Submitted by Terrence Dove, a.k.a. "SouL" (Editor-in-Chief of the late, great, FEED magazine)
1. Supastition: Chain Letters
Not since '93 have I heard an album that was flawless from beginning to end, both in production and lyricism. Hip hop has a quiet but deadly demigod in this emcee. His inner egos run the gamut from battle emcee ("Ain't Goin' Out") to hip hop culture aficionado ("Nickeled Needles"), from life teacher ("Yesterday, Everyday") to underdog advocate ("Hate My Face"). There are no lulling moments in this listen. If given the chance and the light, Supa would be a reckoning force in the 21st century. He made it into my top ten emcees of all time--easy.
2. Todd Edwards: Odyssey
The amazing thing about this album is its sincerity. I bought the album off of the driving house rhythms and vibes, but as I read the lyrics, I saw the plight of a man who is very open and candid about his spiritual journey through life's experiences and circumstance. The listening ends with an epiphany of the artist's ethereal enlightenment with God as his personal center. Ridiculously bouncy and amazingly refreshing to the oversoul is how I would best characterize Edwards' offering on Odyssey.
3. J-Dilla: Donuts
I'm sure that I cannot say anything about this album that every reviewer of this project hasn't said yet. This is my top album of the past year. Dilla gave the world an album for hip hop producers. That was its greatest element and probably its greatest downfall for those who might not listen with a producer's scrutiny. In its simplest form, James Yancey showed us how to maneuver sound and capture elements that most would overlook. But to hear the original songs that Dilla used would truly show the man's ingenuity with respect to listening, creativity and dedication to one's craft. Take any musical sampler/keyboard/software program...take years to listen to his style and ear for sounds...and you will neither remotely emulate or create a piece that could stand alongside Dilla's Donuts. This is what made him amazing, and this is why he will be remembered by generations of producers to come.
4. Flying Lotus: 1983
I picked up this project on a recommendation from a friend, and that person can do no wrong in my book now. FL presents a rather funk-bounce experience wrapped in a soundscape of abstract electronic vibes that, honestly, defies description--even the one i just gave. It's an album that requires a solitary listening. At the same time, it requires an active mentality and an imagination that thrives on positive musical interaction. That's the feeling I get when I listen to this. Every single time.
5. Christina Aguilera: Back to Basics
I must admit that I made that confused Scooby Doo sound when I heard that Aguilera had hired DJ Premier to handle most of this album. More than that, I was even more astonished when I heard that the lead single was going to be over 120 bpm's. I was so thoroughly surprised to hear a classic yet updated Premo vibe on this album. Aguilera's vocal prowess was icing on the cake. Disc 1 is a solid listen from start to finish. The combination of producers with CA's lyrics of renewal and maturity give this project a very mature and honest focal point for listening. I gave disc 2 two solid listens and threw it away. But that's just me.
For more information on this series, visit the Most Spun 2006 main page.