New York’s Losing the Lion’s Share – 2009 Recap

In the wake of XXL’s 10 Freshmen for ’10 cover, one question kept coming up: What happened to New York? For hip-hop’s first 25 years, the music’s birthplace created dozens of stars. From the Bronx’s KRS-One to Manhattan’s Doug E. Fresh, Brooklyn’s Notorious B.I.G., Queens’s 50 Cent and Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan, each borough produced its own legends. Even outlying provinces like Long Island and Yonkers got in on the act, expanding New York rap’s borders with the likes of Public Enemy and DMX.

But that was then. Over the past seven years, the well has gone dry. Since 50 Cent detonated onto the scene with his eight-million-selling megabomb Get Rich or Die Tryin’, New York newcomers have been having a hard time blowing up. In fact, since 50 made his mark in 2003 with both his solo debut and G-Unit group album (Beg For Mercy), only a handful of local rappers have managed to debut in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart: Juelz Santana (2003’s From Me to U), Sheek Louch (2003’s Walk Witt Me), Loon (2003’s Loon), Lloyd Banks (2004’s The Hunger for More) Tony Yayo (2005’s Thoughts of a Predicate Felon) and Mims (2007’s Music Is My Savior). And only Lloyd Banks (2004’s “On Fire”), Mims (2007’s “This Is Why I’m Hot,”) and Lil Mama (2008’s “Lip Gloss”) have had a first single break the top 10 of the Hot 100 singles.

In XXL’s May issue, which is on stands now, we went searching the five boroughs, as well as Long Island and Yonkers, in search of some answers as to how New York fell into a hip-hop drought. But over the course of the past week and a half, we gave y’all a year-by-year breakdown of the music that came out of the Big Apple and how it stacked up against the rest of the hip-hop nation. The series concludes today with 2009.

Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t…

In 2009, 17 hip-hop albums debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s top 200, 9 of which came from New York artists


Pray IV Reign, Jim Jones

The Last Kiss, Jadakiss

Crime Pays, Cam’Ron

Back On My B.S., Busta Rhymes

The Ecstatic, Mos Def

Loso’s Way, Fabolous

The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, Raekwon

Before I Self-Destruct, 50 Cent


Deeper Than Rap, Rick Ross

R.O.O.T.S. (Route Of Overcoming The Struggle), Flo Rida

Rebelution, Pitbull


UGK 4 Life, UGK


Category F5, Twista


The State Vs. Radric Davis, Gucci Mane


Blackout! 2, Method Man & Redman


Relapse, Eminem

Out of the 17 hip-hop albums to debut in the top 10 of Billboard’s top 200 in 2009, none were from new New York artists dropping their first album.


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  • Bobby D

    Relapse, Crime Pays and Before I Self-Destrust best albums 2009. The only one’s I bought.

  • OG Bobby J

    Crime Pays was ass cause Cam been fell off (and Im a former fan). Relapse was good lyrically but conceptually average. Before I Self Destruct redeemed 50 of his worst album (Curtis), it’s a shame he didnt have a few hits to boost his sales.

    • the real OG Bobby J

      yo you fucking groupie hoe…

      stay off my name you fucking smut….

  • Fireforreal

    I agree 0′s album was not that bad it just didn’t do any numbers compared to his previous albums. Cam was wack but I expected that. The Raekwon was a suprise dope album because he went trhough a slipping period but redeemed himself. Jada had a few too many radio type songs but still a good album. Jay was alright. He just threw me off with calling it The blueprint 3 and it sounded more like a new version of Hard knock life. Something built to get tons of radio play. Fabolous was wack. He’s declned with each album. Meth and Red was dope so was em the rest of the albums I didn’t listen to.

    • AZ40

      Everyone says Cam’s album was wack but the only issue I had was there were too many songs…Fab’s album was wack only a couple of good songs as well as Jada’s…I think hands down Rae had the best NY album out

  • Sha

    The truth is… Hip-Hop has long stopped being JUST a New York thing. It is global now. And while everyone knows where it came from, there are many artists around the world that crush your typical NYC artist. I prefer NYC hip-hop. It speaks to me more than other locales. But New York emcees sound like copies of each other. They don’t stand out any more. Back in the day there were so many flavors. You had black power emcees, you had your hippy flower child emcees, you had your raw “I’ll bust your ass” emcees, you had your emcees for the dance music. But now? They all sound the same. And that’s just real talk. Yeah, the blueprint was conceived in NYC. But the art has crossed borders and entered almost every society. New York emcees can’t expect to hold it down just because the art was born there…. Innovate. Perfect your craft. Strive for lyrical dominance. Not just for your corner. But global dominance. KRS spoke on this shit years earlier. We should have emcees battling on pay-per-view and in global emceeing contests. Hip-Hop can have a resurgence in NYC. It can happen any day. Who knows what kind of ill emcees will rip up the norm and carve a new lane. But judging on what I’ve seen so far? It seems that this moment is quite a far distance off. NYC emcees need to own up to falling into stagnation. Look at yourselves and then you will be able take over again. But on a global scale. And that’s real talk.

    • sb

      @ sha… well said

    • $yk

      PEACE Sha!

    • Mireya

      You’re wrong brother. There is a plethora of flavors in NY when it comes to HIP HOP. I think you need to do some more digging.

    • Mireya

      You’re wrong brother. There is a plethora of flavors in NY when it comes to HIP HOP.

  • swype-matic

    That Raekwon HAS to be the best of ’09, BP3 was okay, I listened to Relapse once and haven’t listened to it since, BISD was a disappointment, but I kinda thought it would be anyway, The Last Kiss just wasn’t anything like Kiss of Death, and the others (besides Mos Def w/ I didn’t come around to getting), meh

  • amplified sample

    No one on this list dropped their first album in 2009. All of those artists, minus Gucci Mane, Flo Rida and Rick Ross, have been established for like 10 years or more.

    The veterans of the mid and late 90′s are still relevant and making the best music right now. Once they become too old around the end of this decade NY will have newer artists ready to take the torch.

  • OW

    Hip Hop has been going strong for a while now so I just don’t understand why the subject of NY rappers lack of visablitity is an issue still. Nationwide, nobody is getting the exposure from record companies like in more profitable times. People have to work. NY rappers a still eating from club dates and regional tours just like any other rapper in America. Does Raekwon or Jadakiss have to go platinum for rap to be “relevant”? When Dipset was poppin it was the rest of the county ,not NY, who were supporting them. They had to put that work in to get that shine. Love starts at home and if NY wants to get back on top they need to show support to their artist. NY needs to stop breeding haters and go back to promoting grinders. You never hear dudes like Fabolous complaining because they grind and get what they deserve.

  • gaddic

    You fucks are pissing off
    Showing arrant disregard for
    The ecstatic from mos def

    That album was by far the best new york rap album
    Yes! Better than the over-hyped OBFCL part 2!

    Check out tracks like “Auditorium” with Slick Rick “Twilite Speed ball” and “Priority”

    Way shorter album with no fillers and strictly sick substance-filled lyrics and good production-Mos def was focused as hell for this lp

    2bad he dropped one too many weak efforst b4 this why little or no interest or anticipation was for this new album

  • Dom Walker

    Cuban Linx II. Enough said

  • $yk

    @ gaddic

    ‘The Estatic’-Mos Def

    ^ I actually think that’s his weakest project so far.

    Q-Tip ‘The Renaissance’>’The Estatic’

    I don’t even listen to Busta’s CD from last year.

    ‘Crime Pays’ was good to me.

  • Pierzy

    Cuban Linx II was a revival in more ways than one…

  • ms_spittuh

    For some strange reason I knew Raekwon’s cd was gonna win this poll lol. That “House of Flying Daggers” video? I watched it 3 times when it came out, I waited a week to get the instrumental and I jumped on that shit. Can’t wait to record it this summer! :)

  • Anti-Mainstream

    Where’s Krs and Buckshot?

  • TheInfamous89

    Didnt Maino drop his album in ’09?

    OB4CL2 is Classic
    Crime Pays was good
    BP3 was aite after the first listenin
    BISD was aite
    BOMB shows that busta has really fell off

    • Dungeon

      “BOMB shows that busta has really fell off”

      truth right here! Bustah hasnt been the same since he changed his formula (and his hair) from unique party rapper 2 G’d up…actually i dont know what to call his music lol

  • TheInfamous89

    Didnt Maino drop his album in ’09?

    OB4CL2 is Classic
    Crime Pays was good
    BP3 was aite after the first listenin
    BISD was aite
    BOMB shows that busta has really fell off

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t both “Crack A Bottle” & “We Made You” make it in2 the top 10. I believe #1 & #8.

  • Suvio Blue

    imo id havta say Linx 2, that shit was almost like Goodfellas on cd, very cinematic, a lot of things i think ppl fail to see is that Rae dropped 2 good mixtapes right before his album and yet still akbum sounded totally different w no recycled lyrics, and he backed it up w videos…some of them not the best but i saw about a good 6 videos, i def tip my hat, when u got Sade bumpin ya shit thats gotta say a lil somethin!

  • Mireya

    “Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t…”

    And how are those numbers made? Well apparently XXL doesn’t mention the inner workings of the industry or how payola is still active amongst popular radio DJs. There are SO many talented MC’s in New York. The problem is that people are lazy and don’t want to dig for good music. Shit my brother listens to whatever is on the radio, no questions asked. Stupid music about “Lip Gloss Poppin” or “This is why I’m HOT”. In NY you have lyrical cats rapping about conspiracy theories, stories,etc.. You have cats that will KILL the mainstream. The problem is that people are too ignorant these days. The industry is money hungry and only concerned with making “BANGERS”. One hit wonders by “sensualists without spirits”. A culture being put under the shadow of greed. It’s sad that artists like Tonedeff who are lyrical monsters get no recognition. Homeboy Sandman(melodic rhymes) who is always “on his grind” putting to use gorilla warfare marketing tactics. P. SO. The Juggaknots! Pack Fm, Torae, Substantial,JEAN GRAE! Poison Pen. These articles are not being based on talent. It seems that XXL has turned their back on REAL Hip Hop. This is the last time I purchase a XXL Magazine. If this is just the beginning of a bigger scheme well good luck and thank you for feeding the stereotypes. Thank You for failing to be REAL journalist and searching for lyrical artists. MCs that use hip hop to even help kids with autism. You know where some of NY’s best MCs showcase their talent? The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. If you want to see some NY HIP HOP at its best that is where you will find it. Have fun feeding people garbage. Peace.

  • CJ2792

    was kinda hopin to see Skyzoo – The Salvation up there

  • RiKaShaE

    but right now album sales aint even what makes “the best”these days….Lil wayne is one of “the best”n he did that with FREE mixtapes…..da point is Cam’rons Boss OF ALL BOSSES 2.5 is better than Young Jeezy’s Trap or Die 2….NY aint goin NOWHERE!…n im from bmore,so if u kno bout da whole NY/bmore thing it HAS 2 be true no rupaul

  • sway

    wait method man is from NY and they put him and redman under NJ artists?

  • sway

    and that was the dopest album

  • megulito

    damn am i the only one that really love dthe blue print 3??? i thought it was fire i played the hit outta it