The Company Man's Resolutions: 2008 in High Definition - The Company Man
Yep, I just quoted myself.
But for good reason. Today I finished reading my first book of the year - The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Off to an aight start. True, this is February, but I decided to give myself a pass since I didn't drop my resolutions until half way through the January. Gotta start on a round number. Anyway, the Tipping Point discusses the factors necessary to start a social epidemic - the reasons TV shows connect with the audience, crime rates rise, styles become hot, whatever. For real, I couldn't have read it at a better time. Not only because its directly applicable with what we're trying to do here at The Quotable, but also because it should help with a project I'm launching on my nine-to-five (or better yet, my 8ish-to-whenever-the-hell-time-of-nite-the-pimp-hand-of-corporate-america-slaps-my-ass-off-the-strole. Thats right: Wall Street, Hip Hop. Maybe I should change my name to The Company Renaissance Man. Ya'll don't want to see me on Wii Sports. Trust).
So this mini-milestone made me check to see how I'm progressing on the rest of The Company Man's 2008 Resolutions (Here). Not bad. 1 book down. 15 Quotables strong so far. 4 tickets in hand for a New Orleans Hornet's game (they're playing at The Garden on Monday...which technically makes it a Knicks game. But I don't want to see the Knicks. I want to see Chris Paul ball live. 21 ppg, 11 assists, 3 steals, the Hornets in third place in the Western Conference - the kid is ill. Check that, I'm going to see a Chris Paul game. Another tangent. Carry on). It feels like I'm smoking and drinking less. Pretty good, pretty good. I mean, I haven't gone to church with Will yet, but I've got all year to do that.
But the one resolution I do need to get a jump on is "Write More Top 'Whatever' Lists."
[Pauses to debate procrastination]
Eff it. No time like the present. Lets start with the basics. In the era of the single, The Company Man is an album dude. No matter how tight it might be, one great song will never feed you like one great album. A great song is like a snack when you're starving - you're still hungry at the end. A great album is like Thanksgiving - you need to take a nap just to digest it all. These albums are like that:
INTRODUCING THE COMPANY MAN'S TOP 5 GREAT ALBUMS OF ALL TIME!
[And Quotable Nation goes wild! "As if Holyfield just won the fight"]
5. The College Dropout - Kanye West 2004
On the real, Kanye West is the first rapper that I ever directly related to (other than Will Smith...his parents didn't understand, mine didn't either). FACT. Not through his message, but through his lifestyle. Homeboy grew up as a middle class kid working at the GAP, chasing his dreams. Yup, The Company Man grew up a middle class kid working at the GAP (you can't beat 50% off). I'd never heard my story on wax until The College Dropout. But not only did Mr. West's debut album directly speak to me...but it was also crazy dope. Littered with sped up soul-samples (produced entirely by Kanye himself), Hip Hop violinists, and outside the box collaborations (Freeway and Mos Def on "Two Words", Jamie Fox (before the Oscar and the R&B album) and Twista on "Slow Jamz"), TCD showcased 'Ye's work-in-progress delivery (sounding like a more animated Mase circa 1997), diverse subject matter (who else was rapping about social consciousness, self consciousness, internet-hook-ups, and Jesus all on the same Lp???), and witty content ("Got a light-skinned friend who looks like Michael Jackson/Got a dark-skinned friend who looks like Michael Jackson"). The College Dropout is loaded with honesty and replay value. Its classic and progressive at the same time. "And if this is your first time hearing this/you are now about to experience something so cold."
4. Lupe Fiasco's: Food & Liquor - Lupe Fiasco 2006
"And so it seems that I'm sewing jeans. / And First & 15th is just a sewing machine. / So I cut the pattern and I sew its seams / and button in this hustlin and publicly I'm Buddy Lee. / Theres no bustin' him and cuffin' him is like ushering in a regime. / They want me to make Prince pants / but I withstand. I ain't gotten in to that. / A little BIG in the waist / 2Pac-ets on the back. / Call them LuVy's - OGs covered in blue dye." - "Pressure": Lupe Fiasco: Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Read review HERE.
3. The Blueprint - Jay-Z 2001
So it was a typical September day in Amsterdam. I Bounced from class and headed over to The Grey Area (our favorite coffee shop...best greenery on the Prinsegraght) for an after school lift. Then over to the local record store (can't remember the name, but picture a European FYE) to cop Jay-Z's latest: The Blueprint. Up until then, I wasn't really a Jay-Z fan (my boy Sean P was ahead of the game on that one. Jay's been his dude since Reasonable Doubt). Honestly I thought his music was fairly one-dimensional; baller raps, club music, tracks for the chicks...the usual late nineties-bling-bling-era rhymes. But I was used to buying his CDs and I bumped "H to the Izzo" all summer long, so picking it up that day it dropped was a no-brainer. I bought the album, popped it into the trusty Sony CDWalkman, hopped on my bike (err...bicycle) and headed on my way.
About 1:52 seconds into the first track I was forced to bring that beat back!! A sign of something special. The Blueprint's combination of lyrical exercise and soulful soundscape forced me to recognize Jay-Z's superior skillset. I mean, after six albums Hova finally put together the complete package (at least for me anyway) - in depth personal stories ("Song Cry"), ill cypher rhymes ("All I Need", "The Rulers Back"), lean track listing (only 13 songs in length; enough to leave you wanting more), one killer guest appearance (maybe too killer - Eminem slayed Jay on "Renegade"), cohesive sound (Kanye and Just Blaze produced the lionshare of the Lp), witty wordplay ("Girls, Girls, Girls"). Big Homie delivered on all counts, and even found time to end a couple of careers (sorry for ya Mobb Deep) and resurrect another (for the record, Jay won that battle for a lot of reasons. But most specifically because he made Nas relevant by calling his slumping ass out)! Jay snatched Hip Hop's crown, tilted it like his Yankee fitted, and made you think (if only for a second) "if he's not better than BIG...he's the closest one." Classic.
I made it back to my flat around 1:30pm that day and laid down to take a nap. About 30 minutes later, my roommates annoyingly eccentric guest from Chicago came running into the room screaming "THEY'RE ATTACKING AMERICA!! THEY'RE ATTACKING AMERICA!!!" I awoke from my weed-nap skeptical...only to find out that two hijacked planes just crashed into the World Trade towers...
2. All Eyez On Me - 2Pac 1996
All Eyez On Me was the first album to make me think. I mean really think. Loaded with angst injected rhymes targeted at politicians ("Delores Tucker yous a muthafucka/instead of trying to help a n**** you destroy your brother/worse than the others./Bill Clinton, Mr. Bob Dole/You too old to understand the way the game told"), followed by ubiquitous party tracks ("California Love", "Check Out Time") followed by cypher tracks with ill guest appearances ("Got My Mind Made Up" featuring Kurupt, Method Man, Redman), cuts that make you wanna f*ck somebody up ("No More Pain", "All Eyez On Me", "Ambitionz Az A Ridah") - I didn't know whether to riot or start a revolution. Pac spit with such energy and emotion and somehow never sounded contradictory. Arguably the greatest double-disk album of all time. Tweleve years later and this one is still in heavy rotation.
1. E. 1999 Eternal - Bone Thugs N Harmony 1995
As much as I'd like to say that "I had to think long and hard about the number 1 Great Album of All Time" and that I did countless soul-searching and proceeses of elimination to come to to this conclusion - the truth is Bone Thugs N Harmony's E.99 Eternal has been The Company Man's favorite album since...well...since 1995. Easy choice. First, Bone is the first group I've ever loved. Not in a Brokeback-bathroom-stall-toe-tapping kind of way. But in a "these-dudes-are-killing-every-track-and-I-need-to-play-back-the-entire-album-again" kind of way. The irony is that Krazy, Lazy, Bizzy, Wish (and damn-sure not Flesh-N-Bone) weren't dropping crazy metaphors and allusions like Lupe, nor were they spitting political minded, socially conscious rhymes like Pac or Ye. And they didn't come close to matching Jay-Z's diversity. The thing about E.99 is that its cohesive from beginning to end, telling the story of a couple St. Claire thugs hustling, getting arrested, breaking of jail only to head back onto the block, collect their ends, budasmoke, then ride off into the murda-mo-murda sunset. I know I know, at surface level it sounds like 93% of the other indistinguishable rap music out today. But Bone's melodic-tongue-twister-flow (each similar in style but distinctly different in delivery), and detailed story telling, combined with DJ Uneek's horroresque soundtrack (complete with high keys and heavy snare) overshadows any potential cliches (and back then, todays cliches werent yet cliche). All four members rip through all 17 tracks like fat kids through britches. 13 years later and every song is still dope. Now thats what I mean by replay value. Bone's innovative/stylistic delivery, energy, and storytelling are what put this album a top of this list. "See you at the Crossroads..."
Thats all I got for yall tonight, Quotable Nation. Let me know what you think. What albums are on your Top 5? Hit me in the comments section.