Notorious Indi’s Best of ‘09


2009 was one hell of an interesting year. We saw the comeback of Eminem, albums by the 2 other big names of hip-hop in Jay-Z and 50 Cent, and once again we waited all year for Dr. Dre’s Detox which never came. It’s fair to say that despite this the year hasn’t been dominated by the big boys and we’ve seen a gradual change in hip hop – the gangsta rap of previous years has steadily evolved into what can be described as ‘Hip Hop Hipsters’. Kanye led the way back in 2004 and by 2009 the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Wale and Asher Roth have emerged.

Click on to find out what I considered the best and the worst to come out this year.

Hip Hop Album Of The Year


Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon: The End Of Day

Around a year ago, I was told by Ajay to pick up Kid Cudi’s mixtape A Kid Named Cudi and I was not disappointed, and after seeing him perform live during the summer I was eagerly anticipating the release of his debut album. Upon its release, I put the album onto my iPod and lay in bed listening to the album from start to finish. I was quite simply blown away by the emotions this album emitted to my ears. Ajay wrote a review for this album which was on point, go read that by clicking here.

Honourable mentions:

Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II

Joe Budden – Escape Route

Fashawn – Boy Meets World

Maino – If Tomorrow Comes

Non-Hip Hop Album Of The Year


Keri Hilson – In A Perfect World

As I stated before, 2009 has been an interesting year. I’ve always disliked R&B, but this year has seen my taste in music change and I’ve been embracing the genre a lot more (no doubt influenced by the R&B Friday’s feature on this website). So onto my choice of album for this award: Keri Hilson began songwriting in 2001 and wrote hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Ciara & Usher. I didn’t realise this until recently, but she was first introduced into the public eye as a singer in 2004 on a single by Xzibit called Hey Now (Mean Muggin). A couple of years later Timbaland signed her to his label, and she was on his hit track The Way I Are. Timbaland has always worked best with R&B artists and his chemistry with Keri Hilson is what spawned a superb album for her debut. In A Perfect World can be listened to from the 1st track to the last without the need to skip a song, each track blends cohesively well into the next. The versatility Keri is capable of is evident, from hit single Knock You Down, to slow jams like Tell Him The Truth. Timbaland was on top form with the beats he produced on this album, which Keri Hilson took full advantage of  by penning some great songs. It also helps that she’s hot as hell!

Honourable mentions:

Trey Songz – Ready

Muse – The Resistance

Mixtape Of The Year


Joe Budden – Padded Room

Admit it, you thought I was going to go with Drake on this one right? I won’t lie I almost did, and if I was going for impact then Drake would win hands down. However, going against Ajay’s opinion in his end of year review, I think Drake sings too much on it, and I’d have liked to have heard him rap a bit more so I could judge his talents as an emcee. Obviously since the mixtape he has released a fair few tracks demonstrating his abilities as a rapper, but I’m still less than impressed by him.

So my mixtape of the year is Padded Room by Joe Budden and yes I’ve cheated here….its officially classed as a studio album, but I just wanted to write about it so sue me. Padded Room was hyped especially for the collaboration with former nemesis The Game. Being a massive fan of both rappers and someone who has followed the careers of both artists from the very beginning, when I first heard about this collaboration I quite simply nearly had a heart attack with excitement. The track itself (The Future) wasn’t a let down and was surprisingly more of a club track. It was surprising in that Budden seems to struggle making these type of tracks, but this was very good and quite easily worthy of being on either artist’s albums. The rest of the ‘mixtape’ was more traditional Joe Budden, tracks like In My Sleep, Angel In My Life, and Adrenaline typified why he has so many fans despite his lack of mainstream success. A particular highlight from this album is the track Pray For Me where Budden raps about his trials and tribulations back and forth with God, asking him all the types of questions we all tend to think about in relation to our own lives. It’s a track that typifies the refreshing honesty that Joe Budden brings to Hip Hop, he’s always going to say what is on his mind without sugar coating it.

Honourable mentions:

Drake – So Far Gone

Mike Posner – One Foot Out The Door

Lupe Fiasco – Enemy Of The State

Comeback Of The Year


Eminem

After the quite simply diabolical album Encore back in 2004, Eminem had become somewhat of a recluse. Going through prescription drug addiction and ‘writer’s block’ Em pretty much stopped making music, it was speculated that he would retire. In 2008, Eminem announced that he was once again in the studio working on tracks and that he would release an album in 2009. Many, including myself, were skeptical as to whether Eminem was capable of making a decent album and that he had simply ran out of things to rap about. Fast forward to today, and he has proven us all wrong. Yes, his album Relapse had several tracks where he persisted with a Swedish/Middle Eastern hybrid of an accent, but it was his lyrical content and ability he showed with each track that impressed everybody. With his collaborations on Forever and the Lil’ Wayne track Drop The World, Eminem has shown he can compete with the young pretenders to the throne and that he is still passionate about Hip Hop. We’re all now looking forward to what Eminem brings us in 2010.

Honourable mentions

Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’9″, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I – as a collective they’ve reinvigorated their solo careers.

50 Cent – Proving he doesn’t just care about his money by making an album which catered to his own taste rather than 15 year old white people (no offence) and uniting New York Hip Hop at the Thisis50 Fest earlier this year.

Cam’ron – After disappearing for so long, he came back in 2009 and rapped like he had never left.

Disappointment Of The Year


Jay-Z – Blueprint 3

When we heard Jay-Z’s track D.O.A we all assumed Jay would be going against the grain of today’s mainstream music and make an album that would live up to his classic album The Blueprint. What we got was an album littered with lyrically weak tracks, and with poor beats (looking at you here Timbaland). Blueprint 3 isn’t even as good as The Blueprint 2, let alone The Blueprint 1, Tracks like Run This Town shows how weak/lazy Jay-Z’s lyrics were by the fact that Kanye West completely outshone him on the same track for the 1st time ever. Compare this with their collaboration on The Blueprint 2 album or their collaboration on The College Dropout. Jay-Z is better than this and he’s only hurting his own legacy. Being a massive Jay-Z fan, you can tell how disappointed I am by the other contenders for this award below.

Dishonourable mentions:

Chris Brown almost damaging his career beyond repair, ironically by almost damaging Rihanna’s face beyond repair.

Charles Hamilton getting punched in the face by his own girlfriend on camera, being dropped by his own label amidst speculation of being a heroin junkie, claiming to have had an out of this world experience with the deceased J. Dilla….the list goes on.

Kanye West ruining Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech.

Lil’ Mama getting on stage and ruining an epic performance by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

Dr. Dre still not releasing Detox.

Best Hip Hop Tracks Of The Year

This award is a far too difficult one to decide on one winner, so I will give you a list of some of my favourite Hip Hop tracks that were released this year, in no particular order.

Wiz Khalifa – This Plane

Asher Roth – La Di Da

The Game – Big Money

Wale – Contemplate ft. Rihanna

Mickey Factz – K-1 Attack ft. Nakim

Lupe Fiasco – Solar Midnite

Fabolous – Imma Do It ft. Kobe

Slaughterhouse – The One

Maino – Floating

Kid Cudi – Sky Might Fall

Drake – Forever ft. Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem

Joe Budden – Forgive Me

Skyzoo – The Necessary Evils

La Coka Nostra – Cousin Of Death

50 Cent – Ok, You’re Right

Raekwon – Catalina ft. Lyfe Jennings

The Five One – Got Till It’s Gone

J. Cole – Lights Please

Rick Ross – Mafia Music

Best Non-Hip Hop Tracks Of The Year

Alicia Keys – Unthinkable (I’m Ready)

Mike Posner – I Don’t Trust Myself

Mike Posner – Red Button

Chris Brown – So Cold

Lady Gaga – Telephone ft. Beyonce

Beyonce – Sweet Dreams

Muse – Uprising

Keri Hilson – Tell Him The Truth

Bruno Mars – Bulletproof

3OH!3 – Starstrukk Ft. Katy Perry

30 Seconds To Mars – Hurricane feat. Kanye West

Ne-Yo – Round & Round

David Guetta – Memories ft. Kid Cudi

Drake – November 18th

And that’s all folks, what a long read this was – I hope you all enjoyed it, whether you agreed with what I wrote or not!

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4 comments to Notorious Indi’s Best of ‘09

  • Top stuff, pretty much agree with you on most of it.

    I was a tiny bit disappointed by Keri’s album, although that’s largely because we had to wait so long for it. Re: Drake, a lot of my opinion comes from the fact that I had one of his mixtapes before So Far Gone (Room For Improvement to be exact) and the fact he was switching it up from mixtape to mixtape shows a lot of talent. His best work as a rapper is probably on the RFI mixtape, and the recent track Fear. Having said that, I agree that he is massively overrated as a fundamental rapper. Massively.

  • Notorious Indi

    Yeah to be fair I was being overly harsh, I still haven’t gotten around to listening to Room For Improvement, so I guess that’s my own fault. Also, yes it is worth mentioning that his track Fear was really good and did demonstrate he is capable of making tracks which aren’t him rapping about how much a player he is!

    I ran out of steam writing this towards the end, and thus omitted a few awards – so it’s very possible I’ll be making a part II.

  • Same. I might just cram it in to our ‘secret’ upcoming posts about similar things…

  • Notorious Indi

    LOL – I was thinking the exact same thing!

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