The EP is one of my favorite entities. Albums tend to have a far greater chance of being botched both under the task of creating a cohesive album and the sheer pressure that comes with it. But the EP is more an in-between: you get the substantive flavor of an album, the variety of a mixtape and the most creatively uninhibited music all at the price of FREE. Usually.
Four of the EPs we chose below come from artists who also released full-length albums in 2010 (Nottz, Donwill, Von Pea and Fly Lo), each of which were also excellent. Honorable mentions go to Atmosphere’s To All My Friends, The Blood Makes The Blade Holy EP, Slum Village’s Villa Manifesto Digital EP, and Rick Ross’ The Albert Anastasia EP (which was virtually replaced by Teflon Don).
Donwill & Von Pea – The Sandwich Shop EP
The beats for this project are taken from The Roots’ leftovers and outtakes that were released on their Sandwiches EP earlier this year, which was a sick project in itself given they looped the beats, wrote, and recorded the project in one day. Imagine smooth and funky Roots tracks accompanied by the dopest rhymes coming out of the underground that is Brooklynati. Some of the Lessonadary members make apperances including Che Grand and Spec Boogie on probably the dopest 45 second interlude ever. But for real, Von Pea and Donwill both have some real nice 16’s on this (“We can rap, man” says Von Pea on “Spaintro”) and the beats are just do dope and jazzy and nice. Damn. If you’re a Tanya Morgan (there’s an apperance by Ilyas as well) then you definitely won’t be disappointed with this EP. You can trust me. I was put onto this by Ray Black and I won’t lie, I slept on it for a long while. But around August and September I did bump it a lot on my commute. It’s all around good fresh hip-hop. –J.R.
Flying Lotus – Pattern + Grid World EP
The best part of this EP (and Fly Lo’s music generally speaking), is trying to locate the different genre markers and make-happens that comprise this awesomely goopy music. There’s dub, there’s electro, there’s house, there’s jazz, and yeah, some hip-hop in there too. It’s a sonic buffet where the only ingredients are frequency, amplitude, and dynamic envelope. If you have any hankering to navigate what music of this century is really made up of, I mean, if you want to embark on an ontological journey into the zeros and ones, and signal processes that make the sounds you hear in 2010, then let your ears and (preferably uninhibited) imagination figure this shit out. But be warned. If you’re deep enough, this EP may re-define your concept of “nature”, so think twice when unexperienced consults advise “this shit would be awesome messed up!”: zoomers+Fly Lo may ensure you don’t sober up quite the same way. –K-Lis
Saukrates – The Big Soxx Versions EP
It’s the S-A-U-K-R-A-T-E-S/ Spell his name right ‘cuz they compare him to the best/this EP will outdo your girlfriends’ favourite hip-hop joints/Come on/He’s the Dr. Dre of the 49th Parallel. (Don’t get it? Turn your square into a circle and listen to the EP). –Chedo
Alex Dimez – Twenty Dimez EP
QUIZ! Name a Canadian artist that has opened for Gzam Tech N9NE, AZ, EPMD, Pharoahe Monch, Redman and Cypress Hill and has (unlikely paired) shoutouts from both Necro and Brother Ali on his EP. Stuck? ALEX DIMEZ. –Chedo
Oddisee – Odd Winter EP
Oddisee joins Vivaldi (!) in composing one of the more substantial odes to the four seasons (Odd Spring, Odd Summer and Odd Autumn are the others) to which the Odd Winter EP belongs, replete with a series of melodic sample-oriented instrumentals interspersed with cameos from Homeboy Sandman, Stik Figa, X.O., and Tranqill. Suggestively titled tracks depict Odd’s musical interpretations of winter images, experiences, and concepts, like “Blizzard of 09”, “The Warm Up”, “Frostbit” and “Winds From the North”. Throw on a parka, put Odd in your phones, and venture into the white barren to create your own Odd Winter. –K-Lis
Nottz & Asher Roth – RAWTH EP
I don’t remember exactly when I first heard this project was happening, but I was instantly excited and was already holding a spot for it on my best-of lists for 2010. Turns out it ended up as an EP which, yes, is unfortunate, but I’m grateful for its eight tracks of dopeness. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, it’s definitely a two or three time repeat first listen. Nottz’s beats are infectious regardless of what you say or how you say it. He comes with his typical boom bap style of production, but has heavy, live sounding drum kits which are real nice and make for easy head knocks. Asher & Nottz both indulge in rhyming on the EP, but Asher does a lot more than Nottz overall. But then again, he did produce the damn beats. Both kick nice rhymes which keep you interested if you’re not too busy banging your head and zoning out on what’s being said. Also look out for solid apperances from Rhymefest on one track (which has a Cold War Kids sample ) and a guest verse from Kardinal on the “Run It Back” remix. –J.R.