“Black Roses”

From It’s Whateva (Reprise)

The Taliban, Jason Voorhees, the Devil, the Holocaust, a rusty hatchet, the Grim Reaper, and church bells: In a year of inelegant “This Is Why I Rock” attempts at melding mosh and mics in the halfpipe, the Bay Area’s most aggro hyphy crew nail it on track 15 of their second album. The tumbling guitar-hero riff (presumably played by producer and multi-instrumentalist Rick Rock) sounds closer to those acid-fried Eddie Hazel wheedle-wheedles that Public Enemy loved to sample than, say, Anthrax’s attempt at recreating them. Travis Barker (of course) is on the drums, doing his skate-rat version of a Ziggy Modeliste stutter-step—he sounds like a drum loop, and maybe he is, but remember: When we couldn’t tell if ?uestlove was live or Memorex, that was exactly when the Roots started getting good.

Havoc featuring Prodigy and Nyce

“Set Me Free”

From The Kush (Nature Sounds)

Deadly ninth track from the infamous one’s underwhelming solo bid:
lowest-fi murmur that sounds like Havoc doing Alchemist doing Madlib, synths that fell out of a Goblin soundtrack or Castlevania II, killer verse from Mobb Deep partner Prodigy. Read: a great four-minute-and-52-second companion to Prodigy’s far superior solo gnasher.

Project Pat

“Good Weed”

From Walkin’ Bank Roll (Koch)

Track 13 on Project Pat’s sixth album is an ode to purple weed that could get its message across even without lyrics. Produced into a trippy soup by Three 6 Mafia, the song’s majestic chord progression leaves a dizzy and languid trail with its every move, each synth pulse starting innocuous and then lunging out in all directions—whoo-OOSH. Pat starts excited, meticulous, documenting every step in blunt preparation. But after hitting it, he’s concocting elaborate fantasies—and no, you can’t have any, because “Ain’t no telling where your lips been/You tongue-kissing Misha but whose penis she been kissing?” By the third verse, he’s just so ecstatic that things take a turn towards nursery rhyme: “It’s a bird, take a flight/You’ll be high as a kite.”

Hell Rell featuring Cam’ron

“I’m the Shit”

From For the Hell of It (Koch)

At the risk of adding to the impenetrable glut of “Check out this random Dipset track” recommendations: Track 10 on Hell Rell’s debut is way more fun than it should be, a piece of concept scatology (the chorus is “I’m the shit, man/You see these flies flying round me?” and it just gets worse/better from there) probably best left on the locker-room floor—or on a mix tape (see Juelz Santana’s “Fat Bitch”). In turn, it’s more fun than anything else on For the Hell of It, an album best known as Holy Shit, Have You Seen That Cover Art?!