For some reason, today, Tuesday, September 27th turned out to be a flash mob of artists we cover releasing Okay long-players. (You know, LPs. Albums. That thing that is supposed to be dead.) Since albums barely come out anymore–and release dates only double up to feed corporate-approved artist clashes in an attempt to generate interest–this is kind of newsworthy. It used to not be a big deal. As the experts remind us, Midnight Marauders and Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers came out on the same day without really thinking about it. But by todays standards, 10+ albums with any overlap in fanbase is like all 8,000 Wu-members releasing solo projects at once. With that in mind, OKP has assembled the following one-stop shoppers’s guide to help you decide where to spend your hard-earned lunch money (support good music, skip a meal). These are numbered from 1 to 10 but are not ranked, scored or even properly reviewed…just the facts, y’all. Read on after the jump.
1. 9th Wonder – The Wonder Years (Traffic Entertainment): The much-anticipated solo joint from the former Little Brother member and Grammy-winner, 9th’s squashing of the beef with Phonte–and coordination of release dates with fellow North Cacakalackian J. Cole –was perhaps the main driver of today’s goldrush. A star-studded affair featuring Erykah Badu, Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Murs, Mac Miller, Saigon, Kendrick Lamar, Warren G, Big K.R.I.T, Pharoahe Monch, Marsha Ambrosius, Skyzoo, Big Remo, and Rapsody (not to mention Phonte). Stream in snippet from here, see artwork and tracklisting here and buy it here. AND look for our exclusive interview with 9th dropping very soon.
2. Phonte – Charity Starts at Home (HBD): The much-anticipated solo joint from the former Little Brother member and Grammy-winner! See above plus he sings, raps, tells jokes and 9th Wonder produced some of the beats. Hear music here, here and here, see the artwork and tracklist here, and purchase here.
3. J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story (Roc Nation): Probably the biggest release, in mainstream terms, J. Cole’s debut is also simultaneously the most trumpeted and most hated-on, perhaps reflecting the two sides to his versatile sound. Check out the eclectic J. Cole (my personal favorite side) in live and video form, the mainstream side here and stream the whole thing below to decide where you fit in on the battle of Cole v. Cole. (Then buy it here).
4. Van Hunt – What Were You Hoping For?: The hard-to-categorize axe-man drops his first (official) LP since bagging a Grammy back in 2007, and it is a beast. MC5 meets Prince, Hendrix meets weird tempos and unidentifiable noises that parallel the experiments of the Tune-Yards or Yeasayer–without ever losing the driving force of straight up fm radio rock. Stream the whole thing right here, purchase here.
5. Evidence – Cats & Dogs (Rhymesayers): Seas boiling, blood raining from the sky, cats and dogs living together…that is the general vibe of Evidence’s debut on the fiercely clannish Rhymesayers label. The purists choice, this bad boy ranges from angry and brilliant to playful and produced-by-DJ Premier. Get a mini-album sampler courtesy of DJ Babu here and then purchase right at the source.
6. Nneka – Soul is Heavy (Sony Import): Your favorite Nigerian-German revolutionary Afropop singjay is not gonna fit in any role, slot or category on this list other than her very own. Call it Nneka-core. Get a taste here and here and purchase here.
7. Doodlebug & D.O.R. – Futuristic Sci-Fi (Soulspazm/Fat Beats): How you gonna front on a cat named Doodlebug–who also happened to help spark the jazz-hop revolution back in the ’90s? Doodle is still taking rap to a higher plane of existence, specifically with this brand new LP with D.O.R. and featuring Don Will of Tanya Morgan among tons of other guests. Listen to music here and here, purchase here.
8. Madlib – Medicine Show #12 (Stones Throw): Technically a remix LP, rather than an ‘original’ LP but still worthy of your hard-earned dollars, especially since this is the 12th and last installment of the 12-part Medicine Show experiment. Stones Throw won’t actually name the ‘unsuspecting collaborators’ remixed therein, but we know Raekwon & Inspectah Deck are among them. Get that track here, get another snippet thing here (featuring Dilla!) here and cop here.
9. Joe – The Good, The Bad & The Sexy (Kedar Entertainment): Bringing back the other side of the ’90s, R&B giant Joe returns for his first outing since ’09. Hear his excellent Neptunes “Gone Away” collabo here, watch the video for the crunchy, more modern R&B feeling “Losing” here and get The GB&S here.
10. J-Live – S.P.T.A. (Triple Threat): The 3x threat (rapper, DJ, producer) returns with Said Person of That Ability (S.P.T.A. –it’s pronounced “spitta,” get it?). Instead of leaking or streaming music, Live went the extra (3) miles and released two whole mixtapes of other joints to get people’s attention. The third and only real album in the trilogy is now here, check the artwork and tracklist here and purchase here.