The biggest summer hit of 2009 was from an unknown Canadian breaking hearts without an album. This year found its cultural cornerstones scored by big rap songs from big rap albums. Whereas summer '09 became book-ended with would be comebacks from Raekwon and Eminem, 2010 hip-hop has seen its brightest stars converging on the opportunity to top charts. Drake sold nearly half a million in a week. Em over 700,000 copies of his sober, wordy work. I heard Rick Ross's Teflon Don blaring from four separate outlets (car, truck, nice car, loudspeaker) on one August night walking between Bloomingdale to the New York Avenue metro, and through to Dupont Circle.
Detecting an inviting climate, second tier rappers like Paul Wall and Guilty Simpson and Curren$y got their songs carbon manifestations available in stores and moved away from the tired formula of converging with stupid blogs to build buzz. M.I.A. sort of crashed and burned after a high profile New York Times piece tore into her guarded public image and reviews of her third album soured after the near-comic level of blind fanaticism that blanketed her old stuff.
Interesting comebacks surfaced: white people loved Big Boi's return to form. Rhymefest, after teasing El Che for three years, finally got a chance to see another commercial release tank miserably. Bun B's otherwise regional release elevated to national news when The Source awarded Trill O.G. its once prestigious five microphone rating. The last five mic rating this eroding-in-relevance rag handed out? Lil Kim's The Naked Truth. The award did lead rap fans down warm memories of how fraudulent and stupid The Source has been since the late '90s.
With the climate covered, ATG prepped a list of top summer albums. But the writers split over finalists while carb loading at Tom's Restaurant Monday night. This before transferring colors and taking trains out to Yankee Stadium, where most of the list hung out and exchanged anthems behind unifying, bright colors and sunglasses at night. The tight-knit fraternity became, for better or worse, an indistinguishable mob of hitmakers. So, here are the songs that got me through the move, the heat, the job search.
J. Cole - Villematic
Nas - Last Real Nigga Alive, Pt. 2 (Power, Paper, Pussy)
Drake featuring Jay-Z - Light Up
Ron Isley featuring Lauryn Hill - Close to You (Cover)
Yelawolf - Looking For Alien Love
Big K.R.I.T. featuring Yelawolf - Hometown Hero (remix)
Blu - So Perfect
Yelawolf featuring Gucci Mane - Wanna Party
Trek Life - Ready to Live
Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z, John Legend - Free Mason
Curren$y - Breakfast
Eminem - Cinderella Man
Badio - Kiss the Sky
Big Boi featuring Andre 3000 - Lookin' For Ya
Now back to mid-September.