Neurologist

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The 10 Best Rap Albums of 2009 (So Far)

While 2009 has produced more duds than gems, the first half of the year boasts an array of great albums that managed to sustain our faith in hip-hop. Here are the Top 10 Rap Albums of 2009 (so far).

10. Grouch & Eligh – ‘Say G & E’

© Legendary Music
Living Legends comrades The Grouch and Eligh align their musical planets for an impressive collaborative set. The two actually have more than just their group affiliation in common. Eligh is coming off a strong showing on hip-hop’s first ever mother-and-son album, On Sacred Ground: Mother & Son. And that cute kid on the cover of Grouch’s last LP? That’s his daughter.

9. Method Man & Redman – ‘Blackout! 2’

© Def Jam
Blackout! 2 is not an instant banger, but it’s an all around solid follow-up to 1999’s Blackout!. Method Man and Redman are gifted lyricists who complement each other well perfectly. Meth is warm yet flavorful, even when he’s rhyming about the drollest subject. Red is sharp, witty, and charismatic. Together they’re one of hip-hop’s most formidable duos.

8. Mr. Lif – ‘I Heard It Today’

Lif’s latest album boldly plants a mirror in front of America’s social landscape, and reflects on issues such as discrimination, ignorance, and economic crisis. Guests include Bahamadia and Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks).

7. Brother Ali – ‘The Truth Is Here’ EP

© Rhymesayers
Two years ago, Brother Ali teamed up with esteemed producer and Steven Seagal’s illegitimate twin (that would be Ant) to create one of the most brutally honest albums hip-hop has seen in years, Undisputed Truth. Ali’s back with a new EP where he raps about how he went from being an underrated vet to headlining shows and shopping for underwear alongside Rakim, among other things. I seriously recommend Truth Is Here EP (Rhymesayers) as a holdover pending the fall release of Ali’s third full-length, The Street Preacher.
© Nature Sounds
Jay Stay Paid plays like a radio show with snippets culled from interviews, radio “drops,” and skits from the album’s overseers Pete Rock and Ma Dukes (Dilla’s mom). It contains beats laid down during the last 8 – 10 years of Jay Dee’s life. As it turns out, Dilla’s discards sound grittier than the finished work of most producers. At 28 songs and 58 minutes, Jay Stay Paid makes for a tedious listening experience, but the range and quality make it worthwhile.

5. Eminem – ‘Relapse’

© Shady/Interscope
Relapse maintains a cinematic vibe from start to finish. While Eminem‘s narratives are too familiar, his method of delivery has evolved. There are unique rhyme sequences and vocal cadences here (“Soon as the flow starts, I compose art like the ghost of Mozart”). Complex rhymes get even more complex. It’s his best release since The Eminem Show

4. K’naan – ‘Troubadour’

© A&M
Somali-Canadian MC K’naan Left an indelible mark on the global hip-hop community with 2005’s Dusty Foot Philosopher (re-released in 2008). He now returns with the musically rich Troubador, which features Damian “JR Gong” Marley, Chubb Rock, Mos Def, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Chali 2na and Adam Levine & James Valentine of Maroon 5. Troubadour finds K’naan assuming the role of a street griot and dishing out some of the most compelling narratives you’ll hear all year. In his own words, “My job is to write what I see/So a visual stenographer is what I be.”

3. DOOM – ‘Born Like This’

After watching the rap game from the sidelines for several years, DOOM (formerly MF Doom) decided he’s seen enough. The masked one returned with one goal in mind: to reinject his esoteric brand of hip-hop into the game. Born Like This is engaging from start to finish. DOOM even enjoyed cosign from strange places, as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke loved the album that he ended up doing a remix for one of its songs, “Gazillion Ear.” The “Gazillion Ear (Thom Yorke Remix)” appears as a bonus track on iTunes.

2. UGK – ‘UGK 4 Life’

UGK’s final album, UGK 4 Life, is incredibly cohesive and devoid of a boring moment. Bun B’s bassy mid-paced enunciation is almost as hypnotic as Pimp C’s high-pitched delivery. The result is a mix like night and day, and they complement each other perfectly.

1. Mos Def – ‘The Ecstatic’

© Downtown Records
Mos Def has struggled with consistency in the past. One listen to The Ecstatic, however, and you’ll forget and forgive Mos’ past transgressions. Pretty Flaco has conquered his demons, and Ecstatic finds him returning to the breath-defying, head-spinning lyricism that made him a hip-hop great. It’s OK, go ahead and sleep on The Ecstatic. You’ll hear about it again in 6 months when we discuss the year’s overall best albums.
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August 3, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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