely the album of the summer, and the songs on it held down the bulk of the year, whereas Kanye’s album is still evolving in all our lives. The youth fucked with it too, that’s all they listened to from June to August, and they still have it in rotation around my way. In the end, Kanye West may have made a better album, but Thank Me Later still takes the cheddar. Props to Drizzy.
Cheddar Chopper of the Year (Producer)- Ski Beatz
He’s best known for his production on Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night, but let’s get real, those albums are fifteen years old. Now Ski has linked up with newcomers like Curren$y and Smoke Dza, and is quietly making the dopest hip hop beats in the game. Don’t believe me? Check out his contributions to Curren$y’s Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk II, and Smoke Dza’s George Kush Da Button (some of the best are in the lists below). Not to mention his own compilation album he released this year 24 Hour Karate School, which I admit was not as great overall as I thought it would be but it still has highlights that are worthy of respect (see Verse of the Year below). Look for him to continue to lace the new generation of rappers in 2011, and hopefully he’ll get a chance to work with some of the big boys too. Maybe Nas?
String Cheese- Top 20 Hip Hop Solo Songs Of The Year*
1. Asher Roth “G.R.I.N.D.”– Ash went all over the country promoting this song, where he spits conscious raps in a Kid Cudi-like style over an uptempo beat with a great hook. Nice growth.
2. Cam’ron “Sorry”– Cam brings back some of that classic DipSet flavor over the dancehall classic with the same name.
3. Curren$y “Airborne Aquarium”– The first song on Pilot Talk II, produced by Ski Beatz (featured above also). The beat kinda reminds me of a laidback 90’s Dogg Pound track, and Curren$y spits that “stir fry, chinky eye, shanghai” flavor.
4. Dirt Nasty “Nasty As I Wanna Be”– Dirt Nasty is actually a good rapper, and very funny too. And Alchemist comes through with some old school production.
5. Earl Sweatshirt “Earl”– Gutter lyrics over an underground boom bap grimey beat from the best young rapper out of LA’s Odd Future collective. Kinda reminds me of Company Flow. The video is super disturbing, but the rapping is fucking impressive. Best line: “My dick is having guts for lunch”.
6. Fat Joe “I’m Gone”– DJ Premier provides this outro track as Joey Crack comes through with his semi-dedication to Guru (RIP), and also tells the story of his rap career at the end (think Kanye West’s “Last Call”).
7. Ghostface Killah “Together Baby”– The first single from his latest album Apollo Kids, with a great soul sample hook, a hot beat, and Ghostface raps that you can easily understand.
8. Homeboy Sandman “The Warm Up”– Off Oddisee’s Odd Winter, underground Queens MC Homeboy Sandman flaunts his unorthodox style over a beat from the DMV’s best producer.
9. Jay Electronica “The Announcement”– “First the fingers got pricked, then the single got picked.” Jay cements his deal with other Jay at Roc Nation by releasing his dopest song of the year. Best line: “I got a date with destiny I’m definitely not canceling.”
10. Jay Electronica “The Ghost Of Christopher Wallace”– Diddy hypes up Jay as he proclaims, “The game ain’t been the same since B.I.G. died.” He’s right. Hopefully Mr. Electronica will do something about it and drop a full length project in 2011.
11. The Kid Daytona “On The Hill”– Daytona is a nice Bronx MC, and he sounds great over this remake of the same sample used on Biggie’s “Young G’s”.
12. Lil Wayne “I’m Single”– A slow jam rap song about being single for the night, by the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive”.
13. Mac Miller “La La La”– This track didn’t make it onto his mixtape K.I.D.S., but it should have. It might have had something to do with a beef with the producers who didn’t get credit, or maybe it was just a warm-up cut. Regardless, the beat is hard, and Mac goes in and shows why he’s the illest whiteboy in the rap game right now. Video is nice too.
14. Mac Miller “Traffic In The Sky”– The best song on K.I.D.S. In the video, he’s with a blonde chick in a bikini top and sunglasses on a boat during the day looking at the Pittsburgh skyline, which sums up how the song sounds perfectly. Check out “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” too, where he rocks over a classic Lord Finesse beat.
15. Mikey Rocks “Foreign Features”– Mikey of The Cool Kids goes solo and spits fly lyrics over a beat that sounds like it belongs on Mobb Deep’s Hell On Earth.
16. Prodigy “The Phone Tap (Welcome To State Prison)”– Pee raps a full song, with hook, over the phone from a three year stint in prison, and it’s dope. Sid Roams, who sounds like Alchemist’s cousin, provides the beat, and Prodigy lets you know the real. For the record, Lil Wayne tried to do the same thing on Drake’s “Light Up RMX” and it was not nearly this crisp. Sure, it’s muffled, and of course it sounds like he’s rapping into the phone from jail, but it’s supposed to. That’s the point, dunny. Props to whoever engineered this. Best line: “I got a buck left, shit is nothin'”. Free Pee.
17. Raekwon “Alphabet Soup”– Raekwon goes from A to Z on this hard body Cocainism mixtape cut. The concept’s been done before, but not with this type of lyrical fire. And he ends it perfectly when he gets to Z by shouting, “Ayo bring my zebra back in the fucking garage, that ni**a just snuck out the back”. Hilarious.
18. Smoke Dza “Sour Hour”– Ski Beatz hits Smoke Dza with some piff. “Smoke up, I hope you bring your lungs with you.”
19. Stan Ipcus “Nothing U Can Do”– Can I put one of my songs on this list? Shiiiit. Kaliph blesses me with a sick Aaron Neville sample, and I tell everyone why they can’t fuck with me. Respect the no budget video too.
20. Vado “Polo”– An ode to Vado’s clothing brand of choice. This is tough.
*Excludes songs highlighted in Cheddar Chunks and Kanye West’s Cheddar Platter
Cheddar Melts– Top 15 Hip Hop Collaborations Of The Year*
1. Big Boi with Sleepy Brown and Joi “Turns Me On”– A Big Boi solo album cut that deserves some praise. Ride to this.
2. Cam’ron, Vado, and Kid Cudi “Ya Killin Me (LAME)”– Cam and Vado go off over an Alchemist banger. Cudi on the hook is the cherry on top.
3. (tie) Curren$y featuring Big K.R.I.T. and Smoke Dza “Skybourne”– Off Pilot Talk, this Ski Beatz produced track is perfect for any sunny day smoke out. Best line, from Smoke Dza: “Burn like a CD, get top like ZZ”. Get it?
3. (tie) Curren$y featuring Jay Electronica and Mos Def “The Day”– Another collabo from Pilot Talk, but this one’s triumphant, with Mos Def on the hook and a poised Jay Electronica on the second verse.
4. Diplomats “Salute”– Cam’ron, Jim Jones, and Juelz Santana reunite with the song that brought New York back this summer. “Think I give a fuck about sparkles?” This shit is hard.
5. Jay Electronica featuring Jay-Z and The Dream “Shiny Suit Theory”– We haven’t heard the whole song yet, but the leak is enough for this to make the list. The sample is recognizable because Pete Rock and CL Smooth used it on “I Got A Love”, and Jay-Z comes through with his most lyrical guest verse of the year with lines like, “You being so prosperous is preposterous.” Nice.
6. Lil Wayne and Drake “With You”– Wayne raps and Drake sings the hook on this hip hop love song from Weezy’s I Am Not A Human Being. Shit is hot.
7. Lil Wayne and Corey Gunz “6′ 7″”– Lil Wayne’s first official release since being released from prison, featuring BX up and comer Corey Gunz. It’s an absolute banger. Excuse their charisma.
8. Lloyd Banks and Juelz Santana “Beemer, Benz, or Bentley”– G-Unit meets DipSet on this undeniable modern-day NYC classic.
9. Miguel and J. Cole “All I Want Is You”– This feels like the 90’s. A great R & B song with a hip hop beat from Salaam Remi (Nas, Fugees), and solid verses from the new man on campus, J. Cole.
10. (three way tie) Nas and Damian Marley “Friends”, “Land of Promise”, and “Patience”– I really like these three specific songs from their collaborative album Distant Relatives, but I’m only going to let them occupy one spot on the list. The rest of the album doesn’t really do it for me, mostly because of the production. I like it best when Nas hops on reggae tracks (“Friends” and Land of Promise” have an island feel and the latter features roots legend Dennis Brown on the hook) rather than vice versa, but the double time beat on “Patience” is ill enough for both of them to survive in foreign territory.
11. Rick Ross and Styles P “B.M.F.”– This was THE BANGER of the year on New York radio. Period.
12. Rick Ross and Kanye West “Live Fast, Die Young”– Kanye adds a verse and high quality production to this Rick Ross album cut. Dope.
13. Rick Ross featuring Jadakiss, T.I., and Erykah Badu “Maybach Music III”– Something fly for your six digit whip, if you have one. Great verses, and the beat sounds like it’s being played by a live band who has inhaled too much second hand smoke, which makes it awesome.
14. Dangafield and Sean Price “Da Finest RMX”– I don’t know who Dangafield is, but this beat is so effing hard. Actually, Sean Price’s verse is even harder.
15. Smoke Dza with Kent M$ney and Skotch Davis “We On”– I have no clue who Dza’s boys are that rap on this are, but Ski came through with the slow burner for them and they all flow aiight on it. The beat makes the song, but Dza’s advice is priceless for those looking to make some money: “Hit the strip get some ‘caine, or get some M & M’s hit the train.”
Extra Cheese. Eminem, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Stat Quo, and Cashis “Syllables”– This is presumably off of Dr. Dre’s Detox, and since it just leaked before the ball dropped, I have to include it as a bonus, though it most likely will hit its stride this year. The beat is Dr. Dre at his finest, and any song with Em, Hov, and 50 automatically has to be mentioned in the year’s best collaborations. The rest of the Shady/Aftermath bunch, well, I can do without them. This song is sure to make noise in 2011, even though it was probably recorded years ago.
Extra Cheese #2 (Moshe’s Pick)- Bruno Mars featuring Damian Marley “Liquor Store Blues”– As my brother Moshe from Schem’s Disciples describes it, “hard, catchy, and real rootsy with that Jamrock feel”. Well put.
*Excludes songs highlighted in Cheddar Chunk and Kanye West’s Cheddar Platter
Sharp Cheddar (Rap Verse of the Year)- Jay Electronica off “Prowler 2”
To be fair, Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Monster” was the rap PERFORMANCE of the year, hands down. I mean, the way she switches voices and all that is incredible. She eats the beat. And she’s saying some shit too, don’t get me wrong. But Jay Electronica is that dude right now. He’s poetic, intelligent, interesting, eccentric, and just plain dope. Plus he’s got an ill voice and flow. If you grew up on Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas, and are looking for the next rapper to believe in, this is your man. Read it and weep…
“Salt rivers flowing out my eyeballs
pierced side, broke legs, bearing my cross/
the old heads told me life wasn’t a game
but mine steady feeling like pinball, dodgeball/
chasing freedom, establish a kingdom
and build a stone castle out of thin wall, dry wall/
I’ma keep going to god call or the sky fall
if they blast me on the grassy knoll and try to blame Oswald/
average Joe Blow, mastering my mojo
cinder block karate chop, practice in the dojo/
if it’s so-so, I’ll probably be a no show
shooting the Willie Bobo out on Nostrand with the poor folks/
black dragon rap, flames out the nostrils
from Crown Fried to Roscoe’s I’m spreading the gospel/
I overcame like the Saints done the Falcons
like Hoover did to Malcolm…”
By the way, “Prowler 2” was produced by Ski Beatz. Go figure.
Soul Cheddar Chunk Of The Year (Album)- Sade Soldier Of Love
Sade came back from a rather extended hiatus with a really cool album. The title track “Soldier of Love” bangs like crazy, and other songs like “The Moon and the Sky”, “Long Hard Road”, and “Babyfather” (video below) prove that Sade gets better with age. Can you believe she’s 50? She is undoubtedly one of the best female artists of all time, in any genre.
String Cheese- Top 5 Soul Songs Of The Year*
1. Aloe Blacc “I Need A Dollar”– The theme song from HBO’s series How To Make It In America that got stuck in everybody’s head. I didn’t mind, did you?
2. Erykah Badu “Window Seat”– She got buttnaked in the video on the streets of Dallas, but the song is not raunchy (or political) at all. It’s vintage Badu.
3. Cee-Lo “Fool For You”– Easily my favorite R & B song of the year, off his solo album Lady Killer. It’s soooooo good.
4. Mayer Hawthorne “I Need You” – Produced by hip hop giant Nottz, Hawthorne smooths it out over hard drums. The combination is killer.
5. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings “Window Shopping”– Another solid album from Sharon Jones and her crew came out this year, and this is my favorite cut from it. She’s amazing.
*Excludes songs highlighted in Cheddar Chunk
Rock/Alternative/Indie Cheddar Chunks of the Year (Albums)
1. Avi Buffalo- Avi Buffalo
His real last name is Isenberg (same as mine), but that’s not the only reason I like this kid. He’s a Long Beach, California native who still can’t legally drink, but he can play guitar and write songs like a young, well, Neil Young. Him and his band have a carefree, hippy dippy sound, with songs mostly about teenage love, like “What’s It In For?”, “Jessica” (performance video below), “Remember Last Time”, and “Summer Cum”. His voice is totally high pitched and weird, but completely cool and listenable. Very impressive rookie release from one of Sub Pop’s newest (and youngest) bands. Avi is definitely an emerging star in the indie world.
2. Band Of Horses- Infinite Arms
If you read this blog regularly, you already know I love this band. Overall, this is an excellent album, with southern rock stylings and indie ballads that hit you right in the heart. The title song “Infinite Arms” (performance video below) is my favorite, and literally was the first song I ever played for my son in the hospital the day he was born. Other gems include “For Annabelle”, “Older”, and “Blue Beard”. This album will always be very special to me and my family.
3. The Black Keys- Brothers
The Black Keys have released a handful of albums as a duo, but this is their best. Lots of standouts on here, my faves being “Next Girl”, “Too Afraid To Love You” (studio video below), and “Everlasting Light”. But the beauty of the album is that it’s solid from top to bottom. They really got a handle on their sound and production style. Well done boys. Keep ’em coming. Can’t wait to see them live one day, I never have.
4. Broken Bells- Broken Bells
James Mercer of The Shins and Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley team up for a full length album, and the shit is fresh. “The High Road” (video below) is probably the best song of the year in any genre, and the production is completely ahead of its time. Other standouts include “The Mall and the Misery”, “October”, and “Mongrel Heart”. Mercer brings those Shins-esque melodies and poetic lyrics that we all break our necks to figure out (he’s like an indie rock Ghostface), coupled with Danger Mouse’s knack for finding unique drum and instrument sounds. It’s a masterpiece, even with a few skippable tracks.
5. Local Natives- Gorilla Manor
I spent the entire 4th quarter of this year listening to this album. Another California based band who can write songs. But what gives these guys an edge is their beautiful harmonies and awesome percussion. I can listen to this whole album straight through, but my favorites are definitely “Wide Eyes”, “Sun Hands”, and the song that I’m waiting to cross over into the pop world, “Who Knows, Who Cares” (video below). This is my favorite new band of the year.
String Cheese- Top 5 Rock/Alternative/Indie Songs Of The Year*
1. Cold War Kids “Coffee Spoon”– This Cali band put out an EP at the beginning of the year, and this is easily the best song on it, and better than anything that was on their last album Loyalty to Loyalty. I want to see these guys live too, I bet their show is sick. Listening to this makes me feel like I’m driving through Santa Barbara as the sun is setting, which is why I love it so much.
2. Citizen Cope “Lifeline“– I saw him perform this song live with Matisyahu in Brooklyn last month, and I instantly dug it. I was worried the album version might not be able to compete with the beatbox rendition, but it’s just right.
3. (tie) James and Robert Mercer “Spanish Harlem Incident”– Lead singer of The Shins slash half of Broken Bells brings his brother along to cover Bob Dylan, and they do it justice.
3. (tie) The Shins “Goodbye Girl”– Another cover from James Mercer as he reunites with his band. This one is perfect to play on the jukebox at the local pub.
4. Mumford & Sons “Timshel”– A song with about brotherly love from a group of guys that mean every word they’re singing. “You are not alone in this, as brothers we will stand and will hold your hand.” Lyrics and harmony that will make a grown man cry. Lovely.
5. Spoon “Written In Reverse”– Funky rock by the guys I jacked my “Hammer” sample from. The keys are great on this one.
Extra Cheese (from the local dairy)…
Ten Feet Deep “Without Melinda”– Having a backyard keg party in Westchester? Hire these guys to play there. And make sure they perform this song, it’s a fun one. Nice to know good old fashioned rock and roll music still exists around these parts, with killer hooks and harmonies.
*Excludes songs highlighted in Cheddar Chunks
Cheddar Popcorn- Top 5 Party Pop Dance Songs
1. La Roux “Bulletproof”– My wife hates this song. She’s buggin’, it’s crack. Best sing-a-long dance tune of the year.
2. Yolanda Be Cool and Dcup “We No Speak No Americano”– Fist pump to this. It’s the hottest dance beat of the year, with a pretty ill Italian sample. Straight mozzarella.
3. Edward Maya feat. Alicia “Stereo Love”– Another Italian sample, perfect for your car ride to Long Island. My wife’s current favorite song. I admit, it’s great.
4. California Swag District “Teach Me How To Dougie”– The latest and greatest from the “Teach Me How To…” series. It’s a dance I will never be able to do, but I love watching other people do it.
5. N.E.R.D. “Hot ‘n’ Fun”– Pharrell and his gang (and Nelly Furtado) know exactly what girls like. They “wrote this for a purpose”.
White Cheddar- Top Three Reggae Songs by Caucasian Artists
1. Collie Buddz “Holiday”– I still play this song on repeat. Roots music for the working man who needs a vacation. Nice to hear Buddz opting to make a laidback song like this, rather than trying to become a Sean Paul clone.
2. Matisyahu and Aaron Dugan “Street Sweep”– Dugan was Matis’ long time guitarist, and they dubbed it up for Dugan’s album with this cut. Die-hard Matisyahu fans rejoice, he’s returned to his essence on this one.
3. Shem’s Disciples “Nachum Ish Gam Zu”– Moshe and his band of brothers come through with a Jewish roots reggae tune reminiscent of something off his buddy Matisyahu’s album Live at Stubb’s, but with it’s own tinge of flavor.
Cheddar Chuckles (Comedy Album of the Year)-
Aziz is making his way up the comedy latter, and he proves why during this stand up set, where he impersonates R. Kelly, hangs out with Kanye West, and becomes suspicious of the actual thread count in bed sheets. It’s a solid hour of laughs, with a bonus section featuring his alter ego RAAAAAAAANDY with 8 A’s, who talks about dying while eating a girl out underwater, a tombstone that slaps five, and having to take a shit right before sex. Very relatable stuff.
Westcheddar Music Video of the Year- Kid Cudi featuring Kanye West “Erase Me”
Kid Cudi recruits the biggest rap star of the year, and McLovin, and plays the role of an English rock star (nice accent!!!). There’s the pre-concert interview (LOL), the crazy stage show, the wild outfits and long hair, and even some black and white tour bus clips. Very fun!
Well, there you have it, Westcheddar’s Year in Music 2010. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. And please, feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section. Peace.