Now that 2009 is coming to a close, I have selected my 10 favorite albums from 2009. This was one of the best years for hip hop with Eminem, Raekwon, and Jay coming back but also newcomers like Wale and Kid Cudi had stellar debut albums. I will be making more of these top 10 lists with other areas like mixtapes and songs over the next week, but here is my list for the Top 10 albums of 2009.
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1. The Blueprint 3 – Jay-Z
The Blueprint 3 barely edged out Wale’s debut album, but I cannot think of a more complete album that dropped this year. There are a couple bad tracks and it is disappointing to hear what Timbaland had to offer, but No ID, kanYe, and The Neptunes saved the rest of the album. KanYe and No ID had been saying all year that the album was going to be a classic and there was a lot of hype building up to the September release date. When I saw the tracklist with J. Cole, Kid Cudi, kanYe West, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beats, Mr. Hudson, and Young Jeezy, I thought there were way too many features, but I think each artist added a nice touch to the album. As soon as I had hear Thank You and Already Home, I knew the album has lived up to the hype.
Listen to: Thank You, Already Home, So Ambitious
2. Attention Deficit – Wale
Wale had the best debut album of 2009[sorry Cudi] and has become one of my favorite rappers. There are so many songs on here that I enjoy and I rarely skip over a track. With Mark Ronson as executive producer, some tracks bring a new sound to hip-hop while the other tracks exemplify that classic hip-hop sound. I honestly have no idea why Wale doesn’t get airtime on the radio because Pretty Girls is my favorite song of 2009 and I think its an ideal single with the Gucci Mane feature. Wale’s raps are easy to relate to and I think everyone should give his album a listen.
Listen to: Pretty Girls, World Tour, Beautiful Bliss, Mama Told Me
3. KiD CuDi – Man on the Moon: The End of Day
Man on the Moon has to be one of the most creative albums let alone debut albums ever. Cudi mashed all kinds of sounds for his album and brought in everyone from Common to MGMT as features. This album has some of the catchiest songs and you find yourself singing along Cudi on the hooks. Cudi worked with a lot of the people who did 808s & Heartbreak, but I found this album to be much better. Cudi’s rapping on this album seemed to take a backseat to the excellent production as I think Cudi rapped much better on his mixtape. I’ve been following Cudi since his mixtape and it was exciting to see him become successful this year.
Listen to: CuDi Zone, Up Up & Away, Alive
4. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II
People have been waiting a good majority of their life for this album and Raekwon definitely delivered a classic rap album this year. This is that raw Wu-tang rap that a lot of people grew up with and this album did not disappoint. It is nice listening to some of that new stuff from artists like Cudi, but sometimes you just need that Wu-Tang music. If you want that 90s rap sound, look no further, but definitely listen to the first one before giving this a listen.
Listen to: 10 Bricks, Broken Safety, Catalina
5. Mos Def – The Ecstatic
It is always a treat when Mos Def puts together a complete album, and I think this is one of his best yet. Although some of the songs are a bit short, Dante still gets his verses in. The Talib Kweli and Slick Rick features were dope and the Dilla beats were crazy. Mos Def’s flow is hard to describe and sometimes you can’t even understand what he is saying, but it makes for some really good hip-hop.
Listen to: History, Casa Bey, Supermagic, Auditorium
6. Til the Casket Drops – Clipse
The Thorton brothers are past their label issues and they seem to be much happier on their Neptunes produced album. They gathered a lot of buzz with their kanYe collabo Kinda Like A Big Deal and followed up with the feel good track I’m Good. Pusha and Malice also brought Cam’Ron in for one of my favorites Popular Demand. The Neptunes showed why they are among the best producers in the game and these beats seemed to be their rawest yet. DJ Khalil also produced some bangers and it is good to see the Thorton brothers back.
Listen to: Kinda Like A Big Deal, I’m Good, Popular Demand, Life Change
7. The Salvation – Skyzoo
It is not easy to get into the rap game these days, but it definitely helps to have 9th Wonder executive produce your debut studio album. Besides 9th, Skyzoo also has Just Blaze, Illmind, Nottz, Eric G, Needlz, Cyrus the Great, and Best Kept Secret on the production. I am a big fan of 9th Wonder’s production, thus this album made my top 10, but my favorite track on the album did not come from him. My Interpretation from DC producers Best Kept Secret is my favorite off of the track and they have become favorites of mine as well for their work with Wale. With excellent production and good rapping, Skyzoo definitely dropped a great album this year.
Listen to: My Interpretation, Metal Hearts, For What It’s Worth, Return of the Real
8. Music Castle – DJ Deckstream
This is definitely the surprise album on my list. I am pretty sure most of you never even have heard of this album, but the album is a great smooth jazz album. DJ Deckstream has covered a bunch of songs from artists like Stevie Wonder, Malcom Mclaren, and A Tribe Called Quest. I happen to stumble upon this album in Japan, and have not be able to stop listening to it since. It may be hard to find this as it is not on iTunes, but a quick Google search should point you in the direction of a [free] download. I skip over two tracks, but the rest of the songs I have listened to dozens of times and you should too.
Listen to: Tripping Out, Georgy Porgy, Don’t You Worry ’bout A Thing, Get on Down
9. Born and Raised – Cormega
The only other album that I know of with Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Large Professor, and LES on the production is Nas’ Illmatic. With that said, you should know the production on the album is dope. I mean this album sounds straight out of the 90s and Cory brings that NYC street rap to his album. The only thing that I think holds this album back is it sounds like Cormega used a really cheap microphone. Something about the the vocals doesn’t seem to be as high of quality as the beats. It doesn’t ruin the album but it is noticeable.
Listen to: Live and Learn, Journey, Rapture, Dirty Game
10. Relapse – Eminem
Marshall came back in 09 after a brief hiatus and now he is sober. Some like his rapping better when he was on drugs, but he still put together a great album. Of course he brought Dre and 50 with him and he balanced off the album with serious and funny songs. I don’t think this is Em’s best album, but is still better than most artists’ albums and is definitely worth a listen. Em will be back in 2010 with Relapse 2 and from what I have heard you will want to be on the lookout for it.