*Breakdown* Top Mixtapes of ’09

As much as I’d like to give an elaborate, in-depth  break down of everything noteworthy in Hip Hop during 2009, knowledge of self tells me that right now I just can’t do it.

Luckily, I do have it in me to hit you off with my creamy cream of the crop list.

Wanna read it? Here it go.

Wale & 9th Wonder – Back to the Feature

How does a hip hop artist repping D.C. who: a) already has the endorsement of industry bosses like Jay-Z and Lyor Cohen,  b) has a white-hot internet buzz and c) has a chart-making single with Lady Gaga spark his name up another notch?

Announce a project featuring  production by 9th Wonder and a gang of certified spitters.

Back to the Feature was not only the most anticipated mixtape of the year,  it was the project that most lived up to its expectations.

Sure, Drake’s So Far Gone delivered the most bang for buck. But the attention wasn’t there prior to it’s release.

Hip hop heads on the net, some more patiently than others, awaited as the release date for Back to the Feature was continously pushed back.

Best defined by Wale himself, the mixtape  is plain and simple:

” We ain’t singing to these broads, we just want them to know that niggas be rapping.”

And rap they do. In typical Wale mixtape fashion, he treats the free release as serious as most rappers do their albums.

Versatility and the ability to rap effectively on a wide variety of topics are what ultimately make this mixtape so great. The same guy rapping about America with K’naan on “Um Ricka”, is the same guy talking shit on “Talking Shyt” with Bun B.

Same guy breaking down  relationships with Jean Grae on “Goodbye” can get into real shit with Memphis Bleek on “The Sun.”

My favorite joint on the tape, “Rather Be (Vagina is for Lovers)” is so much more creative the the Young Money joint “Every Girl” it’s a shame it will likely never see radio airplay.

All in all, Back to the Feature is a must grab for any hip hop head  mad at what the radio is giving.

5 Mic Tracks

“Tito Santana” feat. Joe Budden

“Rather Be” feat. J. Cole and Curren$y

“Life’s a Bitch” feat. Talib Kweli  and Joell Ortiz

Lupe Fiasco – Enemy of the State

Remember the first time you heard Lupe on those mixtapes back in 2006? The Fahrenheit 1/15 series and the Rhyming Ape mixtape established Lupe as the game’s most talented rhymer and story teller this side of Eminem.

Since releasing  The Cool in 2007 however, Lupe has taken a back seat as new talent in the form of Wale, J. Cole and Drake have slid into the conciousness of lyric-craving rap fans.

But this mixtape right here? It shows how truly  ahead of the curve Lupe is and has always been.

Released for digital download in the form of a continuous playing tape, Enemy of the State is 22 minutes of rapid fire lyricism. Lupe covers a few classic beats and a few beats that you’ve heard on the radio recently.

Roscoe Dash’s “All the way Turnt Up” gets absolutely bodied along with Timbaland and Drake’s “Say Something.”

Long story short: Get this mixtape in your life asap because Lupe wants his spot back.

5 Mic Tracks

“All The Way Turnt Up” Freestyle

“Say Something” Freestyle

“Popular Demand” Freestyle

Drake – So Far Gone

The lines between an album and a mixtape were officially erased this year with Drake’s So Far Gone.

Hip Hop’s undisputed new artist of the year controlled the charts and the blogosphere all with one piece of work.

Whether it was “Uptown” with Bun B, “Successful” with Trey Songs or holding it down by himself on “Best I Ever Had,” Drake’s music was the sound of 2009.

Not to mention his work on other artists projects like the countless hooks he contributed to Birdman’s Priceless album, verses for Timbaland, Gucci Mane, Fabolous, Young Money and whoever else.

Sure Drake had a name before 2009, but So Far Gone will always be known as the one that did it for him.

Need an idea of just how big this mixtape is? Drake has two Grammy Award nominations for a mixtape song. That’s big and, frankly, unheard of.

He said it himself:

Dropped the mixtape that shit sounded like an album/ Who’d have thought a country-wide tour would be the outcome?


5 Mic Tracks

“Ignorant Shit” f. Lil Wayne

“Successful” f. Trey Songs

“Best I Ever Had”

Honorable Mention

J. Cole – The  Warm Up

J. Cole had some bubble behind his name before he became the first artist to ink a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

But the buzz he garnered after signing with Hov allowed him to reintroduce himself to the general public with The Warm Up.

Cole uses dope beats (some produced by him) and ryhmes to convey his life as a southern kid with an East Coast mentality.

“Grown Simba” was the song that grabbed me from the jump. Over the next couple of days I stopped skimming and really gave it my ear.

I was never dissappointed.

5 Mic Tracks

“Lights Please”

“Grown Simba”

“World is Empty”

Raekwon – Blood on Chef’s Apron

Jay wasn’t the only veteran getting it in in 2009. Raekwon dropped the sequel to his classic solo debut Only Built for Cuban Linx back in September to much critical acclaim.

But before the album there was the DJ Absolut assisted Blood on Chef’s Apron mixtape that really set the table for what Rae was about to do.

Cameos from heavyweights like AZ, Twista and Noreaga allowed Rae to showcase his versatility on variety of tracks.

The beat selection is on point as always with the Chef.

5 Mic Tracks

“What Do I Do?”

“A Bigger Gun” f. Twista

“Letter to BIG”

Worthwhile download no doubt.


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