PERSON OF THE YEAR (ALLHIPHOP ICON AWARD): FREDDIE FOXXX
Freddie Foxxx ain’t for the kids. Rather he is for old, young, and in between all at once. This Hip-Hop immortal veteran celebrated his seventeenth year of recording with his third official album. The Konexion provided social commentary, hip-hop assessment, and Bumpy Knuckles still stuck it to ’em with "P.A.I.N.E.," which was named after AllHiphop’s own Jake Paine.
Bumpy is the link between Eric B. & Rakim and the future. Foxxx has proved that he has done better without a deal than with. May the AHH Breeding Ground and all you unsigned MC’s take notice! AllHipHop commends Freddie Foxxx for making classic records, rocking unforgettable shows, and being one of the select few who backs up every last word he spits. Freddie Foxxx is not only the truth, he’s the punishment for the liars.
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Immortal Technique – Revolutionary Vol. 1 (Viper)
To say Immortal Technique is ill is just oversimplifies the man, but its so appropriate. The Latino lyricist has rocked the industry from the New York underground up. With an unwavering message coupled with a ruthlessly obnoxious style, Immortal’s technique will be rockin’ for years to come. Ok, for those that need a late pass, here is a lyric. “You aren’t half the man that I am/I’ll throw your gang sign up, and then I’ll spit on my hand.” Just get it.
Gang Starr – The Ownerz (Virgin)
Gang Starr returned from a five year break to update the formulas. This album made bold progressions, with some success. Still, a good album from Gang Starr outshined a lot of great albums from others. "Who Got Gunz" and "In This Life" gave great reminiscent guest drops from Snoop and Fat Joe. This album will grow on the masses after the year cools down.
Outkast – Speakerboxx – The Love Below (Arista)
As every other genre toils with hip-hop to sound better, Outkast reversed the trend. Arguably the most daring creators in music today, Big Boi and Andre packaged solo efforts together to give us fire & ice. Both albums step in different directions, but please even the most conventional head. The wordplay, the production, the eclectic guests, the fashion: Outkast is the new Parliament Funkadelic.
David Banner – Mississippi (SRC)
His name dubbed after the Incredible Hulk’s weaker half, but there is nothing lame about David Banner. Although he’s been around for years, Mississippi: The Album solidified his position as a legit rapper and a surprisingly talented producer. He’s one of the few rapper’s that could get away with the mack daddy anthem "Like A Pimp" and the conscious "Cadillac on 22’s." Word to Emmitt Till.
50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (Interscope)
Everybody knows that 2003 was 50 Cent’s. What more can really be said? He’s broke sales and airplay records and, even though he started the year in jail, he ended up flying higher than any other by crafting a slice of urban guerrilla. Like Em, 50 was a marketers’ wet dream with his ability to hold the attention of men, women and children with Get Rich Or Die Tryin.’
Runner Ups: Jay-Z The Black Album, Missy Elliot Under Construction
INDEPENDENT ALBUMS Of THE YEAR (The A-Train Award)
Little Brother – The Listening (ABB)
This album may be the most timeless of those released in 2003. Organic, soulful production mixed with lyrics that chronicle the lives of ambitious twenty-something MC’s. At the beginning of the year, Little Brother was the "Who?" topic of conversation. By year end, they were a part of Jay-Z’s blockbuster. Coincidence? No. This album is a classic.
Brother Ali – Shadows on the Sun (Rhymesayers)
This LP has lyrics influenced Nas, delivery by Ice Cube, and beats that compete with anything on the radio. Brother Ali’s first official full length came with a lot of emotion, a great deal of arrogance, and some fabulous storytelling. This album celebrates what is expected of an MC, but doesn’t sound pretentious or basic. Rarely is there stuff so good that you need to hear it to be a better liver. Check "Forrest Whitaker" and "Picket Fence."
Soul Position – 8 Million Stories (Fat Beats)
Ohio and Hip-Hop can be in the same sentence without the word, "Bone". This album, like Joe Buddens’, was fueled by emotional tracks. Blueprint proves himself as one of the most versatile MC’s in terms of content. RJD2’s productions are rock/blues inspired, which will be a popular oncoming trend after Eminem’s forthcoming promise.
Black Moon – Total Eclipse (Duck Down)
Everybody wanted Black Moon to reunited, and they replied with this album. The group displays their veteran skills, without being afraid to experiment and keep pace with today’s stars. Tracks like "Confusion" and "Pressure Iz Tight" remind us why Black Moon is a group that was able to change hip-hop in the 90’s and stay for the ride.
Swishahouse – Madsh*t! (Swishahouse)
We can honestly say that we don’t know which of their albums we like the most or when these albums actually came out. They have a deep crew with names like Pall Wall, Chamillionaire, Mike Jones and Magno. But we can say for certain that the Northern world needs to hip itself to the sounds coming out of the Swishahouse. They didn’t invent screwed music, but they can make a New Yorker feel like he sipped on some sizyrup. Just head over to Swishahouse.com for a sample and you can even cop their albums over there too .
Runner Ups: Baby Blak Once You Go Blak, Tragedy Khadafi Still Reportin’, Jedi Mind Tricks Visions of Ghandi, Louis Logic Sin-a-Matic, Canibus Rip the Jacker, Cunninlynguists SouthernUnderground
TOP 5 ARTISTS OF 2003 (ARTISTRY)
Their album contorts the conceptions and conventions of what hip-hop is supposed to sound like. After
Jigga’s concept for The Black Album returned to the traditional format: No guests. No filler. Shorter albums. Artistic
Immortal Technique will be likely to make a record in the next two years that’ll shake the earth. His mixtape-like preview albums reveal a man with a mission. Technique is challenging everybody with his thoughtful rhymes, chilled beats, and Tyson-like punchlines.
Melissa didn’t just wear trucker hats and belt buckles. She made an old school sounding record with a newer sound. Missy is linking the sound of yesterday and tomorrow with every move.
If Eminem caught the attention of George Bush’s Secret Service that means that the president’s bodyguards are staking out Paris’ studio. The album cover of Sonic Jihad shockingly depicted a passenger plane flying towards the White House Al-Queda style. However, once listeners moved beyond the cover art, the insides of the work found Paris boldly commenting on the state of U.S. Affairs, the condition of hip-hop and, of course, Dubya.
Runner Ups: Mad Lib, Biz Markie
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR:
Pause, this is why. Not only did 9th Wonder completely produce the immaculate The Listening album for his group Little Brother. 9th returned to remix God’s Son, creating a groundbreaking trend in mixtapes. Jay-Z must’ve got the memo, because he consulted 9th to do "Threat", one of the more solid moments on The Black Album.
The brother 9th has lined up a ton of work for 2004 inside and outside his group, underground and mainstream. We simply think it’s a helluva noteworthy year for a producer to go from subterranean obscurity to the talk of the town.
The North Carolina beat-digger is strongly influenced by RZA, Pete Rock, and Premier. Preem and Soul Brother #1 already gave their support. Without doubts, 9th is a heavy dose of soul, well blended samples, and pure hip-hop sensibility. Whattayasay 9th, can we get a beat?
Runner Ups: Kanye West, The Neptunes, DJ Premier, RJD2, Mad Lib
5 BIGGEST DISSAPOINTMENTS
G Unit – Beg For Mercy (Shady): couldn’t match all the mixtape heat. Free Tony Yayo!
DMX – Grand Champ (Def Jam) : Early indicators and a flourishing beef with Ja got us amped for X…he’s in the dog house right now.
RZA – Birth of a Prince (Koch): no doubt RZA is still a producer dujour, but this album inconsistent.
Onyx – Baccdafuccup 2/Triggernometry (Koch/ D3): poor single selection, even poorer marketing.
Juelz Santana – From Me To U (Roc-A-Fella): We really expected Juelz to bring the flames, this one burned out fast.
5 BEST VIDEOS
"Cadillac On 22’s " – David Banner (SRC)
"The Way You Move" – OutKast/ Big Boi (Arista)
"Stand Up" – Ludacris (Def Jam)
“Hey Ya” – OutKast/ Andre 3000 (Arista)
"Through the Wire" – Kanye West (Def Jam)
TOP 5 BIG MOMENTS IN HIP-HOP 2003:
Black Star’s Performance of "What’s Beef" on The Chappelle Show.
Not only was it important to see Mos and Kweli together again, but this track came at the right time. At 2003’s weakest moment for the culture, this duo dropped a minimalist performance that gave every b-boy with cable shivers across the board. While the forthcoming album version is toned down a bit, this was a great moment for true MC’s calling out the government, sociology, and bullshit rap moves on multinational television.
Ja Rule and Minister Louis Farakhan’s meeting on television.
This event wasn’t as big as perhaps Irv Gotti and Ja Rule would’ve hoped. But it says something in the lesson books that even settling differences these days has become a publicity stunt. 50 Cent and Ja Rule will only continue to go at each other’s throats despite any attempts at resolution sincere or otherwise. Does anybody still care?
It’s happened before, and does any rapper ever really retired? Ask Too Short. With the release of the Black Album, Jay-Z resigns from making individual LP’s. Will this make his guest spots matter more? Will the compilation be better? Like New Edition, Is this really the end? In any case, everybody was talking, and everybody ran to rack up his last LP. Shall we expect his "Lost Tapes" by March?
Emimen Racist Remark Tape
It’s not the first time a rapper has been put on public trial for remarks. Professor Griff, please stand up! But will Em get tossed from D-12? Not! Despite a messenger with dubious intent, the very real and important conversation of race and hip-hop will not be as easily dismissed.
The Zulu Nation Turns 30
In the midst of so much negativity, hip-hop paused to remember that we’ve been in this for 30 years. A fall weekend in New York City was finished off by a KRS-One/Jungle Brothers concert in SoHo. An unexpected reunion performance from the Soulsonic Force, as well as other legendary guests reminded all in attendance why this culture is so great. A ”were you there?”