A reminder, or introduction: this is the feature in which we're attempting to put together an alternate library of this decade's lower level album triumphs according to a range of guest bloggers. Feel free to offer your services nominating and writing about a record as this feature will be running nearly all year - all the contributory details are here. Oh, and thanks to Thomas for suggesting the name. You should see some of those we came up with ourselves.
NOMINATED BY: Joe Skrebels of Music From A Green Window
In an age where hip-hop stars are regularly lambasted for inciting violence, misogyny and homophobia, and where a lot of the time this is true, it could be all too easy to slip into a jaded view of the whole genre. But by dismissing it out of hand, a whole world of musical pioneering could be missed - for every Ludacris there's a Mos Def, for every G-Unit there's a De La Soul. Hip-Hop can have something to say, and it can be as meaningful as any lyric sung by some misanthropic indie singer.
From a British perspective, the album that has best done this in recent memory is Angles by Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip. A producer and a poet from Essex weren't the most likely candidates to become the saviours of intelligent hip-hop, but with Scroobius Pip's wit and biting social commentary backed up by Dan le Sac's 8-bit bleeps and beats, it's hard to disagree. Angles lives up to its name by not approaching the album's subjects in a one-dimensional way, every song is looking at its subject from a new perspective. The eponymous song is the most obvious, looking at a tragic situation from the views of several different people, A Letter From God To Man is a an inverse prayer, whilst Look For The Woman looks at unrequited love from the other side.
It could be easy to look at this album from a purely lyrical standpoint, but Le Sac's understated backings are just as important, often creating an almost stark atmosphere, amplifying the lyrical content, or by sampling Dizzee Rascal in a satire of current hip-hop trends, or Radiohead just because it sounds amazing.
"Angles" proves that hip-hop can be funny or heart-rendingly sad, it proves that it can tell us something about society, whether its the effects of self-harm or the importance of Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon movies, and most of all, it proves that hip-hop itself is important. I'll leave you with Scroobius' own words, as they sum it up far better than I can.
"I'm just trying to be a positive role model for ya
Cause in my town I'm blessed with many role models
So many that sometimes the mind just boggles
See KRS is my teacher
Slick Rick's my ruler
Chuck D's my preach'
I'm just a preschooler
I've still got growing to do though
I ain't trying to fool ya
But compared to all the other kids in my class
I'm much taller"
Le Sac vs Pip Myspace
A Letter From God To Man