Weiss' Top 50 Albums of 2007 (#50-46)
50. Redman-Red Gone Wild [Def Jam]
Other than M.O.P., Redman is the only East Coast rapper able to conceptually re-make the same album since 1992 and get away with it. The only difference is that where Billy Danze and Fizzy Womack are concerned with curb-checking you if you wander into Brownsville, Reggie Noble wants to blow trees, molest chubby women, watch cartoons, babble about Zilla, and freestyle. And just like M.O.P, Redman is really really good when he sticks to the script. The only thing different with Red Gone Wild is that this time the Funk Doc put a weird Smurf-looking anime character on the cover, a decision no doubt made under the influence of some strong Super Skunk. Ultimately, it's Redman. He tells you he's gonna' be "breakin' you off wif da ultimate funk shit!" And he does. Let the weed do the rest. ---
49. Blockhead-Uncle Tony's Coloring Book [Ninja Tune]
Blockhead's a fitting name for the Manhattan-based producer born Tony Simon, who like his Charlie Brown referencing alias, gets no respect. Best known for his production work with Aesop Rock, Blockhead has released a steady string of great hip-hop instrumental albums over the four years that received the worst response possible: they've been ignored. But below the radar, Blockhead has evolved into one of the best producers in hip-hop, mainstream or otherwise. Not to mention his Party Fun Action Committee record is probably the funniest LP made this decade (really.)
On Uncle Tony's Coloring Book, Blockhead trades in the brooding, candles and seance vibe of his previous work, for a more upbeat, lush sound. Resuscitating 40s blue jazz notes, aching soul samples and acid rock guitar riffs and melding them to his crate digging aesthetic, Blockhead's third record might be his best yet. Now people need to stop being such blockheads and pay attention.
MP3: Blockhead-"Grape Nuts and Chalk Sauce" (Left-Click)
48. Chromeo-Fancy Footwork [Vice]
Chromeo mesh perfectly with the hipster retro aesthetic so popular today. Their 80s breakbeats, Zapp-like vocoders and hollow tenor saxophone solos are are all a throwback to the time when headbands and leggings were de rigeur fashion items in hip circles. In a way, that's this record's genius, the way in which the Montreal-based duo write pop gems that you think you've heard before but can’t quite place. But where it should come off as hollow pastiche, Dave 1 and Pee add their own touch to the electro-sounds pioneered by their sonic forebears: Hall & Oates and Roger Troutman. On paper it sounds terrible. In practice, you can't help but practice your fancy footwork. --Scott Towler
47. Scarface-Made [Rap-A-Lot]
Made is Scarface as old Testament prophet, battle-scarred and wizened, massive, creaky, but still all-powerful. Wounded but still breathing. Barely. Scarface didn't return to make Budweiser Commercials and appease Def Jam stockholders. He came back because he's enraged and disillusioned. His friends are killing themselves. Monogamy and relationships can't work for him he confesses on "Girl You Know," resigned, heavy-hearted . The record's highlight is "Who Do You Believe In," where Scarface paints a damning portrait of the drug-ravaged Houston ghetto, flooded with impoverished Katrina refugee-- in ruins. In the final verse, he wraps it up with an indictment of the war in Iraq that ranks as arguably the finest protest song the way has produced. Spare, chilling and poignant, Made is an impressive addition to Scarface's already storied body of work.
46. Andrew Bird-Armchair Apocrypha [Fat Possum]
On first listen this is a pretty forgettable autumnal record. It's only upon multiple listenings that you start to hear Bird's mastery of the violin, as he morphs an ostensibly staid instrument into a pop weapon. Armchair Apocrypha doesn't expand much beyond beyond 2005's similarly excellent, Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs. It doesn't really need to. Every Bird song is a miniature symphony, one that grows more complex and poetic with every spin. Plus, he's a much better whistler than that dude in Peter Bjorn & John. --Scott Towler
Download: MP3: Andrew Bird-"Heretics"