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50 Best Rap Songs of 2009

A countdown of 2009's best hip-hop songs


10. Rick Ross - "Maybach Music 2" (Ft. Kanye West, T-Pain, Lil Wayne)

Rick Ross isn't going to win any awards for lyricism, but his keen ear for potent beats and songwriting acumen enable him to conjure up hits on a consistent basis. Backed by Justice L.E.A.G.U.E.'s densely stacked live instrumentation, Ross turns in one of his most compelling hits.

9. Slum Village - "Dope Man"

© Barak
After losing yet another group member to the cold grip of the reaper, T3 and Elzhi gathered just enough composure to release a fierce EP. "Dope Man" is a standout cut from SV's Villa Manifesto EP.

8. Big Boi - "Shine Blockas" (Ft. Gucci Mane)

Big Boi gets gully over a Harold Melvin-inspired track. "Shine Blockas" is taken from his eternally delayed solo album, Sir Luscious Left Foot. "Royal Flush" is now nearly 2-years old and still no sign of Boi's solo LP.

7. Method Man & Redman - "City Lights" (Ft. UGK)

© Def Jam
Blackout 2! finds hip-hop's favorite stoners reminiscing about fun times on just about every other song. The UGK-assisted hit "City Lights," taken from BO2!, is the most balanced crossover song of 2009.

6. Clipse - "Popular Demand (Popeyes)"

This Neptunes beat was tailor-made for Cam'ron's comedic flow. "Call me uncle. Uncle who? Uncle Cam. Like Uncle Sam, I tax ‘em," quips Killa Cam.

5. Jay-Z - "Empire State of Mind" (Ft. Alicia Keys)

© Roc Nation
"Empire State of Mind” is The Blueprint III’s apex. More of a standout than any of Jigga’s rhymes is the brilliant display of exceptionally strong vocals from Ms. Keys. Imagine if Jay-Z teamed up with Nas and Rakim for a remix. A brother can dream, right?

4. K-os - "I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman" (Ft. Saukrates)

T.Dot's rap flagbearer employs his tremendous sense of melody on this Nelly Furtado-sampling heater, while Saukrates rides shotgun. Bonus points for the catchiest chorus of the year.

3. Mos Def - "Quiet Dog Bite Hard"

© Downtown Records
Mighty Mos Def blends Fela Kuti-inspired funk with Kanye-esque 808s for an uncanny hip-hop anthem.

2. Raekwon - "10 Bricks" (Ft. Ghostface & Cappadonna)

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2
Raekwon serves up a certified Wu banger, alongside Ghostface Killah and Inspectah Deck. "10 Bricks" is movie on wax, replete with vivid descriptions and rewind-worthy metaphors.

1. Jay Electronica - "Exhibit C"

copy; Decon / The Dogon Society

Exhibit C” embodies everything people admire about Jay Electronica — a combo of compelling confessionals and convincing boasts, delivered in a charismatic manner. Jay’s imagery is impressive. But it’s only one part of the equation. The other part comes from Just Blaze’s musically rich soundboard. A dense soundscape of shimmering piano licks over a classic break beat and thumping bass is the recipe for an instant banger. Hey hip-hop, your future is in safe hands.

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