Tag Archives: grunge

My Mixtape Monday – The Best of Jay-Z Studio Albums

It’s been twenty years since the release of Jay-Z’s album Reasonable Doubt. Since that seminal debut, he has put out a total of a dozen studio albums. Showcasing an unparalleled mix of radio hits, vivid storytelling and straight-up ignorant sh*t, his career catalog ends all debate over the question “Who’s the best emcee – Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas?”. It’s Hovi baby!

Below are my picks for the standout tracks from each album, along with some of his more unforgettable lyrics. I’ve also included bonus songs from his two collaborative albums – The Best of Both Worlds w/R. Kelly (2002) and Watch the Throne w/Kanye West (2011).

Mixtape Name: Twelve Hot Albums Every Twenty Year Average

Side A

1) Dead Presidents II from Reasonable Doubt (1996)
2) Streets Is Watching from In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997)
Look, if I shoot you, I’m brainless
But if you shoot me, then you’re famous – what’s a n*gga to do?
3) Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) from Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life (1998)
4) So Ghetto from Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter (1999)
You see I live for the love of the street
Rap to the ruggedest beats
Hall closet cluttered with heat
5) I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) from The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)
Both in the club, high, singing off key
“And I wish I never met her at all…”
6) Izzo (H.O.V.A.) from The Blueprint (2001)

Side B
7) Excuse Me Miss from The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse (2002)
8) 99 Problems from The Black Album (2003)
Rap critics that say he’s Money, Cash, Hoes
I’m from the hood, stupid! What type of facts are those?
9) Trouble from Kingdom Come (2006)
10) Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)… from American Gangster (2007)
11) D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune) from The Blueprint 3 (2009)
12) Picasso Baby from Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013)
It ain’t hard to tell, I’m the new Jean-Michel
Surrounded by Warhols, my whole team ball

Bonus Tracks: The Streets, Murder to Excellence

Apple Music Link: Twelve Hot Albums Every Twenty Year Average

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My Mixtape Monday – The Best of Grunge

My main objective when putting together this playlist was to avoid curating a hackneyed list of omnipresent hits from the grunge era (i.e. Smells like Teen Spirit, Jeremy, etc.). However, I also didn’t want to catalog a pretentious “deep dive” collection of influential but ultimately vestigial music from the scene’s pioneers (i.e. Mother Love Bone, Tad et al).

Hopefully what I arrived at is a nice selection of songs from the seminal artists that defined the time period, along with some unpolished gems of early nineties alternative rock. Now let’s throw on our flannel shirts and start choppin’!

Mixtape Name: Alternative Nations

Side A
1) Drain You by Nirvana (1991)
Infectious (literally) lyrics, an equally catchy guitar riff and a rubber ducky solo infuse this song with a playfulness missing from most of Nevermind’s gloomy Side B.
2) Release by Pearl Jam (1991)
With lyrics that play out like poetry, Release captured Eddie Vedder’s songwriting and singing at their cathartic best.
3) Hunger Strike by Temple of the Dog (1991)
More classic baritone beltings from Eddie Vedder, this time with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell assisting with his soulful high register.
4) Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees (1992)
This Singles Soundtrack highlight nails the three hallmarks of grunge: gruff vocals, yearning lyrics and crunchy guitars.
5) 100% by Sonic Youth (1992)
Sonic Youth possessed an avant-garde aesthetic that did not fit wholly under the umbrella of grunge. Regardless, the bouncy punk strains of 100% sounds quite nice nestled into this mix and reflect a similar spirit of relentlessness.
6) Would? By Alice in Chains (1992)
To me, grunge was the intersection of a Venn diagram made up of punk rock, indie rock and heavy metal. Along with Soundgarden, Alice in Chains embodied the sludgy, dark side of grunge and Would? captured them at gritty best.

Side B
7) Plush (Acoustic from Headbangers Ball) by Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
STP’s music added a pop-inspired veneer to grunge music that was controversial at the time and caused many journalists to label them as derivative poseurs. Retrospectively, the strength of their catalog now finds them inarguably one of the most talented bands of the grunge era and the undeniable Plush is a shining example of their melodic song craft.
8) Start Choppin’ by Dinosaur Jr. (1993)
#JMascisIsGod
9) Accelerator by Gumball (1993)
10) Under My Skin by Dandelion (1993)
Though these East Coast bands did not achieve the breakthrough success of their Seattle brethren, both of these songs are perfect examples of guitar-driven grunge rock.
11) Rocket by Smashing Pumpkins (1993)
Just try to not sing along with Billy Corgan as he triumphantly repeats “I shall be free!”
12) Violet by Hole (1994)
Fitting that we end this playlist with an artist some regard as being responsible for the death of the era’s spokesman Kurt Cobain. Regardless of your opinion of Courtney Love, the quiet-to-loud grunge ethos are on full display here along with a feminine fury that seems just as vital today as it was in 1993.

YouTube Playlist Link: Alternative Nations

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