Albums of the Year 2003
Welcome to the annual update of Tricky Mickey´s MusicCentral!
I have continued to pursue house music, jazz and a great deal of classic jazz-samba albums from Brazil. Most of these Latin albums were originally released in the late fifties and early sixties and are therefore not listed here. Drop me an email for a complete listing of recommendations.
Here is my list of great musical moments during 2003.
Francis Sage & Joe Beats
Sage Franics, Joey Beats, and the rest of Non-Prophets have released an album that
will leave no one disappointed.
Sage’s rhymes are strong and varied throughout the songs, which touch on subjects such as love, the government, hip-hop, being fresh and other necessary discussion topics. Joey Beat’s tracks have never sounded better and provide the perfect canvas for Sage to spit upon. The combination and interaction of the two is a rare find these days as the two have obviously shown they are stronger together than apart.
Each cut is a solid offering of beat and rhymes which some will call old-school, others groundbreaking, others a breath of clean air, and others will just listen all the way through and go back to sing along with Fresh.
Eric `Hipp-e` Galaviz and Brian `Halo` Varga have been at the forefront of the creative house music scene for more than a decade now, so it`s little surprise that their debut album as H_Foundation is a seriously polished affair. Drawing influences from hip-hop, jazz, funk, dub and `80s new wave, the pair have found a unique niche within the house music genre.
Elements Of Life
Louie Vega breaks out with an amazing solo album -- still very much steeped in the soulful voice of his Masters At Work recordings, but also with a strong voice that's all his own. He gets help from Blaze, Ursula Rucker, Domingo Quinones, Raul Midon, Anane, and others
The set is filled with the optimistic, almost-global spirit of work in the New York/Spiritual Life mode and are reaking down boundaries with a sunny approach. Wonderful stuff.
Features a bonus CD too -- with a bonus track, photos, footage of interviews, rehearsals, and performances.
Dangerously In Love
As the driving force behind the mega-successful Destiny's Child it was obvious that Beyonce would produce solo work, especially once the trio were put on "temporary" hiatus. The last of the trio to release a solo album, Beyonce has also (unsurprisingly) released the best of the three, combining her trademark "bootylicious" r'n'b swing with the clipped modern funk visited on her Goldmember contribution Work It Out (featured on this album) and some tasteful hip hop cool.
The hip hop edge is what really gives this album it's sting - production credits include Scott Storch and Missy Elliott while vocal contributions come from Jay-Z (the excellent lead single Crazy In Love, That's How You Like It and the New York cool love anthem 03 Bonnie & Clyde, rapidly rising ragga star Sean Paul (the bouncing "Baby Boy", Outkast associate Big Boi (the gritty "Hip Hop Star"). Soul crooner Luther Vandross also appears on the old chestnut Closer I Get To You, while Beyonce herself delivers a number of trademark r'n'b numbers, including the Donna Summer interpolating Naughty Girl and the Shuggie Otis sampling Be With You.
The result is a stunning commercial contemporary r'nb album. Unashamedly recommended.
A nice one from Badu, with a depth of feeling and genuine soulful vibes that live up to its title. It's all about the vibe here. She channels Donald Byrd on the great Think Twice, which is pretty indicative of the vibe as a whole.
The groove is sorta mellow, but in a very tripped-out way, with deep organ washes and synth, scratchy soul guitar, and crisp organic beats. There's an appearance by Dead Prez on Steady On The Grind, and a really sweet old school flavored remake of the great Love Of My Life track from the Brown Sugar soundtrack with Queen Latifah and Bahamadia. It's gonna take a little while to sink in, but this may be her best album
We may still have to lean towards Blueprint as his late masterpiece, but this is way up there.
The dynamic duo of Madlib and Jay Dee have finally dropped the debut full length collaboration. And it turned out to be a winner.
Essentially, Madlib handled the production on the even numbers in the set with Dilla on the vocals; the roles are traded on the odd numbers in the set. There's also a number of guest rhymers including Talib Kweli, Percee P, Frank-N-Dank, and Guilty Simpson.
The album has a dyed-in-the-wool classic production style, the kind we were hoping for from Gang Starr earlier in the year. Each knob twirler does his own thing, as only he can do it; Madlib brings the funky sampler genius, and Dilla rocks the thumping Detroit hip hop soul crunch. The flow is seamless.
|Dancehall remains Jamaica's dominant indigenous musical force, and one of the last bastions of the "wild west" ethic of the pop music industry, which gives this form of music (unless we're talking about Shaggy) a real raw primal edge. Sean Paul (ex bank teller and international waterpolo player) is the latest shining light from the scene, and with this his second album (including the already massive international single Gimme The Light looks sure to gain cross-over success.|
|Forget everything you've ever known about Jody Watley, because this is a totally different album. Watley's really moved past her roots as a mainstream soul star and grabbing onto some of the better future soul styles that have been bumping around the underground scene, and working them into a really solid set that's given her a whole new approach. The result is stunning, as guest stars like King Britt, Ron Trent, Louie Vega, Kenny Dope, and Dr Bob Jones all help Jody get into a groove that's tremendously well suited for a 21st century audience. Really great stuff|
Chunky soul from Stephanie McKay, a Bronx-based soul singer. The set features production by Geoff Barrow of Portishead, and a number of songs co-written with Carl Hancock Rux. McKay are a strong-willed yet sensitive singer who really manages to bridge a space between hip hop and soul without selling either short.
Take Me Over is one of the coolest songs. The reggae-tinged groover borrows heavily from the classic track Double Barrel The track's got a 60s-styled rocksteady groove, sitting in nice juxtaposition to McKay's sweet and soulful vocals
Work Your Soul
Jamaican 60s & Northern 1966-74
These Jamaican soul singles sound as if they could have been cut in Memphis, Detroit, Chicago or Philly. Rather than reggae or rock steady covers of stateside soul hits, the two dozen numbers collected here were recorded by reggae acts both well known and recently uncovered, but rather than the heavily syncopated island sound emphasizing the upbeat, these songs have the same vibe and feel of the best of the 60s urban grooves.
There's just a couple of covers here, like Derrick Harriott's take on Curtis Mayfield's Mama Didn't Lie and the Marvels excellent version of One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, but for the most part its uncovered original gems like Jackie Edwards' I Feel So Bad Tommy McCook & The Supersonics Work Your Soul
City Of God - Cidade De Deus
City Of God - Cidade De Deus was a massive cult movie hit from the end of 2002, one of the most memorable aspects of the film was the music - a mix of pure latin songs and then some prize pieces of latin funk (which helped to give it a real 70's feeling) all composed by Antonio Pinto and Ed Cortes.
Ghetto Disco - Funky Beats
A set of rare and hard to get gems on one album:
Funk Soul Sisters
The SuperFunk crew at BGP have gone through the rich array of labels handled by the company and are pulling out a set of massive tunes that really push our understanding of female soul.
Taking things way past the obvious hits and girl group numbers, into hard and heavy-stepping territory. Most of the tunes on the set are completely new to my ears, and there's a great mix of northern and southern funk styles that keeps things super-fresh.
Love Don't Come No Stronger
The Best of Jeffree (aka Jeff Perry)
Smooth and sweet soul from Jeffree an unsung 70s vocalist with a really great approach. Warmly grooving soul with a fluid, mellow approach served up with great production, bubbling rhythms, and a really solid sound overall. The work is very much in the best tradition of 70s giants like Marvin Gaye or Leroy Hutson,
|Nina Simone's mid 60s recordings for Phlips Records collected in one box. A massive document of some of the most important years in the career of Nina Simone done at a time when she was really breaking out into a new style|
(Erykah Badu remixed)
Crazy in Kingston
(Crazy in Love remixed)
MATTHIAS MATTY HEILBRONN
Defected/Play It Again Sam
ANTIBALAS AFROBEAT ORCHESTRA
Che Che Cole (voc, inst, Makossa, Makossa #3
I Love You My Friends
Love And War EP
DJ SHADOW GDMFSOB
NICKODEMUS & OSIRIS feat Mino Cinelu
Spiritual Life Music
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