1. Gucci Mane - The Cold War: Guccimerica
I have kind of a love/hate thing going on with the Cold War
series. One one hand, I think it's kind of a dickish publicity stunt to drop 3 mixtapes at the same time, a week after another mixtape, and it sets a bad precedent for what everyone will do to try to make a splash in the already saturated mixtape market (Game and Soulja Boy are talking about releasing multiple simultaneous mixtapes now too, like anyone needs that). On the other hand, a while back when writing about one of Gucci's regular-length mixtapes, which even at their best can get kind of wearying to me, I said that I "generally like him in small doses,"
so it turns out that these 30-40 minute little releases are the perfect serving size for me. And even though this is the one with multiple Drake guest spots, it's still far and away my favorite of the three, mainly for that great opening trio of "Street Cred," "Diamonds" and "Follow Me." As much as I like Gucci having his own sound and his own producers, and am apprehensive of him doing an album full of generic super producer stuff like the single with Polow, he sounds really good on these Timbo and Drumma Boi tracks. Great Brrritain
and to a lesser degree Brrrussia
are good, too, and have more funny accent interludes, but just aren't as consistently enjoyable. "Danger's Not A Stranger" might be my least favorite song on all these tapes, though.2. Freeway - The Calm Before The Storm
If Gucci is pretty obviously the rapper putting out the greatest volume of quality music these days (quality being the operative word, so I don't mean like Charles Hamilton or whatever), then my humble suggestion is that the unlikely runner-up is Freeway. To summarize: in December of last year he released a song a day, and in January
all 31 songs were collected on the shockingly consistent Month Of Madness
mixtape, and in April
he released his third official album, the disappointing but still decent Philadelphia Freeway 2
. Two weeks ago, he dropped another great mixtape, The Calm Before The Storm
, and apparently has another, The Beat Made Me Do It
, on the way this week, with an album with Jake One, The Stimulus Package
, due out in January. Somewhere in the middle of all that, he's also doing an Eminem tribute mixtape called Freelapse
(which seems like a weird idea, but could be awesome considering that the first track on Calm
, "When I Rap," is an amazing double time flow salvaging the beat from a shitty Em b-side called "Bully"), and recently denied the existence of an album someone announced called Streetz Is Mine
. He's also signed to Cash Money now, I guess, but I'm not holding my breath for them to ever actually release a Freeway record, and anyway they don't need to as long as he keeps up this pace with mixtapes and independent projects. This is the kind of thing Beanie should be doing instead of throwing hissyfits and making diss records, even if it wouldn't get him nearly as much attention in the short term. 3. Gucci Mane - The Movie 3-D: The Burrprint!
Again, this might be technically better than Guccimerica
and I may reverse my position on them at some point, but right now the 70 minutes of this just kinda drag compared to Guccimerica
, and the highlights like "My Shadow" and "Trap Goin' Crazy" feel fewer and further between. Still, feeling this more than his other CD-length tapes from this year, Writing On The Wall
and The Movie 2
. 4. Young Dro - R.I.P.
The amount of time that passes between a rapper's first album and the follow-up seems to be the litmus test for whether they have a decent career ahead of them or are going to get lost in the shuffle, and as the chasm between Best Thang Smokin'
and the continually delayed P.O.L.O.
widens from 3 years to maybe 4 at this rate, things aren't looking good for Dro. People are still paying attention, though, apparently, because all I heard when this dropped was that all the good songs were already out there for a few months. I don't really follow leaks of individual songs that much, though, so it's all new and all good to me, more or less, although some of Dro's slurry mumbly delivery just gets out of control and incoherent on a few tracks. "I'm Fresh" and "Da Core" are awesome, and it's fun to hear Dro and Tip rap over "Mo Money Mo Problems." That's right, it's all mixtapes this month. October '09 might be the biggest month for mixtapes in recent memory. 5. Lil Wayne - No Ceilings
In terms of career narrative, 2009 will pretty much go down as the hangover after Wayne reached his pop culture apex in '08, but in truth his output tells a pretty different story; aside from the better half of Tha Carter III
and a stray guest verse here and there, his music pretty much sucked last year, and has had a pretty decent uptick since then. Sure, you gotta take a shitty Rebirth
leak or phoned in verse like "I Can Transform Ya" for every good track, but that still leaves a lot of tracks he was great on: "The Leak," "We Be Steady Mobbin'," "I Get It In," "Every Girl," the "Renaissance Rap" remix, even his "Forever" verse was the one part of that song that I liked (I loved "Always Strapped" too, but I'm not counting that since all the Wayne parts were originally released in '06). So a new mixtape being pretty strong isn't a surprise, even if a lot of the hype around this probably just comes from Wayne releasing a new tape that isn't marred by AutoTune and Young Money flunkies like Dedication 3
. Anyway, the title track and the "Run This Town" and "Sweet Dreams" freestyles are pretty great, I just wish there wasn't a bunch of stupid tracks with singers re-recording the choruses to "I Gotta Feeling" and "Wetter" with pointless lyric changes.