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]

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]

3threat Media’s Personal 2009 In Review

2009….damn what a year and on first look, for all the wrong reasons! It was certainly a year of struggles and obstacles but rather than highlighting the negative it would surely be more beneficial to highlight the positives that arose from said difficulties. 2009 was the year I realised that with a little belief, determination and confidence I really could stand on my own two feet and create my own opportunities. No matter how rough the road to that discovery was it was a road worth travelling, even if most of it was on crutches!

Perhaps most importantly, 2009 was also the year I realised that even a blood clot couldn’t stop me. A few inches higher up and that really could have been game over but for some reason thankfully it was not! The whole experience certainly provided both a personal and professional wake-up call. I couldn’t help thinking that next time I might not be so lucky, therefore it was time to start building a legacy. That moment marked the beginning of a much bigger professional turn-around than I could ever have imagined.

Some might call it luck, some might call it fate but I prefer to be honest and call it hard work; there was nothing easy about 2009. It was a year of many battles but it was also a year that saw many victories. Rather than looking at 2009 as a bad year, I would rather consider it a prelude to 2010, which I am certain will be a year of improvement and a year of opportunity for all that wish to embrace it. This year taught me that I still had a long way to go and so much to learn and 2010 will hopefully see me making these improvements and continuing to develop my work.

There were many people who made all the victories in 2009 possible and they also deserve the support and belief that they showed me throughout what proved to be a very difficult year. I would like to extend a heart-felt and well-deserved thank you to a number of people and offer them my full support for the New Year:

I would like to extend a huge thank you to my friend and (extremely understanding) Allhiphop.com editor Chuck Creekmur for giving me the opportunity to do some great interviews and develop my skills further this year. I also assure you that meeting deadlines better is certainly my main New Year’s Resolution! (One on the way very soon too I promise).

The team over at Tapwire Magazine, especially Fathom, Syncere and B, who have frequently put up with my crazy creative visions and helped make them possible. I especially appreciate the many opportunities you have given me to push my creativity to the limits and develop my style. I also appreciate the advice and support you have given throughout the toughest part of this year.

I would also like to thanks all the wonderful and incredibly talented artists that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout this year. 2009 has been a year of some great interviews and hopefully 2010 will be the year of even better ones! I look forward to working with you all again in the near future.

I have to extend an extra special shout out to Chino XL for always taking the time out to encourage me in the rehabilitation of my foot regardless of how busy he is. I also have to thank Raekwon for an amazing interview and reminding me of exactly why I stupidly continue do this job even when the doctor tells me I really should take a break! Mike Streezy, I have thank you for constantly reminding me of just how much hard work and taking the time to study and perfect your craft can pay off and Slickmouth for giving me hope for the UK scene! Derty Harry, I want to thank you for an amazing interview and for making me laugh harder than I have in a long time. I think a huge thank you is also in order for La Familia Ent and DJ Mr President for their continued support, outstanding professionalism and for being great role models from the next Hip Hop Generation. There are a huge number of talented artists out there that deserve your support and recognition, as music truly is the soundtrack to our lives and without it I firmly believe that this world would be a much worse place to live.

Finally I would like to thank my wonderful friends, who have helped deal with the highs and lows and never failed to believe in my abilities and potential, even in the times when I have doubted them myself. Without you there would have been absolutely no way I would have got through of 2009 still standing and I doubt I would have had the courage to go for some of the amazing projects that I have lined up in 2010!

Whilst the fourth quarter has been relatively quiet for a number of reasons (mostly health-related…in 2009 I also learned that eventually everything starts to take its toll if you don’t listen to your doctor and rest once in a while) I have worked hard to ensure I have laid the foundations for some great projects for 2010. There is so much more to come and I hope that some of the projects will help make an impact and open some eyes to talent and potential of the next generation.

I would like to wish you all every success and happiness in 2010; it’s going to be a great year!

3TM’s Full Hip Hop Year in review is COMING SOON!

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