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1520 Sedgwick Avenue: February 8th, 2008 Friday, February 8, 2008

Posted by Andy Hutchins in 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Rockabye.
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Exuberance for a Friday. This is my pick for 2007’s best rap song. 

“Better choose the right one or pick, pick the kiddies up.”

Listen again, this time with video. (One of the better videos of last year, too.)

The big guy in the white coat is Pimp C, who died in January of an apparent overdose on purple drank or lean. He was one half of the second-best Southern rap duo, UGK, with the guy in the car, Bun B, and they team with the other best twosome, OutKast, on this one, “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You).”

It sounds at times like a wedding exploding, and starts sweetly for Andre 3000’s verse of commitment, maybe the best work in years from the most mercurial artist in all of hip-hop (“I’m so like a Pip/I’m glad it’s night” and “I CC’d every girl  that I’d see, see ’round town” are brilliant), then adds a ticking drumline for the trio of players, who all lay down their best mack.

All of these things lead to one of the best posse cuts (read: a bunch of different rappers on one track) ever, almost five minutes of hip-hop glory I wish would never end; it’s domestic drama mixed with romance, with a few dashes of pimping, and it’s wonderfully played against type, showing the range these four, all at the upper end of the intellectual spectrum in hip-hop, have, and, in the tragic case of one Chad Butler, had.

As a bonus for your Friday, here’s my picks in the Rap categories:

Best Rap Solo Performance: “The People,” Common feat. Dwele

Best Rap Performance By a Duo/Group: “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You),” UGK feat. OutKast

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: “Good Life,” Kanye West feat. T-Pain

Best Rap Song: (songwriters) “Good Life,” Alrin Davis, Faheem Najm and Kanye West

Best Rap Album: Graduation, Kanye West

I feel like it’s a Kanye year, and I’d pick him to win Album of the Year if I didn’t think the Academy wants to see him continue to twist in the wind on that one. (Hint: I’d say Amy Winehouse is even money and the Herbie Hancock record is a good shot; the Foo Fighters and Vince Gill are just terrible nominees.)

I firmly believe all of my picks are the most deserving choices in their categories. But this could definitely be a fluke year, because “Make it Rain,” “Party Like a Rockstar,” and, yes, “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” are all Grammy-nominated songs.

 And “Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been),” which I’ve written about, is a strong contender for the Duo/Group category, though I think the memorial factor is strong for the song above.

The Rap/Sung pick could be upset by an “Umbrella” onslaught, even though I’ve written better verses than the wack one Jay tacked onto the beginning of that song.

In fact, all of his Grammy nods this year are bogus, ’cause “Show Me What You Got” was a glorified Budweiser commercial and Kingdom Come was turgid and predictable even in some of its best moments; I really hope he doesn’t win for those, because American Gangster, which may be reviewed in this space soon, is quite possibly a monster for next year’s laurels.

And watch out for T.I. He’s been subterranean since his arrest on weapons charges, but he could score a few upsets.

That all said, I’m rooting for Kanye, not just because he controlled the rap world for a while last year, but because he did it by pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo.

Also, expect a fuller Grammy preview Sunday and a potential recap or live blog; plus, next week the Ave is getting some new features, so expect more and better in the near future.

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