Thursday R.A.Ps (Random Appreciation Posts): Dope Songs that End Albums
As important as it is to have a great opener to an album to pull someone’s attention, to end it on a high note and leave the listener with the notion that from front to back they just experienced a dope record is what really makes it complete.
Whether they help summarize the purpose of the album or are just dope tracks that fans are left with, the last track of the album is an important thing for a project and can oftentimes help make or break the opinion of how great that album is.
For today’s Thursday R.A.Ps, we take a look at some songs that did a tremendous job of closing out projects and helped leave hip hop fans who took the time to listen to these records in full completely satisfied yet wanting more.
Like always with these selections, these are not necessarily the best nor the greatest; They are ones that are just really good to listen to and deserve to have a light shined upon for others to take notice.
Last Call by Kanye West; The College Dropout (2004)
After years of trying to get on as an emcee and doing his best to prove to everyone from underground to mainstream that lyrically he could shine, Kanye finally got his moment in the sun in 2004 with The College Dropout and “Last Call” is definitely the best way to cap off this 21 track story of Mr. West’s entry into the building as a name brand.
With an infectious bass-synth providing the groove for this great/apt sample the song “Mr. Rockefeller, Kanye speaks on his newfound as “The Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer of the Roc (a-Fella)” and stakes his claim as the next great thing to hit the genre which is foresight most people would kill for.
The sound of the snares almost sound like claps which is appropriate for the last track of Ye’s first foray into superstardom as his self congratulatory rhyme schemes are his way of looking at anyone who ever doubted him and his drive to make it as an emcee in hip hop and gleefully say “You were wrong”, all the while driving in a mayonnaise colored-Benz he calls miracle whips.
It should also be known that the person who created this beat was actually Evidence of Dilated Peoples who originally made it for Jay-Z and asked Kanye if he could give it to him until Kanye used it for himself; Thank God Kanye blew up and Ev got production credit for this amazing album closer.
The Next Level by Tha Alkaholiks (ft. Diamond D); Coast II Coast (1995)
With an album title like Coast II Coast, there is a lot of confidence on the part of Los Angeles-based trio Tha Alkaholiks to stake claim the the idea that their music is dope enough rock the heads of listeners on both sides of the country, and with The Bronx’s Diamond D assisting the hip hop drunkies on the final track of there 1995 album it solidifies that point perfectly.
Using An off-kilter string sample and deep funky bassline, the D.I.T.C. member creates the perfect platform for emcees Tash and J-Ro and producer E-Swift as well as himself to sound the alarm like the drowned out sax-riff in the track to spit some dope lines about themselves as they serve wack rappers who “Got a bad name like Dick Butkus” cause they were “born for lyric kickin’, while cooling out with you girl eating sweet and sour chicken.”
Helping to encapsulate the vibe of the entire album, the sound of the instrumental really makes the listener feel like he/she are at that point of inebriation where their vision becomes distorted and their body begins to feel like rubber, adequately adding the lime to this tall glass of alcohol-flavored hip hop.
This track was one of the singles in for the album which is great as not only did it provide a great example of what this trio was about, but showed how the best things are indeed saved for last.
It Ain’t Hard to Tell by Nas; Illmatic (1994)
Few hip hop artists have had the impact with their debut project the way Nas did with Illmatic, creating this mythological like aura for himself from the jump with his first on-record appearance on Main Source’s “Live at the Barbeque” and further solidifying that legend throughout the track list of the 1994 album with the last song being a prime example of that legend status being solidified.
From the moment the sample of Michael Jackson’s vocals from “Human Nature” hit the speakers over Large Professor’s snare claps and blaring saxophone, this sense of wonder takes over the listeners ears as Nas’ gritty poetics take him/her on a lesson of how to verbally impose one’s will on the mind especially with guitar sample from said Michael Jackson song riding underneath his words.
With his raspy deliver, the Queens, NY native’s use of vocabulary is amazing as he claims “Cause in my physical I can express through song, delete stress like Motrin then extend strong” while drinking Moet with Medusa and smoking weed in hell, showcasing this great and almost sage way of how to formulate his rhymes which gave that wise beyond his years status as he was in his late teens creating this album.
Songs like this are what helped make Nas one of the most respected men to ever come on the mic and with only nine full tracks that make up Illmatic, the pulsating nature if this production was a phenomenal way to end a fan’s near 40 minutes of listening and keep them salivating for what he had in store next.
Get Away by Big K.R.I.T.; 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (2017)
Admittedly this one is a bit of a cheat considering K.R.I.T.’s 2017 project 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time is a double album, but considering that it is split up into two parts — Big K.R.I.T. and Justin Scott respectively — there is solace in the fact that both have their own stories to tell, thus we can discuss their respective ending tracks, and here we will speak on the first’s.
K.R.I.T. has always seemed to struggle trying to get the recognition he deserves from hip hop and for a man who can rhyme and produce as good as he can with a catalogue as extensive as his, it has to be very irritating to feel like a lack of due props.
However, that has never lead the Meridian, MS native to make subpar music and try to go for a radio sound (even more irritating because his music is good enough and sounds like something that could be on the radio), which is what makes “Get Away” such a great cap to the first part of this record.
Beginning slowly with a vocal sample the trap drum-percussion puts a prideful bounce in the listeners shoulders as the sound of an alarm clock goes off and K.R.I.T. yells “Wake up!” before reciting the chant “I gotta get away from the bull shit that they on”, taking a defiant stance against forces that tried to pull him away from the success he was trying to achieve.
Whether it was the major label system trying to make changes to his style to which he felt “Fuck all that sauce that they tossin’, sauce got plenty of flavor” or people who don’t pay attention to him like that, they are things he feels do not need to affect him as fans who really know about his music and his own knowledge of his worth and power that have given him the confidence to succeed and allow him to reap the rewards of that success.
This track is a perfect way to leave listeners with some confidence themselves after they finish the first part of this project and is a great example of K.R.I.T. music as a whole; The ability to make music that knocks but puts an endearing message within it which creates timeless music, in this caste by a King Remembered In Time.
Boy Meets World by Fashawn; Boy Meets World (2009)
Fresno, CA’s Fashawn provided one of the dopest debut albums a new hip hop artist on the scene could deliver with 2009’s Boy Meets World into the young adult he was then ready for what the world had to offer him.
It is very fitting that the last song on the album is the self-titled track of the project seeing that the West Coaster gives the listener insight in his upbringing and is made even more interesting in the fact that it is in two parts; The first discussing his childhood and the second giving his feelings on the world he has now stepped into, both of which are provided great instrumentals by producer Exile.
Summarizing the feeling of Fashawn’s childhood beautifully with an amazing chopping of a blissful sounding keyboard sample, the emcee goes through his own history of growing up on welfare checks and the death of his grandmother being the first time he knew about death, looking at the difficult times in his life which leads wonderfully into this great hook that tells him to look at where he has been and now it is time to see the world letting the listener know that all of the things he had to go through prepared him to become a man.
This is solidified further with the second part as the blissful keys get a little more weight in their vibe as the tempo is slowed and the tone becomes more sad as Fashawn gets more of a sing-song delivery and does so well as he is pointing out all the problems in the world he is about to enter such as war and people selling drugs, making the hook in this part hit that much harder as he proclaims if people took the time and put their pride away things would be better but that kind of thinking is the “same old song” people have been singing for years.
Even though he is aware that the world is not a great place for him to enter Fashawn knows that through all the things he has experienced and with the help of the people who are in his life, he is ready for it which makes this an amazing end to the story of this album.
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