New year's upon us, eye on the prize with new rules...

Thanks, OC. As 2007 opens up ahead of us, we can always cast a quick glance in the rearview and say goodbye once again to those who didn't make it.... Rest in peace to Proof, Gerald Levert, Ed Bradley, Professor X, J Dilla, Big Hawk, and Wilson Pickett.

But let's not buy that new calendar just yet.... What you doing on New Year's? You got a couple choices besides the red-cup house-party route—which incidentally always gets my vote; if you got a yen to be out and about on some hiphop sheeit, listen close.... The War Room is hosting the Soul Gorilla/Hip-Hop.Net/UTN NYE party, with Supreme and FourColorZack wrecking the decks. The High Dive in Fremont has Mountain Con, Supersonic Soul Pimps, and Cancer Rising bringing it straight to your neck. BALLIN'! Lastly, over at Neumo's is the Near Year's Eve MassLine extravaganza—Blue Scholars (backed up on the live-band tip by Big World Breaks), Common Market, and Gabriel Teodros will be doin' it up along with DJ Daps 1. Not only are they throwing down on New Year's for the grown and drunky, they are doing it the night before (that's Sat Dec 30, kids) with an all-ages performance.

Speaking of my boy Gabe T, don't sleep on his new mix tape Westlake: Class of 1999 (a brilliant title). Staying true to his roots spitting rhymes on the downtown concrete, this CD-R is packed with previously unreleased tracks from over the last five years, featuring Toni Hill of Siren's Echo, Khingz of Abyssinian Creole, VanCity OG Moka Only, and Xololanxinco of OMD. Consider this an appetizer 'til his upcoming Lovework is on your plate.

Another mix tape y'all need to know about is Sonny Bonoho's Wonderland with DJ D'Lemma. Sonny reps Seattle well in his signature melodic, fun-loving style, and it's clear his Atlanta contemporaries (Georgia Durt and Bohagon, signed to Lil Jon's BME Records) are rubbing off on him to good effect. Sonny turns the gibberish down and shows you his spit game a lot more on this tape (blessing "Kick Push," "A Million and One Questions," and Little Brother's "Lovin' It," showing a depth of expression hinted at on his Life of a Backup Singer LP. This one is on some hiphop shit homie, definitely for the haters who don't think my man does this.

Okay, okay, one last mix tape—Lil' Wayne's LilWeezyana. I've been bumping this one hard since I got it.... I may grumble about his recent comments in Complex about being better than Jay-Z (perhaps because of the kernel of truth there—at least these days).... I may scratch my head at a grown man who defensively drops "pause" and "no homo" in his rhymes yet will turn around and kiss Birdman's greasy lips on some suspect father-son/Black mafia shit.... I may even want the Clipse to crush him since he opened his mouth about them, but I won't and can't deny dude's phenomenal talent, exhibited crazily all over this tape. Whatever you think of him, he is one of the very, very best doing it right now. Point blank, period. See you next year.

hiphop@thestranger.com