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.