12.31.09: Funkadelic Freestyles' Top 10 Albums of 2009

Image Hosting by imagefra.me

Here's my last post of 2009 - the much-awaited Top 10 Albums of 2009 list. I love doing this every year - mostly because I feel so passionate about these ten projects. Was 2009 a good year for hip hop? Yes and no - autotune is on its *official* way out, but Young Money is running things across the country. A quick disclaimer: I've noticed Raekwon's OB4CLII on several year-end lists, yet I never really gave it on a full listen. Therefore, I can't put it on this list (sorry Wu heads). Let's get right to it; introducing my favorite projects of the year:

10. Che Grand - Everything's Good Ugly: The Brooklyn resident's long-awaited LP finally arrived in 2009, and it's safe to say I was far from disappointed. Out of all the albums on this list, I recommend you go back and revisit this one. Strong production from Von Pea, ill mind, & Colin Munroe.

9. Kev Brown - Random Joints: Kev is honestly one of the most slept-on producers in hip hop. His latest project features a DC all-star team of yU, Kenn Starr, Wayna, Raheem DeVaughn, Eric Roberson, Zo!, Sean Born, and more.

8. Brother Ali - Us: Although I expected a bit more from the Minneapolis emcee (after the epic Truth Is Here EP), Us was another tag-team effort by Ali and the Atmosphere producer Ant. "Best@it," featuring Joell Ortiz & Freeway, is one of the strongest lyrical efforts of the year.

7. Shafiq Husayn - Shafiq En A-Free-Ka: Again, I must thank Andres for hipping me to the SA-RA member Shafiq Husayn. If you happen to enjoy things that are green, you'll LOVE this album. Look out for more strong releases (including Bilal!) from Shafiq's record label Plug Research in 2010.

6. Mos Def - The Ecstatic: A hopeful release from Black Dante, as The Ecstatic proved to be his best full-length effort since Black on Both Sides. While his focus sometimes strayed on this album, songs like "Auditorium," "History," and "Roses" proved to be honest and simply put, real rap.

5. Blakroc - Blakroc: Dame Dash, who most thought would succumb to bankruptcy (actually, don't rule that out just yet), assembled an all-star hip hop crew to team with the alt rock heroes The Black Keys for a surprisingly-good album. Features from Mos Def, Nicole Wray, and Jim Jones (!) easily pushes this one into my top five. One of the best rock-hip hop combos of the decade!

4. Tanya Morgan - Brooklynati: This spring, three emcees from Cincinnati and Brooklyn created an imagined hybrid city and pushed a successful marketing campaign on an indie budget. If that wasn't enough, the 2009 album itself was an incredible step-up from their last one - with features from Phonte, Che Grand, Carlitta Durand, and more. I don't have anything else to say other than: congratulations, fellas.

3. Wale - Attention: Deficit: Yes, I have a sincere bias with this one (just check the archive - all the way back to December 2007). Regardless, too many critics are overlooking the DC native's debut album on their own year-end lists. Even if it could have been better assembled (missing tracks from Travis Barker and the Dap Kings, notably), Attention: Deficit got the message across: we're so involved with television and computers that we don't even know ourselves and can't be honest with who's REALLY talented in hip hop. Go ahead, run this one back one more time and I promise you'll learn something new.

2. Fashawn - Boy Meets World: While some may claim the Fresno emcee's debut album is a clear-cut clone of Blu's Below The Heavens (perhaps because they share the same producer - Exile), Boy Meets World is so unique that it put me into a state of shock. I dissected every word and proudly passed it on to all my peers.

1. Diamond District - In The Ruff: Here's why the debut album from the DC emcees Oddisee, X.O., and yU is my favorite LP of 2009: I liked it so much that I wrote a critical essay on its message for my American Studies course at GWU. It's hard to reject the notion that Oddisee brought back 90's boom-bap hip hop with his top-notch production and that lyrically, each emcee tore every song apart. In The Ruff is truly a modern classic, 'nuff said.

12.31.09: Funkadelic Freestyles' Top 10 Songs of 2009

Image Hosting by imagefra.me

Yeah, my nine Top 10 lists of 2009 fell apart, miserably. I got my wisdom teeth removed about a week ago, and turned out to have more pain than I expected (ever had a blood blister in your mouth? I didn't think so). However, I'm still putting out these last two lists: top songs and top albums of the year. Here's my Top 10 Hip Hop Songs of 2009 (solely my opinion)...enjoy your new year.

10. Spank Pops - Beautiful Noise [prod. Doctor J]: My wild card pick. Featured on Vol I: The Offseason and on the Bay Area native's 2009 EP Beautiful Noise, entirely produced by Doctor J. These two guys are next up on the west coast.

9. Brother Ali - Us (feat. Stokely Williams) [prod. Brother Ali & Ant]: Just to be clear - I'm referencing the video edit rather than the album cut, as the latter just isn't as epic (no build-up). Probably the best album outro of the year.

8. Shafiq Husayn - Major Heavy [feat. Count Bass D]: I can't thank my brother Andres enough for putting me on early...Shafiq's album was a audio trip! "Major Heavy" stands out to me as the best track off the LP, featuring the indie favorite Count Bass D with eerie (and effective) vocals.

7. Royce Da 5'9" - Something 2 Ride 2 (feat. Phonte) [prod. DJ Premier]: While Royce's 2009 release Street Hop was overall average, this DJ Premier-produced cut was one of my most played of the year. My only complaint: what happened to that rumored Phonte rap remix?!

6. Mos Def - Auditorium (feat. Slick Rick) [prod. Madlib]: I actually heard this song for the first time in 2008, when Mos performed it live with the Robert Glasper Band (!) at the Kennedy Center in DC. Who knew the Ruler still got it?

5. Wale - Pretty Girls (feat. Gucci Mane & Weensy of BYB) [prod. Best Kept Secret]: Although I prefer the Gucci-less version (and I wish Black Thought would RECORD his remix verse), "Pretty Girls" was the no-nonsense HIT of the year. I understand that there's a video on the way, so let's hope this record reaches a larger audience in 2010.

4. Clipse - Popular Demand (feat. Cam'ron) [prod. The Neptunes]: Featuring arguably the best rap hook of 2009, "Popular Demand" was a tremendous single for the Thornton brothers. Even the video lived up to the hype!

3. Fashawn - Samsonite Man (feat. Blu) [prod. Exile]: You can read why this is one of my favorite beats of the year over at Metal Lungies (sup Boris!), and here's where I tell you why the rapping's good: Blu killed this (as did Fashawn) and his verse might just be the best rap verse of the year.

2. Diamond District - In The Ruff [prod. Oddisee]: For some reason, folks tend to overlook the title track off the DC trio's debut LP, In The Ruff. Perhaps it's because the song is so fast-paced, you missed what the emcees were saying? Deepest rap cut (no Ross) of the year.

1. Jay Electronica - Exhibit C [prod. Just Blaze]: If you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet (I got my ticket in 07, so shaddup), you're losing. Not only the best hip hop track of 2009, but in my top 10 for the decade. Thank goodness Act II is days away...

12.23.09: Funkadelic Freestyles' Top 10 Mixtapes of 2009

Image Hosting by imagefra.me

As we approach the end of 2009 [and the end of the decade], I've decided to put together NINE comprehensive lists based on specific categories (best albums, songs, artists, etc) to judge the big winners in hip-hop and R&B over the past twelve months. From December 23rd to the 31st, I'll be revealing a new Top 10 list each day. The choices are purely based on MY opinion, and the results DO NOT reflect the opinions of my cohosts. You'll see the title of each list and the day of their arrivals on the right side of this page.

Today I present my Top 10 Mixtapes of 2009. While the term "mixtape" has been significantly altered throughout the 2000s, I've done my best to pick projects that best represent the modern definition. As the next week goes on, I will start to get more thorough in explaining my picks. However, I'll just add a FEW notes to my mixtape picks, along with links to each project.

10. Rappers I Know x Funkadelic Freestyles Present – Volume I: The Offseason: To be fair, I put my own projects at #10 and #5. The Offseason was a special compilation - our first official mixtape - with new and exclusive tracks from Danny Brown, Oddisee, Trackademicks, and many more.

9. K-Beta & DJ Alizay – 89 to 09: These DC natives - Beta the emcee and Alizay the DJ - picked memorable instrumentals from each year over a span of twenty with original rhymes and seamless mixing.

8. Drake – So Far Gone: How could I leave out the most popular rapper in North America?

7. X.O. - Realmatic: X.O., one-third of Diamond District, brought a renewed excitement to the DC streets with his March release. Bonus points for including his Wale-assisted "Rid'n (Remix)."

6. Elzhi – The Leftovers Unmixedtape: The Detroit native runs through some of his biggest underground hits with top-notch production from Jake One, Black Milk, and DJ Spinna.

5. Rappers I Know x Funkadelic Freestyles Present – Volume II: Back In The Game: Why was it better than Volume I? Because of even bigger exclusives from Blu, Zion I, Kokayi, Panacea, and more.

4. Wale – Back To The Feature: While his debut album Attention: Deficit was his finest work of 2009, this feature-heavy mixtape was impressive on paper and in the headphones.

3. Blu – HerFavoriteColo(u)r: I was SO close to leaving out Blu's special-release mixtape, until I noticed my homie Andres' post on OKP. Although not a "classic," Blu continues to prove his skills as both a producer and emcee - on a FREE project!

2. Phil Ade – Starting On JV: Although I didn't realize his talent at first, Phil Ade's debut mixtape got better and better with each listen. What's most impressive? He only needed ONE assist - his boss Raheem DeVaughn on the anthem "Flyer Than The Rest."

1. J. Cole – The Warm Up: With an extremely boring summer job, I had plenty of time to listen to music and podcasts. My most-played project: J. Cole's stunning second mixtape with the memorable single, "Lights Please." Don't forget, The Warm Up was quite the launching pad for the Roc Nation signee.

DOWNLOAD: A Funkadelic Christmas (2009 REISSUE)

Image Hosting by imagefra.me

Back by popular demand! A Funkadelic Christmas, presented by DC to BC and THATREALISH over a year ago to this day, has returned to the internetz without all that annoying dead air in between tracks. Basically, it actually sounds like a REAL mixtape this time. Same tracks, same holiday spirit. Spread this one around and enjoy your Christmas!

A Funkadelic Christmas is a compilation of timeless Christmas music & clips from various movies, made for the sole purposes of getting yo' ish real funkadelic on Christmas. Simple isn't it? Brought to you by the powers forming like voltron; Funkadelic Freestyles, DC to BC & THATREALISH.

01. Sufjan Stevens - The Winter Solstice
02. James Brown - It's Christmas Time
03. Tony! Toni! Tone! - My Christmas
04. Weezer - The Christmas Song
05. Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmas Time Is Here
06. Snoop Dogg - Santa Claus Is Going Straight To The Ghetto
07. De La Soul - Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa I
08. The Roots - Millie Pulled A Pistol on Santa II
09. Christmas Is Cancelled?
10. The Jackson 5 - Give Love On Christmas Day
11. The Temptations - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
12. Killer Mike - A Christmas Grind
13. Ludacris - Ludacrismas
14. Bing Crosby - White Christmas
15. Sufjan Stevens - Jingle Bells With The Simpsons
16. Daniel Merriweather - Wonderful Christmas Time

Mixed by jben.ok of Funkadelic Freestyles.
Artwork by smokeYYY of THATREALISH.
Creative Input from modi of DC to BC.
Moral Support & Holiday Cheer courtesy of The Elves of The North Pole.

A Funkadelic Christmas Ode
A wise man once proclaimed; “There is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love, generosity & devotion exist, & you know that they abound & give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus?”. A wiser man said; “All Santa Claus wants is two fat bitches, a bag of weed & two bag of chips to give to the fat bitches”. So please; spread love & generosity not only for the holiday seasons but for all seasons & keep the fat bitches & people of all creeds, cultures & breast sizes in mind. Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

12.20.09: A Message From Your Hip Hop Director

Image Hosting by imagefra.me
(...and the obligatory #exhibitc EP cover)

Why hello there, nice to see you again. In case you've forgotten, my name's Jamie Benson aka jben.ok [jay-ben-okay], WRGW Radio [GWU in DC] Hip Hop Director and host of the weekly Funkadelic Freestyles music program. I'm writing to inform you that the fall academic semester is over (!) and now I'll have plenty of free time to post meaningless shit on the internet, which just happens to be one of my favorite activities.

First off, a few announcements. You've probably noticed that I don't really post music features anymore - well, that's because I don't have the time to do that. And if I do post cool stuff, it's probably happening at my homie FWMJ's site, Rappers I Know. He and I released a couple mixtapes over the summer - you remember those? We had a buncha dope musicians contribute exclusive material for a super collection - and then we released it for FREE. Just reminding you, that's all.

Maybe you noticed that when I said we were gonna do a two-part semester finale of Funkadelic Freestyles, the second part never aired. That's because the WRGW stream is down, and we couldn't even go on air. In fact, an hour into part one, the stream just fucking broke. So we recorded the second hour with our homies E Major, DJ Impulse, & DJ Face for a secret show, that will air at some point. Don't ask me when, because I don't know.

And now onto the good news: Jay Electronica is about to fuck up your holiday. After releasing the smash "Exhibit C" on iTunes, he's prepared to unleash a free album thingy sometime soon. I can't say when or what, but you can guess. More good news: I'm prepping a special feature - to be posted on here, Real Mango Juice, and Rappers I Know - called The Ten Top 10 Lists of 2009. Ten lists featuring top 10 criteria like best producers, best albums, best singles, best rappers, etc. of 09. I'm getting more intelligent, so you might want to pay attention.

And...I'll be back in DC before the new year...meaning I'll be in town for the two 930 Club shows with The Roots and a New Year's Day celebration from the homie Wale. Who knows what kinda coverage we're gonna get...I just hope for the best. Oh and one more thing: I'm gonna be the General Manager of WRGW for the 2010-11 school year! I'm incredibly humbled and excited to start the job.

I'll let y'all go...below I've provided mp3 links to some of my favorite songs at the current moment. Google those artists, buy their shit, and let them know I put you on to their music. Stay tuned for more...The Ten Top 10 Lists begin on December 22nd! One list per day, until New Year's Eve....

12.15.09: FF 059 - The Semester Finale Pt. 1 (feat. E Major, DJ Impulse, & Team Demolition)

Image Hosting by imagefra.me

Currently, I'm "casually" studying for my geography final and praying I don't get below a C. Tonight, I'll be done with all that business (except that stupid math final tomorrow morning) and it'll be time to kick off Part 1 of the Funkadelic Freestyles Fall 2009 Semester Finale! Joining us live in-studio: Baltimore/Philly friends E Major and DJ Impulse plus the DMV production crew Team Demolition.

Also, I'll be revealing the premise for my Top Ten Top 10 Lists of 2009 - ten lists with ten different categories featuring the top 10 qualifiers in each category. Don't worry, I'll explain it in full tonight. Plus, new music from Elzhi, Phil Ade, Bilal, Nneka, Jay Electronica, Sade, Blu, and many more. Tune in tonight from 8-10pm EST on WRGW Radio at WWW.GWRADIO.COM and come back for Part 2 on Thursday (12/17) at the same time!

FF 059: The Semester Finale Pt. 1 (feat. E Major, DJ Impulse, & Team Demolition)
Hosted by jben.ok, Jay Promo, & Unkle Scooty
With DJ Jerome Baker III
8:00-10:00pm EST
WRGW Radio @ The George Washington University
CALL IN! (202) 994-WRGW
LIVE on GWRADIO.COM and campus channel 22

12.1.09: FF 058 - Nick tha 1da & Surock

Image Hosting by imagefra.me

Beatmakers! Tonight I give y'all a show all for your own as we delve into the vast world of hip-hop production. We're focusing on two producers from the DMV area - Nick Tha 1da & Surock - who may have fallen under your radar. In my esteemed (and young) opinion, these guys are (next to Oddisee and Slimkat78) the most able producers in DC in recreating a classic 90s sound.

Tune in tonight for a special 9-11pm show following the GW Women's Basketball Game on WRGW Radio at WWW.GWRADIO.COM. We'll talk about the new Clipse leak and play new music from Small Eyez, Lupe Fiasco, Danny!, Theo, and more. Plus we'll reveal our extravagant plans for the upcoming Funkadelic Freestyles semester finale!

FF 058: Nick tha 1da & Surock
Hosted by jben.ok, Jay Promo, & Unkle Scooty
With DJ Jerome Baker III
9:00-11:00pm EST
WRGW Radio @ The George Washington University
CALL IN! (202) 994-WRGW
LIVE on GWRADIO.COM and campus channel 22