Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Top 20 Baltimore Hip Hop Releases of 2009

I posted about 80-something albums and mixtapes on Gov’t Names in 2009, more than any year before, but I have to admit that between staying home with my son for the last 3 months of the year and generally being busy and overwhelmed for the rest of the year, I really feel like my attention was scattered and I don’t know how much I really appreciated everything I heard. And there are a ton of notable releases I either haven’t gotten around to hearing yet, or have heard but haven’t posted about, and while probably spend the first couple months of 2010 catching up on those. Still, I’m pretty confident that barely anyone’s heard as much as I did this year, so I’ll keep pulling together my favorites for a big year-end list for whatever my opinion’s worth. I’ll make the same offer I did last year even though nobody took me up on it then, though, that if people e-mail me their own top 5 or top 10 or whatever, hopefully I can get enough to make that a whole other post (I’m probably never going to attempt a reader poll again, though, that was a mess). I feel like, with more of the stuff I write about here readily available for free download than ever, on DatPiff or AllBmoreHipHop or whatever, there’s really no excuse for anyone who reads this site to not hear a lot of it and form their own opinions, and I’d love to hear them.

1. The Get Em Mamis - TerAwesome (RCRD LBL)
It’s funny, a lot of my music critic friends and contemporaries seem to get excited about any female rapper that comes down the pipeline, and while I’m obviously a big supporter of female MCs especially here in Baltimore, I still feel like they need to be held to a standard just like anybody else. And really, Nicki Minaj and Lil Mama are just garbage, even compared to rappers who were doing it big a few years ago like Trina or Remy Ma. So I’m really glad that Roxzi and Symph from G.E.M. are really stepping up and making great music that you don’t have to adjust your expectations for based on their gender.
download TerAwesome from RCRD LBL
The Get Em Mamis - "Boss Bitch Business" (mp3)

2. The Boy Blesst - Charmicidle (Reign Music Inc.)

I’ve been into Blesst’s mixtapes for a couple years, but he was always just one of many mixtape rappers I liked out of many. But this year he set himself apart by making a real album, where pretty much every track has a good beat and a strong hook, every verse has some dope rhymes and says some real shit, which is somethig that so few of his peers have managed to do. This album is so laser-focused it’s crazy.
buy Charmicidle from
The Boy Blesst - "Good Times Roll" (mp3)

3. Cutthroat and Bear - Silent Flutes (For The People Entertainment)

I was initially attracted to For The People for how big and prolific their roster is and how unique their whole organization is as much as for their music. But I always saw the potential and the creativity there, and they really delivered a release that lives up to that promise this year.
buy Silent Flutes from Amazon
Cutthroat and Beat - "Squadre Name" (mp3)

4. The Black Sunn - GodSound (2dopeboyz/illRoots)

The Black Sunn has to be my favorite newcomer of the year, even if he’s probably been doing his thing for a minute, and getting introduced to someone who’s got his own sound and is really making great music right from the jump is one of the things that really keeps me excited to keep doing this site.
download GodSound from 2dopeboyz or illRoots
The Black Sunn - "Tune In" (mp3)

5. Kneel Knaris - Going Sane In A Crazy World (Street Legal Entertainment)

I remember last year hearing that both members of PX (Parts Unknown) were working on solo albums, and figured they might be coming out around the same time. As far as I know, though, only Kneel’s has come out so far, and he really set the bar high and took his music to a whole new level, really getting high concept and autobiographical at the same time. This might not be my favorite album on this list, but it’s definitely the most ambitious.
buy Going Sane In A Crazy World from Amazon
Kneel Knaris - "Something To Talk About" (mp3)

6. ScholarMan - GameShift: The Movement (Soganic Music)

ScholarMan was another artist that was new to me in 2009 that really impressed me, and he put out a whole lot of music this year, including a couple EPs, but this full-length was my favorite release so far.
buy GameShift: The Movement from Soganic Music
ScholarMan f/ K-Mynez - "What You Puttin’ Back" (mp3)

7. Chubb Rock & Wordsmith - Bridging The Gap (Godigital/Unruly/Koch Records)

I wasn’t sure if this old school/new school New York/Baltimore combination made any sense, or whether Wordsmith would really get the room to do his thing like he does on his many many solo mixtapes, but after all the wait I have to say this album really came together well.
buy Bridging The Gap from Amazon
Chubb Rock & Wordsmith - "Soul Baby Blues" (mp3)

8. Comp - The Man With The Hand (Bang-A-Rang/Shape Shifter Entertainment)

5 years after his Def Jam deal came and went, Comp finally made a non-mixtape album, and it’s way too personal and funny and weird and harrowing than anything a major label would’ve allowed from him.
buy The Man With The Hand from Amazon
Comp - "Short Film" (mp3)

9. Height With Friends - Baltimore Highlands (Wham City)

I’ve liked Height’s unique take on rap since the first guest verse I heard from him way back in 2002, but it was this year that he really seem to come into his own and kind of create a whole movement of likeminded MCs and producers, many of whom collaborated with him for this album.
buy Baltimore Highlands from Wham City
Height With Friends - "Code Of Love" (mp3)

10. K-Mack - Night Ryda (Knokville Entertainment/Banga Bill Enterprise)

Sometimes I wonder if it takes a MC or producer that have been at it since the mid-’90s, like K-Mack and Banga Bill, to make a record that sounds this tough and really maintains the feel of that era, without actually feeling forced or retro.
download Night Ryda from AllBmoreHipHop
K-Mack - "B City" (mp3)

11. Los - Welcome To Swaggsville

You may notice that there’s not a single mixtape in the top 10 of this list, it’s all albums with original production, and that’s because for the most part I’m fucking sick of mixtapes and hearing people rap over the same tired radio beats over and over and over. But if I’m gonna listen to any, I’d prefer it’s someone who can really kill every beat like Los.
download Welcome To Swaggsville from
Los - "Say You Will" (mp3)

12. Barnes - Block Work Featuring Barnes (DJ Jabril)

This is an example of a record I didn’t really think of much at first, or at least I didn’t like it nearly as much as Barnes’s first album, but I was really convinced to go back and listen to again after hearing about people really thinking highly of it. And that doesn’t always work, someone else was really insistent that I give their shit a second chance recently and it still sounded weak when I went back to it.
download Block Work from AllBmoreHipHop
Barnes f/ Bump - "Ay Boy" (mp3)

13. Mike Malachi - Malachi's Way II: Malachi's Revenge (Music In Me Production Inc.)

The underrated Mike Malachi and his producer Ron Rico came back hard this year with an album that feels like a step up from their previous efforts, but still a natural progression and very much a piece with their earlier albums.
download Malachi's Way II: Malachi's Revenge from DatPiff
Mike Malachi - "The Showstopper" (mp3)

14. Shy Lady Heroin - Queen Of The Streets (Money In Da Bank Ent.)

Last year’s Queen Of The Mic champ really upped her profile this year with a ton of live performances and this mixtape, which I wasn’t real into at first but has grown on me.
download Queen Of The Streets from AllBmoreHipHop
Shy Lady Heroin - “What You Want" (mp3)

15. Haz - The Game Need Change (DJ Radio)

I heard a lot of generic hardcore street rap mixtapes this year, but very few of them managed to flow as well as this one and not wear out its welcome.
download The Game Need Change from AllBmoreHipHop
Haz - "100 Bar" (mp3)

16. PenDragon - HomeRun King (Team Arson)

Drag remains one of the city’s best underdogs, making dope beats, dope rhymes, good videos, etc.
download HomeRun King from
PenDragon - "Never Stops" (mp3)

17. Skarr Akbar - The Street Album B4 The Album (Akbar Enterprize)

The perennial favorite continues to drop solid projects year after year after year after year after year, this list wouldn’t be complete without a Skarr tape.
download The Street Album B4 The Album from AllBmoreHipHop
Skarr Akbar - "Dear Diary" (mp3)

18. Al Great - Greatness (Alevan Music Group/DJ 5 Starr)

I met Al Great a few weeks after posting about this mixtape, and turns out dude was really kinda mad about it, and I didn’t even think I was that harsh, I really just want him to put out another album with original production because he’s had a few mixtapes in a row.
download Greatness from AllBmoreHipHop
Al Great - "Circles" (mp3)

19. Mania Music Group - Demos, Freestyles And Outtakes 2007-2008 (Year One) (Mania Music Group)

Mania’s profile continued to rise in 2009, even if their output wasn’t as relentless as their initial flood of material in 2008, but really even this odds’n’sods collection is as good as what a lot of artists were putting out as their best shit.
download Demos, Freestyles And Outtakes 2007-2008 (Year One) from
Rapman Ron G - "Break (Demo)" (mp3)

20. NOE - Deal Or NOE Deal (DJ Daa One)

Soundalike or not, NOE’s got lyrics for days and continues to be someone worth watching as he makes more and more industry moves.
download Deal Or NOE Deal from AllBmoreHipHop
NOE - "92Q Freestyle" (mp3)

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Happy the homie Blesst is on there

This comment has been removed by the author.
I definitely considered the Greenspan and the Vision for the list, I'll have to check out the other 2.
Thanx for da Support Al.....
Now if I can only get them DMV folk to wake up....

In due time..... In Due Time.......

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