This 2009 Slept-On list covers the gamut of artists in the Hip-Hop realm. Old G’s from the mid-90s who still got the goods, even if they don’t resonate with the younger crowd. Underground super groups. Young artists on the cusp of breaking through into bigger circles. Southern legends riding out into immortality for the last time.
What ties these albums together is that for whatever reason, they didn’t quite get the love they deserved in 2009. So start off 2010 by loading up on some of the best music 2009 had to offer (for a very reasonable price).
Tanya Morgan – Brooklynati
With the soul and spirit of De La and Tribe, Tanya Mo quietly dropped Brooklynati. Backed by Sir Von Pea’s soulful production, the cast of Tanya Morgan delivered carefree stories of a rap group on the come up which spawned the infectious single “So Damn Down.” Phonte, Blu, Carlitta Durrand and Kay all co-star. Wake up and join the movement!—Landon A.
M.O.P. – Foundation
Although seemingly dropping out of nowhere in the middle of September with zero promotional buzz and nary a video to boot, the brutes from Brownsville didn’t treat their undetected product like a contractual obligation. Setting things off over riot-inducing production from DJ Premier, Nottz and Statik Selektah, Foundation’s exterior sounded as rugged as day uno. Time to ante up if you haven’t heard it.—TC
Fashawn – Boy Meets World
Two years after Blu & Exile’s groundbreaking project Below The Heavens shook the underground in 2007, the MPC-toting soulful beatsmith chose Fresno’s own Fashawn to be the second MC he would push onto the masses with their collaborative project Boy Meets World. Ex’s lush production meshes together beautifully with Fashawn’s lyrical tales reflecting his upbringing in the northern part of California that raised him. While the album didn’t reach far within the commerial realm, the critical acclaim and respect he gained as a lyricist in his region of the country makes his freshman outing a success that he can most definitely build on.—K1NG
Cop: Boy Meets World
K’Naan – Troubadour
’09 was a big year for K’Naan. He began the year by receiving the buzzworthy badge from The Man er…MTV and the summer months had him on the road with the Rock the Bells tour. Troubadour was a cocktail of worldly delights mixed with all the familiar elements of Hip-Hop that helped to make a sleeper hit. The guest roster adds flavor to the mix as Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Mos Def, Chubb Rock, Chali 2na and Kirk Hammett of Metalica all make appearances.—Landon A.
Twista – Category F5
Who said that hurricanes can only hit along the coasts? On his 7th studio album, Twista came out spinning early and often on this one. With songs like “American Gangster,” “Talk To Me,” & the radio friendly “Wetter,” Mr. Mitchell was operating at full strength during the eye of his storm. Although it loses steam near the end when he lends his attention solely to the fairer sex, Category F5 show that Twista hasn’t lost a step during his time served and when focused, is still as lethal as ever.—MZ
Cop: Category F5
Fresh Daily - The Gorgeous Killer In Crimes Of Passion
Fresh Daily is the Hip-Hop you love. An old school delivery with new-age punchlines make The Gorgeous Killer In Crimes Of Passion a joy to listen to. Daily’s bars are laugh out loud funny at times but it’s tracks like “Love Breakdown” and “Crimes of Passion” that allow the New Yorker to show off his more serious side. And try to listen to “Gutterman” or “Untucked Nunchucks” and not get the yuck face. Fresh Daily is a pundit on the mic and more outings like this will guarantee he’ll be a force in the game for a long time.—David D.
Cop: The Gorgeous Killer In Crimes Of Passion
Warren G. – The G. Files
Overshadowed by releases from his other Old G contemporaries, Sir. Griffin proved that G-Funk stays winning well into middle age. Help from a mix of the new Cali crew and some standbys didn’t hurt. Top tracks like the dark, “100 Miles & Runnin’” (poor title though c’mon Warren,) move the album, and even some of the poppy efforts like the Snoop collabo “Swagger Rich” are still enjoyable. Warren’s not consistent or adept enough to label this a new classic, but fans of old school, West Coast Hip-Hop should definitely partake.—Patrick M.
Cop: The G. Files
Donny Goines – The Breakfast Club
Ever wonder what the lyrical equivalent of Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise and crushed red pepper would amount to? If so, Donny Goines served up such a platter with The Breakfast Club. Mixing engaging food for thought (“Sublime”) with light midday meals (“Party Apple”), the free buffet was essentially a compilation seeing that it featured nearly every hot act in today’s blogosphere. Too many calories present to let this dish go cold.—TC
Download: The Breakfast Club
Curren$y – This Ain’t No Mixtape
After flooding the Internet with a massive amount of mixtapes over the span of a year or so, New Orleans’ own Curren$y decided to take a little time to craft an independent album alongside Amalgam Digital. Utilizing his effortless flow to glide over the sonic landscape provided by Monsta Beatz, Spitta crafted an album with enough weed & sneaker references to put Complex to shame. While it didn’t quite break him through to the mainstream audience, it proved to be a worthy project for any rap fan’s collection this year.—K1NG
Cop: This Ain’t No Mixtape
Lushlife – Cassette City
The guy doesn’t look the part and on first glance his name reads like a Twilight character. But 30 seconds of hearing Lushlife spit rhymes and you’ll believe in the product. Still Cassette City was largely ignored by the general public, who may have been turned off by the visuals or just didn’t know any better. That’s a shame, because the album combines introspective rhymes that keep coming with new-age production that keeps to its underground roots.—Patrick M.
Cop: Cassette City
Trife Diesel – Better Late Than Never
Eight years of purgatory doesn’t exactly breed excitement for the release of an album, but in the case of Trife Diesel, his tardiness proved to worth waiting for. Boldly going where NYC hadn’t been in some time, dirtier-than-fishscale parables like “Powerful Minds” and Ghostface-assisted “Respectfully” gave the East some bragging rights to close out the decade. Hopefully they won’t have to wait too long for the sequel.—TC
Cop: Better Late Than Never
Playaz Circle – Flight 360: The Takeoff
Without a breakaway hit à la “Duffle Bag Boy” Tity Boy & Dolla’s flight was a little less crowded this go around. But for those who chose to take a ride were treated to their signature brand of music for in-flight entertainment. While the OJ Da Juiceman collabo “Stupid” was put into place to appease those hanger on’s from last go around, this DTP duo brought equal parts of style and substance to the table. If they can continue on their current trajectory, it’ll only be a matter of time before they’ll be shopping for bigger planes.—MZ
Cop: Flight 360: The Takeoff
UGK – 4 Life
This was the final curtain call for one of Hip-Hop’s greatest groups and they went out in the same draped up and dripped out purple Cadillac they rode in on. If you thought this would be a sappy ode to Pimp C, you were sadly mistaken. “Still on the Grind” and “Swishas & Erb” are familiar odes to what made UGK successful while “Steal Your Mind” shows a dream collaboration with Snoop and Too $hort, forming a pimp dream team of outrageous bars. Then there’s Pimp with his insistence on unshaven pubic areas and lines like “I’m tryin to put my dick inside ya mouth/tryin’ to put my dick and nuts inside ya mouth!” Long live the Pimp.—David D.
Cop: 4 Life
RZA – Afro Samurai Resurrection OST
Noticably absent from the multitude of Wu releases for the year, RZA did manage to stay productive in the industry’s frozen tundra, better known as January. The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai Resurrection OST, the eponymous soundtrack for the violent animated movie, incorporated a massive amount of underground talent for the greater good of murder music. It’s like a Hanzo for your iPod.—TC
Cop: The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai Resurrection OST
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