In my eyes, this was the year hip-hop’s hierarchy changed. 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and T.I. would establish themselves as the cream of the crop, while previous unknown talents like New York’s Jim Jones and Atlanta’s Young Jeezy rose to the forefront in their respective regions. With Jay-Z technically retired, and the rest of New York lost as to what to do to get back to the top, the Dipset Capo dropped what I consider his best album to date, Harlem: Diary Of a Summer. The title was possibly another clever shot at Jay-Z, who couldn’t shake the urge to rap and put out a song “Dear Summer.”
Down in Atlanta a trap star was born. Jeezy had the streets on lock with his ubiquitous mixtape Trap or Die. Then, the Snowman made good on his buzz with the classic Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Seasoned with catchphrases and infectious ad-libs, (“Yeeah!”) the brazen rapper came across as a credible source of life in the trap. Sure it helped he was connected to infamous BMF crew.
While life in the trap was more interesting to me, the South was still making those hits that made you snap your finger—literally. With the crunk movement slowly dying out, ATLiens introduced the Snap movement. The dance-happy, finger snappin’ grooves were much lighter than the aggressive crunk, but they still kept the club poppin’. D4L and Dem Franchize Boys were the faces of the new sound with hits like “Laffy Taffy” and “I Think They Like Me.”
The success of this movement would only draw the ire of frustrated New York rappers. To add insult to injury the one Big Apple MC that was making any noise, 50 Cent was out West co-signing Cali’s next big thing, The Game. The newest member to G-Unit put the West on his back with his dope debut, The Documentary. East meets West and it was success, but the harmonious times wouldn’t last long. The two rappers would quickly begin their long-standing beef.
In the midst of following all the other pointless rap beefs of the year, I found time to enjoy some off-the-radar gems like, Little Brothers’ The Minstrel Show, Cage’s Hells Winter, and Danger Doom’s The Mouse and The Mask. Back on the big stage them Houston boys, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Slim Thug Chamillionaire, came through to chop & screw the game.
I was a big fan of Thugga and Cham, but I didn’t see lasting success for Jones and Wall. Plus, it was dope to see Bun B get his just due. In fact, I have Bun to thank for inspiring me to buy Webbie’s Savage Life, Bun’s verse on “Gimme That” was one of my favs of the year, and Savage Life turned out to be one of the albums I played heavy.
At the end of the day, Common’s Be, Lil Wayne’s second installment of Tha Carter, and Kanye’s Late Registration were some of the best albums 2005 had to offer, but Jezzy’s Thug Motivation was my favorite of the year. Hands down.
Playlist Of The Year
1. Young Jeezy feat. Akon – “Soul Survivor”
2. Mike Jones feat. Slim Thug & Paul Wall – “Still Tippin”
3. The Game feat. 50 Cent “Hate It or Love It”
4. Kanye West feat. Lupe Fiasco – “Touch The Sky”
5. Tony Yayo feat. 50 Cent “So Seductive”
Log in tomorrow as I run through the rest of the decade in part three. —Rondell Conway.