3TM Year In Review – Man of the Year 2009: Kanye West

Perhaps the most controversial choice for Man of the Year 2009, super-producer turned rapper (turned singer) Kanye West has had quite a journey in the past 12 months. Following his cross-over success with the experimental 808s & Heartbreak, 2009 marked a return from his venture into Auto-Tune supplying quality verses to several significant Hip Hop tracks, perhaps most notably Jay-Z’s ego-driven anthem ‘Run This Town.’

It wasn’t West’s music, however, that made Kanye stand out in 2009 but rather his now infamous outburst at the MTV Video Awards, in which he interrupted teenage singer Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. This incident – not his first award ceremony tantrum – quickly made him the most hated man in the music industry and the biggest asshole in Hip Hop. Whilst it may be argued that West was merely displaying his characteristic passion for music, many felt that he had gone a step too far this time.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z8gCZ7zpsQ]

Choosing to remain relatively low profile after the media onslaught that followed this episode, West pulled out of his highly-anticipated tour with pop sensation Lady Gaga and practically disappearing from the limelight for some time. During this brief hiatus, West did manage to release his controversial short film We Were Once A Fairytale, which provides an intriguing and slightly disturbing look into his psyche and battle to come to terms with his own fame and shortcomings.

Love him or hate him, it must be said that no other rapper has sparked debate, laughter or outrage quite like ‘Ye. Regardless of how he made you feel, chances are he made you feel something and frankly an artist is supposed to provoke thoughts and stir emotions, although that being said it is usually with their work rather than their actions! So, for his display of sheer audacity and unprecedented ego, the 2009 3TM award for Man of the Year goes to the one and only Kanye West – let’s just hope Taylor Swift doesn’t choose spoil his moment….revenge is sweet after all.

Video: Catskill – Kanye

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FJb1NrDwAE]

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3TM Year In Review – Best Album of 2009: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. 2

3TM Album of 2009 - Raekwon

To say Raekwon’s sequel to his 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… was anything short of brilliant would be to do the release a major injustice. The album, which marked a return of sorts for Hip Hop of substance and Mafioso Rap, served as a reminder of both Raekwon’s creative perfectionism and undeniable presence when it comes to his records. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II may have taken almost 15 years following its predecessor to materialise, but it was well worth the wait.

The cinematic structure of the album ensured that it was one of those rare records that you cannot help but to listen to in one complete sitting. OB4CL2 largely followed the same concept as its precursor but from the wiser outlook of an industry veteran, therefore somehow maintaining a fine balance between a nostalgic return to the basics and artistic progression. Both in terms of creative concept and lyricism, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II was certainly more than worthy of the ‘Album of the year’ title, despite tough competition from the likes of Jay-Z, Tech N9ne and Slaughterhouse.

Look out for my Raekwon interview coming soon to Tapwire Magazine, which gives a real insight to the creative process behind OB4CL2.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO1C8_YS30Y]

3TM Year In Review: Epic Fail of 2009 – 50 Cent’s Before I Self Destruct

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but surely somebody as high-profile and schooled in the art of self-promoting as Curtis ’50 Cent’ should be able to move more than 160,000 units within the first week. It is not solely the sales figures that were disappointing with this album, but also the lack-lustre content and repetition of the same old Fiddy formula.

It must be noted that the album was not bad (for all of those who will insist that this piece is merely hating on 50), but surely an artist of his stature should be able to produce a project of a much higher standard. Enough 50-bashing for the day, but if you would like to read a little bit more about the epic fail of 2009 then you can always take a read of my Suite 101 editorial ‘How 50 Cent Self Destructed.’

3TM Year In Review: Grime Artist of 2009 – Tinchy Stryder

He may not be the underground favourite but Grime MC Tinchy Stryder catapulted the homegrown UK genre to unprecedented levels of recognition and popularity with his major label debut album Catch 22.

Whilst the project was hardly groundbreaking and lacked the grittiness upon which the Grime scene was founded, the album was a solid effort and proved a corss-over hit within the mainstream music market.

With the success of Catch 22 behind him and a much more diverse fan base, the prospects for next year look very promising for the young MC. Hopefully he will be able to use his own recognition to bring several of his peers into the spotlight, therefore fully cementing the genre as a valid art form within the UK.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulz7Tu4Oa5I]

3TM Year In Review: Independent 3threat of 2009 – Mike Streezy

Mike Streezy is not a rapper. Mike Streezy is a true Hip Hop scholar and an inspiration to all aspiring artists within the urban music industry. Whilst he did not achieve platinum record sales or superstar collaborations in 2009, the unconventional Arkansas MC gained nothing but respect and admiration from his peers on both a local and international level for his indestructable work ethic and unwillingness to conform to industry norms.

Following the release of his latest studio album Pleasure & Pain in Summer 2009, which really could be considered more an anthology of universal truths than a mere release, Streezy cemented his reputation as a storyteller and a diverse lyricist. The album provided a valuable lesson in resourcefulness and self-reliance for any independent artist.

Streezy’s remarkable progression as an artist throughout this year is a tribute to his incredibly hard-working nature and also his willingness to expand and perfect his skills. His latest mixtape also provided a number of talented Arkansas artists a platform to showcase their work and sent a much-needed signal of unity, which sadly the game seems to largely be lacking today.

Mike Streezy has had a phenomenal year and shown more improvement and artistic development than any other artist I have worked with this year. His ambition, creativity and drive know no boundaries and I for one am incredibly proud of his progression throughout 2009. Expect nothing short of great things for this man in 2010, as he will surely deliver.

3TM Year In Review: Best Hip Hop Videos – Jay-Z & Raekwon

Image: Roc Nation/MTV

Mainstream Pick: Jay-Z – Run This Town

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVA-xTBeHyM]

Rather reminicsent of 2pac and Dr. Dre’s classic anarchy-rich 1995 ‘California Love’ video, Jigga’s ‘Run This Town’ was probably the most talked-about video of 2009. Littered with Illuminati references and sybolism, the release served to respark interest in the already saturated Freemasons in Hip Hop discussion. Whether or not the video managed to live up to the elevated expectations, a display of chaos, rebellion and pure, unadulterated ego, ‘Run This Town’ certainly reflects the typical 2009 Hip Hop mentality.


Alternative Pick: Raekwon – House of Flying Daggers

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHVCQc6cbSw]

For those that prefer to shy away from the mainstream, Raekwon’s latest offering Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II represented a beacon of hope for Hip Hop of substance. The animated video for the J.Dilla-produced ‘House of Flying Daggers,’ seemingly inspired by the cult Kung-fu movie ‘Five Deadly Venoms,’ captures the mood and concept of the album to perfection.

3TM Year in Review: Reggae Artist of 2009 – Etana

Shauna McKenzie, better known as songstress Etana, has had an outstanding year. Following the release of her debut album The Strong One through VP Records in 2008, the talented young singer’s presence within the worldwide Reggae scene has only grown from strength to strength throughout 2009. Unwilling to conform to stereotype of female artists within the Reggae/Dancehall industry, Etana stands out mostly due to both her clean image that merely commands respect and her strong vocal abilities. Having recently released no less than three high-quality music videos and with her reflective hit ‘August Town’ still receiving generous airplay on an international scale, she represents an unstoppable force of positivity blossoming from a market that seems to be dominated by negativity and slackness.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nortMn7lpho]

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