Hiphop's death throes may not have been in 2006 as some would have it, but it sure was skimpy on dope rap albums. However, the last month or so has seen a rich bounty of knocks sure to make the most cynical head declare, "Why, it's a Christmas miracle!" Forget the disappointment of Kingdom Come, which we all saw coming anyway—there's enough dope material out there to stuff your stinkin'-ass stocking. Relax and take notes!
The Game's Doctor's Advocate. Damn, you know I love to hate the goddamn Game, but the boy stopped telling and started showing on this album. The name-dropping and dubious boasts of his gangsta ways are still there but he does it in classic West Coast style this time; instead of just invoking the holy names of Eazy, Dre, Ren, and Cube, he really incorporates them into his flow. Listen to the "Black Steel"–jacking "Remedy"(laced by Just Blaze) and tell me Game didn't learn from O'Shea's bars. Elsewhere on this front-to-back banger, if you stop paying attention, you'll forget that you're not listening to Dre rap... it's eerie, really.
Snoop Dogg's The Blue Carpet Treatment. Who in the fuck woulda thought Snoop could drop something this hot anymore? I'll refrain from the too-easy "best-since-Doggystyle" hyperbole and just say that the man really got his Crip mojo back on this one (see "Vato"), and you need to cop it, if just to hear "Imagine," the heartfelt Dr. Dre/D'Angelo collab, or "Conversations," the instant vintage Stevie Wonder duet. I also love hearing the D-O-Double-G shout out the whole of Cali—including Murs and the Visionaries—during what sounds like an actual freestyle ("My Peoples"). Chuuch.
The Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury. This one's a no-brainer, duke; take one of rap's most criminally underappreciated duos-turned-critical-darlings, add some three years of label woes, some actual dope Neptunes production, and some fiery righteous indignation, and you'll get one of the most anticipated releases in a long time. HHNF delivers like Papa John's too, with Pusha T and Malice's coke-intellectual bars dripping ice-cold venom, showing everybody what thinking man's drug rap should sound like. I can, however, do without ever hearing Roscoe P. Coldchain rap again. That said, please support intelligent street rap and buy everyone in the crew a copy.
Ghostface Killah's More Fish. Pulling a DMX, Big Ghost has dropped his second Def Jam LP this year; unlike the Dog, however, P. Tone came seriously correct on this one. More Fish, despite what I said last week, is not a Theodore Unit comp; it's a Ghost LP through and through—free of the self-conscious vintage-Wu emulation of Fishscale, and full of the high-octane verbal street opera he continues to perfect. Despite the numerous crew cameos, I might even like this record more than Fishscale; Pitchfork be damned.
Yeah, downloading is fun, and easy! But why not support your favorite hiphop acts by copping their discs. Show them they don't have to make inane songs for 12-year-olds to stay "relevant"... or it's just gonna be "Young" this and "Li'l" that again next year.