Two For [Your] Money: Which ’09 LPs Have You Slept On?

I can’t speak for all of my colleagues, but, in my eyes, working in the media side of the hip-hop game requires a nice bit of taking-it-on-the-chin—just not in the way you may think. Take 2008, for example. My still-nostalgic tastes and I spent the entire year praising Elzhi for both his Euro-Pass promo record and his official LP, The Preface, despite being unable to do so on bigger stages than email chains and random blog posts.

For my money, The Preface was last year’s best rap album, no question. On the production end, Black Milk topped himself with each subsequent beat, from the playful organ on “Colors” to the devastating bass-rumbles of “Yeah;” lyrically, Elzhi presented some of the freshest concepts I’d heard in years, namely “Guessing Game,” with its open-ended words bleeding into unexpected bar-starters. The Preface knocked me on my ass; I thought, “Finally, an album I’ll hail that my peers will equally love. Hell, it could even be great enough to get Elzhi a magazine feature!”

Pipe dreams of a delusional hip-hop head.

As my better judgment could’ve predicted, both Elzhi and his The Preface came and went. A few bloggers—including Byron Crawford, if I recall correctly—called its superiority to attention, but more time was spent overhyping 808s & Heartbreak and shooting covers with Lil Wayne. Which, having been in this game for six years now, I understand. Kanye and Weezy sell records and magazines, because the mainstream supports them with readied wallets. Only nerdy types such as myself fawn over albums like The Preface, let alone even know they exist.

Why am I reminiscing about this today, when there’s a 50 Cent/Jay-Z tension and the South’s biggest breakthrough artist is facing the bing? Because the only two albums I bumped over this past weekend were full-lengths that invoke strong feelings akin to that of The Preface—Apathy’s Wanna Snuggle? and Fashawn’s Boy Meets World.

2009 has been a good year to my ears, and the major label trio that have been the most generous have been Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. II, Eminem’s Relapse and Wale’s Attention: Deficit. This post isn’t about those albums, though, so I won’t go into them here, other than to say that all three are grade-A—Wale’s, much to my surprise, and Em’s, much to my own opinion, apparently. It seems like I’m defending Relapse once a week (and repeating the sentiment that “Medicine Ball” is one of the year’s best songs). But I’m stepping off course, now—back to Wanna Snuggle? and Boy Meets World.

Let’s first look at Apathy’s second solo LP. Much of my time in college (2000-2004) was spent digging through online hubs such as HipHopSite.com and UGHH.com, and, in those circles, Apathy’s was a name that generated love in the same way that Lil Wayne did last year in pop culture. The Connecticut native put in work as part of the Demigodz, and labored through years of Atlantic Records-issued neglect before Saigon ever did, but the Internet didn’t care. As far as message boards were concerned, Apathy was a master lyricist, capable of rewind-that punch lines and full-bodied concept tracks. And he still is, as proven on Wanna Snuggle?

Twenty-one tracks that defy skipping, Wanna Snuggle? represents an artistic growth for Apathy, a slight detour from the darkness that shadowed his Eastern Philosophy. “Run Run Away” pulsates with old Doo-Wop energy, and “Mind Ya Business” tackles guy/girl issues with accessibility (and even unearths Fu-Schnickens member Chip-Fu for its hook). These records show that Ap can pull off the radio-friendly necessities that Atlantic must’ve drilled down his throat, just as monsters the likes of the B-Real-featuring “Shoot First” (the best Cypress Hill song not produced by Muggs) and “I’m a Demigod,” on which Teddy Roxpin’s beat comes close to outdoing Just Blaze at his own firestorm-of-sample-chops sound.

“Run Run Away”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/run-run-away-1.mp3]

“I’m a Demigod”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/7-im-a-demigod-1.mp3]

“Hell’s Angel”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/hells-angel-1.mp3]

Wanna Snuggle?, in my opinion, is one of the year’s most dynamic and overall superlative rap albums—yet, have any of you heard it? There’s a better chance that Fashawn’s Boy Meets World has wrangled a larger following; I’ve at least seen a slew of pro-Fashawn comments on various sites throughout ’09.

Entirely produced by the underrated Exile, Boy Meets World is a kindred spirit to Blu’s collaborative disc with Exile, Below the Heavens (aka my top album of 2007—see a theme here?). Fashawn—a Fresno, California rep—is proficient with his words; he’s quite compelling when addressing topical heft (the man versus depression battle “When She Calls”), ferocious when simply coasting above beefy boom-bap (“Freedom).

“When She Calls”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/16-when-she-calls.mp3]

“Freedom”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/02-freedom.mp3]

“Breathe (ft. Bravo)”
[Audio:http://www.xxlmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/11-breathe-ft-bravo.mp3]

Fashawn’s flow and voice remind me of another slept-on MC, former Flipmode member and U.N. frontman Rock Marciano, which is surely one of the reasons I’m so pro-Fashawn. Similarities to other personal favorite rappers aside, though, he’s undeniably talented, and deserving of a bigger audience. If OJ Da Juiceman can guest on a Jadakiss single, why can’t Pusha T and Malice call upon Fashawn?

(Bonus fact: Fashawn’s tag-team with The Alchemist, The Antidote, is also grand.)

This may not be the finite answer, but it’s certainly worth pondering—outlets such as the one you’re currently visiting need to show these kinds of artists more love. And, for that, I take some of the blame (and more on the chin); I’m only one person, yes, but didn’t Nas say something to the effect of “All we need is one ____.”

My only mission with this post, truthfully, is to motivate at least one or two of you to seek out Wanna Snuggle? and Boy Meets World. Year-end lists are on the horizon, and I wonder how many will include one or both. Nothing says that any have to, now—we’re all entitled to our own opinions. I just hope that the lack of inclusions is the result of informed thoughts, and not general unawareness.

In closing, are there any overlooked 2009 LPs that you deem worthy of notice? Specifically from regional acts that struggle to surpass local radio. —Matt Barone

  • http://www.byroncrawford.com/ Bol

    If only this could replace whatever’s actually in XXL magazine.

  • sealsaa

    “If only this could replace whatever’s actually in XXL magazine.”

    This month: RocaWear’s winter catalog, and 50 Cent in handcuffs. Classy!

  • http://quebishop.deviantart.com qp

    Haven’t hear Wanna Snuggle? yet, but I keep hearing good responses. It seems that everyone associated with Blu and Exile puts out some dope music. Fashawn is nice. Still waiting on that Blu and Exile cd tho

  • sealsaa

    “are there any overlooked 2009 LPs that you deem worthy of notice?”

    Anything by Elzhi and Sean Price, much to my dismay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maxprofit Max Profit

    Those Apathy joints sound like the stuff I was into in the 90′s.

    The FaShawn joints sound better – just a little boring.

    My attention span is all fu*ked up nowadays.

  • AZ40

    good post heard about fashawn never checked him though, apathy sounds good gonna check him out too there haven’t been too many slept on official albums except Slaughthouse,Rae was okay too but still got some promo… as far as mixtapes J.Cole has that heat, as well as Nip Hussle, and this cat Big G outta georgia too hes supposed to be wokin’ on somethin’ else soon

  • http://xxlmag.com Blakout615

    “Which, having been in this game for six years now, I understand. Kanye and Weezy sell records and magazines, because the mainstream supports them with readied wallets”

    I remember a couple months back when cats on here was asking why XXL wont put Slaughterhouse on the cover lol…….Because it’s XXL!!! This is the same magazine that wouldnt give Elzhi a feature (that last time feature dont count) even with him dropping 1 of the tighest hip hop albums in recent yrs. This aint Murderdog lmao

    Anyway, this yr I aint really been mesing with too many albums. I mainly been listening to cats on the come up who haven’t had the opportunity to drop an official album yet, such as…
    Marvo- He out of Chicago. Been KILLIN Don Cannon beats.

    Tito Lopez- I haven’t heard too many of his own tracks but hes been killin everybody’s instrumentals. Dissed the hell out of Saigon

    Quest- Got some niiice tracks.

    Kevin gates- 1 of the best I done heard out of Louisiana

    Pill- Not ur average trap rapper.

    Freddie gibbs- His shit be slappin in the whip plus he spittin.

    J.Cole- Mixtape of the yr

    I been fuckin wit young buck heavy lately. He been droppin straight heat this yr. Check out his new mixtape wit the real Ricky Ross.

  • http://xxlmag.com Blakout615

    Those sum nice tracks u posted too

  • Ali

    I really liked Street Hop

  • Nate

    Great article/ I too enjoyed Fashawn’s Boy meets world. His music you can find on many sites for free download if you are scared to put your money down.

    I’m finishing up a article on “Why Hip-Hop never Died”.. It’s going to take my hypothesis I’ve stated over the last year or so that good albums come out every month, even almost every single week, and I’m going to break down 2009, with all the ones that I have personally purchased listened too, and felt are high quality. This is dozens of albums also, so I’ll break down each one a bit, along with Release date, and show that regardless of album sales, or promotion that mc’s that wanted to put out good product never stopped. You just have to be a real fan and search for it. Support the real, and it will continue to be supplied.

    • General

      Sounds like a good article, have to let us know where we can check it out at…

      I agree though if you really look at the material released this year, it has been a great year for quality music even if the sales aren’t there. Unfortunately in this economy labels aren’t pushin much of the product and a lot of great releases are flying under the radar. People will say it was bad year for hip hop because of sales, but if you love great music then it has actually been a good year

  • El Tico Loco

    Soul Assasins, A Brand you can trust, Chemical Warfare, were slept on also and I can’t belivee I just got caught sleepin on Ap.

  • http://xxlmag.com Blakout615

    Dammmmmn I forgot all about Street Hop SMH@Me. Especially considering I was waiting 3yrs for it to drop

  • http://crimcitywimp.blogspot.com Ross

    Brother Ali – US.

    The lyrical structures function like a Paul Noble landscape.

  • http://www.jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

    I slept on the Freshman 10. Haven’t heard one of those albums yet (exception: singles).

    I’m currently sleeping on RA The Rugged Man. I’ll get it before the year’s out though.

    I plain ol’ STEPPED on Cop Cars and Cuffs.

    J.Cole and Pill were also slept on by me. I’m just a lil behind, that’s all. Will check em all out.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    That Fashawn project is good $. Never heard of Apathy, I’ll put that on the list.

    Here are some for others who forgot because of the thousands of sh*t sandwiches being pushed on us:

    Street Hop-Royce

    Blakout2!-Red & Meth

    C.L.C.-Pac Div

    Everybody’s Nobody-XV

    Curse of Thee Green Faceded-Thee Tom Hardy

    • El Tico Loco

      Of all people here YOU never heard of Apathy? Wao! Youtube the songs “School”, “Immortal” (actually that’s side a&b of a 12″) you gonna have a real Rip Vanwinkle moment cuz they some old ass songs.

  • S.W. PHILLY

    Tanya Morgan’s cd “Brooklynati”. HANDS DOWN some of the best music I’ve heard in a few years. Their style is reminiscent of Little Brother(but the lyrics are better).And the beats………….damn. The name threw me off but after listening to the music I put other ppl on to em and they support em’ now.

    • D

      second that…the last Mos Def album was really good too, he’s not indie but I def did not hear it on the radio, actually I wouldn’t know, I don’t listen to the radio but I’m sure it’s a good guess.

  • Caino

    True that $ykotic, l be bumping Pac Div right now!!

  • king

    the quilt is fiya from gym class hero but i dont know 2 mny ppl wit it. but hip hop will switch back and the spitters and lyrically 1s will b bck on top.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    @ Tico

    Yeah my homie is clowning me too over that. That’s my homework for the week.

    @ Caino

    Them dudes are good $. In my top mixers:

    Blood on Chef’s Apron-Raekwon
    C.L.C.-Pac Div
    The Network-Young Chris
    Criminal Minded Pt2-Camron
    The Warm Up-J Cole

    5a.War Angel-50 Cent
    5b.Back To The Features-Wale

  • nibs

    Talkin about slept on albums of 2009 and you only mention 2?
    Where’s:
    Saigon – All In A Day’s Work
    Tanya Morgan – Brooklynati
    Curren$y – This Ain’t No Mixtape

    I also wanna say Slaughterhouse, and Street Hop, but I think I did see Royce’s face in the latest issue (in the back with album reviews lol), and I think both albums probably got mad downloads
    Also Crime Pays, but it broke 100,000 didn’t it?
    And you can’t count out album/no-albums
    Charles Hamilton – This Perfect Life
    and TiRon – Ketchup
    Both sorta albums and extremely dope

    -Nibs

  • El Tico Loco

    Ironically I didn’t realize that Wale had an actual album out.

  • mazemayhim

    Mos Def’s “The Ecstastic” & Slaughterhouse…nuff said

  • Terror Dungeon

    Im bumping dat J Cole the warm up, and
    H-twenty Intro to Greatness in my ipod right now. Fashawn got heat too, dont sleep

  • http://-- gaddic

    BROTHER ALI’S US- arguably THE BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR

    Street Hop was pretty dope too just too many fillers and MORE DJ PREMIER BEATS could have made it a classic

    To people who haven’t listened to Apathy

    Download his “It’s the bootleg mothaf*ckas” Cd- straight fire

    Wanna Snuggle was a great album but Eastern Philosophy is basically flawless-classic lp in my opinion

    TO ALL REAL RAP FANS
    GET “US” IT IS A F*CKING BRILLIANT ALBUM!!!

  • Brooklyn

    i definitely slept on that apathy shit, but fashawn is nice, i got his album and that shit is fire.

  • nike Addict 707

    The Jacka- Tear Gas.
    That was the best album to come out the Bay this whole year, hands down. I think it’s worth the money….

  • MauriceMillerisposp.

    I think the msot slept on albums of this year is
    Skyzoo-the salvation
    Alchemist-chemical warfare
    Kid Cudi-man on the moon
    of course Wale-Attention defict I predict this will not sale that much because 99.9% of hip hop listeners or so-called listeners are dumb as fuck!!!! All of u cats on hear big up to if u love love the art of hip hop! Also check me out @ http://www.myspace.com/mauricemillerisposp Peace

  • Technique

    “Soul Assasins, A Brand you can trust, Chemical Warfare, were slept on also”

    I still think A Brand You Can Trust was a good ass LP. And the beats on Chemical Warfare were some of the illist shit I heard in awhile.

    Tech N9ne Sickology 101 was pretty dope, and his new K.O.D. shit is nice too.

  • Rapocolypse

    Damn Fash is doin it… both him and PA(planet asia) rep my city proper. I just met both of them at Jay Zs concert last week here in the no… coo ppls.

  • Dipher

    My top five for the year would be

    1. Nasa The Spirit of Apollo
    2. Mos Def The Ecstatic
    3. Survival Skills Buckshot and Krs
    4 People Under the Stairs Carried Away
    5. Raekwon Cuban Links 2.

  • Mayorhayden

    Modill is an amazing act out of chicago, I think K-kruz is one of the best beat makers in hip hop, and racecar raps are really intricate, its really adds to the replay value of the cd. the cd is called Modill.

  • http://hotasballs.wordpress.com steezolini

    pain language lp.
    50 cent, sincerly yours southside.
    both had some heat.

  • http://www.houseofhate.com janklow

    “Medicine Ball” actually was a really good track, but it’s such a losing battle to try and make that case, it seems

  • Daryl B More

    Fashawn album is not bad,but not at all what your making it up to be.Samsonite Man & Our Way feat Blu & Evidence are the best songs. Seems like he is better when he has another voice to balance him out. The beats are on point as Exile is always on point,I think Fashawn has potential ,but didn’t nail it here. Not hating,but The Antidote by Alchemist had more power to it than Boy Meets World. As Far as Apathy goes,he has been good,but is for a limited audience of people who wanna hear fast rap.

  • Ed Lynn

    Fashawn album is good,not great. Large Pro & Alchemist were hyping it up but I was let down after hearing it. Don’t get me wrong he’s far from
    wack,but not equaling up to the words you wrote.

  • Andre

    Blaq Poet-The Blaqprint.FIRE.

  • Ryan Proctor

    I think 2009 has definitely been a strong year for album releases – brother ali, fashawn, people under the stairs, skyzoo, apathy, kam moye, royce, raekwon, la coka nostra, blaq poet, killah priest, tanya morgan, buckshot / krs, camp lo, diamond district etc – but unfortunately most high-profile hip-hop media both print and online doesn’t reflect that, choosing instead to continue covering the same major label artists over and over – obviously magazines need to sell copies and websites need to sell ad space but there could definitely be a lot more balance in the media to help shine some light on those artists who are releasing genuinely good product.

  • John Cochran

    I heard Fashawns’s mixtape with Alchemist, kinda boring. For some reason I can’t bring myself to buy a Kid Cudi or Wale CD, other people may feel the same. That may be the reason why they’ve sold 500 copies collectively. I’ve done the nerd rap thing for a while now, I think I’m done. Cuban Links 2 is the best album of the year, no one else has lasted longer in my car stereo.

  • Joe

    Yall some hip hop lovin nggas i’ll tell u that LMAO

    I tip my hat to yall, b/c i dont hav nor want the time to filter through all these off brand rappers..

    Give my my Saigon, Pap, Currensy, LB, etc n im good…

    *Reminder*: The more obscure an album/rapper/group is does NOT make him/it better.

  • ApolloKid551

    I think Sha Stimuli’s album My Soul To Keep is very underated that album is increible from the subject matter, content, internal rhymes & slick memphores are dazzling, Torae & Marco Polo’s Barrel Brothers is a boom bap classic, Blaq Poet’s Tha Blaqprint was increible DJ Premier proves way he still is the best & Blaq Poet proves that he deserves 2 be with rap’s top spitters, Roynce Da 5’9′s album Streep Hop is one of the best albums ive heard in 3 years kid, Royce is one of my top 5 MC’s in the game, SlaughterHouse came with classic shit this without mainstream play, that album was my favorite & The ultimate slept on classic Is Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. 2, the best album of the 2000s hands dwn, here are some other slept on classics from 2009…

    Cormega- Born & Raised
    KRS-One & Buckshot- Survival Skillz
    Tonya Morgan- Brooklynati
    Skyzoo- The Salvation
    Ghostface Killah- Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry
    Fashawn- Boy Meets World

    Its a damn shame how these albums are ignored by the mainstream, all these albums are special & increible, this hip-hop at its finest no filler, no bs, no commercial influence, i hope hip-hop wakes up & realize that these albums means more then some radio record, classic records outlast anything…

  • D

    Exile is the best producer out there right now, I love his style.

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    Skyzoo & Fashawn but as soon as my finance is aight ima cop both of ‘em. No downloads 4 these i wanna a hard copy,the real thing.

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