STD Issue 54

There is no questioning that 2008 was a raucous year for hip-hop. Miami’s own Rick Ross (the boss?) was outed for being a former parole officer. The word “swagger” reached “A Milli” status, chopped and screwed in every way possible. T.I. (not to be confused with T.I.P.) created a damn near bullet-proof album and Dipset Capo Jim Jones made his off-Broadway debut. Queens emcee Nas nearly titled his ninth effort the most vile word in English vernacular, while Remy Ma was sentenced to eight years in the slammer. Young Jeezy even prophesized the forthcoming financial crisis with his third installment, The Recession, and rapper Maino’s ubiquitous “Hi, Hater” anthem stole the heart of every young rebellious teenager worldwide. And who could forget Kanye’s deeply personal, oddly-poetic 808s & Heartbreak and Q-Tip’s tour de force, The Renaissance (not always on time, but always on point).

So as the year comes to a close, the STD crew presents 10 artists (nine emcees and one producer) that will make a mark in 2009—we’ve dubbed this our “TOP OF THE CLASS” Issue. Some names you recognize and some you don’t. Either way, each artist promises to fly higher than the weather in ‘09. Let the debates begin.

B.o.B
Label: Grand Hustle/ Atlantic

RATING:

This newcomer from Atlanta’s Eastside raps with more energy than a case of Red Bulls. Now with a well-respected co-sign from T.I. the sky is the limit for B.o.B. Luckily he puts a lot more thought into his music than he did into picking his rap alias.
– A. Hugh Leonard

Blu
Label: Tres

RATING:

As rap names get worse and worse, the music gets better. Not many artists can drop a classic debut album without batting an eye, but that’s exactly what Blu did last year with Below The Heavens. Though the album cover looked like a movie poster for a film about a bum from the afterlife, it proved that Blu has enough talent to make him one of the elite emcees in the game in the very near future.
– A. Hugh Leonard

Wale
Label: Interscope

RATING:

It’s a known fact that not a single soul outside of the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) enjoys go-go music. Actually, it’s absolutely despised by the rest of the world. Somehow D.C. native Wale thought it would be a good idea to rap over go-go inspired beats and surprisingly it sounds great! Don’t worry, go-go still sucks, but when you add lyrics from a rapper of Wale’s caliber, it’s actually tolerable.
– A. Hugh Leonard

Drake
Label: Interscope

RATING:

Everybody usually pokes fun at Drake for two things: 1) he stars in a television show that’s the Canadian equivalent of 90210 and 2) he’s easily the lightest light-skinned dude on the planet. Regardless of the jokes though, Drake has talent and mass commercial appeal. If he keeps the Lil’ Wayne appearances down to a minimum, next year should be a good one for the kid.
– A. Hugh Leonard

Rapper Big Pooh (of Little Brother)
Label: Hall of Justus

RATING:

Pooh has always been known as the “other” member of Little Brother, but over the last couple of years he’s quietly surpassed group mate Phonte. And now that Phonte has begun his quest at becoming the next R&B superstar, it’s all up to Pooh to hold down the fort lyrically. As long as he doesn’t take up singing as well, ’09 will be a big year for the North Carolina wordsmith.

– A Hugh Leonard

Fashawn
Label: Unsigned

RATING:

Fresno, CA has never really been a breeding ground for dope emcees (save for Planet Asia), but Grizzly City’s Fashawn could change that. At only 20, he’s released six mixtapes and is dropping his debut opus Boy Meets World in 2009, to be exclusively produced my beat maestro Exile. His ferociously poetic rhymes are revitalizing the west coast narrative. Throw ya dubs up.

– Jay Wonder

P. Casso
Label: Unsigned

RATING:

It’s hard to make a name for yourself in New York. Everybody is the next big something these days. P.Casso is different, though. Not the most seasoned lyricist, but the Brooklynite’s swag is indelible. Amid Jay-Z’s quasi-braggadocio persona and 50 Cent’s misogynistic rhymes, P.Casso’s narrative is not only refreshing, but mad relatable. You’ll definitely know the name by the end of 2009.

– Jay Wonder

Evidence
Label: TaylorMade/ Decon

RATING:

Best known for his infectious flow as a dialed people, Evidence has long held the West Coast down. His solo debut, The Weatherman LP (a Format favorite), was noted for its quality production and verbal chemistry, but was somehow overlooked by mainstream enthusiasts. His most recent effort, The Layover EP, will have you scratching your head in disbelief—it’s easily one of 2008’s top 10 albums. The SoCalian MC proves it’s more about quality than quantity. Word to Mickey Factz.

– Jason Parham

Co$$
Label: Tres

RATING:

You haven’t heard the name. Yet, anyway. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Co$$ molded his flow after some of the city’s most heralded artists—Cube’s candor, Pac’s introspect, and Pharcyde’s laid back flow. He may not push the most units, but he’ll definitely impact the game. Backed by polished production, Co$$ is a sure bet in ’09.

– Jason Parham

Jake One
Label: White Van Music

RATING:

Regardless of how dope an artist is, it always comes down to the production. That’s why Jake One is the only producer to grace our list. His beats alone are the stuff of legends. But backdropped to the brandished flow of a voracious emcee and you’ve got the makings of classic material. Like the Beastie Boys and Eminem before him, beat maven Jake One will drastically change the sound—and perception—of the genre. His soulful soundscapes will keep heads nodding well into the next decade.

– Jason Parham

One comment

  1. sombody is drunk or high when they wrote that gogo sucks
    u no the only reason that they think it suck is cuz they suck

    GOGO is that shit boy

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