This is the final word on the year 2009: AllHipHop's Person(s) of the Year!
These two men come from the same era in Hip-Hop, but have assumed very different paths in the game since the 90's. However, their journeys thus are both bookmarked by greatness, in some form or fashion.
These mighty individuals are Jay-Z and Raekwon.
AllHipHop's staff is well aware of the detractors that loath our appreciation of what Jay-Z is able to bring to the rap game. Allow us to articulate how he came to take this 2009 distinction as a Person of the Year. Looking at Hip-Hop from an artistic, business and creative point of view, it is nearly impossible to "hate on" or overlook what Jigga did in 2009. Here are some questions we asked ourselves and also request readers to query. Ask: What rapper can fill the Garden these days and even include a widely recognized philanthropic angle (Madison Square Garden - Answer to Call concert)? What other Hip-Hop artist broke Elvis' Record for No. 1 albums for a solo artist? What other rapper played for president Barack Obama in 2009? Who released an album and at 40 remains more relevant in the game than when he started (albeit in different ways)? What rapper has received numerous accolades in the music game (Grammy nods, BET Awards, MTV Awards)? What other rapper had a No.1 single on Billboards Hot 100 for several weeks straight? Oh, what other rapper sold well over a million units and wasn't named Eminem?
And, as far as we're concerned Blueprint 3 was one of the best albums of 2009 and Jay-Z was definitely one of the starting players of the year.
Raekwon is a different sort of emcee, but just as important as Jay in 2009's landscape. We deem Only Built For Cuban Linx II as the best album of 2009. The statement is most certainly arguable, considering Hip-Hop's assorted flavors, but the album is an undeniable work of art. In an era where the album is continuously marginalized and ignored, The Chef smacked the FIRE out of music industry. Said smack was so forceful that Time magazine, iTunes and scores of apathetic Hip-Hop fanatics exalted Raekwon, as they had a in 1995 with the original OBFCL. Furthermore, Raekwon and his team had a masterful grassroots promo-plan and they executed it with the precision of a butcher's knife. Rae provided his own blueprint to success as an indie/underground artist. His dedication to Hip-Hop was also evidenced as he participated in AllHipHop's coveted Social Lounge, a forum to educate and inspire the community.
THE END AND THE BEGINNING
Jay-Z and Raekwon are our honorees for Persons of the Year for a number of reasons. They are proof of Hip-Hop's viability on a number of platforms, internet, television, the streets, radio....and so on. Both men are elder statesmen by Hip-Hop standards, but are living, breathing proof that Hip-Hop with extended years is not a death sentence. If anything, their age and experience have proven to be an asset...an unassailable advantage. But at the end of the day, these gentlemen proved that they were the best at what they do by uncompromisingly giving the people a bit of what they wanted, a bit of what they needed - even if the fans weren't sure of their own desires. Raekwon and Jay-Z aren't the only ones that did great things in 2009, but they blazed a special kind of trail, one that will stay hot for years to come. These two men both dropped on Sept. 9 and the community loyalist supported both BP3 and OBFCL2. Raekwon and Jay-Z represent what happens when power, business, street knowledge, industry knowledge, wisdom, commerce and art intersect.
2009 maybe gone, but Jay and Raekwon and those they they inspire give good reason to look forward to 2010 and beyond.
Editor's note: The Person of the Year honor is generally appointed to a single individual.