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Change Is Now: AllHipHop’s Year End Spotlight – 2008

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Change.  You heard it ring throughout the past year, primarily with Barack Obama.  Change is amorphous.  It’s dynamic but indefinable by anything other than before and after.   Change is synonymous with ever changing Hip-Hop, as what was once new becomes run-of-the mill and what was once a dream or an idea becomes the new reality.As it pertains to Hip-Hop, we saw a wave of change.  The Kanye of Graduation became one of 808′s & Heartbreaksand plug tunin’ gave way to the dreaded autotune. The Common who had returned to his center has once again given way to his inner left in an attempt to gain Universal Mind Control.What was once hardcore had become quirky.  What was once raw had become erudite and cliquish.  Member’s Only made a comeback.  So did skinny jeans, flat tops,  and the return of colors from the 64 pack with the crayon sharpener. The death of the Timberland. The rise of Nike boots. Macho is out.  Emo is in.Sometimes change is a return, as people not named Mr. T rocked omnipresent mohawks and retro was in.  Rappers from the old school stepped back into prominence as artists like Q-Tip led a Renaissance, and EPMD got back in business (albeit with middling results). Scarface was big dog Emeritus. Ice Cube showed that he could still bring it (without a major, no less).Change is projection.  The American Gangster of 2007 gave way to the political minded, Barack backer of 2008.  Yes We Did.  N****r became Untitled. Lil Wayne evolved from simply the omnipresent to the omnipotent as he took his place as the biggest thing in Hip-Hop. Change is a million records in a week after giving away mixtapes for years.  We get back what we put into it.Most important, change is a mentality. Change is a way of life. Rappers spoke on the economy.  Rappers spoke on the Congressional apology for slavery.  Rappers spoke on politics.  Hip-Hop was present at political conventions. Rap cemented its role as the preeminent voice of the truth for youth.  Let 2008 be known as the point when Hip-Hop decided to become even more aware of the business.  More aware of the politics. More aware of the freedom that technology can present.  We’re on your screens.  We’re on your phones. We are mobile…just not as hostile.As we transition into 2009 and the impending (hopefully) Pax Obama, let’s look back at the change that was 2008.

Without further ado, AllHipHop presents [Change Is Here], the 2008 Year End Wrap-Up.

After a strong 2007, at first glance it would seem that 2008 was pretty lackluster. But if you paid attention, you must admit that were some fresh gems added to the overall Hip-Hop legacy this year. Lil Wayne’s milli first week seller is the easy choice but don’t sleep on T.I. entry, which a delivered a more conscious and reflective King of the South.

Facemob continues to threaten retirement (hard to do when dropping an album) and while Q-Tip’s return from an absence a strong comeback. Here’s our Top Albums, no need for numbers since they were all good. Our fav, though: T.I.

Paper Trail by T.I. (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)

Untitled by Nas (Def Jam)

The Renaissance by Q-Tip (Universal/Motown)

Emeritus by Scarface (Rap-A-Lot/Asylum)

Rising Down by The Roots (Okayplayer/Def Jam)

Theater of the Mind by Ludacris (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam)

The Carter III by Lil Wayne (Cash Money/Universal)

The Recession by Young Jeezy (C.T.E./Def Jam)

Murs For President by Murs (Warner Bros.)

Trilla by Rick Ross (Slip N Slide/Atlantic)

Yeah, yeah, record sales are still down. So what else is new? What that means is that folk are even more weary of what to drop their hard earned cash on. There was definitely a good assortment of artists and music that you missed if you blinked while watching your fav video channel and pretty much did not hear on commerical radio. Despite limited marketing and promotion budgets, their music was no less fresher. Our fav: Ice Cube.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold by Atmosphere (Rhymesayers)

Raw Footage by Ice Cube (Lenchmob Records)

The Preface by Elzhi (Fat Beats)

Tronic by Black Milk (Fat Beats)

The Layover EP by Evidence (Decon)

Ode to the Ghetto by Guilty Simpson (Stones Throw)

The In Crowd by Kidz in the Hall (Major League/Duck Down)

White Van Music by Jake One (Rhymesayers)

Pain Language by DJ Muggs & Planet Asia (Gold Dust)

NY’s Finest by Pete Rock (Nature Sounds)

Death of Adam by 88 Keys (Decon)

D.I.R.T. by Heltah Skeltah (Duck Down)

Johnson & Jonson by Johnson & Jonson [Blu & Mainframe] (Tres Records)

Politics As Usual by Termanology (Nature Sounds)

Landing Gear by Devin the Dude (Razor & Tie)

I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II by Killer Mike (SMC)

Jeanius by Jean Grae & 9th Wonder (Blacksmith)

HNIC 2 by Prodigy (Voxonic)

Killer by Tech N9ne (Strange Music)

Most producers never get the credit they deserve. Sure they laid the sonic groundwork, but it’s the MC that gets all the shine. There weren’t too many new jacks to breakthrough in ’08, but Black Milk certainly let mugs know why it’s cold in the D. But in ’08 the veterans held their own, getting keys placements and making banging hits.

Kanye West: Lil Weezy “Let The Beat Build,” T.I. & Jay-Z “Swagger Like Us”

Drumma Boy: Rick Ross “Here I Am,” Young Jeezy “Put On”

DJ Premier: Fat Joe “That White,” Ludacris “MVP,” Termanology “How We Rock”

Black Milk: Elzhi “Motown 25,” Black Milk “Give the Drummer Some”

Bangladesh: Lil Wayne “A Milli,” Busta Rhymes “I Got Bass”

Just Blaze: T.I. f/ Rihanna: “Live Your Life,” Jamie Foxx “Number One (Let’s Get Dumb)”

Cool & Dre: The Game f/ Lil Wayne “My Life,” Scarface “Forget About Me”DJ Toomp: Nas “N.I.*.*.E.R. (The Slave and the Master),” Ludacris f/ T.I. “Wish Ya Would”

The J.U.S.T.I.C.E League: Rick Ross “Luxury Tax,” 2 Pistols “Let’s Ride”]

Mixtapes? Or more like .zip and .rar files via the Internet? No matter how you got your hands on the latest mixtape, there were still TOO many of them. Note to DJs, step your games up, please. Here’s a few of the ones we kept in rotation.

We Got It 4 Cheap, Vol 3 by The Clipse & DJ Drama

Bar Exam 2 by Royce Da 5’9″ & DJ Green Lantern   

Block Obama 1&2 by Crooked I                   

Return of the Body Snatchers by G-Unit

Daily Conversation by Torae

Caltroit by Black Milk & Bishop Lamont       

The Mixtape About Nothing by Wale                        

Mixtape Messiah 4 by Chamillionaire               

Road To Til The Casket Drops by The Clipse

Viva La Hova (Jay-Z & Coldplay) by Mick Boogie & Terry Urban

Mood Musik 3: For Better or Worse by Joe Budden                   

Sweet Lord by Murs & 9th Wonder                

The N****r Tape by Nas & DJ Green Lantern

Man in the Mirror by Rhymefest

The Yes We Can Mixtape by Russell Simmons & DJ Green Lantern

Halfway House by Joe Budden

Elephant in the Sand by G-Unit

There is no way you are going to keep up with every single Hip-Hop album that drops in a year. You could have done that in ’88, but in ’08 when every other fan swears they’re a deal away from Jay-Z status it’s become increasingly difficult to discern the real from the fake. Or in this case, these good from the mediocre or straight up bad. Here’s some help.

D.I.R.T. by Heltah Skeltah (Duck Down)

The In Crowd by Kidz in the Hall (Major League/Duck Down)

Loved By Few, Hated By Many by Lil Keke (Universal)

The Elephant in the Room by Fat Joe (Terror Squad)

A History of Violence by Jedi Mind Tricks (Babygrande)

State of the Art by Presto (Concrete Grooves)

Undeniable by AZ (Quiet Money/Koch)

In our totally unscientific survey, Common won this one by a landslide. Not to say that Universal Mind Control is bad, or even an Electric Circus, but after the triumphs of Be and Finding Forever it left much to be desired. We have faith Common will do better next time. Hey, at least he was rhyming…ahem…Kanye..ahem. As for say Foxy Brown, we aren’t going to hold our breath.

Universal Mind Control by Common (Geffen)

808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam)

We Global by DJ Khaled (Terror Squad/Koch)

Brooklyn’s Don Diva by Foxy Brown (Def Jam)

The Greatest Story Ever Told by David Banner (SRC/Universal)

T.O.S. by G-Unit (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)

L.A.X. by The Game (Interscope)

Still Da Baddest by Trina (Slip N Slide)

Brass Knuckles by Nelly (Universal)

Q-Tip: We were considering T.I. for this slot since the ATL homie’s album was one of the year’s best despite the pending prison sentence looming over him. But when it comes down to it, the Abstract Poetic had even greater odds against him, at least musically, since it had been a very long nine years since last proper release, Amplified (1999). The Renaissance managed to pack in all the Native Tongue charm we’ve grown to love Q-Tip for, while managing maintain a contemporary vibe. While its sales are a mere fraction of the music’s worthy, Q-Tip should rest easy knowing these new jacks biting his steez still can’t hold a torch to his talents.

This kid to the left, Drake, will not be a relative unknown for much longer. And it isn’t just because of the Lil Wayne affiliation either. Though, it can’t hurt. This MC from Toronto, Canada drops words and verbs that will put the comp on freeze. Get to know him, now. 

Wale

Asher Roth

Drake

Charles Hamilton

88 Keys

U-N-I

Bishop Lamont

Alfamega

Goes without saying. These albums had short shelf lives and even shorter impacts on the game. Maybe next year gentleman, and Trina.My Turn to Eat by Big Kuntry King (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)My Life: The True Testimony by Blood Raw (C.T.E./Def Jam)Exit 13 by LL Cool J (Def Jam)Still The Baddest by Trina (Slip N Slide)Gutta by Ace Hood (Def Jam)Look What You Made Me by Young Berg (Epic/Koch)Last 2 Walk by Three 6 Mafia (Columbia)No Introduction by Tyga (Young Money/Decaydance)

We couldn’t front on some of these. Best bet is to roll up the windows while in the whip or use those headphones while listening.

“Dangerous” by Kardinall Offishall f/ Akon

“Mrs. Officer” by Lil Wayne

“My Dougie” by Lil Wil

“Marco Polo” by Bow Wow f/ Soulja Boy

Just about anything featuring T-Pain

“Stanky Leg” by G-Spot Boyz

“Luv Me” by Damm D

“Lookin’ Boy” by Hot Stylz

Again, this is not personal. So before folks catch feelings, at least hear out our reasoning.

Shawty Lo — “Dey Know” was a smash, but we don’t know if he can do it again.

2 Pistols — Getting 2-pieced then releasing a press release about it isn’t gangsta.

Flo Rida — Make a hit without T-Pain and we’ll gladly take this back.

V.I.C. — Did you know he dropped an album this year? Exactly.

Soulja Boy — We’ll take this back if album numero dos is classic material. Fail.

Chance & Real — You know, the VH1 reality TV dudes. Do. Not. Drop. An. Album.

Yung Berg — He was on this last year so we can’t disregard his persistence. However, he made more noise for catching L’s than for his actual music.

Lil Wil — Hope you enjoyed the fame, say hello to DJ Unk

“Live Your Life” T.I. f/ Rihanna (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)

“Put On” by Young Jeezy (C.T.E./Def Jam)  

“A Milli” by Lil Wayne (Universal)    

“Dey Know” by Shawty Lo (Asylum)

“Whatever You Like” T.I. (Grand Hustle/Atlantic) 

“Lollipop” by Lil Wayne (Universal)

“The Boss” by Rick Ross f/ T-Pain (Slip N Slide/Def Jam) 

“Swagger Like Us” by T.I. & Jay-Z f/ Kanye West & Lil Wayne (Atlantic/Def Jam)

“Pop Champagne” by Jim Jones & Ron Browz f/ Juelz Santana (Asylum)

“Here I Am” by Rick Ross (Slip N Slide/Def Jam)    

T.I. ft. Rihanna – Live Your Life – T.I. ft. Rihanna“Out Here Grinding” by DJ Khaled f/ Akon, Lil Boosie, Trick Daddy, Rick Ross, Ace Hood & Plies (Koch)

“Swagger Like Us” by T.I. & Jay-Z f/ Kanye West & Lil Wayne (Atlantic/Def Jam)

“Wish Ya Would” by Ludacris f/ T.I. (DTP/Def Jam)

“My Life” by The Game f/ Lil Wayne (Interscope)

“Mr Carter” by Lil Wayne f/ Jay Z (Universal)

“Royal Flush” by Big Boi f/ Raekwon & Andre 3000

Royal Flush (ft. Raekwon & André 3000) – Big Boi

Vegans and vegetarians got it right all along. Some of this beef in Hip-Hop, whether genuine or manifest just in time for release week, are downright bad for Hip-Hop’s digestive system.

Yung Berg vs. Maino & Trick Trick & Ne-Yo & you get the idea...

T.I. vs Shawty Lo

Ice-T vs. Soulja Boy

50 Cent vs Young Buck — Crying…taped phone calls…money owed…crying…bad beef records…again, crying.

Rick Ross vs the truth — Disparaging the real Rick Ross, denying photographic evidence and beating up DJ’s is not going to erase the fact that you never knew Noriega…the real Noriega.

T-Pain vs. People that use the autotune without asking — You didn’t invent it. Everyone uses it. Everyone has always used it. You just used it for a whole album. You’re good but you’re not that good.  Let it go.Cam’ron vs Jim Jones (Juelz Santana and Dipset in general)  — What would you have said if someone told you five years ago that the scruffy dude that ad libs behind Cam’ron would be more prominent than him in 2008)50 Cent vs Whoever starting a beef with can lead to boosted sales.

Jesse Jackson— Here we have the first viable African-American candidate in ages (note: male Black civic leaders with perms can only get so far) and instead of bigging the guy up, you threaten to castrate the man, on Fox New no less. The crocodile tears when Obama won the big one didn’t move us to give this award to anyone else. We really want to stop calling you Messy Jesse. Do better.

But let’s not forget…

Sarah Palin

Fox News

Rush Limbaugh

John McCain’s entire campaign

And finally, George W. Bush; good riddance and please let the door smack ya where the good lord split ya on the way out of Barack Obama’s new digs. Pause.

Yung Berg’s crew — while busting guns on YouTube Berg was getting smacked up and having his chain tooken in clubs. Let’s prioritize people. The Roots’ Tour Bus DriverWhoever is with Katt Williams — You’re already holding his weed…hold his gun too.Whoever is with Plaxico Burress — Hold his gun…and get him some clothes besides sweatpants.John McCain’s campaign staff — Thank You…for running the absolute worst campaign ever …but you really need to slap whoever agreed with you and said, “Yeah, that Sarah Palin is a maverick.”At some point all these albums were supposed to drop in ’08—some…ONCE AGAIN, Detox…were even supposed to drop years before. Here’s hoping we’ll finally hear new albums from…Dr. Dre, M.O.P., 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, OutKast, Eminem, Eve, Saigon, Peedi Peedi, Raekwon, Cannibal Ox, The Fugees, The LOX, Juelz Santana, Mos Def, Joell Ortiz, Tru Life, and so on and so on…

Also, we’re waiting on Shyne to get out and for Kanye West to make a Hip-Hop album. Pow. Additional reporting/contributions from Ismael AbduSalaam, Yaminah Ahmad, Mark Bozzer, DeVaugn Douglas, Niki Gatewood, Donyel L. Griffin, Archna Sawjani, Kris Schumacher & Rahiem Shabazz

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