Throw your hands in the air

Beatin' down hip-hop in 1998 like a stepchild

It's a hard-knock life? You got that right. But one thing: Don't bring no Beastie Boys around here. Maybe the only good thing Hilton Als ever wrote in The New Yorker was when he said not so long ago that all the brothers and sisters in the crowd just stared at each other when the Beasties was trying to represent up in the Apollo. When the Boys went, "Niggas, throw ya hands in the air," the crowd gave 'em the what-th'-fuck? look and folded their arms like it was an Eric B. and Rakim concert. They do more bitin' than Quentin Tarantino. In the rest of that article, Als punks Aretha Franklin by saying P.J. Harvey's more down, then tries to go on about how good a dancer he is. I saw Hilton Als dance, and it explains why he thinks P.J. Harvey feels the funk. That mother's stepping is so weak he should get a special parking permit.

I guess some hip-hop'll work. I wish I could like that Lauryn Hill record, but I was born with this condition--hearing. She should get a Grammy for staying awake long enough to record that thing. I would say she should get up with Timbaland, but Tim was too busy busting a cap in his own career. His set was so wack, he might as well go hide behind Master P's skirt and join the No Limit squad. It's not that out: The lyrics were a little out, but Tim's set did have some grooves--shit was bumping. The '98 in hip-hop was mostly like the NBA this year, meaning it didn't get started until after the All-Star break...oh, damn, there ain't no All-Star break. Which is why Shaq is still dropping, I guess. TWisM, Shaq? It wasn't even a Twix.

When you start going over it, you feel like it's the end of Cooley High, drinking a toast to all the brothers who ain't here. Ice Cube washed up on the beach. Busta Rhymes kicked it on the Smokin' Grooves tour, but then he rolled out that sad new joint. Maybe I need to listen to it a couple more times--guess I gotta have something on while I wash my car. A Tribe Called Quest went out in 1998, and you could see why the Beasties had stopped takin' a bite off 'em. Busta brought it to the Tribe's last CD; shoulda kept some for his own. Mostly, last year was so bad that it got me thinking I hope I don't go back to slanging yay-yo this year. Now for the top 10:

Outkast, Aquamini (Arista/LaFace): That's what I'm talkin' about.

Ras Kass, Rassassination (Priority): And in this corner, the kid from Cali. You probably thought he was through after "Nature of the Beast." Peep this set, the one to beat.

Eric B & Rakim, Paid in Full: The Platinum Edition (Island): Ain't it sad when a 10-year-old record comes out the box slamming better than anything else last year? Plus: some remixes that are on.

Mary J. Blige, Tour (MCA): Just when Missy was about to throw the first shovel of dirt on M.J.'s grave, Shorty shook the room.

Various artists, Belly soundtrack (Def Jam): Wait till pay-per-view to clock the movie. Better yet, use the money to pick up this joint instead.

Pras, Ghetto Superstar (Sony): I know: It's like discovering Jimmy Olsen was Superman all along, right? But just the single, not the rest of it. I'm surprised Wyclef didn't try to violate on Pras after he heard this fella.

Fat Joe, Don Cartegna (Atlantic): Listen to "Crack Attack" just once and see if you can walk away. I couldn't.

Kruder & Dorfmeister, Sessions (Studio K7): Wait a minute. He ain't trying to bring the trip-hop up into this mother. It works, though. The Bone, Thugs & Harmony remix alone gets it done. The end. Next?

RZA, RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo (V2/Gee Street): Enter the RZA. I don't know what his movie, Bobby Digital, is like, but he steps to the Wu Tang challenge on the soundtrack.

Timbaland, Tim's Bio--From the Motion Picture (Atlantic): I know I cracked on it, but nobody bangs out the beats like Tim. He's on it. All props to the master.

 
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