This is not intended to be comprehensive or touch all rap music bases or to precisely represent the year in rap. I wanted to make something that was fun & musical, that you might actually want to listen to more than once, instead of checking off a list of the artists that best represent your Personal Brand. Lots of artists, including many that blogs are talking covering heavily, are not. This isnt a diss to those artists, except when it is. Boosie not making an ’09 rap list is crazy, but the songs of his I was looking at just didnt fit. Same with Z-Ro. Oh well.
That said, this is also kind of a statement from me about the State of Rap (although hopefully a more entertaining one than “hey here’s another tl;dr essay about The State of Rap”). Simon’s “running up frantically brandishing some half-decent recent rap CDs and spluttering indignantly “look, LOOK how can it be dead?!”" was actually a pretty cutting point about 99% of people’s responses to his essay — “rap’s not dead, you just need to hear this new blu & exile / the new raekwon / freddie gibbs / huntsville” — these are all wrong answers. None of those artists are going to save rap (& its ridiculous to suggest that they could) and certainly for a writer like him, looking at the genre & saying a dude who is working very much w/in tradition like Gibbs is gonna change the game is the same as giving up.
None of these tracks are going to save rap either. Thats not the point. But I hope some people realize that there is worthwhile rap music coming from a lot more places than you might realize. That I could make this mix w/out including gibbs/huntsville/pill/z-ro/boosie etc. & it still bumps (in my opinion) is a great thing about the ‘state of rap.’ there are all kinds of scenes & musical developments happening underneath our noses & while they dont have the same media profile, while there’s no big central Rap Mainstream to orient ourselves around, that doesnt mean they dont exist. Try engaging with music outside of the critical bubble is surprisingly easy. You just have to talk to people outside the rap blog bubble.
Of course, being cynical about rap music critics are embracing is healthy, but you still have to make some aesthetic choices of your own as a listener in order for your opinion to be worthwhile. The assumption that criticism is all ‘hating’ is wrong. Criticism is about discernment, the act of honestly assessing the musical terrain all around you. No critic who can’t put forward some aesthetic values of his or her own, but spends all day trashing others, is going to be a very convincing one.
So here’s my attempt to put some of my favorite rap from 2009 into a single product that represents the sound & style of ’09 street rap to me. I’m trying to keep things interesting. Excuse the DJ drops over a couple songs near the beginning, NODJ CDQ’s aren’t as common as they should be.