Tuesday, January 13, 2009

15 Hip-Hop Artists to Shine in '09

I shine, you shine..

Everybody on this list was grinding all throughout last year. You wanna talk hungry? These talented artists are starving like Mary Kate Olsen to make their mark, so 2009 will be their time to shine. Here are 15 up-and-comers that need to be on your rap radar ASAP (Haha, YN I see you, Fam!).

In Alphabetical Order:

6th Sense

Big Apple producer and rapper 6th Sense was all over hip-hop this year, from creating the Obama anthem "Ignite The People" to providing beats for Mick Boogie & Terry Urban's remixtapes Viva La Hova and 1988. As he started the new year off with "2-0-0-9," a reinterpretation of Common and Sadat X's "1999" featuring The Kid Daytona, Outasight, and Harlem's Cash, fans should expect big things this year from the multi-talented 6th.


Producer/MC extraordinaire 88-Keys dropped his debut LP Death To Adam to widespread critical acclaim. Mostly self-produced and executively produced by Kanye West, its a creative conceptual album about the ups (literally, lol) and downs of a relationship. Hip-hop heads will be talking about Keys' work well through 2009, let's see what else he can bring to the table both lyrically and sonically.

Asher Roth

Here's one dude that had a monumental year. The Pennsylvania wordsmith skyrocketed from virtual unknown to spitting in front of Jay-Z, churning out the Greenhouse Effect Mixtape with DJ Drama and Don Cannon, ripping one of the illest "A Milli" remixes, and performing the university-friendly anthem "I Love College" on Carson Daly. And he still found time to help save the world from terrorists (I know it was his guitarist, but he was there.) Signed to Steve Rifkind's SRC Records in combo with School Boy and Universal, Asher Paul Roth's got a bright future in rap and he doesn't need a degree.


Cali lyricist Blu has been at it for a while, receiving mad indie love for his '07 LP Below The Heavens with producer Exile. Last year he put out two solid collab efforts, The Piece Talks with Ta-Raach (as C.R.A.C. Knuckes) and Johnson & Jonson with Mainfraime, plus the So(ul) Amazing mixtape with DJ Heat. Already in '09 he's got the second installment of So(ul) Amazing out and I'm positive there's much more dopeness where that came from.


Eclectic musician/rapper B.o.B. is one entertaining guy. I don't know which I enjoy more - the ATLien's talent on the mic on insightful bangers like "Change Gon' Come" with Asher Roth and Charles Hamilton and "Generation Lost" or his instrumental ability to construct crazy melodies like "Monster" and "Middle of the Day." The hilarious parody "Autotune" and transcendental "I'll Be In The Sky" were two highlights of my year, not to mention his appearance on Luda's "On Top Of The World" and the DJ Scream tape Who The Fuck Is B.o.B. Recent footage of him in the studio with T.I. got me ultra excited to check out his upcoming work.

Charles Hamilton

You couldn't go more than a couple days this year without the young'n Charles Hamilton's name on your favorite blogs, for better or worse. Looking beyond his quip with Soulja Boy and constant chatter, the Sonic-influenced Harlem native put out some dope material. His unique production style and smack-talk punchlines bombarded the blogosphere on numerous DJ Skee-hosted mixtapes like Sonic The Hamilton, And Then They Played Dilla and (my personal favorite) Crash Landed. It'll be interesting to see if his grind can translate into widespread recognition.

Colin Munroe

Toronto representative Colin Munroe is primarily a piano-playing singer but it'd be foolish to confine his sound. He's collab'd with Black Milk on his LP Tronic and Joell Ortiz on the extremely fresh "Piano Lessons," plus he's worked with Wale and Dallas Austin on the fly harmony "Will I Stay (Remix)." Munroe will try to ride off the strength of his debut mixtape Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero to enter '09 with a bang.

Donny Goines

I respect any MC whos motto is “If you don’t know my name, I’m not working hard enough.” Donny Goines is undoubtedly one of the hardest working dudes on the rise, dropping multiple lyrical onslaughts like “Wordplay” and “The Look” and various mixtape appearances. Goines’ year culminated in December with the release of his solid LP Minute After Midnight, pushed heavy on digital retailers across the ‘net, insisting that ’09 better know who he is.


Yeah, yeah I know what you’re thinking. “That dude from that wack ass TV show?” Don’t let that shit fool you, Drizzy is arguably the most beastly newcomer as far as lyrical content and delivery is concerned. And did I mention dude can sing, like, real well? Want proof? He spit outstanding, memorable verses on “Stuntin” and “Ransom” with Lil’ Wayne, put out killer mixtape Comeback Season and flexed his R&B muscle on “Still Fly” and “Replacement Girl” with Trey Songz. But when he stepped up on Kanye’s “Say You Will” instrumental for “Say What’s Real,” he knocked it out of the park – if it’s not one of your favorite reinterpretations of the year, you’re missing out. Mark my words: Drizzy will be the next phenom in '09, already announcing a new mixtape coming soon So Far So Gone and a tentative album Thank Me Later. Stay tuned!


Left coast lyricist Fashawn hopped on the scene, buzzin’ with his inventive lyrics and conceptual topics. Highlights of his ’08 catalog include the street-wear bible “Buyers Guide,” the metaphorical “Missing You,” and weekend anthem “Sunday Morning (Remix)” with K-OS. But he really caught my attention with his Higher Learning mixtape. In-your-face bangers like “Fortified Live (Remix)" and “Freedom” show Fashawn’s hunger – not to mention he’s one of the only cats out with a legit “Day N Nite” remix. I suggest you be on the looks for the Fresno, Cali MC’s debut LP One Shot To Kill.

Jay Electronica

Not your average Magnolia-raised rapper, Jay Electronica’s strength is his individuality. Many have made comparisons to Nas and Jay Elect’s boo Erykah Badu due to their shared characteristic of outright uniqueness, but it’s impossible to classify dude’s music. Though it came out in ’07, the genius “Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)” nabbed the ‘Nawlins lyricist a strong cult following that spilled into ’08 with his Style Wars EP with the nonchalant jam “I Feel Good” and the real rap of “Renaissance Man.” To wrap up the year, Jay produced “Queens Get The Money” for Nas and leaked the verbal slaying “Swagger Jackson’s Revenge” among others from his demo tape. Though Jay isn’t likely to gain commercial success since the masses choose bars-and-hooks over intellectual rhymes, I guarantee he’ll be respected in hip-hop.

Joell Ortiz

In the fight to revive New York rap, Joell Ortiz is a serious contender. Brooklyn-bred MC Ortiz offered his pinpoint rhymes and neck-snapping punchlines on various heaters this year – Colin Munroe’s “Piano Lessons,” Talib Kweli’s “Hostile Gospel Remix” with Nina Sky and Blu, and most notably Joe Budden’s “Slaughterhouse” alongside Nino Bless and Crooked I. With an absurdly dope collab with Budden on “Move On” and many more tracks leaked off his upcoming Free Agent mixtape, Ortiz is determined to get the attention of the majors.

KiD CuDi

Valentine’s Day. My first listen to “Day N Nite,” and I was isntantly hooked. Still, it took til around October or November – on the strength of NBA Live and Entourage, nonetheless – for the Cleveland MC’s song to blow up. Meanwhile, while the haters were sleepin’, Plain Pat & Emile presented the world with his debut mixtape “A KiD named CuDi.” The free-flowing lyrics on “Man on the Moon (The Anthem)” and spaced-out demeanor of “Embrace the Martian” display the forward-thinking that inspired Kanye West to sign CuDi to G.O.O.D. and let him hop on 808’s and Heartbreak’s best track “Welcome 2 Heartbreak.” Now he’s in the studio putting the finishing touches on his much-anticipated LP Man on the Moon: The Guardians, dropping this Spring.

Mickey Factz

Forget Paul Wall’s irrelevant ass, Mickey Factz had the internet goin’ nuts last year with his quality weekly leaks. The Boogie Down Bronx native dropped the amped-up “Rockin N Rollin (Remix)” with the Cool Kids and stayed consistent day-in and day-out with jams like the insightful “The Understanding” and sneaker-holic joint “I Like Your Supras.” Don’t expect Factz to lose steam in ’09, he’s set to drop his 3rd “Leak” installment very soon at a blog near you.


I can’t really say much more that I already have about Washington, DC rhyme animal Wale. He dropped arguably the best mixtape of the year with “The Mixtape About Nothing,” sporting his flyboy wordplay, go-go influences and industry commentary on “The Plan,” “The Star,” and especially “The Conclusion.” He also shot a dope video for his ’07 hit “Nike Boots” and blessed tracks alongside The Roots, Young Chris, Brother Ali among others. Though some of his clever lyrics will go over the heads of commercial rap heads, Wale will continue his rise to hip-hop stardom equipped with a sweet record deal with Allido/Interscope and cosigns from Mark Ronson and Kanye West. I’ll be checkin for an upcoming tape Back to the Feature produced by 9th Wonder not to mention his debut LP.


  1. I agree with this list completely, except I've never heard of 6th sense I'm mad late, this list is better than the XXL 09 rookies

  2. yes yes..u have some real artist up there..like TRUE talent! and i LOVE DRAKE...

  3. interesting, so i know i kinda went hard for cory's flow but i dont see him on this list and lately i been feeling like maybe he doesnt belong to be on here however this list is iight i was hype when i saw Joell Ortiz !!!

  4. Cory's cool but I haven't heard enough from him yet.. He needs to put out some FIYAH!

  5. 6th sense is what's good. Period. (the other guys are fly too. but 6th sense kills it.

  6. Hey, check out Aubrey O’Day being punched in American High School. http://www.dijit.com/dijits/ahs/ahs/