Music

Best of 2009: Rapper of The Year: Raekwon

by Winston "Stone" Ford

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RaekwonHappy New Year

2009 has been an interesting year for rap. Actually, it’s been one of the best years for rap music in a long time. On one hand you have Gucci Mane, an ATL dude who has been passed the Southern Hip-Hop torch from Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy. On the other end, you have Toronto’s Drake, and Cleveland’s Kid Cudi representing a younger–and dare I say middle class–version of the hip-hop experience. However, 2009 was also witness to one of the greatest comebacks of recent memory: Raekwon and his album Only Built for Cuban Linx 2.

Think about it: Gucci, Drake and Cudi all had the streets behind them. They had big name co-signers. They all had major label money, radio play, and built in fanbases. Rae, however, had to hustle his way back onto the top. Cuban Linx sat on the shelf for two years, a victim of hip-hop’s lack of respect for the past, and various label drama as well as disagreements within his own camp.

However, the release of the album, brilliantly mimicking a feature film, exceeded expectations.

How would a classic criminal album fit in with today’s hip-hop?

Well, as we know, it fit in just fine. Cuban Linx II debuted in the Top 5 on Billboards Top 200. It was the number one seller on iTunes, as well as one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year.

Is Crime-Hop back? I truly doubt it. The new generation has moved beyond the gritty narratives of Cuban Linx. But for a large group of music fans, we can sit back and reminisce on the good old days, and rest assured that one of the genre’s greatest storytellers is here to stay.

Raekwon will be performing at the 9:30 Club in DC Tonight. Click here to buy tickets.

Runners-Up:
Wale
Drake
Gucci Mane
Skyzoo