It’s 2009, finally! All this preparing and waiting and the shut down of the industry has killed me. It’s January 5, 2009, we are back in business. And with a new year there can be many changes. At the office we always talk about things we’d love to see in hip-hop, if they happened. And lately the talk isn’t that exciting. There’s something up with hip-hop. It’s not as fun as it used to be. I can’t really decide why. You can point at all sorts of different reasons—ringtone rappers, one hit wonders, rappers singing, fake thugs—of what’s fucked up about it but each one of those issues can be flipped into a reason why hip-hop has done well to a degree.

So because I don’t know what is actually wrong with hip-hop (besides the sales, which is really a reflection of technology and not actual content. Okay, maybe a little content…) here’s a list of 9 things that I think would be right for hip-hop in 2009. In no particular order. [Note: This list does not include anything about the end of auto-tunes because that is too obvious at this point.]-VS

A New Crew - There hasn’t been a new big, powerful rap crew in a long time. Not really since G-Unit. Yeah, sure, there was Trill Ent. but that really wasn’t a crew, it had the budding potential but was a few MCs short and then G.O.O.D. Music doesn’t really fit the definition. And Grand Hustle hasn’t really taken off like Cash Money or No Limit or N.W.A or Bad Boy or Death Row (check the March issue of XXL for more of this list and topic). It would be great to see a new movement come out and dominate and get all the other crews revved up going again.

A Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown Collabo - I am not going to say we need a new star female MC. I don’t know if we are really even checking for one. We didn’t want Shawnna and she could rhyme and looked good. We said no to Lil’ Mama even though she was the only female rapper in how long to not be the first lady of a crew and get her own record deal? We stay saying no to Jean Grae though she tries to give us something different. So forget a new female MC. What we need is for Foxy and Kim, to get over their notorious mysterious beef and get on a song together—a real one. One strong enough for a video. Then make a video! Do they understand how great this would be? For their (careers…) and for us! And for female rappers? They have the power. (Not to mention what a nice XXL cover it would make). Someone call Gavin.

Diplomats Back Together - Jimmy without Cam and Cam without Jimmy is fucked up. Enough said. But since I’m wordy, we need all four of the core back together. Then let the new crew (mentioned above) get their blood pumping mixed with Jim’s new stardom and everything will fall into place.

Shyne Comes Home - After what feels like a zillion years Shyne is gonna come home. Really it’s gonna be like seven years, and no one knows what to expect. Let’s not forget that at some point along the way Shyne Po, who was Jamal Barrow, changed his name to Moses Michael Leviy, in honor of his Jewish heritage. (?!) It would be amazing to see Shyne get out and go back to rap, and still be able to rap. Then blow us away with mixtapes and Internet tracks in preparation for 2010 when he drops one classic album then retires. (Of course one track on the LP would feature Matisyahu.)

Lil' Boosie Steps It Up - I am a Lil’ Boosie fan. B-O-O-S-I-E B-A-D-A-Z-Z, that’s me! And most people I ask seem to like Boosie so where the fuck is he? He’s got the set up to go out there and make a spot for himself. He’s developed a fan base. Go look up some of his live performances on YouTube and the crowd is there. Boosie just needs to follow in the footsteps of his fellow New Orleans MC, Lil’ Wayne and collaborate, record and release shit like crazy. He needs to do like Crooked I and his Hip-Hop Weekly’s. He needs to help balance some of this out. And he needs to just go by Boosie.

A New All Star Hip-Hop Producer - We need a new producer with his (or her) sound to come out and take over. But it needs to be someone with the confidence to carry the character without getting carried away. You know what we need? Mannie Fresh 2009. Or something like that. A new star producer. Mannie doesn’t make beats often enough anymore and Kanye, Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, Swizz Beatz, Pharrell and Timbaland all have their own stories, drama and costs. Sure there are a lot of up and coming producers and bigger names out there but we need one of those to pop out as a leader, a fresh face and new sound with talent and personality to make him a star but the ego to keep him in check.

An Album from Eminem or Dr. Dre - We need an Eminem album or we need Detox. Period. With Eminem, the guy has grown up, been through so much and so has the country that if anyone can come up with some great lyrics right now I am pretty sure it’s Eminem. I’m counting on him. And as far as Detox, Fall 2010 would be the 10th anniversary of 2001 so it makes sense to be this year. And we need to see what Dr. Dre is capable of anymore. Is he the hip-hop hero we’ve created him to be or not really anymore? All I know is we need one of those albums.

New Independent Record Label – A rich rapper needs to start his own independent record label and scoop up all these unsigned, disgruntled MCs. Not have a rapper get a gig at a major label and sign other rappers, no. Make their own label, maybe even make it completely digital, and run it without all the clueless label people. Who knows what a rapper needs better than an accomplished rapper? Let them run the business and be the first to find out how to control or work with the Internet. Be the pioneer.

One of the Freshmen To Blow Up
We need a new rap star. New blood! We haven’t had one since when? It depends on your definition of a star. Since 50 Cent there’s been Young Jeezy and Kanye, correct? Who have been the big stars in addition to them? Soulja Boy? T.I. had already been around and so had Lil Wayne. So it would be very important for hip-hop if a new rap star emerged in the next year. And it would be great for XXL if that star were one of XXL’s Top 10 Freshman of 2009. Who would you bet on?

Here are a few from XXL staff –
Datwon Thomas, Editor-In-Chief:
I'd say Detox needs to drop. Em can go another year without an album; this Dr. Mystery of an album needs to happen by 2nd quarter already...

Rob Markman, Music Editor:
My personal list is 1. Detox, 2. An Andre 3000 solo disc, 3. The emergence of a new superstar (so we don't have to rely on the old ones.)

Carl Chery, Digital Content Director: We need a new superstar. Also, someone needs to drop an undeniable classic. There needs to be a significant release from a female MC.

Anslem Samuel, Senior Editor: With Barack in office (16 days) we need more positive music. Positive is wrong word, but tired of the same shuckin a jivin rhetoric. We need real music. Albums from Dre and Andre 3000 will be welcome. Lauryn Hill too. Most importantly, we need less egos. Kinda like how T.I. and Jay did “Swagger Like Us” together. Having stars on same track is big step. What happened to the real posse cuts?

Clover Hope, News Editor: Speaking of egos, how bout rappers stop turning down XXL covers and features! Judging from sales, they need us more than ever. Also, for Ron Browz to go away.

Jesse Gissen, Digital News Editor: We need a new cam album and that Juelz/ Lil Weezy collabo to drop.

Starrene Rhett, Editorial Associate: 1. Rappers being dumb enough to jump on Jim Jones' calling people "Obama" trend. 2. An album will actually come out when scheduled. 3. The emergence of a significant female emcee. 4. T-Pain gives up autotune, while everyone else continues to rape it.

Dave Bry, Features Editor: 1) moratorium on autotune. 2) increased investment (on the part of artists, fans and media outlets) in indie-scale music. 3) the popularization of a radical new sound (a la wu-tang, 1994). 4) further optimization of the internet (a la lil wayne, 2007). 5) and yeah, "detox" would definitely be nice.

What do you guys think needs to happen in '09?