10. Jim Jonsin As An A-List Producer
They say all it takes is one hit. Jim has been around for a minute and if I have his career trajectory down right, he went from artist to engineer to producer. He really broke onto the scene sampling Ozzy Osbourne but come on, anyone can do that. The fact he was able to craft two hits for Pretty Ricky, turn an ominous New Birth sample into a Luda/Jamie Foxx hit and provide a backdrop for Wayne/Birdman’s ode to soft leather in under two years is rather remarkable. But to then translate that into two number one hits for arguably two of the top five rappers right now proves that lightning can strike twice in these uncertain times.
9. The Power of the Blog (aka The Death of Gangster Rap)
I saw this one from a mile away so I’m not sure how left field it was for me but I think on a mainstream level, people were blindsided by this one. Just a year ago, many savvy individuals were still scratching their heads as to what exactly a blog was but thanks to Kanye and Perez Hilton, seems like having a blog is about as commonplace as an email address these days. Now if you don’t have a Twitter and Tumblr account, you are so 2007. From the time I started managing Wale, I told him to not chase radio and it’s been proven that although 30% of people still get their new music from radio, it’s no longer the be all end all of a music career. The internuts has shown and proved that people are getting sick of gun toting and trapping. Not sure what comes next; maybe just larger than life normal guys since glamorized hyperbolic tales of street life is no longer ironic, it’s just played out.
8. Barack Obama
Come on. Hindsight is 20/20. This was not a no-brainer at the start of 2008. We all joked how we were going to move to Canada if Obama didn’t win. It wasn’t until late summer that it became more and more clear that 2Pac’s line would finally be a thing of the past. I think people’s excitement over Obama proves we are more than ready for some change and it’s one of those rare occasions where the actions really spoke louder than words.
T-Pain. Kanye. Wayne. T.I. I mean, those are four of the top ten artists out right now and are all using auto-tune like it’s going out of style. I feel like autotune might be like Mario Bros or watching two girls have sex; way more fun to play than to watch. I just can’t wait to see who brings back the Talk Box a la Zapp and Roger. Seems like the logical next step.
6. 808s and Heartbreaks
I don’t think anyone saw this coming until the VMA’s. Even then I thought it could have ended up being a mythical unfinished Kanye record. I respect him so much for making this record though. Unapologetic. Unabashed. Unbridled. So much emotion in an empty space. You can only make the record on the heels of heartbreak. I will admit I would have liked to have seen what this album would have looked like had he written these records, sat on them for a year and then released after the next album. Would they sound the same? They say time heals everything.
5. T.I. Sampling That Dance Song
I’d love to know whose idea this was. Wiz Khalifa sampled Alice Deejay and it didn’t really pop off like that. Just Blaze x TI x Rihanna is just one of those triumverates that can’t be stopped and nobody really expected. Does this mean Venga Boys are fair game for sampling now?
4. Kid Cudi “Day N Nite”
I first heard this record in February. It was stuck in my head for a good two months. I’m just glad this song evolved the way it did because too often great records go unheard by the masses. This seems to have built so organically. Cudi coming with a hit record right off the bat coupled with his Kanye co-sign seems to me like he’s going to be here for a minute.
3. Jim Jones hopping on “Day N Nite” and MGMT “Electric Feel”
I admire this. I really do. The lines between genres are blurring. The gap between superstar and underground is shrinking. MIA and Santogold getting re-approrpriated followed by Jim Jones hopping on two very Pitchfork-esque records makes me wish I could get a sneak peak at Jim Jones Firefox history (you know he uses Firefox!).
2. Coldplay’s new album
I was never a Coldplay fan. I thought they were the definition of lame and corny. Yeah, maybe I was wrong but the people I knew who loved Coldplay did not seem to have any taste. But my goodness if this new Coldplay album isn’t just pure fire. I wish Brian Eno was down to work with Wale because so much of their production feels very hip hop at the core.
1. Wale’s “Mixtape About Nothing”
An unsigned DC rapper + the whitest sitcom of all time=classic mixtape (album really), one of Blender’s top 33 releases of 2008 and one of Pitchfork’s top 100 songs of the years. Not to mention Mr. Seinfeld himself caught wind of it. I’m not going to lie, when Wale and I first talked about the idea, I thought it was genius. As conventional wisdom kicked in (though I quickly realized there was no such thing), I began doubting my own convictions. I finally realized the world needed it, if only for “The Kramer.”
Dan Weisman is a Los Angeles-based manager, DJ, writer, music supervisor and all-around power mover who runs Elitaste.com. In addition to his new position as GM of Mark Ronson’s Allido Records, he represents Allido/Interscope artist Wale as well as Huntsville, Alabama’s Paper Route Recordz.