Track 18 Wins Again

Major-label hip-hop records in burying-best-tracks shocker!

 Ali & Gipp featuring Three 6 Mafia
"What's the Business"
From Kinfolk
(Universal Motown)

Eleven tracks into Ali & Gipp's uneven, disastrously delayed St. Lanta tag team is "What's the Business," a paranoid purple haze of paper-stacks and platinum-plush synths. All four MCs come hard, but the gorgeous pillow of a beat couldn't be softer: ethereal synths, moody counterpoints, and gnarled F-sharps make it kissin' kinfolk to the way P.M. Dawn flipped George Michael's "Father Figure" on 1993's "Looking Through Patient Eyes." Newcomer producer DJ Speedy (who lent rock-influenced beats to the Young Jeezy mixtape treat "I Do This," and something presumably headbanging off the upcoming album by hyphy-punks the Pack) nails Three 6 Mafia's breed of warm-yet-tense Southern discomfort—hey, it's ultimately their track.


N.O.R.E. featuring Kanye West and GLC
"I'ma Get You"
From Norereality
(Babygrande)

Gorilla Zoe searches for love, during track 13.
Courtesy Atlantic Records
Gorilla Zoe searches for love, during track 13.

Technically not on a major label (although the guest stars—Swizz Beatz, Three 6 Mafia, Jadakiss—suggest otherwise), a solid-as-ever N.O.R.E. still shows y'all how to rhyme on Neptunes beats, even if they're fake Neptunes beats these days. Man of the Year Kanye West didn't produce the album's highlight, "I'ma Get You" (track nine), nor does he donate much beyond a chorus and a co-sign, but producer Boola rolls out the polo carpet all the same, using some of 'Ye's best tricks: pensive piano stabs, ejaculatory O'Jays horns. The same "Shining Star"–style brass is currently blatting posi-core rainbows all over Public Enemy's also-excellent (but decidedly anti-gangsta) single "Harder Than You Think." The choice is yours.


Twista
"Pimp Like Me"
From Adrenaline Rush 2007
(Atlantic)

Twista tacks a token juke track (track 17) onto his back-to-basics sixth album, and it's a surprise triumph, much like Queen Latifah over a token house track ("Come into My House") or Big Daddy Kane over some token new-jack swing ("I Get the Job Done"). Duh: Twista's Guinness-approved motormouth is custom-built for the burgeoning Chicago juke scene's hyperkinetic footwork and house-influenced aggrovelocity. But it's really its highly polished major-label gloss—in comparison to juke's traditionally lo-fi skitter—that turns this from breakcore novelty into percolating alien bluster.


Gorilla Zoe featuring D. Woods
"You Don't Know Me"
From Welcome to the Zoo
(Bad Boy South)

One of the lyrically weaker songs on the trunk-rattling debut from trapper-keeper and self-proclaimed feral motherfucker Gorilla Zoe, but track 13 features the gravelly rapper coming to grips with the fact that it's hard to find true love when no one's allowed to see past your oversized personality. D. Woods of Danity Kane does some Sade-meets-Kate-Bush coos while everything awesomely bites Art of Noise's "Moments in Love" like it's going out of style. (It is: The Trev-Horn-blowin' "This Is Why I'm Hot" came out all the way back in January.)

 
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