2009! It wasn’t a terrible year for music, you know? And despite Matt Siblo’s (accurate) insistence that it was the year lists broke we at AVERSE have put together a few lists that celebrate the year that was.
For me 2009 was 365 days of trying something new. It was about taking a lot of recommendations, having an open mind and, ultimately, listening to a lot of radio. Rock radio may be dead but in NY no one gives a shit because Jay-Z came out with a new record. You couldn’t walk the streets of Brooklyn this year without hearing at least one single from Hov blaring from speakers that cost more than the car they’re sitting in. Not a day went by where a remix featuring Kanye, Drake, or Weezy couldn’t be heard. And most importantly: I don’t remember one trip in my girlfriend’s car this year where we didn’t at least casually check up on Funkmaster Flex.
It started out as an exercise in understanding: just what is happening in the rap world, and why should I care? Certainly I knew the basics– I knew, for example, I should probably listen to the new Joe Budden, the new Jay-Z, the new Raekwon– but I haven’t seriously listened to any new rap music in about five years and had no real interest to do so. My girlfriend, to her credit, seemed to get it. When she first turned me on to Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” I was admittedly skeptical but eventually fell in love with it in a completely unironic way. And with good reason: that Drake mixtape ended up being one of the strongest records to come out this year, and while it might not be as life-changing as I initially thought (the songs don’t make a whole lot of sense) it’s strong enough from start to finish to warrant all the hype.
But that’s not the stuff I want to talk about right now. You can read what I think about Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II when I write about it for our Best Records of the Year list, I promise. It’s the other songs I’m more interested in, the ones that played fifty times a day because of sheer mass appeal. The songs that aren’t breaking any boundaries, that aren’t changing the game; the songs that have no real artistic credibility, and whose only real merit is that they’re catchy as hell.
These are my top ten Hot 97 guilty pleasures.
10. “I Invented Sex” (Trey Songz feat. Drake)
2009 was a pretty huge year for Drake. The former Degrassi star officially became a member of Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment, dropped a self-released mixtape that put him on the map, was nominated for every award under the sun (including two 2010 Grammys) and has worked with every big name artist in the game. This song, off of Trey Songz’ third album Ready, is particularly ridiculous (as if you couldn’t tell from the title.)
9. Ego (Beyoncé feat. Kanye West)
I think the main reason I like this song, a remix off of Beyoncé’s I Am… Sasha Fierce, is the same reason why it’s so obnoxious. The original version is fine– a decent track on a fairly good album– but it’s Kanye’s embarrassing intro that sells it for me. A man with the largest ego in the world is singing about his ego… by comparing his ego to his dick.
8 . Knock You Down (Keri Hilson feat. Kanye West and Ne-Yo)
When he isn’t acting like a parody of himself Kanye West is appearing as a guest on every single track in the world. Here he is playing boyfriend to Keri Hilson in the “Knock You Down” video (sorry about the weird advertisement in the beginning.) He spouts off lines like “This is bad, real bad, Michael Jackson/ Now I’m mad, real mad, Joe Jackson” which is embarrassing enough without him inexplicably dropping an “OMG” somewhere in there. However it’s Ne-Yo who takes the cake for corny lyrics, singing “I used to be commander-in-chief of my pimp ship flyin’ high/ before some pretty little missile knocked me out of the sky” with such earnestness it makes me laugh every single time I hear it.
7. I’m So Paid (Akon feat. Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy)
There is no part of this song that isn’t auto-tuned.
6. Dead and Gone (T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake)
Now this song is a guilty pleasure for completely different reasons. It’s not that I find this song funny and catchy (although I do and it is) it’s that I really feel it. The emotion! T.I. lost a friend! And he wants Justin Timberlake to sing about it! And Justin Timberlake says “homies”? Okay! I’m fine with that, I really am. Alright that’s a lie, I’m not fine with any of it, but I won’t apologize for my feelings. You do you, T.I. You do you.
5. Blame It (Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain)
Ron Howard, Forest Whitaker, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Quincy Jones, Cedric the Entertainer, Mos Def, Tatyana Ali… fucking, BILL BELLAMY is in this video. Where the hell has Bill Bellamy been? Sitting around waiting for a sequel to Love Jones? This entire video, like the song that accompanies it, is just an ode to the fucked up party lifestyle Jamie Foxx leads, where he can just bang any woman he comes across and write songs about it.
4. Throw it in the Bag (Fabolous feat. the Dream)
Ah, now here we go. The meat of the list. Don’t get me wrong I like a good R&B jam as much as the next guy but this is what I had in mind when I thought of this list. The gist behind the track is that Fabolous has so much money that he will just walk into a store with a woman and not even worry about price. Are you kidding? This is Fabolous, what does he care about a price tag? Just throw it in the bag, maybe put it in a nice box with a bow or something. Something nice. I mean he doesn’t care about price but he probably cares about appearances, you know? Frankly if Fabolous is shopping in your store you should probably thank the gods, and then go out of your way to make him happy. So yeah, maybe a bow, or some gold flakes or something. Also, I love the end of the song, where they just say “Everybody do the Throw it in the Bag”, like it’s some kind of fifties dance craze that all the kids are doing. “The Twist” this is not, my friend.
3. Who’s Real? (Jadakiss feat. Swizz Beatz and OJ Da Juiceman)
“He’s phony, she’s fake! That’s the type of people I hate!”
Listen. I know Jadakiss. Jadakiss is a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no Jadakiss. Seriously, what the hell happened here? Jadakiss went from being raw as all hell to churning out a song with the chorus “If you’re real and you know it clap your hands!” Don’t get me wrong, even a poppy Jadakiss is better than, say, The Blueprint III (we trusted you, Jay!) but the change is more than just a little jarring. Still, I’m definitely spinning this track at New Years and I don’t care who knows it.
2. Every Girl (Young Money)
You might be asking why this isn’t number one. It seemingly has it all: Lil Wayne, Drake, a ridiculous premise about fucking every woman in the world including retarded women. Yes, “Every Girl” was definitely a top contender. Even the video is batshit crazy, with all of this weird animation jumping in and out. But there’s really only one song dumb enough and catchy enough to be my number one Hot 97 guilty pleasure of the year…
1. Million Bucks (Maino feat. Swizz Beatz)
Another song on this list about a guy who has so much money he doesn’t know what the fuck to do with it. What makes this song especially dumb, though, is that while it’s possible that Jamie Foxx or Fabolous can just waste money there is absolutely no conceivable way someone like Maino could ever part with a million bucks and just be fine with it. Hell, I think he’s probably sweating the “brand new truck” part. But regardless of the stupidity behind the song’s main theme this is an absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it party jam. Click the link above to let the song speak for itself (the first thirty seconds are added filler for the video and not indicative of the single version) and try not to let your head bounce. BET YOU CAN’T EAT JUST ONE.