Once again, we here at WYDU are turning out the lights and shutting the door on 2009 in typical late fashion. Anymore later and we might as well combine the 2009/2010 year end lists together. I remember when HipHopSite.com used to have the dopest year end wrap up. Except they would never put them up until the end of January and I used to cuss under my breath every time I’d go to the site and not see them up yet. Now I understand their dilemma.
Welcome to the fourth annual WYDU Awards, and of course since our close affiliation with Bloggerhouse (which I’m a 1/3 of), it will be included into the melee as well. For those of you new to this whole celebration, we gather some of the greatest minds in the hip hop blogosphere (or at least the ones that were suckers enough to agree to participate) and we asked their opinions on certain categories. They gave their opinions and then we used a certified “Vote Counting” company that came to the WYDU offices and worked on it for days on end. After shooing away the TV cameras and brought the totals to a verification firm, we are here today to announce those results.
This is year four of our year end awards (that used to be, so tastefully called “The Pantie Awards”). With having so many individuals involved, we get a wide array of votes, which makes for some interesting results. Let’s welcome those involved in this years voting.
Eric of Bloggerhouse
Dart Adams of Bloggerhouse
Has-Lo: HipNott recording artist and of WYDU
DJ SoulClap: Producer extraordinaire and of WYDU
BC of WYDU
Dillon Mauer: Domination Records recording artist
Dom Corleone of Hold The Throne
Citizen of The Understudies
Ill Poetic: Definition Music recording artist and producer
Ox The Midwest Bully: Independent hip hop artist and hip hop lover
Zilla Rocca of Clap Cowards as well Beat Garden Entertainment recording artist and a memeber of 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers and Clean Guns
Mike Schpitz aka LoveJones: Independent hip hop artist
Jaz of Cold Rock Da Spot
Khal of Rock The Dub
Hotbox: Independent hip hop producer
Cee: Part of HipNott Recording Duo Cee & Bekah
Jeff Weiss of Passion of the Weiss
Arablak: Hip Hop artist and part of the Social Light Sounds crew
CH Commish of the infamous Slushy Gutter Crew on the Slushy Gutter Summer Blog
The idea was for people to nominate or vote for up to five artists/albums per category. The most votes got the award. I personally voted for the stuff already nominated, so I didn’t have a lot of influence on the final outcome, although I did break the tie breakers.
It’s funny, when I asked cats to name some of their favorite mixtapes, the common response was, “I don’t listen to much mixtapes, but….”. How can you not be bombarded by mixtapes? It’s impossible to not to listen to at least one of them in the past year. They have taken over for 12 inch singles as a way to keep your name relative in between releases. Yes, they have gotten a little ridiculous and part of my New Year’s Resolution was to be a little more picky about what “mixtapes” I download, but it’s part of the revolution. There was a lot of them mentioned, but the winner was a fairly clear cut winner.
Coming kinda late in the year, Elzhi dropped The Leftovers to much praise from the hip hop blogosphere. Always a favorite, Elzhi drops a project that is possibly better than 95% of the proper albums that were dropped in 2009. We all know that he can rap circles around your favorite MC, and with beats from old reliables such as Black Milk, along with new faces such as DJ Spinna, Oh No and up and comers such as Apollo Brown and Denmark Vessesy, one has to wonder what the future holds for the SV member.
Trav’s Choice: Diz Gibran – Soon You’ll See
Honorable Mentions (According to the panel): Sean Price – Kimbo Price: The Prelude to Mic Tyson, yU – Before Taxes, Diz Gibran – Soon You’ll See.
What Others Said:
Zilla Rocca: Playboy Tre - Liquor Store Mascot
This was like the southern version of College Dropout. I’m stunned this didn’t end up on a major, or indie, for that matter. Personal, cohesive, painful, funny, honest, bouncy…this shit really has it all. From the arrangment to the production to Tre’s stories, everything was top notch.
Citizen: Blu - Her(favorite)color
I had to go with this because the production on it reminds me of why I got into hip hop in the first place. You hear the beats on this album and just imagine all the great old records and movies that we’re sampled to put this project together. Not to mention it plays like a very cohesive album and it has a very personal feel to it. Like you’re inside Blu’s head. Hands down my favorite “unofficial project of the year”.
Dom Corleone: Lil’ Wayne – No Ceilings
Contenders included Sean Price, Joell Ortiz, Pill, Elzhi and pretty much anything J Period touched, but the Martian takes the cake on a tape featuring the pride of ‘Nawlins’ one-of-a-kind witticisms, limited Autotune and some of Weezy’s best verses since Carter II. Put that in your styrofoam cup and sip
Has-Lo: Rhymefest – The Manual
I don’t really listen to mixtapes but I liked the Rhymefest one, The Manual. I listened to that (I know…my mixtape game is assey lol). Also, any mixtape that I was involved in (all 2 of them lol). Dj Chong Wizard – The Eclectic (I produced the song Jazz) as well as Dj Swann & TheFindMag.com – The Beach Cruiser (I did the outro for Side D)
The Surprise Album of the year goes to the album that either kinda of came out of nowhere or we didn’t really think we would like. It could be from some new cat or it could be that veteran artist that hasn’t had a good run their last couple albums. This year, it was a run away in favor of the winner.
We had been hearing about Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II for at least a year or two. Usually albums that delayed and that was trying to live up to it’s previous name sake don’t end up going to well. How wrong we were. Not only did the album live up to it’s namesake, it put Raekwon back on the hip hop map after some forgettable solo albums over the past decade or so. The production was top notch in most cases and Rae and family came correct with the Wu-Type sound that they made so famous. Of course their are bound to be some cats that disagree, and I don’t think it’s as good as the original, it was still refreshing to hear Raekwon drop a solid album.
I had no idea what to expect and usually when you try to capitalize on old success, or recreate something that was big, it doesn’t work. But, Raekwon’s LP was dope. - BC
Trav’s Choice: Diego Bernal – For Corners (The main reason is I didn’t have as low expectations for OB4CL2 as some people I guess)
Honorable Mentions: 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers – The Slow Twilight, Fashawn – Boy Meets World, Mos Def – The Ecstatic
What Others Said:
Cee: Asher Roth – Asleep In The Bread Aisle
I was ready to hate on Asher after I heard the mixtape with Drama, which I wasn’t feeling. Then I heard the album. And had it on serious rotation for most of the year. Dude is actually good!
Zilla Rocca: UGK – UGK 4 Life
Most posthumous albums are trash, straight up. With Pimp C gone, and Bun B in a renaissance with new cats and the blogosphere, I figured it would be a quick cash grab, but it was one of my favorite albums of the year. Musically warm and refreshing. Lyrically on point and often times just flat out WRONG yet hilarious (“young girls sucking on my dick like a chicken wing”). Really cohesive and true to their sound and character.
Citizen: Aceyalone – Aceyalone & The Lonely Ones
This album was a really pleasant change of pace. I loved how he took it out of the box with the 50′s doo-wop sound and live band style production.
Dom Corleone: Lushlife – Cassette City
I hadn’t even heard of Lushlife until I listened to this; I bet you haven’t, either. The Philly instrumentalist & MC crafted a polished gem using a unique blend of lyrical dexterity and elaborate melodies, resulting in much more than your average hip-hop release.
BC: Krs-One & Buckshot – Survival Skills & Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon
I have to go with KRS-One and Buckshot’s Survival Skills as the big one to me. I was hoping for an album that would give me 3-4 real good tracks and it is a solid LP straight through. I’m going to go with Kid Cudi’s Man On the Moon – The End of Day too. Like I said, I’m not a mixtape guy, so I really hadn’t heard anything other than a guest spot on Blueprint III and there’s a lot of hate for the guy, but I really liked this LP.
Has-Lo: – The Ecstatic
After a couple of somewhat disappointing records Mos Def came back in a big way with this one. His previous two LPs definitely had some moments but failed to gel for me. This album hits the spot with some top notch production help. Even though a large portion of the soundscape has been released in some form or fashion elsewhere, who better than Mos to paint words for the instrumental picture?
It pains me to my very hip hop soul to include a Rakim album as a “disappointment” and to be fair, he only “won” by a vote over Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album, but it’s still a sad day. I also have yet to sit down and listen to Rakim’s Seventh Seal album, just for the simple fact I’m not sure I really want to. I’ve heard nothing but bad reviews over it, so I guess that is good enough for me. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to sit down and find out what happened to one of the greatest MCs to ever grace our presence. Until then, I’ll just take the panels word on it and let it be and remember “Eric B Is President”.
This frisbee of a disc sounds outdated, stale, lackluster, and every other synonym for boring or lame. When “Holy Are You” leaked, I had faith that the R would restore hip-hop’s metaphorical throne as king MC. It’s a damn shame that, without looking at the track list, that is the only song title I remember. What’s worse is that I gave it multiple spins.
I never thought I’d say this, but if Seventh Seal is any indication of things to come, it may be time for Rakim to throw in the towel.
Trav’s Pick: Jay-Z – Blueprint 3
Honorable Mentions: Wale - Attention Deficit, Ace & Edo – Arts & Entertainment, Eminem – Relapse, Jay-Z – Blueprint 3, Murs & Slug (Felt 3) – Tribute To Rosie Perez, Slaughtahouse – Slaughtahouse
What Others Said:
BC: Camp Lo – Stone & Rob Caught On Tape
Maybe most people stopped expecting good music from Camp Lo based on what I’ve read, but I liked their last couple LP’s, so I was expecting some good stuff here. There were a couple good tracks, but most of it was below average. The 2nd LP they put out in 2009 was better.
Citizen: Chali2na – Fish Outta Water
I couldn’t stand this record. Maybe it was Chali’s voice for a whole record, maybe it was the more “accessible” beats, I dunno. This album didn’t do it for me.
Zilla Rocca: Felt 3 – Tribute to Rosie Perez
I went into this album without much expectations, and I was still soundly disappointed. I’m big fans of all three artists (Slug, Murs, Aesop Rock) but this was this was haphazard at best. Aesop’s beats are a certain breed and not everyone sounds good rapping on them. Sometimes artists should just stay friends with each other and not make full projects.
Cee: Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3
Man, these days a new Jay album is an event. I was mad excited about this…until I heard it. At best, there was a handful of joints I was feeling, the rest was garbage. Seems the God MC done slipped up again. Keen to see what dude does next; he hasn’t had more than one trash album in a row since the In My Lifetime volumes, so hopefully the next LP will be a heater.
Has-Lo: - Relapse.
Why does everyone like this album? The production is AWFUL, Eminem (once again) rehashes forced and contrived serial killer rhetoric and there is no direction to speak of. It’s just “wacky” and/or “shocking” things tied together by nonsensical phrases and stanzas (he references the octo-mom and linsey lohan for christ’s sake). Plus, seriously man, what the HELL is with all the accents and voices? Fuck are you, a ventriloquist?
The Most Slept On Album of 2009
This category had a pretty clear winner, and even though it wouldn’t be my first choice, I did give it a vote and have no problem with it being chosen. With so much material out there these days, it’s obvious that things are going to fall between the cracks.
The fact that both Aarophat and Illastrate have been around for awhile just proves cats have been sleepin’ on the duo. The Black Noise LP album got a ton of play from myself and apparently I’m not the only one that bumped their music, but I have a feeling it’s mostly us obscure bloggers that truly understand the greatness of the album. The production from Illastrate is rich and full of sound, definitely one of the better producers I’ve heard in a while. The album is just full of great jams and one of those that you don’t really need to skip too much on it. They both compliment each other very nicely, solid form start to finish.
Trav’s Pick: Paten Locke – Super Ramen Rocketship
Honorable Mentions: Finale – A Pipe Dream and a Promise, Charli2na – Fish Outta Water, Tiye Phoenix – Half Woman Half Amazin, Paten Locke – Super Ramen Rocketship
What Others Said:
Has-Lo: Paten Locke - Super Ramen Rocketship.
With a name like that how could you not want to know what it’s about? Dope beats, equally dope rhymes=hip hop as it was meant to be heard. Blast off.
Cee: Daniel Merriweather – Love & War
Since 2009 was such a weak year in Hip Hop, I had to slide outta the zone there and mention my soulful fellow countryman, Daniel Merriweather. Hands down, across all genres this was my album of the year. But since this is a Hip Hop poll, I had to throw it in here. It’s goddamn flawless. Dude went #2 with it in the UK but muhfuckas still ignore him here in Australia. I don’t get it. It seems he’s the Aussie Lewis Taylor (British soul singer); an industry favourite that the people don’t know about.
Zilla Rocca: Camp Lo – Stone and Rob Caught on Tape/ Another Heist
I’m not sure what Camp Lo is anymore. They’re like renegades. They’re technically “grown man rap” and “indie” but they don’t get alot of respect from either niche. They still sound like no one else out there, but they don’t get half the audience of Doom, Cudi, or Anticon. All they do is put out funky ass slang hop every year on schedule. ’09 was no different.
Citizen: Edan - Echo Party
Listen to this and you’ll understand why Edan should be up there at the top of the Indy Producer rankings, and why fans desperately want another rap album.
Dom Corleone: Tiye Phoenix – Half Woman, Half Amazin’
I’ve been putting people onto Baltimore-bred, New Jersey native since her debut solo album dropped last summer. When I say she’s got the full package, I’m not lying – vicious verbals, riveting writing, a knack for rhyming over remarkable production and even promising skills behind the boards. Help yourself to a healthy dose of Tiye P to cure even the most damaged of ears, absolutely no need to call a doctor.
I have 2 from earlier in the year. Zion I’s The Takeover and Mr. Lif’s I Heard It Today. Both are, in my opinion, the best of their respective careers and I have heard very little from anyone else regarding these albums.
The Overrated Album of 2009
I’m still not sure where Kid Cudi even came from. Did someone leave the door open and he just appeared? To me he has kind of been like that cat sleeping on your couch that you really don’t know. He just never leaves. I’ll admit, I really don’t know what all the hub bub is over Kid Cudi or this album. I’ve listened to it twice. Once to see what the fuss was about and twice to see if I was missing something. It’s not a horrible album and Cudi has seemed to catch some backlash in the last half of the year after he was forced down our collective throats by, *gasp*, the blogs. So I’m sure there will be some cats saying that he wasn’t even “rated”, let alone being overrated.
Trav’s Pick: Gucci Mane
Honorable Mentions: Slaughterhouse – Slaughterhouse, Eminem – Relapse, Wale – Attention Deficit, Drake – So Far Gone, Gucci Mane, Jay-Z – Blueprint 3
What Others Said
Maybe this is more of an MC that is overrated, but Wale just isn’t a nice MC. I’m still working on listening to Attention Deficit and the music is good, but I can’t get past Wale’s Puffy-esk flow. He had been talked about as this great MC, but I just don’t see it. Jury’s still out on the LP though.
Dom Corleone: Fabolous – Loso’s Way
My primary beef with Loso’s Way is not that the songs are wack necessarily, but that he tried to trick listeners into thinking an R&B-rap release was really a concept album. You can’t line up a heap of radio singles alongside filler tracks then call it an LP based off Carlito’s Way. That shit might fly with the casual listener, but not me patna. Easily the album title fail of the year.
Zilla Rocca: Drake - So Far Gone
Lil’ Wayne meets Pure Moods. Sorry–I don’t get it.
The Comeback of the Year for 2009
Contrary to what LL may think, there is really nothing wrong with a comeback. Well maybe that fact that you needed to comeback from the thralls of mediocrity (and you are lucky if it’s just that) that you were in, but at least you came-back. Apparently, there were a couple artists that NEEDED to comeback, and they did just that. This was the closest category we had, with two artists getting the majority of the votes. I put it into a tie with my vote, so I had an unnamed member of the panel who DIDN’T vote for either one of the finalist to break the tie. The winner? Mos Def.
Mos beat out Raekwon for the comeback award. Honestly, I think you could argue either way for either artist. They both had some duds in recent years as far as albums go, and the both dropped very good albums in 2009. I don’t know why one would pick one over the other, but I went with Raekwon simply because his previous albums were (arguably) bigger disappointments than Mos Def’s, but obviously that can be viewed different ways. Either way, I have no problem with Mos taking the home the bronzed panties trophy.
Trav’s Pick: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II
Honorable Mentions: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II, Eminem – The Relapse
What Others Said:
Cee: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2
Dudes might wanna beat me down for saying this but Rae’s last few releases just weren’t…good. So for him to bring back the Cuban Linx saga like this was huge. AND he went up against Jay; the numbers say Jay won, but the people know that Rae brought the quality.
Dom Corleone: Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2
‘s follow-up to the classic OB4CL solidifies the Chef’s position among rap’s most prominent figures. Honorable mention here goes to the dankest duo, for Blackout! 2.
Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City. Not that has a poor track record, but I HATED the Big Doe Rehab album. In fact, I wasn’t too keen on More Fish either. So for me it was good to see Starks back to form, getting on some grown man cherish your woman ish.
By blandest, we don’t mean the worse, or biggest disappointment, although Slaughterhouse’s debut self titled opus was somewhat of a disappointment for me. We mean an album that just didn’t have that “spice”, I guess. I didn’t mind the album from Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, Royce Da 5’9 and Joe Budden. It just didn’t have much to keep me going back. With the talent they have on the mic, you would expect a colossal album of semi-epic proportions. That didn’t necessarily materialize and some of that might be due to the beat selections as well. Regardless, there just wasn’t enough here to keep me coming back for more.
Trav’s Pick: Slaughterhouse – Slaughterhouse
Honorable Mentions: Kurious – II, Cormega - Born & Raised
What Others Said
Has-Lo: – .
I am a huge ‘Mega fan and I really wanted to like this album, it just didn’t do much for me though. It’s not wack, it’s just not that special. It doesn’t have that rawness that makes Cormega projects so worth listening to.
BC: DOOM - Born Like This.
I dig DOOM, but this didn’t seem like a special album upon my first couple listens.
Right now, I just don’t have much of an opinion on it.
Dom Corleone: Rick Ross – Deeper Than Rap
Sleepier Than Rap had two, count ‘em, two songs that can be classified as semi-invigorating. One was “Maybach Music II” thanks to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League’s epic instrumental and T-Pain’s modified vocals, the other showcased Officer Ricky actually stepping up to the plate on “Mafia Music.” The rest? Meh, at best.
Zilla Rocca: Saigon and Statik Selektah – All in a Day’s Work
Forgot I owned this until I saw it collecting the dust by my roommate’s dog food the other day.
Cee: Wale – Attention Deficit
I was ready to love this album. All the hate thrown his way made me hope even more that it would be dope, coz I genuinely dig his shit. However, the album was average. And add that to the fact that his two best songs – ‘Ice and Rain’ and ‘Letter’ with John Mayer – didn’t make the cut, it was a wrap for me. I didn’t hate it but…I didn’t love it either.
We didn’t have are usual rush of re-releases from Traffic or a bunch of “lost” albums show up this year. We did however finally get the Large Pro album that had been circulating on the internet for over ten years. Remember when Large Pro said on Tribe’s album, “Buy the album when it drops”? Well I’m sure he didn’t think it would be some seventeen years later. The LP is a solid album and probably well worth waiting for, but I’m sure it would have made a bigger splash if it dropped when it should have.
Trav’s Pick: Large Professor – The LP
Honorable Mentions: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II, J Dilla – Jay Stay Paid
What Others Said:
Citizen: Aesop (Living Legends) – Living The Dream While Awake
This album was supposed to be out in 2004(?) and finally surfaced in 2009. Boasting great boom bap production and fun old-school style rhymes this was one of my favorite releases of the year. I loved all the guest appearances, Slug of Atmosphere, Del, Populous, and Living Legends members Eligh and Bicasso all came through with memorable appearances.
BC: Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2.
This just kept getting pushed back and it finally was released in ’09 and it ended up being great.
For something that dropped fairly early in the year, Diamond District’s In The Ruff stayed in cats minds for awhile. It also helped that they released a “official” dirty version and physical product later in the year. It proved to be a fairly good marketing ploy, although I don’t know how much they sold of the dirty version. You can’t really argue with this choice, has it did make a lot of noise and propelled Oddisee into the upper echelons of producers and make cats aware of XO and yU. The production is tight and the emcees provide enough “ummph” to keep the momentum going.
Trav’s Pick: Poorly Drawn People - Motion Not Emotion.
Honorable Mentions: yU – Before Taxes, Pac Div – Church League Champions, 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers - The Slow Twilight
What Others Said
BC: B.o.B. – Should Have Been My First Album
That Should Have Been My First Album was the big winner for me. I tend to hold off on listening to free LP’s because I want to listen to the paid for stuff before that and tend to forget about. Also, 2 inbox finds that I downloaded were real solid, both Poe Picasso – Exhibit A – The Real Hip-Hop Project and Know Life & Tech-Omega – Brothers Song – The Know Life Remixes EP were real nice finds. I’d recommend checking those for sure.
Dom Corleone: 14KT – Nowalataz LP
Detroit prodigy 14KT brings the heat a la Mo-Town’s finest Black Milk, but with a bit less bounce and a bit more soul. If you don’t know, now you know.
Cee: Emilio Rojas – The Natural
I think this is technically a mixtape but there was no industry beats on it, so I guess it qualifies. Fucking heater. Emilio is the future.
Has-Lo: Has-Lo – You Can Live Thru Anything If Magic Made It
F*CK DAT! MY sh*t was the best free download! You Can Live Thru Anything If Magic Made It: A Has-Lo remix project. Just a couple classics remixed my your friendly neighborhood starving artist, me. It’s been a quiet year for me, but I know if i don’t remind ya’ll…no one will. D/L THAT JOINT: http://sharebee.com/ad4bc117
This category was a won by a landslide with only one other album receiving multiple votes. You can’t argue with it much either, as Dilla’s Jay Stay Paid was one of the best albums of the year. It came with classic Dilla sounds and was part instrumental and part collabs with some of the greatest emcees around. Who didn’t wonder what Lil Fame would sound like on a Dilla beat? This was that album that you found out on. No argument on my part with this choice.
Trav’s Pick: J Dilla - Jay Stay Paid
Honorable Mentions: BK One – Radio do Canibal
What Others Said:
Dom Corleone: J. Period & K’naan – The Messengers (Tribute to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley & Bob Dylan)
Technically it’s not an album, so sue me. J. Period and K’naan’s conceptual project paying homage to three of the greatest musicians of all time was diverse yet cohesive, a truly engaging tribute indeed.
BC: Cunninlynguists – Strange Journey LP’s
Man, I didn’t really cop too much that would be considered a true Producer/DJ LP, so I would go with the Strange Journey LP’s from CunninLynguists. I know it’s not Kno presents…, but the albums are primarily produced by Kno and there are tracks that don’t feature Deacon and Natti, making it somewhat of a producer themed LP. That N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo LP had some nice tracks as well.
The Best MC of 2009
The daps for Raekwon continue. The voters deemed Rae’s performance on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II as worthy enough to warrant calling him the best MC of the 2009 year. Now agree or not, Rae was definitely in the zone on OB4CL2 and blessed everything he touched on the album. I had some problems with some lazy beats, but for the most part this was the Raekwon we all grew up on.
Trav’s Pick: Royce Da 5’9
Honorable Mentions: Fashawn, Elzhi, Royce Da 5’9
What Others Said:
Cee: Royce Da 5’9″
Dude MURKED the Slaughterhouse project; every guest spot; and his solo ‘Street Hop’ was spectacular. Emilio Rojas is a close runner up. He dropped two highly acclaimed mixtapes (with mostly original production) and his consistency is incredible. Itching for the LP.
Citizen: Very (of Afro Classics)
On both the “Classic EP” and the “Classic Rock” LP, Very stood out to me as a very unique, seasoned and adept MC. His style is very slick and his lyrics are on point too.
Dom Corleone: Ghostface Killah
Who else could reinforce (and often outshine) Raekwon throughout the murderous masterpiece OB4CLII while entertaining with a sultry, creative R&B album worth copping? Tony Starks, that’s who.
For being a newcomer and showing some real nice skills and a maturity that you don’t get from some seasoned MC’s.
The Best Producer of 2009
Madlib has long been respected as one of the best producers hip hop has to offer. Full of creativity, edge and an ability to be about as versatile as anyone in the game, Madlib is one of the best to do it. His production on Strong Arm Steady’s “In Search of Stoney Jackson” just cemented his place in hip hop even further by proving he can produce straight up boom bap hip hop beats as well as he does anything else.
I can’t argue that Madlib is a great producer and I’ve really jumped on the Madlib bandwagon the past couple years, but I did have an issue with him winning this category. The only thing he really released this year was the Strong Arm Steady album, which yes, was great by all accounts. But that was pretty much it, unless I’m missing something. I’m aware of the Beat Konducta Series Volumes 5 & 6, but let’s be honest with ourselves, those were released individually last year. I really wanted my pick to win it as I thought he was the most deserving, but he lost by a mere vote.
Trav’s Pick: Exile
Honorable Mentions: Oddisee, Kno, Paten Locke, J Dilla, DJ Khalil, M Phazes
What Others Said:
BC: Exile and Kno.
Both of these guys just keep churning out amazing beats and they dropped a lot on us in 2009.
Citizen: Eligh (Living Legends) & Blu
Eligh produced some much dope music this year and he continues to shine as one of the most slept on producers, mainstream or underground. He produced 3 albums: On Sacred Ground w/ Jo Wilkensen, Say G&E! w/ The Grouch, Gandalfs Beat Machine Level 3 (his instrumental series), plus songs for Mystik, Afro Classics and Aesop. Her(Favorite)Color & the Sene album we’re both fire…if you haven’t listened, do that.
Dom Corleone: Just Blaze
While The Megatron Don executed many a colossal single (Maino’s “All The Above,” Saigon’s “Gotta Believe It”), his most defining moments were with Jay Electronica. The “Exhibit” soundscapes are among the best of his outstanding career, which is saying a lot considering his celebrated material with Jay-Z, Joe Budden, Ghostface, Cam’ron and the like.
The Best Instrumental Album of the Year
My personal pick for producer of the year dropped a sick instrumental LP in the first quarter of the year in Radio. Exile has been around for at least a decade, if not longer, but he is finally starting to get his just due after producing the epic 2007 album with Blu. Since then he has been on everyone’s radar. The Radio LP is an extremely creative approach at making an instrumental LP as Exile incorporated music stations and music off the radio in his beat making process. It’s almost Dilla sounding in nature and maybe that’s why I like it so much, but it’s also has Exile’s own flavor stamped all over it as well. Very original, and that’s all most of us can ask for along with actually being good.
Trav’s Pick: Diego Bernal - For Corners
Honorable Mentions: 14KT – Nowalataz, Apollo Brown – Make Do, Blockhead - Music Scene, Kid Hum – Fossil Fuel, Diego Bernal – For Corners
The Best Mainstream/Major Label Album of 2009
I can’t speak on 50′s newest album, Before I Self Destruct, I’m listening to it for the first time while I type this. I’ve never HATED 50, and I’ll agree he makes interesting albums, although the subject matter usually wears thin on me after awhile. I’ve heard the production on Before I Self Destruct is top notch and what I’ve heard so far, it doesn’t disappoint if you are into those type of sounds. I didn’t hear a lot of mainstream stuff this past year as I gravitate further and further away from that scene in my older age.
Trav’s Pick: Jay-Z - Blueprint 3 (although I disliked the last half of it)
Honorable Mentions: Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon: The End of the Day, Jay-Z – Blueprint 3
What Others Said:
Zilla Rocca: Jay-Z - Blueprint 3
Jay-Z – Blueprint 3: “Run This Town” and “Empire State of Mind”–we off that. This was the first Jay album I ever bought where I paid almost no attention to the lyrics. It’s flawed to high hell, but it’s almost pretty damn banging for the most part. It was just enjoyable corporate pop rap, something Jay has brilliantly morphed into while others have failed over the years (Nelly, Eminem, DMX). It’s the perfect iPod album too–rearrange it, cut out “Young Forever” and “Venus and Mars”, insert “Brooklyn Go Hard” and “Jockin Jay-Z” and you’re set.
The Best Song of 2009
For the Second year in a row, Jay Electronica captures the best song of the year. Last year it was “Exhibit A”, this year it’s “Exhibit C”, which is again produced by Just Blaze. I’m starting to understand what the hype is about Jay Electronica finally after not really getting “it” and I’m even starting to jump on the hype train myself. Of course I’m always a sucker for a great Just Blaze beat and let’s face it, Jay Electronica sounds just as good if not better over a Megatron Don beat as Fabolous or any of those other generic MCs. If “Exhibit C” is indication of what we might be in store for, then we might have the next biggest thing since Nas. Time will tell, hopefully it’s not too much longer.
Trav’s Pick: Arablak – The Deed
Honorable Mention: Reflection Eternal ft Mos Def, Jay Electronica & J Cole – Just Began, Raekwon The Chef – House of Flying Daggers, Paten Locke – Break Thru, Red & Meth ft UGK – City Lights, Mos Def ft Slick – Auditorium, Arablak – The Deed
Best Album of 2009
Raekwon had quite the year. After a year or so of rumors of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II in the making and a couple set backs, it all came to fruition in 2009. I think a lot of us were hesitant this would even come out, let alone be at least listenable. It was even listed as “The Most Anticipated” album in last years WYDU Awards. While I’m not sure I’d call it the best album (even without my opinion involved), but one can’t deny the impact it had in the hip hop world. With a little help from his friends, namely Ghostface, Rae brought that Gambino flavored hip hop back to the scene. Armed with a handful of hip hop’s best producers, Rae dropped an album that pleased most of the eager fans and maybe even surprised a few naysayers as well.
Trav’s Pick: Paten Locke – Super Ramen Rocketship
Honorable Mentions: Aarophat & Illastrate – Black Noise LP, Fashawn – Boy Meets World, Paten Locke – Super Ramen Rocketship, Doom – Born Like This, J Dilla – Jay Stay Paid, Mos Def – The Ecstatic, Diamond District – In The Ruff, Royce Da 5’9 – Street Hop
What Others Said:
Cee: Skyzoo - The Salvation and Royce Da 5’9″ – Street Hop
Both were highly anticipated, had bangin’ production and came through with the goods on all sides.
Zilla Rocca: Mos Def -The Ecstatic
My favorite YouTube moment of 2009 was a seven minute clip of Mos Def getting his MF Doom stan on with his homies before a session. This was amazing to watch because rappers always praise or criticize other rappers when in the studio. But watching Mos’ pure zeal while reciting choice rhymes from MM..Food, Madvillain, etc. made me understand him and The Ecstatic in a sharper fashion. The Rawkus Era Mos Def everyone loved was warm, mature, funny, smiling, joyous, eloquent, and boisterous. He’s dead and gone, like Zev Love X. He is now Boogie Man Magnetic, the universal b-boy equal parts Bad Brains and Zulu Nation, Bitches Brew and Operation Doomsday. Rapping on 2 year old previously released beats by Madlib (“Auditorium”) and Oh No (“Supermagic”)? Oh yes! Weird ass interludes, two minute ditties (“Priority”), and 70’s disco breaks (“Casa Bey”) – they’re all here. This wasn’t your Stretch and Bobbito Mos Def –“History” buddy Talib Kweli over a minimal J Dilla loop was cool, but frankly Flacco Bey is too comfortable with his inner weirdness now to ever look back. Listen to “Revelations” and tell me what you want to hear next: Blackstar or MF Def: Magnetic Villain?
Citizen: MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Great production, interesting lyrics and singing and a fresh sound in a world of usually stale pop music. Two thumbs up, you may have also noticed that Jay-Z had production from the UK duo on Blueprint 3…one of the best releases of the year for sure.
J Dilla (w/ Pete Rock and great guests & cameos) – Jay Stay Paid
Edan - Echo Party
The Grouch & DJ Fresh – Three Eyes Off The Time
Exile – Radio
All of these albums are superb in my opinion. From the production to the top notch rhymes, these are the albums that made me rewind time after time during the past year.
Dom Corleone: Mos Def – The Ecstatic
Some will say Rae’s, I say it’s virtually a coin flip. I listened to The Ecstatic more, therefore Black Dante gets the W. Mos definitely.
BC: Fashawn – Boy Meets World
I’m still narrowing this down as well, but based on what I’m thinking right now, I might have to go with Fashawn’s Boy Meets World. I am digging the hell out of this album. He’s a real nice MC and the production from Exile is on point.
Dillon Mauer - Bright color hipster shit and all this fake ass retro shit. Seriously.
Dom Corleone – Skin-tight nut-huggers worn by teens plus artists like the notoriously basic New Boyz perpetuated this flash-in-the-pan West Coast “phenomenon.” Next, please!
Dart Adams – Tight ass pants & Air Yeezys
Ill Poetic – the jeans. the jeans.
Mike Schpitz aka LoveJones – Women’s jeans on men and the 80s era. Unless your a woman, wear jeans that fit and let your nuts breathe.
Hotbox - skinny jeans/hipster/rock star look
Cee: Was skinny jeans 2009? If so, it’s both sad and funny. All that hipster shit kills me.
The Anticipation Mounts
Wu Massacre was “supposed” to have dropped in December, but of course it was delayed and no date besides “early 2010″ was given. Hmmmmm, while I’m excited to hear this, something tells me if we do hear this in the year 2010, it’s going to be closer to the end of the year than than the beginning. That said, this should be dope as fuck. I, for one, have been burnt on this type of thing more than going raw dog on Pamela Anderson, so I’m not going to get my expectation up to high. But, then again, I didn’t have the highest expectations for OB4CL2 neither, so hopefully we’ll see.
Played Out Artist of 2009
Feud of the Year
50 Cent Vs. Rick Ross, Jay-Z, The Game…and everyone else
And I can’t pass this up…..Honorable Mention, Chucky Hamilton and his baby momma (or whoever she is)
Cunninlynguists – Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)
Peace out 2009……