Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Top 60 Hip Hop Songs of 2009: #20 - #1


The grand finale:


20. Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)

“Jay’s message on the track is, sadly, too little too late. But No I.D.’s ridiculous usage of this klezmer-y Janko Nilovic sample is enough to keep my head boppin’ throughout.” – From my review of BP3.

The day that this track blew up on Hot97 was insane. If I remember correctly, Jay occupied somewhere between 3 to 5 spots on Twitter’s trending topics list and everyone from all over the map was typing frantically while the song was premiered. That was a fun Friday.


19. Slaughterhouse – Move On

To my recollection, this started out as a Joell Ortiz solo track featuring Joe Budden and then the rest of the SH boys hijacked his shit on an eight minute long mix. No problemo, but it’s a shame that this Kinks-sampling song wasn’t included on the group’s album. Clearance issue(s) maybe? I dunno…


18. Method Man & Redman - A-Yo (feat. Saukrates)

After dropping their first joint (ha!) effort in 1999, Tha Dogg Pound of the East coast were rolling again, lighting up tracks as hot as a blunt (and I’m not talking about Emily, but yeah, she can gitit…sorry “Jim”). Produced by Pete Rock, “A-Yo” is stained by a Kill Bill reference apt for 2009. R.I.P. David Carradine. This a party record though, and hip hop’s perennial stoner duo know how to do just that. Saukrates’ hook is catchy as fuck, too!


17. Rick Ross – Magnificent (feat. John Legend)

Time and time again, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League has produced nothing but aural piff for the boss, Mr. Ricky Ross. The lush sound palette accompanied by this brilliant Angela Bofill sample blends seamlessly with John Legend’s suave crooning. Admittedly, I can think of a bunch of emcees I’d rather here on this beat, but who am I to complain?


16. Raekwon – 10 Bricks (feat. Cappadonna & Ghostface Killah)

The late J Dilla’s off-kilter sound is resurrected for this ’09 favorite that reminds me of Fishscale’s “Dogs of War”. Why that is I’m not quite sure… It’s tough to dissect OB4CLII because it’s such a congruous project, but “10 Bricks” is definitely a highlight worth the mention.


15. Big Boi - Shine Blockas (feat. Gucci Mane)

Pitchfork ranked this the seventh best song of the year (of all genres) and the greatest hip hop song of them all! That, to me, is absurd. But I do see the charm in it. Taking the same trip as Kanye West's “This Can’t Be Life” (his first big break, no pun intended), Big Boi and Gucci Mane demolish the track on this light-hearted romp. I’d much rather have heard Sir Luscious Leftfoot tag team with his partner 3 Stacks, but you can’t have it all can you… Can you?


14. Rakim – Holy Are You

I shoulda known this shit was too good to be true… As soon as it became evident that the long-awaited Rakim album was actually coming out in 2009, I nearly flipped out. And that’s exactly what I did when I heard the album… not in a good way. Nonetheless, putting hype aside, “Holy Are You” stands out as one of the year’s best. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for The Seventh Seal.


13. Drake – Forever (feat. Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem)

For a song that makes light of cancer and rape, it’s a bit surprising that it’d be such a pop smash… until you check out the guest list. As far as the verses go, Weezy dropped the ball, both Drake and Kanye ripped it and Eminem absolutely massacred the whole shebang. Drake’s chorus is quite infectious though. As an entertainer, he really is something of a hybrid. I don’t know about you, but I’m curious to hear what he’ll bring to the table on Thank Me Later.


12. Raekwon – Broken Safety (feat. Jadakiss & Styles P)

Remove Raekwon, replace him with Sheek Louch and this is what a Lox album should sound like. People, get on it a.s.a.p.! This is that “stab ‘em in the eye with a rusty screwdiver and bite their arms off” music at its finest. Don’t even attempt to psychoanalyze that, please. The gulliness is off the charts…


11. Eminem – Beautiful

Em’s gotten harassed and harangued for his production style, but I’ve never quite understood it. Sure he’s no Dr. Dre, but every time Eminem drops a beat on one of his albums, you know it means something to him. Whether he’s sampling Martika, Heart or Elton John, you get the sense that there’s a meaningful explanation behind those choices. “Like Toy Soldiers”, “Mockingbird”, “When I’m Gone”… it’s always him at his most honest. The same could be said for this introspective track which features poignant lyrics performed by Paul Rodgers released around the same time Em was going through some serious issues. And you can hear it through the lyrics AND production.


10. Clipse – Popular Demand (Popeye's) (feat. Cam'ron)

If this was any other song, Cam’ron using up 5 seconds to say “daaaamn” and “Caaam” would be completely unacceptable. But it’s on one of the most anticipated collabo records since, um, forever, so I can deal with it. In fact, Cam and the brothers Thornton put on an extra-intentionally retarded show for “Popular Demand” and we still ate it up. Kinda like how Popeye’s butchers the shit out of chickens and probably cuts your life expectancy short but with music… Again, folks’ll still eat it up. This is crack music at it’s finest, word to Game and Yeezy.


9. k-os – I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman (feat. Saukrates & Nelly Furtado)

The “California” interpolation gets a nod from me for reasons I’m not ashamed to admit (ahem). I’ve always appreciated the catchiness of Phantom Planet’s piano riff and chorus, but k-os’s interpretation adds a hip hop bounce that takes it to a fun, new level. I’ve listened to this song a billion times though, and still have no clue what it has to do with Ms. Portman. Still, I guess k-os has got a better shot at meeting her then I do (restraining orders are a bitch … I keed, I keed).


8. Mos Def – Quiet Dog

For the life of me, I can’t understand why The Ecstatic got heaps of praise in 2009 but 2004’s The New Danger caught more shit than a colostomy bag. Both albums are great in my opinion, so, whatever. Featuring an excerpt from Femi Kuti, “Quiet Dog” sets the tone for an afro-beat inspired song as Mos Def draws from the genre’s propensity for dropping groovy music that’s got a get up, stand up political message.


7. Method Man & Redman – City Lights (feat. UGK)

Beatniks, Lee Morgan and Charlie Chaplin. Add Red & Mef to that list. This year we saw a plethora of recession-triggered collaborations – many of which fell way, way short – and this was by far my favorite of them all. As I’ve said for a while, Bun B – like Scarface, Wayne & OutKast – has the unique quality of sounding completely natural on every region across the United States of Hip Hop. Admittedly, there’s a bump-in-the-trunk southern feel to this track, but each emcee takes full advantage. The ghostly presence of Pimp C hovering between verses makes this the total package. And for the record, Redman mocking auto-tune is much more effective than “D.O.A.”


6. Raekwon – House of Flying Daggers (feat. Inspectah Deck, GZA, Ghostface Killah & Method Man)

“Full of kung fu imagery and dagger-like snare stabs, Raekwon’s choice in resurrecting and unleashing this J Dilla instrumental is, in one word, brilliant. It’s almost as if Dilla, with visions of 2009, prepared this beat in advance to become a murderous rampage of lyrical Wu swords.” – From my review of OB4CLII.


5. Mos Def – History (feat. Talib Kweli)

Why do these brothers have to keep teasing us? Drop a second Black Star album, please! Mos Def and Talib Kweli over J Dilla is about as backpack as it can possibly get and I say “Gimme some mo!” © Busta Rhymes


4. Eminem – The Warning

Though I can’t stand his fake accents, I’ll admit that Eminem’s shots at Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon on “Bagpipes from Baghdad” were hysterical. As soon as M.C. responded, I knew a shit storm was on its way. On “The Warning”, Em’s greatest no-holds-barred track in over half a decade, he unloads on the couple like they were Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman in The Strangers. This track seemed to shut her ass up, huh? Wait… Mariah Carey had an album out in 2009, right? Right? I forgot…


3. Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)

“I don’t even live in New Yiddy and it makes me wanna throw on my “all-black everything” Yankees fitted with pseudo-hometown pride. (Yes, it’s true, Jigga did make “the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee game”). … On this track, Hov wisely selected a fellow Twin Tower of music stardom to push [it] to the limits. Let’s break down the fundamentals: It’s triumphant. It’s catchy. It’s full of pride. It’s got an uplifting message. Bottom line: it’s an anthem. Frank Sinatra, move ova, make room for Hova. Five tracks in, this is by far the best offering on The Blueprint 3.” – From my review of BP3; props to whoever posted a portion of my review onto Wikipedia!

The only thing that sucks about this song is that it’s less about the city and more about Jay. That, and if you’re flat broke you can hardly relate to anything being spit on this track. Aw, shucks. *fidgets hands in empty pockets* Now gimme a damn remix already, wouldja? kthxbai


2. Raekwon – New Wu (feat. Ghostface Killah & Method Man)

“Yet another Wu-Banga! Not only is this track a reminder that the Wu-Tang rhymesmiths have still got a grip on this ever-changing game called hip hop, it’s yet another reason to give props to the RZA. Always developing and cultivating his craft, the Clan’s leader still shines on the boards, be it as an 8 Diagram “hip hop hippie” or a RZArected Gravedigga on beats like this and “Black Mozart”. … If this is what we can expect from Rae, Ghost and Mef’s new collaborative album, I’ll be a happy camper; as long as RZA is involved somehow, someway.” – From my review of OB4CLII.



Artwork by Theodore Taylor III

1. Jay Electronica - Exhibit C

I like what this guy brings to the table and it’s not just the Semitic references that we Hebrews enjoy (take notice: Jay-Z played his cards right). I feel like such a douchebag putting this track up top. It seems like every “savvy” hip hop blogger has done the same and I hate having to go with the flow in this circle jerk of standom. But to deny Jay ElecHanukkah’s well-deserved props would be a crime against hip hop. Just Blaze had muhfuggas on pins and needles anticipating this track and it finally dropped in December. Not a month too soon… literally. Now can we get an album rolling?

To recap, here’s my top 60 of 2009:

60-41:
60. Gift of Gab - Dreamin' (feat. Del tha Funkee Homosapien & Brother Ali)
59. Slum Village – Da Night
58. Obie Trice - Can't 4eva
57. Lupe Fiasco – Fire
56. Warren G - 100 Miles & Runnin' (feat. Raekwon & Nate Dogg)
55. DJ Quik & Kurupt - Cream N Ya Panties
54. Big Boi - Fo Yo Sorrows (feat. George Clinton, Too $hort & Sam Chris)
53. Souls of Mischief – Postal
52. J. Cole – Lights Please
51. Brother Ali – Good Lord
50. M.O.P. – Blow the Horns (feat. Busta Rhymes)
49. KiD CuDi - Heart of a Lion (KiD CuDi Theme Music)
48. Game – Bang Along
47. La Coka Nostra - Choose Your Side (feat. Bun B)
46. B-Real - Don't Ya Dare Laugh (feat. Xzibit & Young De)
45. I.V.A.N. – What She Said
44. DJ Quik & Kurupt – 9x’s Outta 10
43. Uncle Murda – Murdera
42. Snoop Dogg - I Wanna Rock
41. Rick Ross - Mafia Music
40-21:
40. Jaz-O – Gangstas Ride (feat. The Game)
39. Freddie Gibbs – Womb 2 the Tomb (feat. Pill)
38. Young Jeezy - My President Is Black (Remix) (feat. Jay-Z)
37. Slaughterhouse - The One
36. Game - American Dream (Diddy Reference Track)
35. French Montana - New York Minute (Remix) (feat. Ma$e & Jadakiss)
34. Cam'ron - Silky (No Homo)
33. Saigon - Pushin' Buddens
32. J Dilla - 24K Rap (feat. Havoc & Raekwon)
31. UGK – Purse Come First (feat. Big Gipp)
30. Jay-Z - Run This Town (feat. Kanye West & Rihanna)
29. Red Cafe - Hottest In the Hood
28. Mook N Fair - Who's Your Daddy (feat. DJ Webstar)
27. Jadakiss - What If (feat. Nas)
26. Fashawn – Stars (feat. Aloe Blacc)
25. UGK – Da Game Been Good to Me
24. Drake - Best I Ever Had
23. Raekwon - Catalina (feat. Lyfe Jennings)
22. Clipse - Kinda Like a Big Deal (feat. Kanye West)
21. KiD CuDi - Sky Might Fall
20-1:
20. Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)
19. Slaughterhouse – Move On
18. Method Man & Redman - A-Yo (feat. Saukrates)
17. Rick Ross – Magnificent (feat. John Legend)
16. Raekwon – 10 Bricks (feat. Cappadonna & Ghostface Killah)
15. Big Boi - Shine Blockas (feat. Gucci Mane)
14. Rakim – Holy Are You
13. Drake – Forever (feat. Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem)
12. Raekwon – Broken Safety (feat. Jadakiss & Styles P)
11. Eminem – Beautiful
10. Clipse – Popular Demand (Popeye's) (feat. Cam'ron)
9. k-os – I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman (feat. Saukrates & Nelly Furtado)
8. Mos Def – Quiet Dog
7. Method Man & Redman – City Lights (feat. UGK)
6. Raekwon – House of Flying Daggers (feat. Inspectah Deck, GZA, Ghostface Killah & Method Man)
5. Mos Def – History (feat. Talib Kweli)
4. Eminem – The Warning
3. Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)
2. Raekwon – New Wu (feat. Ghostface Killah & Method Man)
1. Jay Electronica - Exhibit C

Best of 2009: The Tape Deck is coming soon... is HERE!

11 comments:

  1. i kinda dont get the hype of exhibit C. I mean its a really dope song but.....

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  2. yes sir. i agree with about 60% of the list. some shit just doesn't belong there. just my opinion. but thanks for taking the time to do the list alot of gems in there. peace.

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  3. Opinions, opinions. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has them and they all stink. Some more than others...

    Lists like these are thankless tasks but I cant see any major omissions. Although Star Is Born deserves a slot ahead of Run This Town for me.

    Exhibit C is over-hyped but cool. Need an album though Elec.

    Empire State of Mind gets my vote. Some tracks you just know are classic even before you finish listening to them the first time.

    My 2 favourite artists came together and I was ready to be disappointed. Instead we got a true anthem. You cant help but feel it, even though most hearing it will never even visit NY in their lives.

    Clipse: KLABD >>> Popeyes.

    Also on an R&B tip, Alicia killed it on Unthinkable and Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart.

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  4. Raekwon appears 16 times in the list.... dam. Wu killed it this year!

    I would like to say that the 'I thought it was going to be shit but it actually turned out to be leaps and bound better than what I thought" award goes to Maino - If tomorrow never comes

    I'm ready to get an itunes account just to cop Exhibit C legit and support Jayelec


    At the end of this year I'm torn.
    I'm left to question the Wu.
    Are the member who side against RZA right?
    2010 might be a time to bring out the old formula, no matter how many dub step indie co-lab albums they push.
    There still Wu
    Still 38 chambers
    Still C.R.E.A.M
    Still grimy gritty grizzle

    Rae album showed this, he killed it!

    peace yes yes yall

    ReplyDelete
  5. Go listen to K-Rino out of Houston

    ReplyDelete
  6. hmmm interesting list indeed.. gonna have to look it over again.. got mixed emotions about it

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