When it comes to the 10 best hip hop songs of 2009, the key world is collaboration. Sensual songstress Alicia Keys joined hip hop CEO Jay-Z, Radiohead’s lead singer remixed witty word-smith Doom, and Goodie Mob rapper Khujo formed a duo with surreal song-master Jneiro Jarel. These unexpected musical meetings, as well as a host of others, enabled the hip hop songs of 2009 to be more ambitious than previous years.
- “Renaissance Rap Remix” – Q-Tip (feat. Raekwon, Busta Rhymes & Lil Wayne). This is the all-star hip hop line-up of 2009; one that takes a legend such as Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest to put together. Every guest supplied colorful descriptions to the already vibrant vibration. Anyone who is a true supporter of any of these masterful rappers may become struck with chills.
- “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys). Mr and Mrs. New York City represent their beloved home base with regal excellence. This classic anthem needs its own “I Love New York” campaign. Jay-Z’s boast of “I’m the new Sinatra” feels more fact than fiction with this 2009 monster hip hop hit.
- “GNG BNG” – Flu (Blu + Flying Lotus). These two Los Angeles trailblazers united in 2009 to destroy your assumption of what hip hop is. Blu’s cosmic point of view of urban life, and Flying Lotus’ intergalactic sound construction may very well cause you to need a new rewind button. Clocking in at just over two minutes, it still asks the question, what just happened to my ear drums?
- “Popular Demand (Popeye’s)” – Clipse (feat. Cam’ron). Cam’ron’s charismatic cockiness blends effortlessly with the Clipse’s confidence and vocal dexterity. The demand for this popular 2009 hip hop ego-fest will increase with each listen. The hilarious chorus provided by Pharrell Williams adds over-the-top enjoyment.
- “Gazzillion Ear” – Doom (Thom-Yorke-remix). Once the horror-movie organs roar you are either put in a trance or slightly disturbed—either way it keeps you listening. On paper, the Dr. Seus-inventiveness of hip hop emcee Doom and Radiohead’s radical lead vocalist Thom Yorke on production seems impossible. But that is the beauty of art, the impossible is the only thing worth creating.
- “Exhibit C” – Jay Electronica. Jay-Z’s recent Roc Nation record label signee Jay Electronica gave 2009 a hip hop wake up call with this momentous exhibit of the power that rhyming words can have. This is Jay’s personal diary of his previous adventures as a homeless young man seeking enlightenment. This song is also just one reason why Jay Electronica’s debut album will be beyond highly anticipated.
- “Da Night” – Slum Village. This gritty adrenaline booster—complete with epic Nas sample—seems plucked right out of the raw 1994 era of hip hop. There is a thumping drum kit crashing along with eerie bells looming inside the tight production. Although released in 2009, this song seems furnished with the raw reality checks that came from Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G., and Black Moon fifteen years prior.
- “Tour Stories” – Souls of Mischief . This is definitely classic Souls of Mischief/Hieroglyphics Crew hip hop, with the four masters of ceremony taking you through the ups and downs of life on the road. The deep bass notes boom beneath these articulate travel tales. If you are a fan of their classic debut album, “93 Til Infinity”, this will remind you of everything you love about the Souls.
- “Autopilot” – Willie Isz (Khujo & Jenero Jarel) . This rapper/producer combination manages to infuse their eclectic sound with apparent influences such as Purple Rain-era Prince and Outkast’s groundbreaking “Stankonia” album. Ephemeral moaning glides in and out, creating a dream-like vibe. This 2009 song is definitely not predictable hip hop on autopilot, but the sound of freedom—souring into the heavens.
- “10 Bricks” – Raekwon (feat. Cappadonna & Ghostface Killah). If the subject is the consequences of crime, you need these Wu-Tang word warriors to do the storytelling. Their authentic details put you right in the room with your heart beating a mile a minute with this 2009 hip hop epic. The up-tempo, almost “broken guitar” sound add a dark and mystical quality to this modern crime tale.
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