If you want someone to listen to your album all the way through then grab their ears at the start and force them to pay attention. Here’s some openers that boot down the door, shove a shotgun in your face and hold you hostage for the duration of the album.
Nas & Damian Marley – “As We Enter” – The song that inspired this post. Here’s Mark Ronson’s take on it: “Probably the only legitimate hip-hop banger this year (maybe in several years) to not feature Auto-Tune vocals or paper-thin drums from a shitty new synth was “As We Enter” by Damian Marley and Nas. It’s a tough partyrecord, with thick drums, a horn break and two guys effortlessly trading rhymes in two different dialects. It’s a throwback to the golden era of 90s hip-hop without sounding like a pastiche.”
Clipse – “Freedom” – As soon as this starts you know the Thornton brothers aren’t messing around. For those who only discovered Pusha T once he’d signed to GOOD Music, this is what you’ve been missing.
Common – “Be” – The most played song in my iTunes library and the opening to my personal favourite album of all time.
I spend so much time writing essays and doing assignments for a degree that will help me in the future, sometimes I just wanna Be in the here and now. A song that sounds like I imagine summertime in Chicago. I’ve got nothing to base that impression on but I’d like to think it’s somewhere near the truth. Video HERE. I hate when people disable embedding on their YouTube videos. View whores.
Nas – “Stillmatic” – Nas seemed to have lost his way on the albums after Illmatic. Stillmatic was a triumphant return to form, proving rap’s wonderkid still had it. The album started as it intended to go on – with Nas absolutely killing it.
Outkast – “You May Die”/ “Speakerboxxx Intro” – Outkast have had some phenomenal beats on their album intros. You start listening to these and imagine Big Boi and Dre blessing them, only for both to abruptly finish and leave you with blue balls.
“Speakerboxxx Intro” HERE.
Jay-Z – “Hova Song” – This beat is monumental. Only an emcee with Jay’s presence could do it justice. The most impressive aspect of this song is that it sounds as if he’s not even trying as he introduces you to his world.
GZA – “Liquid Swords” – It had to be on this list. In my opinion GZA’s Liquid Swords captured that Wu sound better than any album since they burst onto everyone’s radar with Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
“I’m on a mission that n*ggas say is impossible, But when I swing my swords they all choppable, I be the body dropper, the heartbeat stopper, Child educator plus head amputator”
M.I.A. – “Bamboo Banger” – Much like the artist herself, this song is almost impossible to put in a box. Dance, electronica and Asian music become one in this hypnotic track.
Florence + the Machine – “Dog Days Are Over” – If you don’t like Florence I don’t think we could be friends. The perfect start to a truly great pop album although adverts did kinda kill this one. It’s almost become as played out and cliche as “Hoppípolla“, which was the go-to uplifting song for a while.
The xx – “Intro” – The xx were impossible to avoid in 2010. With an intro like this you couldn’t ignore them. It’s exhilarating, melodic, refreshing – everything The xx are.
The Streets – “Turn the Page” – This kicked off Mike Skinner’s debut album, what a way to introduce yourself. He’s not singing, not even really rapping in a traditional sense. He talked to a generation of young people fed up with mainstream music. The birth of a vital artist.