hiphopfightsback

They’ve got their little categories, like ‘conscious’ and ‘gangsta’. It used to be a thing where hip-hop was all together. Fresh Prince would be on tour with N.W.A. It wasn’t like, ‘You have got to like me in order for me to like you.’ That’s just some more white folks trying to think that all niggas are alike, and now it’s expanded. It used to be one type of nigga; now it’s two. There is so much more dimension to who we are. A monolith is a monolith, even if there’s two monoliths to choose from. I ain’t mad at Snoop. I’m not mad at Master P. I ain’t mad at the Hot Boys. I’m mad when that’s all I see. I would be mad if I looked up and all I saw on TV was me or Common or The Roots, because I know that ain’t the whole deal. The real joy is when you can kick it with everyone. That’s what hip-hop is all about. … They keep trying to slip the ‘conscious rapper’ thing on me. I come from Roosevelt Projects, man. The ghetto. I drank the same sugar water, ate hard candy. And they try to get me because I’m supposed to be more articulate, I’m supposed to be not like the other Negroes, to get me to say something against my brothers. I’m not going out like that, man.
—  Mos Def on being called a “conscious rapper”

I’ve already posted and reviewed most of these songs throughout 2013, so if you want to hear a song and/or read my commentary just click the song title. I invested a great deal of time and thought into putting this list together, so I hope you enjoy it and possibly discover some new music that went under your radar.

1) J. Cole - Can I Holla At Ya

2) Black Milk - Monday’s Worst

3) J. Cole – Let Nas Down [Remix] (ft. Nas)

4) Yancey Boys – Quicksand (ft. Common & Dezi Paige) (Prod. by J Dilla)

5) A-Trak - Piss Test [Remix] (ft. Juicy J, Jim Jones, Flatbush Zombies, El-P & Flosstradamus)

6) Isaiah Rashad - Shot You Down [Remix] (ft. Jay Rock & ScHoolboy Q)

7) Tech N9ne - Fragile (ft. Kendrick Lamar, ¡MAYDAY!, & Kendall Morgan)

8) Angel Haze - Same Love [Remix]

9) J. Cole – Let Nas Down

10) ScHoolboy Q - Yay Yay

11) A$AP Nast - Trillmatic (ft. Method Man)

12) R.A. the Rugged Man - Learn Truth (ft. Talib Kweli)

13) Marco Polo - G.U.R.U. (ft. Talib Kweli & DJ Premier)

14) Kendrick Lamar - Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe [Remix] (ft. Jay-Z)

15) Tyler The Creator - Answer

16) Kanye West - Black Skinhead

17) Eminem - Beautiful Pain (ft. Sia)

18) De La Soul – Get Away (The Spirit Of The Wu)

19) Eminem - Legacy

20) A$AP Rocky - 1 Train (ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson & Big K.R.I.T.)

21) Eminem - Headlights (ft. Nate Ruess)

22) Bliss n Eso - I Am Somebody (ft. Nas)

23) Asher Roth - Females Welcome

24) Captain Murphy - Between Villains (ft. Viktor Vaughn, Earl Sweatshirt & Thunder Cat)

25) J. Cole - She Knows

26) Mac Miller - Red Dot Music (ft. Action Bronson)

27) Statik Selektah - Bird’s Eye View (ft. Raekwon, Joey Bada$$ & Black Thought)

28) Jay-Z - Somewhere In America

29) Pusha T - Nosetalgia (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

30) Dizzy Wright - World Peace

31) Eminem - Bad Guy (ft. Sarah Jaffe)

32) Jay-Z - BBC (ft. Nas, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, & Swizz Beatz)

33) Chance The Rapper - Pusha Man/Paranoia (ft. Nate Fox & Lili K)

34) Bliss n Eso - Home Is Where The Heart Is

35) Joey Bada$$ - Unorthodox (prod. by DJ Premier)

36) Kanye West - Bound 2

37) Ab-Soul – The End Is Near (ft. Mac Miller)

38) Quasimoto - Planned Attack

39) Big Sean - Control (ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica)

40) Danny Brown - Dope Fiend Rental (ft. ScHoolboy Q)

41) J. Cole - Power Trip (ft. Miguel)

42) Big K.R.I.T. - Bigger Picture

43) Snowgoons - Dizzy Dreams (ft. Viro The Virus)

44) J. Cole - Forbidden Fruit (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

45) A$AP Ferg - Murda Something (ft. Waka Flocka Flame)

46) Chance The Rapper - Cocoa Butter Kisses (ft. Vic Mensa & Twista)

47) Danny Brown - Kush Coma (ft. A$AP Rocky)

48) Kanye West - New Slaves

49) Earl Sweatshirt - Chum

50) Hopsin - Tear To Snow

51) Earl Sweatshirt - Knight (ft. Domo Genesis)

52) Belief - Watchu Want (ft. Karniege)

53) Black Hippy - U.O.E.N.O. [Remix]

54) N.O.R.E - Built Pyramids (ft. Large Professor)

55) Natti - Filthy Hard

56) T.I. - Memories Back Then (ft. B.o.B. & Kendrick Lamar)

57) KA - Knighthood

58) Fredro Starr (of ONYX) - That New York

59) Danny Brown - Smokin & Drinkin

60) Eminem - Don’t Front (ft. Buckshot)

61) Danny Brown - Torture

62) Angel Haze – A Tribe Called Red

63) DJ Infamous - Double Cup (ft. Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Juicy J, The Game & Hitmaka)

64) Isaiah Rashad - Ronnie Drake (ft. SZA)

65) Tyler, The Creator - Cowboy

66) Locksmith – Fleming Street

67) Flatbush Zombies - Palm Trees

68) Logic - Nasty

69) Talib Kweli – Rocket Ships (ft. Busta Rhymes) (Prod. by RZA)

70) Binary Star - NoitavO

71) Young Jeezy - R.I.P. [Remix] (ft. Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown & YG)

72) Action Bronson - Strictly 4 My Jeeps

73) Run The Jewels – Banana Clipper (ft. Big Boi)

74) Juicy J – Smokin’ Rollin’ (ft. Pimp C)

75) Snow Tha Product - Nope (ft. RiFF RAFF)

76) Joey Bada$$ – Word Is Bond

77) Snow Tha Product - Hopeless (ft. Dizzy Wright)

78) SchoolBoy Q - Collard Greens (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

79) Wale - LoveHate Thing (ft. Sam Dew)

80) AZ - We Movin’

If you haven’t already, you should also check out my Best Hip-Hop of 2012 list.

Why we hate Hip Hop Fights Back

You may have noticed that our URL references Hip Hop Fights Back, a different blog about rap run by an asshole. Why is Jake Bourey an asshole? Why is Hip Hop Fights Back a misguided hive of condescension? Let’s break it down.

Jake Bourey is, without mincing words, racist and classist in his assessments of rap music. He praises the boilerplate assortment of conscious/“lyrical” artists to the exclusion of more popular artists, denigrating them based on intelligence. He thinks a J. Cole-type is superior to a Nicki Minaj-type because J. Cole uses more vocabulary.

J. Cole, however, is boring. You can hear what J. Cole is doing in the work of a dozen other artists. Plus, he thought this line (link warning: heterosexist slurs, wack lyrics) was a good idea. Nicki, by comparison, is carving out her niche in an oft-misogynist industry and rapping her ass off at the same time. Among two technically proficient rappers, Jake Bourey will err toward the one that fits with his preconceived notions about brains and skill.

Here’s the problem with that. When you insult a rapper because their rap isn’t intelligent, you’re making a racist assumption.

Rap, since its inception, has been split between MCs and party rappers (terminology cribbed from the excellent documentary Beef). When you say that Lil Wayne, for example, isn’t a rapper, you’re ignoring the art form’s roots and showing your ignorance. It’s baffling how a white guy can get away with presenting himself as a discerning authority on an art created/chiefly practiced by POC.

The same thing happens when you reduce a rapper to a lyricist. For instance, Jake Bourey doesn’t like Lil Wayne. He hears his rhymes and puts him in the “not lyrical” category. This ignores the factors that go beyond the words: cadence, delivery, all the unseen factors beyond writing a rhyme and saying it. Just because you’re rapping fast and you’re white doesn’t make you good.

What he doesn’t realize is, Chief Keef isn’t a bad rapper. Drake isn’t a bad rapper. Juicy J isn’t a bad rapper. They just make music for people who aren’t you. The failure to recognize this prompts Jake Bourey to disdain them, and equate a lack of lyrical complexity with a lack of quality. 

Jake Bourey is trying to run a rap blog as a person who doesn’t consider half the genre’s music authentic. This blog may be run by two white people, but at least we see ourselves as we should: rap outsiders. Kids on a blog sharing songs they like. Jake Bourey thinks his opinions matter, when they’re really just the underdeveloped thoughts of a kid with a lack of understanding, and more importantly, a lack of respect.

And to paraphrase Lil’ Wayne:

My all time favorite hip-hop documentary is Bazooka Tooth, which centers around the legendary alternative/abstract/indie hip-hop label Definitive Jux and the profoundly talented artists that defined its early formation. If you’re a fan of Cannibal Ox, El-P, Aesop Rock, Def Jux, or  underground hip-hop in general, this is a must see. Bazooka Tooth was recorded back in 2001-2002 when Def Jux was first starting to really take off and Cannibal Ox had recently released the label’s all time best selling album The Cold Vein (in my top 10 favorite hip-hop albums).

Bazooka Tooth: Cannibal Ox & Def Jux (Part 1)

Bazooka Tooth: Cannibal Ox & Def Jux (Part 2)

Bazooka Tooth: Cannibal Ox & Def Jux (Part 3)

The Show

Rhyme and Reason

A Tribe Called Quest: Beats, Rhymes and Life

Welcome 2 Deathrow Part 1

Welcome 2 Deathrow Part 2

MF DOOM - Redbull Music Academy Lecture

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap (2012)

Public Enemy - Prophets of Rage

Beef 1, Beef 2, Beef 3, Beef 4

Big Pun - The Legacy

Wu - The Story of the Wu Tang Clan

Up In Smoke Tour

Jay Z Reasonable Doubt - Classic Albums

The Art of 16 Bars

Scratch

Eminem Documentary - The Glory Days

Biggie & Tupac

Style Wars

How Hip-Hop Changed The World: Part 1, Part 2. & Part 3

Tupac - Thug Angel

Def Jux: Revenge of the Robots

N.W.A - The World’s Most Dangerous Group

Snoop Dogg Behind The Music

DMX Behind The Music

50 Cent Behind the Music

Nas VH1 documentary

The Game - Life After Math

Planet Rock The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation

40 Years of hip hop by KRS-ONE

The Freshest Kids

Beat Kings w/ Wu’s DJ Mathematics

And Ya Dont Stop

Bosses In the Booth

The Field

United Ghettos of America

Jay Z - Fade to Black

Tupac - Ressurection

Big Fun In The Big Town

Madlib, Babu and Cut Chemist - Brasilintime

Lil Wayne - The Carter Documentary

U-God - Rise Of A Fallen Soldier

Method Man features in Strip Club documentary

48 Hours with Raekwon

Old Dirty Bastard - Dirty Thoughts

Wu-Tang Saga

Dr. Dre Documentary

Eazy-E - The Ruthless Documentary

Black Mafia Family - The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Drug Empire

U.G.K - Kings of the Underground

Beastie Boys - Beastieography

Louis Theroux - Gangsta Rap

The Notorious B.I.G - Life After Death

J Dilla - Still Shining

Sampling Documentary - Copyright Criminals

Mobb Deep - Infamous Allegiance Part 1

Mobb Deep - Infamous Allegiance Part 2

G-Unit - True Story

Ice-Cube - The Making of a Don

Young Jeezy - A Hustlerz Ambition

Dipset Byrdgang All Access Killa Season

Lil Boosie - Bad Azz

Lil Boosie - Last Dayz

Gucci Mane - No Pad No Pencil

Tony Yayo - Thoughts of a Predicate Felon

DJ Whoo Kid and 50 Cent - Return of the Body Snatchers

Sydney Hip Hop Culture

Whats up Fatlip? (A Spike Jonze short)

Behind the Scenes of Battle Rap - The Reemergance

MTV Diary - Method Man And Redman

Suge Knight - On The Real

Lil Kim - Driven (Behind the music)

Whatever Happened to Hip-Hop?

Vanilla Ice Documentary (lol)

Jay Z - The Rise of Jay Z

Eazy-E Documentary

Ice T - Behind the Music

Big Daddy Kane Documentary

Kanye West - Where The Lonely Kids Go When The Bell Rings

The Neptunes - 8th Planet

Danny Brown - Old Documentary

Outkast - Driven

ESPN 30 for 30 - Straight out of L.A (NWA & Raiders documentary): Part 1 , Part 2, & Part 3

Kid Cudi - The Journey Of Mr. Rager

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If you appreciate this post should also check out my lists for The 80 Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2013 and The Best 60 Hip-Hop Songs of 2012.