Peep This Joint: Top 3 Rap Albums From The 2000s

So for this week’s post, I figured I would write on what I personally consider three essential rap albums from the 2000s that y’all have to check out.

The 2000s marked an interesting time period for the genre, as the golden age of hip-hop tragically came to a close with the deaths of two G.O.A.T.s that forever changed the game. But, their deaths did not end in vain as their legacies paved the way for new artists to rise and take the throne. A lot of rappers coming up were hungry to take the mantle and the works they put out during this era reflected that ambition. These projects are not put in any order of importance so don’t mind that. Instead, just peep these albums because they are literally all great albums not just in this era but in general!

1. The Black Album – Jay-Z

Album cover from: Genius

First up, Jay-Z’s The Black Album! Released in 2003, This album was supposed to be his last project ever and revolves thematically around his impending retirement. If you’re a hip-hop head, you know that anytime a rapper says their retiring, chances are they’re lying. Jay-Z during this time definitely seemed serious though as he was laying down some of his hardest verses ever in this project. Take one of my favorite Jay songs ever, “What More Can I Say” where he jumps out the gate in his first verse: 

There’s never been a n‐‐a this good for this long/

This hood or this pop, this hot or this strong/

With so many different flows, this one’s for this song/

The next one I switch up, this one will get bit up/

Before this album came out, Jay already had seven projects under his belt and a few of them were blunders for a rapper of his caliber. Despite that, his last five albums debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts which speaks on the magnitude of his popularity and pen. With some of Kanye’s best beats during his soulful sample era, this project is filled with diverse flows and beats that elevated some of Jay’s best bars. 

2. The College Dropout – Kanye West

Album cover from: Genius

Next up is an album very near and dear to my heart as it is an introduction to one of the biggest enigmas in music today as well as my favorite artist of all time, The College Dropout by Kanye West. His massive impact on the sound and direction of the genre will never go unrecognized. The album that started it all is an exceptional introduction to the polarizing figure that many love and hate today. The College Dropout also marks a monumental shift to a more conscious yet accessible, “suburban” sound compared to traditional gangster records that was dominant at the time. Songs such as “All Falls Down,” “Spaceship,” “Jesus Walks,” and “Through the Wire” all focus more on conscious and substantive lyrics instead of the typical gritty street bars. Nonetheless, this project is a classic 2000s album that inspired and influenced many popular artists today and forever changed the game.

3. Madvillainy – Madvillain

Album cover from: Genius

Speaking of game-changing projects, Madvillainy by the duo Madvillain consisting of artists MF DOOM and Madlib shook the underground rap scene. Madvillainy is every backpacker’s quintessential rap album of all time, and with good reason too. A collaboration album between underground legends MF DOOM and Madlib is every backpacker’s dream and the critical reception of Madvillainy proved just how dynamic and successful the duo could be. The entire project has Madlib on the production boards while DOOM spits at top form. Songs like “All Caps,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Fancy Clown” demonstrate his unique flow that makes him a one-of-a-kind artist.

You already know these projects are all 10/10…go peep them!

Written By: Johann Oribello

Big K.R.I.T at the House of Blues

Another week, another concert to cover. This makes me a very happy person. On Thursday, October 3, 2019, I had the privilege of covering the hip-hop legend Big K.R.I.T (Justin Lewis Scott) at the House of Blues.

Trust me when I tell you that this dude has been in the rap game for a long time and is a walking legend. Starting his career more than 14 years ago, he has a list of accomplishments that are staggering.

As a prominent protestor of many of the racial issues that America faces today, he has become a symbol of motivation for movements like #BlackLivesMatter.

He has performed and spoken multiple times at the BET Hip Hop Awards, and even received three nominations for “Rookie of the Year” and “Best Mixtape” in 2011, where his career really started to pop off. 

Big K.R.I.T has elements in his music that show roots to some of the more classic elements of hip-hop, such as deep soulful beats and tongue-twisting lyricism. Collaborating with big artists such as J.Cole and Lil Wayne attests to his impact and respect within the hip-hop scene.

With all of this said, I was super excited to see this man live and get some fire pictures of him! Unfortunately, I was running a little late to the show at House of Blues San Diego. I arrived at about 9 p.m (the time when the headliner usually hits the stage) and picked up my media pass. 

Literally, at the exact second I walked into the main room, Big K.R.I.T. walked on stage to start his performance. Photographers are only allowed to take pictures in the photo pit for the first three songs of the performance, so I hustled my way to the front immediately. The timing could not be more perfect, because if I was even ten minutes later, I would have missed my opportunity to cover the show.

As soon as Big K.R.I.T took the stage, you could tell he had been doing this for a long time. His energy was through the roof. I looked back at the crowd to see all of the audience in the front row singing every single word. He clearly had a bunch of loyal fans. 

He continued the next three songs that I saw with that same energy, moving and bouncing around the stage, rapping his lyrics with a passion that is rare to see. 

After three songs, security booted me out, and that is all that I saw. Being able to see a legend like Big K.R.I.T up close was really great, and I am happy with the photos that I got. 

Big K.R.I.T will continue his “From the South with Love” tour until his last show on November 16th, in his hometown of Atlanta, GA. Check out his music here.

Written by: Justin Neeley
Photos by: Justin Neeley

Peep This Joint: JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs Album Review

All My Heroes are Cornballs marks a shift from Baltimore rapper JPEGMAFIA’s signature visceral sound as his latest project trades his aggressive energy for more melodic flows.

This project is JPEGMAFIA’s third studio album after the critically acclaimed Veteran which received much applause from critics for its off-kilter production and politically charged lyrical content. Despite the surprising incorporation of singing and more melodic content on All My Heroes, JPEGMAFIA successfully expands his artistry by including more vulnerable lyrics concerning his newfound success and utilizing new melodies that aren’t as prominent in his discography. 

For those new to JPEGMAFIA, he is a rap artist hailing from Baltimore best known for his experimental sound that includes glitchy production with brash lyrics and provocative song titles. Take the song “I Cannot Fucking Wait Til Morrissey Dies” from Veteran, which addresses singer Morrissey’s racist controversy with a merch t-shirt of activist James Baldwin. JPEGMAFIA aka “Peggy” has gained a cult-like fanbase with his unapologetic approach to his projects. 

Coming off a successful sophomore effort, Peggy continued his method of producing, mixing and mastering all tracks on his albums. He wrote on his Bandcamp page for All My Heroes that he felt obligated to make a successful album after Veteran’s reception. “This album is really a thank you to my fans tbh,” he wrote. “Veteran was the first time in my life I worked hard on something, and it was reciprocated back to me. This the most ME album I’ve ever made in my life.” 

His focus on creating an album that expresses himself fully turned up successful with this project where he reveals more aspects of his identity than what we were initially exposed to in his past discography. Right off the bat, the projects opens with “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” where Peggy spits defiant bars over a sparsely-filled instrumental. He ramps up this aggressive energy at the end of each verse with a booming bass that’s very reminiscent of his past work until the chorus hits. A quick juxtaposition fills the listener’s ears as Peggy switches from yelling to auto-tuned crooning over a seamless beat switch. This shift to more melodic singing isn’t new to fans of Peggy, but is a more prominent aspect of this project compared to his previous work. 

The song, “Kenan Vs. Kel” highlights this shift where Peggy croons in auto-tune, “I don’t know this,” as he laments over his nervousness in having more well-known artists wanting to feature on his songs. This vulnerability in dealing with his new-found success is expressed as Peggy asks in the chorus, “How we gon’ make this work?/ But like, how can I make a good beat?” His vulnerability in this song signifies a change in his image from a defiant, “in your face” type of rapper to a more introspective and sensitive individual struggling with fame and success. 

Despite the shift, JPEGMAFIA still remains true to the confrontational and brash nature of his lyrics that many fans associate him with some of his other works on this album. Take the song, “Beta Male Strategies” for example, where he addresses keyboard warriors who criticize vehemently online yet hide behind internet anonymity. In this song, Peggy spits, “Say what you said on Twitter right now/ You only brave with a board and a mouse,” and leaves them with a warning, “Don’t get capped by a n‐‐a in a muhfuckin’ gown.” The song title itself also bolsters his bashfulness as he refers to these keyboard warriors as beta males. Songs such as this are familiar territory for JPEGMAFIA fans and remind listeners that despite his vulnerability in his latest work, he is still as loud and abrasive as ever.

If you’re a fan of JPEGMAFIA and haven’t listened to this project yet, you should definitely give this record a spin. Some songs that I recommend checking out are: “Jesus, Forgive Me, I Am A Thot”, “Grimy Waifu”, and “Free the Frail”. Overall, the inclusion of more melodic content that starkly differs from JPEGMAFIA’s past work marks a significant growth in his art and helps elevate his status as an up-and-coming rapper.

Peep this joint if you haven’t already!

Rating: 7.5 / 10 

Written by: Johann Oribello

Vince Staples & Buddy at The Observatory North Park

Born in Compton & raised in Long Beach, Vince Staples has risen to be one of the leading artists of west coast, new wave rap.

On April 2nd, he performed at The Observatory North Park along with up-and-coming artist Buddy (famous for tracks such as “Black” ft. A$AP Ferg, “Trouble on Central”, and “Trippin’” ft. Khalid). Similar to Vince Staples, Buddy was born in Compton and went to highschool in Long Beach, CA. Throughout their “Smile You’re on Camera” Tour, they have consistently sold out shows (including the one in San Diego), and made good money selling stylish merchandise at venues.

The Observatory North Park served as a fantastic host site for the event.

Considering that the venue is one of the best in SD, it helped that their was a large enough space to hold a huge rap-loving crowd. For those over 21, the venue includes a bar that serves drinks throughout the night. Additionally, security consistently ensured their was no underage or irresponsible drinking

As the crowd slowly poured in more and more, spaces were condensed and mosh pits were formed. Vince Staples’ entrance was as grand as his latest album and immediately made an impact, causing hype throughout the crowd. His presence fueled the energy of the fans and consistently maintained an open environment for those screaming the lyrics they had memorized

As a Vince Staples fan who has been listening for years…

I was ecstatic each time an old song was performed. Vince Staples recognizes crowd favorites and catered to those long-time fans. In addition to his new album, he performed songs from every single one of his albums and even some long forgotten mixtapes.

The visuals and lighting used for this show were extremely well done and added to the grandeur of things. Smoke was used to create an ambience that filled the stage as the lights created a silhouette of Vince Staples. The live video playing in the background features low-res footage shot with slow shutter to make it seem as if Vince Staples were moving in slow motion, but in real time. All in all, it was very impressive.

When concluding his show, he walked off and let his friend take the stage in a special way. They played a video of Mac Miller performing an NPR Tiny Desk concert; to add to the mood/sentiment, it was shown in widescreen format as well as black-and-white. Seeing as Mac Miller has passed and I never got to see him live, I truly appreciated the deed; it was as if Vince Staples was touring with him and it felt so authentic as if he was really there; they used audio from a live performance where he thanked fans for coming and was speaking from the heart. It was heartwarming to see that 90% of the audience stayed for the entirety of Mac Miller’s “performance” as it was just a video that was not advertised/warned.

What San Diego received was an overall great show with great stage presence from both performers and a hyped crowd that fell more in love with the artists/music. As they continue their tour, we in San Diego can only appreciate the good time that they carried in with their arrival that night.

Written/Photographed by: Eduardo Orozco