As we collectively wait for an absurdly expensive glowing ball to hit the ground, we are faced with a great unknown about the days ahead. We call family, we call friends, we make preposterous statements called ‘Resolutions’, and then proceed to do the same thing we always do: get hammered on our intoxicant of choice.
I for one am no different. I both enjoy and loathe the cycle that begins and, to be perfectly honest persists through, a new year. I call family, I call friends, and I drink, etc, the order being the only variable (Mom I apologize for 2005).
This is a New Years pattern we’ve all grown accustomed to, and is no different in music, especially Hip Hop. We go through the paces. Each year in recent history there is the call that there are no fresh artists, no fresh ideas, no lyricists, and of course the ubiquitous HIP HOP IS DEAD.
Based on personal experience, these statements are made by mainly 2 types of people:
1. The hip hop ‘heads’ who say they want the form to progress and grow, yet constrain their artists to certain categories.
2. Those that never really listened anyway and want to bring ’95 back.
To both parties, I understand your grievances, but you should have been paying better attention in ’09 and ’10 should give you something to look forward to.
2009 ( not exhaustive & in no particular order):
Jay Z – Blueprint III.
Raekwon – Released the suitable followup for his classic Only Built For Cuban Linx, aptly titled Only Built For Cuban Linx 2. Perhaps not fulfilling the 13 year buildup for its release, but with The Chef and his other Wu cohorts in top form again was refreshing to the ears. Perhaps not breaking new ground in content, Rae provided a gritty and lyrically dexterous portrayal of the game.
Kid Cudi – Great 1st effort after a slew of lauded mixtapes.
Eminem – Made his much needed return to Hip Hop, with Relapse. He has admitted himself that this was a warm up until he gets his sea legs back (I wasn’t feeling the faux patois either), and it was an admirable return. If The Warning and his song stealing verse on Forever are a harbringer of things to come, Mr. Mathers will be in form soon enough. Hopefully there is a Slaughterhouse collabo in the works, lyrical monsters. On that note . . .
Slaughterhouse – For all the ‘heads’ out there, FAIL. This was to be the answer to your prayers, and it flopped. I know its a recession, but ya’ll aren’t all broke. 3 lyrical beasts & Royce da 5’9″
Blakroc - The Black Keys have put together hip hop & rock combination to be praised. Bringing both back to logical common ground, blues and creating a beautiful fusion. Nicole Wray is a revelation.
Freddie Gibbs – Gangsta shit from Gary, Indiana; yes, the city that created the freakshow that is the Jackson family. Gibb’s flow and charisma are undeniable.
B.O.B. – Has to be seen live to be fully appreciated.