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The Up-Turn

@TheUpTurnMusic / tinyurl.com/upturnfbook

Now its my turn.  Click the title to see the list.

-TC

10. DAS RACIST – SIT DOWN, MAN

The release of Das Racist’s debut mixtape Shut Up, Dude put them in a weird place.  There were songs like “Rainbow In the Dark” that were hilarious and made the duo + hypeman seem like a novelty act, while at the same time there were songs like their reinterpretation of Juelz Santana’s “You Oughta Know” that were enjoyable to listen to even if you didn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.  When Das Racist released Sit Down, Man they had finally found a balance between these two sides.  On their song “hahahaha jk?” they accept and embrace this role of being the most confusing group in hip-hop and show that they can in fact transcend the spectrum.  The members of Das Racist could be comedians if they wanted to, but they could also be serious rappers, and fortunately for us they chose both.

 

9.  OFWGKTA – RADICAL

In 10 years 2010 will be known as the year that Odd Future rose out of the depths of hell to take over the world.  When Radical was released Odd Future had some buzz, but not nearly as much as the full onslaught that they have right now.  The musical stylings of the different members of Odd Future are greatly varied and in some ways conflicting.  Tyler, The Creator’s loud, angry, and disrupting style is quite different from Domo Genisis’ zoned-out stoner persona, but on Radical they all come together and work perfectly.  The tape varies from Tyler, The Creator’s twisted tirade in “Oblivion” to a rework of Wiz Khalifa’s smoker’s anthem on “Up”, and each style is executed perfectly.  Radical shows that not only was Odd Future backed up by great producers, but could also thoroughly murder any industry beat thrown at them.

 

8.  HARLEM – HIPPIES

Many have criticized Harlem’s sophomore album Hippies for being too repetitive and monotonous, but personally I loved it.  Hippies takes the gimmick-obsessed indie community back to a simpler time when you didn’t need to use a synthesizer or even piano to be a critically acclaimed band.  Hippies is pure rock and roll at its best, and the slight tinge of southern country music that come from the band’s Texas roots make it that much better.  On top of this all, I don’t think the album lacked diversity at all.  There are songs such as “Pissed” that sound like classic, energetic, garage rock anthems, at the same time as sorrowful musings such as “Cloud Pleaser” that are the perfect blend of garage rock with old country music.  Hippies is a pure rock and roll album, and I think that it symbolizes the beginning of a trend that is about to take hold of the indie community.

 

7.  KANYE WEST – MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sees Kanye rising out of a dark, tough time in his life, but everybody has already talked about that too much, so I’m not going to.  For many, this is indisputably Kanye’s greatest album, but I felt differently.  The production is incredibly elaborate and well-thought out, but I still think that Kanye’s best work is as a boom bap producer reworking soul music, creating some of the greatest bass-lines the world has ever heard, which comes out best on Late Registration.  And for anyone who wants to criticize me for bad mouthing this album, look where it is placed on the list and think of all of the albums I had to leave off the list, then proceed to shut the fuck up.  I think it is a given that Kanye West makes incredibly music which is why I didn’t talk about it very much.

 

6.  EARL SWEATSHIRT – EARL

There is something very unique about Earl Sweatshirt.  If you have ever seen another rap album with a cover anything like the one above, please tell me, and if you have ever heard an album open with a track that the artist doesn’t even appear on and is instead a minute long insult to said artist’s appearance I would like to listen.  Earl’s lyrics may be the most offensive I have ever heard, but at the same time are completely captivating.  He makes it clear that he is a very deranged 16 year old, but also shows that he is a 16 year old that can rap with the best of them.  The way that he strings the disgusting themes and subjects of his lyrics together over the grimy production of his cousin Tyler, The Creator is something truly amazing and makes for a 25-minute album that is nothing like anything you have ever heard.

 

5.  DEERHUNTER – HALCYON DIGEST

Psychedelic rock went out of style a while ago, but Deerhunter is keeping it alive.  I believe Bradford Cox’s songwriting would be great no matter what format it were to come out in. This album is the perfect example of that.  Its hard to write about an album like Halcyon Digest, its one of those things you just have to experience for yourself.  So I’m just going to suggest a few favorite tracks of mine off of it to listen to.  “Helicopter”, the lead single off of the album is a shimmering track that marks the most electronic point on the album and “He Would Have Laughed” is my favorite song from the album which is a lush tribute to the late Jay Reatard which is extremely well written.

4.  BIG BOI – SIR LUCIOUS LEFT FOOT: THE SON OF CHICO DUSTY

Sir Lucious Left Foot is an interesting album.  There is no reason that Big Boi would make an exceptionally good solo album, but he certainly did.  Big Boi gathered some of my favorite beats of the year for this album, and seemed to completely disregard opinions.  He worked with Gucci Mane to make the incredible track “Shine Blockas” despite Gucci Mane being widely despised by many of the pretentious fans of “real hip-hop” who tend to flock around the music of Outkast.  Then, he worked with Scott Storch despite him being considered the epitome of washed up and white trash and ended up creating one of the best tracks of the year “Shutterbug”.  Though many doubted Big Boi’s ability as a solo artist without the assistance of Andre 3000, he proved all wrong with this album.

3.  LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – THIS IS HAPPENING

Before this album I had been aware of James Murphy’s brainchild, LCD Soundsystem for a while, but had never been the biggest fan.  Sound of Silver had some incredible tracks including “Someone Great” and “All My Friends” but I could never get into the album as a whole.  The difference between Sound of Silver and This Is Happening for me was that instead of going back and listening to specific tracks after listening through the album for the first time, after listening to This Is Happening I wanted to listen to the entire album again.  It travels from the loud, energetic opener of “Dance Yrself Clean” to finish with the nostalgic “Home” while touching on and perfectly executing every musical style Murphy has ever explored in between.  It is very possible that this will be LCD Soundsystem’s final album, and if so I don’t think there is any better way they could have gone out.

2.  WAVVES – KING OF THE BEACH

King of the Beach made me very uncomfortable the first time I listened to it.  A few tracks on it such as “Linus Spacehead” reminded me hauntingly of the music of Blink 182 and Sum 41 that I used to listen to in that awkward middle school stage we all have, but I still thoroughly enjoyed listening to them.  I continued to listen to the album and each time I felt less self-conscious.  I realized that writing songs about teenage angst and self-hatred has gone out of style in the indie world which seems kind of silly to me.  Aside from these themes, the album is also incredibly diverse.  It has tracks like “Linus Spacehead” right alongside songs that sound like the typical current indie song like “Baseball Cards” and Nathan Williams does a great job creating tracks on both sides of the spectrum and everywhere in between.  King of the Beach is an album that is going to be remembered for a long time.

 

1.  TYLER, THE CREATOR – BASTARD

Technically, Bastard came out on Christmas day 2009, but its too amazing and important to the music world to leave off of this list.  Every time I listen to this album I am always amazed that it could be created by a 19 year old.  Tyler shows that he is a pioneer from the first 10 seconds of the album.  It starts out with Tyler angrily cursing out the 2 indisputably biggest hip-hop blogs on the internet, seemingly nailing his rap career’s coffin shut, but the next hour of music completely turns this notion around.  Tyler creates 15 rap songs, each clearly distinct from the other, but all similarly offensive to the listener and the rap community as a whole.  The greatest part of the album though, is not how it epitomizes not giving a fuck, but the fact that it keeps on giving.  When it first entered my iTunes library almost 12 months ago I didn’t care for any of the tracks except one or two, but as I kept listening to it it grew on me and I started to love every track.  I can safely say that I have listened to the album at least once a week since March and don’t see myself stopping any time soon.  Bastard is one of my favorite albums of all time and I think it is only a matter of time before Tyler, The Creator reaches a legendary status within the rap community and changes it for the better.

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