My disclaimer: Iâ€™ve taken the liberty of deciding for all of you that trudging through some half-assed, inferior, â€œEnd of the Yearâ€ smorgasbord of songs and situations of importance to me, Employee, would bore you to salty pretzel, heart-shaped tears comprised of an indescribable fury. That being saidâ€¦.I thought it would be lighter on the psyche if I asked as many different microphone megalomaniacs and sample slaughterers if theyâ€™d be benevolent by sharing their personal ruminations on the year that will soon be a calendar in the garbage. Nothing is edited.
Looking back on this yearâ€¦ I definitely have to say it was more positive than negative. On a personal level I had some really good ups. I also had some really shitty downs, but they were all money related and itâ€™s a recession, so take that for what it is. Iâ€™m still broke, Iâ€™m still in Florida, and I still got a lot to accomplish.
As far as my career is concerned, I had a few milestones. First and foremost was the release of my mixtape The Adventures of Rhyme & Sense. It was my first serious attempt to break into the blogosphere and while it didnâ€™t do as much as I might have dreamed, I did manage to do 1300+ downloads with only a few weeks of promotion and no buzz to speak of before hand. While in comparison to someone who does 10-20,000 downloads in their first week it might not seem much, but I pretty much got completely shutdown in my attempts to get any of the major blogs (2DBz, illRoots, Nah Right, etc.) to give it any play/placement. Apparently I suck at politics. The blogs that did support, did so wholeheartedly and gave me great feedback. For that I am grateful. Off the strength of that I managed to get my first print cover, my first west coast shows, a nice run of out of town gigs and some decent internet press.
I was also supposed to release two more projects before the end of the year, one of them being an EP with Philaflava & The T.R.O.Y. Blog called â€œClassically Trained.â€ If youâ€™re reading this, youâ€™ve probably heard The Philaflava Project which contained one of the songs from it, â€œPassinâ€™ Me By.â€ Obviously, itâ€™s not out yet and that is completely my fault. I wanted it done by July, but some serious writers block, plus some personal setbacks stretched out my timeline. Iâ€™m still working on it (sorry Jason) and I promise I will have it finished before spring if it kills me. I also intend on putting out another mixtape and Iâ€™m working on a full length album. Hopefully 2010 will see me much more productive than 09. Iâ€™m hoping to travel a lot more too.
But letâ€™s be honest, I hate writing about myself and you probably hate reading about me. So letâ€™s get to the state of Hip-Hop in 2009. I think some of the crappiest records I ever heard came out this year. Especially when lookin at the majors. The thing is, I also think some of the best shit Iâ€™ve heard in awhile dropped too. So here are my top 5 Reasons Hip-Hop Is Not Dead this year.
1. Mayday â€“ Technology: This EP is my favorite release of the year hands down. If you arenâ€™t familiar with this Miami based band, correct your mistake. Itâ€™s available for free on their bandcamp page. The homie Wrekonize is one of the two emcees in the group and his performance on this record is amazing. He raps with a lot of passion and great lyrics, but it turns out heâ€™s also a great vocalist. (No Drizzy)
2. Diamond District â€“ In the Ruff: This is great hip-hop. Grimy, traditional east coast boom bap with a DMV twist. Oddissee really shows his versatility as a producer, chopping breaks with the best of em, and showing a style on the boards that many would think heâ€™d never use. All the emcees are great and mesh really well. One person told me he didnâ€™t think any of the emcees really stood out, but isnâ€™t that how a good group should function? Not one shinging, but all complementing each other and being greater together than apart?
3. The Foreign Exchange â€“ Leave It All Behind: I know this isnâ€™t a hip-hop record, but dammit, itâ€™s Phonte & Nicolay. We all know what Connected was. These dudes really showed that you can completely switch your steez and if the product is dope, the fanbase will stick with you and grow. These dudes have been touring the globe all year and got nominated for the Grammies so they gotta be doing something right.
4. Slaughterhouse â€“ Yeah, I know. Iâ€™ve heard it all before You hate Joe Budden. Royce has fallen off. Joell sucks. Crooked I shoulda stopped making records when Death Row dropped him… ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR GODDAMN SKULL?! Slaughterhouse is the proof that a super group can actually work. Yeah, the album wasnâ€™t perfect. So fucking what? The streets were screaming for product and thatâ€™s what they gave them. Personally, Iâ€™m a fan of all four and I thought the album was great. Not perfect, but really good. What more could you ask for on short notice?
5. Drake â€“ So Far Gone: Say what you want about him, but Drake has changed the game in 2009. Iâ€™m not saying he did it on his own. The Cash Money co-signs and big time management definitely helped. But how many times have we seen a well established, famous rapper co-sign someone new and untested only to have said rapperâ€™s career go nowhere? Memphis Bleek? Willie Northpole? Streetlife? Gemini (Lupe fiascoâ€™s homeboy)? Shit, look how fucking long it took for Consequence to get an album out and he was co-signed at the height of Tribeâ€™s popularity. He got a US tour full of sold out dates (at $40 a ticket), multiple award nominations, and an unheard of record deal ALL OFF A MIXTAPE. And then, after heâ€™d done all that, he re-released the mixtape in stores and is making money off the same shit he gave away. Heâ€™s shown us all whatâ€™s possible with some luck, hard work, knowing what works for you, and having a good team. What Drake did shouldnâ€™t have been possible in 2009. But he did it.
6. *Bonus Track* – Charles Hamilton etherâ€™d himself. Nuff said.
So with all that going on, I think itâ€™s safe to say Hip-Hop is in a good place. The industry sucks and the Blogosphere has gone from being the new tastemakers to being the new radio, but it doesnâ€™t matter. There’s a shit ton of variety out there if you’re willing to listen. The cats who are really talented and have a real work ethic wonâ€™t fall through the cracks. You may not become rich being a rapper anymore, but to quote the good brother Oddissee, â€œYou can make a damn good living.â€
A tip of the hat to Godamus. For more on the man himself go here. Then download 6th Sense vs. Godamus Rhyme – The Adventures of Rhyme & Sense.