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The film that ended the Cold War.

9. Hi-Tek Ft. Talib Kweli & Dion-“Time”

People get caught up in a time and what that song represents to them at the time they hear it. Nothing I’m gonna do after that is going to match up to that time period, because they can’t get that back. So I have to realize that when I make music, that time is never gonna be back to them-Talib Kweli

In 2001, I saw Talib Kweli five times and each performance he seemed to grow closer and closer to greatness. There was a fierce hunger in his eyes then, he was young and eager, rapping in breathless machine-gun bursts as though he was trying to break out of the underground one syllable at a time. Kweli had a restless quality, moving with intensity and focus, like if he stopped paying attention for a single moment, one of his thoughts would escape and never return.

But then something happened. Quality came out and it was solid but uninspiring. A step back not forward. Time lunged on. By the time Beautiful Struggle came out, listening to it felt like how I imagine hipsters will feel in five years when they have the did-I-used-to-wear-that realization that they spent two wears in the late 00’s rocking mustaches and stove-pipe hats. Every track came with a corny, and massive R&B hook, not to mention the uneasy similarity Beautiful Struggle single “I Try” had with Quality single, “Get By.” Kweli was played out like keg stands and gravity bong rips, things things that I used to fuck with regularly in the past, but never planned to include in my post-collegiate life.

Then I heard, “Time,” easily the best track off of Hi-Tek’s recently released Hi-Teknology 3 album. Instantly, I fell back a half-dozen years, the requisite flood of memories: old mix tapes made, stoned nocturnal car rides through the lazy hills of northeast LA, Reflection Eternal as the soundtrack at some drunken party spilling into a sad gray dawn. Hi-Tek’s beat is godlike, a celestial burst of stoned soul with Kweli’s raps melding perfectly to it. These two need each other, like Pete Rock and CL Smooth or Premier and Guru. Apparently, they’re going to do another Reflection Eternal album. That’s good news. In the meantime, sure Kweli still may never mean as much to me as he did six years ago, but you know what, I’m okay with liking him again. It’s time.

MP3: Hi-Tek ft. Talib Kweli & Dion-“Time”


8. Bishop Lamont ft. Phat Kat and Elzhi-“Goat It”

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As discussed last week.

MP3: Bishop Lamont ft. Phat and Elzhi of Slum Village-“Goatit”

7. Devin the Dude ft. Snoop Dogg, Andre 3000-“What a Job”

Yup, it would really suck to get to be a professional rapper. Take Snoop. I mean that quarter pound of weed isn’t going to smoke itself all day every day Or Andre 30,000,000, (as in sold), who is pretty much worshiped as a God on at least six continents and yet still, he’s kept up nights with worries about file-sharing (maybe he hangs out with Lars Ulrich?). Or Devin the Dude, who must be doing fine because his nickname is the Dude. He abides. (But seriously Dude, if you’re worried that your baby mama is thinking you’re “on some other shit,” might I recommend not writing a song about how girls should sleep with you because your dick goes well with broccoli & cheese.) The thing is, this is my 7th favorite rap song of the 2007. This is the job these guys were meant to be doing.

MP3: Devin the Dude ft. Andre 3000 and Snoop Dogg-“What a Job”

6. Aesop Rock-“No City”

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It’s always sort of irritated me that people who consider themselves “hip-hop heads” invariably don’t like Aesop Rock. I understand why. He’s white. He uses a lot of big words. He rocks Che hats. I get it. But still, his career doesn’t get nearly as much respect as it should. Though I imagine if Aesop rapped over beats like this more often, the question would be moot. 8 Diagrams is good and all, but on “No City” Blockhead makes the kind of beat you hoped the RZA would be making in ’07, a voodoo cauldron of dive-bombing violins, levitating guitar lines, and New Orleans jazz pianos. Aesop kills it, letting off an surrealist jag of images of 6 billion gorillas for whom the graves yawn, waiting gates to Hades, and yachts and mansions dropping from canyons.

MP3: Aesop Rock-“No City”

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