While most of you probably don’t recognize the name Rhymefest, I am sure most of you have heard his work. Rhymefest co-wrote and won a Grammy for his work on the song “Jesus Walks” from Kanye West’s 2004 debut album The College Dropout. In 2006, he released his first album Blue Collar on J Records/Allido Records. The CD while underperforming in sales was truly a great album and Rhymefest is one the most gifted hip-hop artists to come around in a long time. It really surprises The Blot that Blue Collar did as poorly as it did considering how many great songs it had on it and guest appearances by Kanye West, Q-Tip, Mario and O.D.B. along with songs produced by Mark Ronson, Just Blaze and Kanye West. Many of you may recognize the name Mark Ronson from The Blot’s Favorite Albums of 2007. Ronson produced the hit records for Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen before releasing his own album, Version, last year. If you haven’t heard Blue Collar and are a fan of catchy, intellectual hip-hop you should pick up the album on iTunes. I think you will be happy you did.
I bring all of this up because Rhymefest dropped last week what is sure to be one of the best concept mix tapes of the still extremely young year. In anticipation of his latest album El Che, Rhymefest has released Mark Ronson Presents: Man In The Mirror, a Michael Jackson dedication album. Now I know what most of you are all thinking, who wants their name associated with Michael Jackson anymore? And I can’t quiet blame you for asking that, but the truth is the man’s The King of Pop and his music from the 60’s to the 90’s is still some of the best music around. With that being said I was pretty weary of the mix tape’s theme because most people that try to recreate or remix an artist of Jackson’s caliber usually aren’t that successful. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised and found that the mix tape wasn’t much of a recreation or a remix but really exactly what Rhymefest claimed it to be, a dedication album. It’s hard to explain but I enjoyed it and thought some of you might like it as well. The mix tape is free and you can download it here, but be aware it has a lot of expletive language in it:
(right click and choose Save Target As to download the entire album in .Zip file)
It seems like good timing for this mix tape’s release considering this year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest albums of all time, Thriller. If you hadn’t heard already, to mark the occasion Jackson is going to be rereleasing a 25th Anniversary edition of Thriller with six 2008 remixes of the most popular songs off of the album by some of the biggest names in pop music. I want to actually apologize to the biggest names in pop music here and now because that might have been exaggerating. Instead the album features Will.I.Am, Fergie and Akon and a remix by Kanye West. The songs have already been leaked on the internet and to no one’s surprise aren’t really that good. I’d think these “remixes” are a tad unnecessary and are going to be pretty dated five to ten years from now. Hopefully by then Fergie and Akon will have been wiped clean from the music landscape only to be remembered for their brief reign over the pop music. That being said, I’m a sucker for all things old school Michael Jackson and will probably have to pick up this 25th Anniversary edition of Thriller much like I purchased the Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection box set a few years ago.
Rhymefest talks about his mix tape and the new 25th Anniversary Edition of Thriller on his blog at his MySpace Page. You can read the entire entry here, but be aware it, like the mix tape, has some choice words in it. I thought I’d include some of his thoughts (edited of course) for you to read below:
This album was made because I am a fan of not only Michael Jackson, but of great music, in general. I have been listening [recently] to some of the remixes of MJ's 25th anniversary of THRILLER, and my analysis is that they're...aight...but personally, as a fan, I expected a bit more. I put my heart into this s**t and took a risk to bring you an edgy, creative, refreshing perspective of Michael Jackson in rare form.