Shout out to all the new artists we introduced you to this year such as Young Jeezy's CTE members Boo Rossini, Bama and BW. We also can't forget the GS Boys, the New Boyz and the cat with the craziest name in rap right now, Waka Flocka Flame.
The Mixtape Daily Fire Starter section has long been a hub for the up-and-comers in the game. We've seen some alumni such as Triple C's, Masspike Miles, Big Sean, Kidd Kidd and Donnis make noise in 2009. Rap's future is in great hands. All the veterans still doing their thing out there don't have to step down. They don't even need to make room; the rookies with staying power will carve out their own niche. And of all fresh talent we've featured in Fire Starter this year, there's one who proved that he belongs at the head of the class.
Fire Starter of the Year: Drake
Hip-hop's future swooped in on the scene with grace and force. The best thing about Drizzy in 2009 is that he dispelled the notion that you have to sell millions of records to be a hip-hop superstar. The 23-year-old Toronto native jumped right into the ranks of the rap heavyweights, bashing the glass-ceiling limits of what a rookie can do. He took off in a gulf stream of acclaim with So Far Gone (our pick for Mixtape of the Year). His guest-appearance résumé has varied from "Money to Blow" and "4 My Town" for the Birdman to "The One" for Mary J. Blige and his most recent takeover on Timbaland's "Say Something." And his buzz also earned him the #8 spot on MTV News' Man of the Year list for 2009.
In 2010, we're not expecting anything less than a recession-shunning, Billboard-topping debut for his first real album Thank Me Later. We're also predicting a clean sweep at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards (he's up for two).
Other Standout Fire Starter Alumni
Young Money: With the biggest tour of the summer and hit smashes "Bed Rock" and "Every Girl," Lil Wayne has built a collective with a brand name you can trust. Weezy's clique of artists have shown diversity, swag and performance acumen. Almost all of them rap and sing (and have tattoos). Drake may be leading the charge for the blue chippers, but Nicki Minaj is definitely right on his heels (in her high heels), while Gudda Gudda is coming up slowly but surely. Mack Maine continues to get good looks and Lil Chuckee and Lil Twist should definitely corner the market with youngsters once they start to emerge from the pack.
| MIXTAPE YEAR END AWARDS|
Wale: Whether it's Jay-Z calling him to go out on the Blueprint 3 tour, or Lady Gaga singing on his single "Chillin'," the upper echelon of music's winner circle have recognized Wale's still blossoming talent. He was the band leader for the VMAs, covered Kanye West at the Def Jam Hip-Hop Honors and has A&Rs looking for the next hot spitter out of his DMV area.
J. Cole: Where you goin', J. Cole? To the top. He appeared on the Blueprint 3 and went on Jiggaman's tour in support of the LP, and sometime in the next year, he'll more than likely be dropping an album on Jay-Z's Roc Nation. Still, J. Cole's co-sign from big homie wouldn't have meant squat if he didn't have the talent to back it all up. The North Carolina native's The Warm Up was one of the best mixtapes this year. While tracks like "Welcome" and "Grown Simba" solidified his prowess as an MC, his live-band-backed shows certified him as a must-see performer. And he makes dope beats. No fair.
Pill: ATL does not run out of talent from the streets. Pill has stepped up into one of the artists you want to have on your radar for 2010 off the strength of his lauded mixtape collection 4180: The Prescription and 4075: The Refill. The kid has lyrics, and his song "Trap Goin' Ham" was huge in the 'hood and on the Internet this year.