1. “Yesterday” – Noname
This was a small album that came out two years ago. It’s got an easy-going, jazzy vibe like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, a lot of the old school hip hop I enjoy. There’s a clear root in spoken word poetry to her style. I still need to check out her new follow-up.
2. “Quiet Dog” – Mos Def
I remember the first time I heard this. Los Angeles has some decent radio late at night. I just love this beat.
3. “Money Folder” – Madvillain
Madvillain is a combination of producer Madlib and rapper Doom. I love the interplay between the production and lyrics (“stere-ere-o,” “flipped it like Madlib, did an old jazz standard…”). The whole album is centered around Doom’s supervillain persona and kicks off with my favorite line from the song, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, after you who is last is Doom, he’s the worst known.” It’s one of my favorite hip hop albums.
4. “Phone Down” – Erykah Badu
Okay, maybe this is technically neo soul. I think 2 things are true about this song: 1. It is incredibly sexy, and 2. It is kind of a sad statement on our society that it is so sexy.
5. “Rosa Parks” – Outkast
I’m including the “Greatest Hits” album version because it cuts off about 1.5 minutes of skit at the end. I think Aquemini (the proper album that the song comes from) is the best hip hop album ever, and 20 years on, that is becoming a more and more popular opinion, but it is one that the estate of Rosa Parks does not share. Erykah & Dre 4ever.