1. Drake, So Far Gone
Obviously this was hands down the mixtape of the year. Beyond that, Drizzy Drake dropped the best body of work in 2009 period-- album, mixtape, whatever. The fruits of his labor: two Grammy nominations and a lucrative distribution deal with Universal/ Cash Money Records. What's next for Mr. Toronto, you ask? Be on the lookout for his first studio album, Thank Me Later, to drop Spring/Summer 2010.
2. Mike Posner, One Foot Out the Door
What a year for Mike Posner, huh? One Foot Out the Door dropped in October and it blew me away-- straight hits. What more can I say about the kid? He's got the right people and the right resources around him to drop a classic freshman album. Think he can do it?
3. Chiddy Bang, The Swelly Express
The Philadelphia duo from Drexel University quietly dropped one of the best mixtapes of the year. It still puzzles me as to how they managed fly under the radar like that. They flipped MGMT's smash hit "Kids" and haven't looked back since. Don't sleep on Chiddy Bang in 2010.
4. Big Sean, UKNOWBIGSEAN
The kid from detroit spit the freestyle of his life for Kanye West back in 05, signed to G.O.O.D. Music soon after, and has worked with some of the industry's best and brightest ever since. Big Sean showed the world why 'Ye and Pharrell put so much stock in him on this mixtape. 2010 is his year to shine.
5. Wiz Khalifa, Burn After Rolling
Khalifa man has been around for a couple years, but hasn't managed to get over the hump until now. Burn After Rolling was simply amazing-- a nice blend of original material and crazy bars over jacked beats. His freshman album, Deal or No Deal, drops early 2010. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it on iTunes. OKAY!
6. Chester French, Jacques Jams Vol. 1: Endurance
Chester French x Clinton Sparks... a delightful combination. The boys from Harvard have done well to integrate the their classic Beetles vibe with Clinton Sparks, Diddy, Kanye West, Jermaine Dupri, and Pharrell's influence. This mixtape makes you want to party like a Ciroc Star.
7. Ocean's 7, 3000 and 9 Shit
The modern day Rat Pack-- JD, Usher, Nelly, B. Cox, Trey Songz, Johnta Austin, and Ty. An all-star cast of hip hop artists, R&B singers, super producers, and label execs team up to give away free music-- too good to be true, right? Nope. No tricks here, just Vegas swag.
8. Pac Div, Church League Champions
Phat beats and dope rhymes-- yeah, that's Pac Div. My face was scrunched up the first time I heard "Mayor." The heavy 808s and early 90's snare had me bobbing my head so hard I almost broke my neck. These dudes murder tracks in 501 jeans and crew neck sweaters. You'll definitely hear more mixtapes from them in 2010.
9. Mike Posner and the Brain Trust, A Matter of Time
Mike Posner went from making beats in his dorm room at Duke University to working on one of the dopest mixtapes of 2009 with DJ Benzi and Don Cannon. That's a fast come up. Now he's your typical poor college student by day and your favorite singer/songwriter/ producer by night. Catch Mike Posner at a venue near you in 2010.
10. Wale & 9th Wonder, Back to the Feature
Ah yes, a classic pairing in hip hop. 9th makes the beats, Wale raps and gets the girls. I remember anxiously waiting for this tape to drop, and when it finally did, it was like when a dope fiend gets their fix. Order was restored and all the blogs had to find something else to talk about. I wish Wale would have used 9th more on Attention: Deficit because some of the songs on the mixtape are definitely better than some of the material on the actual album.