Best Raps 2009

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.

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11 responses to “Best Raps 2009

  1. The real achievement would have been making a best of 2009 compilation without Gucci, not Boosie or Ro. But I guess since he accounted for about 30% of total rap music released in 2009, thats kind of impossible. All Star should be up on the deliberate omission list as well.

    That Ridin’ Out song is pretty incredible, I never heard it up until now. Also kind of forgot how great Cartel Gathering was.

    “Rap being dead” is an idea that only exists so dumb writers can argue about it. Shit’s better right now than it has been in a really long time.

  2. ha but i think ppl havent really gotten a good context to appreciate gucci yet … its all been like, “in order to get it you have to download the 6 releases he had this year & hear them all” which is like, wow, intimidating. I think when gucci verses pop up in a mix like this — & i dont know any mixes this year that tried to approach his stuff this year in this way (not saying there arent any) — i think his appeal makes a lot of sense w/out requiring such a huge time investment

  3. I admit to being intimidated by Gucci’s massive discography. So I’ve come to just assume that his mixtapes are all great and interchangeable and that to hear 2 or 3 Gucci tapes is to hear them all. (Since he always is rapping about the same stuff, and stuff.) Seriously though, does one really have to hear, say, The Movie or Writing On The Wall if one’s heard Movie 3 and Guccimerica and State v. Radric Davis? I mean, I used to love Cam and would probably argue that his most interesting work is on the first Diplomatic Immunity… but if someone asked me whether it was really necessary, for his appreciation of rap, to go beyond Purple Haze, I’d have to say no. Because there are some slight differences but they’re really about the same, more or less. Whereas in Wayne’s case, I don’t think you can just listen to the albums and the first Dedication and skip Drought 3.

  4. yeah it really doesnt work like that though … there’s a pretty wide variation in his shit from say the movie 1 to burrrpint, or movie 2 to state vs.

    but i also think gucci is a much more interesting artist than cam or wayne so

  5. I’d say that even for the casual fan it’s worth checking out each and every mixtape/album that Gucci releases as they come out, especially since 90% of it can be downloaded for free*. Gucci isn’t even one of my 10 favorite rappers right now, but I still listened to him enough last year that he is currently #4 on my last.fm.

    *I can’t really tell what the deal is with all of the mixtape upload links that you find on blogs, datpiff, etc. Pretty much all of them seem to at least be authorized by the mixtape DJ/label that “released” it, and the artists often give shoutouts to the blogs and websites that are making their shit available, but they also make sure to press up physical copies to sell at shows/record stores/etc, and I’m sure they sell these songs on Itunes as well. So I’m not sure what the legal status of it is. It seems odd that a bunch of rappers and producers that are so obsessed with making money would make so much music available for free, but I guess they might have more of an “eh, whatever” attitude about it right now because less people are buying music than at any other time in history. So if someone downloads their new mixtape, there’s a better chance that they’ll pay to get into a show or buy a t-shirt or something.

  6. Well that’s interesting, how is Gucci much more interesting than Cam or Wayne? I of course subscribe to the dumb “Gucci is the heir to Cam and Wayne’s Weird Rapper legacy” hipster line, but I have started to vaguely get the feeling that Gucci is up to something different. One thing I notice about Gucci is that he shies away from the big grand statement – the ‘Nas Is Like’ or ‘Killa Cam’ or ‘Mr. Carter’ type of track – as if he’s too, sorry, postmodern for it. Which was why I liked the Diplo remix of ‘Danger’s Not A Stranger’ so much, because I was like, finally, the Summum Gucciannum, the Passion of Gucci. There’s a conventional sort of progression and resolution to that remix that you don’t hear in actual Gucci; it somehow imposes an overarching narrative onto what he’s saying. But perhaps his refusal to tie things up with one neat bow, as it were, is what people like you and Brandon like about him.

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  8. hahaha, Passion of the Gucci…i wouldn’t necessarily put Mr Carter/Killa Cam/Nas is Like into the same category (not sure how Nas got thrown into the mix + Premo’s production sort of outclasses the group)…that said, couldn’t Heavy be seen in this light?

    great mix, a bit strong on the Gucci; but i guess that is more a critique of technique than on content

    btw, at first i thought this was the most absurd cover art, but after getting acclimated to the it, i think it’s awesome

    Pinky Ring Music is my jam

  9. rap is a bit strong on gucci right now
    i have no idea what tray is talking about in that last post but i havent cared bout either cam or wayne in a few years so

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