(It's Day Four of our look at some quality songs that couldn't crack the Top 100. The full list of my 100 Songs for 2010 will be available December 6.)
Listen, hip hop ... it's not you, it's me. I know these are good songs. And I enjoy listening to them. Once in a while. But this year it always seemed like an effort to seek out new hip hop, and even when I enjoyed a song, I never really found myself coming back to it. And, honestly, I don't care how much Pitchfork raves ... I am just not listening to Waka Flocka Flame.
So here are a few hip hop songs that I liked this year. They didn't quite make the top 100, but they're still worth a listen.
Freddie Gibbs - "National Anthem (Fuck the World)"
Supposedly the future of gangsta rap, and I'm not going to question his street cred, but Gibbs' most evangelical internet followers include Pitchfork, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Awl, and This Recording. I think you could argue for a Freddie Gibbs entry on "Stuff White People Like." Wonder how he feels about that.
The Roots - "Right On"
If beat-making points were awarded for degree of difficultly, the decision to flip a Joanna Newsom sample would break the rating scale. And here, it works perfectly.
And here ... all of the verses are pretty boring. Which is really too bad.
Big Boi - "Shutterbugg"
Definitely thought this song would wind up being this year's summer jam, but there's really no hook, nothing to sing along with, nothing that sticks. I know I'm sending mixed messages with this one - after years of complaining that every hip hop album is three singles and an hour of filler, Big Boi made a rock-solid album that's completely listenable front to back. But there really isn't that one standout track, and so he's not making the list. There's really no pleasing me.
Big Boi - "Lookin' 4 Ya" (f/ Andre 3000)
It's the Outkast reunion! Big Boi and Andre 3000, back on a track together ... and cut from Big Boi's album for some reason. Here's a personal story for why this song didn't make the Top 100.
I watched most Twins games this year online, and the MLB.tv package has its own commercials. They have like three of them. And they play them between EVERY half inning. I will be able to recite these commercials on my deathbed. Anyway, one of them is for umpiring school, and it grabs your attention at the beginning with a sound clip of a guy yelling "Hey ump!"
I don't know what the guy is saying on the sample used in "Lookin' 4 Ya" ... but it sounds just like that "Hey ump!" from the commercial. Kinda ruins it for me.
And that's why my Top 100 list is absolutely the most subjective, meaningless list in the world. Always remember that.
Das Racist - "You Oughta Know"
It was a year in which Das Racist made the leap from a novelty act to zeitgesit-defining phenomenon, complete with thought-provoking lyrics and serious production. And we'll have more to say regarding that leap in the Top 100. "You Oughta Know," from Shut Up, Dude (the first of Das Racist's first two internet-released free albums of 2010), gets most of the way there. The song scores serious points for an all-time great sample (Billy Joel's "Anthony's Song (Movin' Out)," a beat whose lineage goes back to at least 2004, when Cam'ron couldn't clear rights to it) and probably the best opening couplet of the year ("Chasin' venture paper, like what Twitter get / Sick of arguin' with white dudes on the internet"). Loses points for the fact that a large portion of the song is just the guys slurring nonsense syllables.
BONUS: Abraham Linkin - "I Got It At Ross"
Couldn't find an MP3 of this one, but it's worth mentioning because:
(1) These guys play Dolores Park occasionally
(2) Most of the video takes place either on Muni or at the 16th Street BART station
(3) Rapping about non-stick pans is pretty much the most gangsta thing I can think of