The Year In Hip Hop: 2008

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-When we first set out to talk about the year 2008 in hip hop, I was met with a lot of "man this year completely sucked" comments, which in essence was quite accurate considering all of the mainstream releases. I look back on 2008 and all of the big mainstream album releases and it gets hazy in a lot of ways. While some people classify The Carter 3 as a great album, I find it slightly underwhelming. It does not compare to the first two, and while it's a good album, it has a lot of filler and some clutter, oddly enough with all of the singles. Wayne had put out a much better mixtape of leftover Carter 3 songs than the actual album and I guess that disappointed me as a whole. However, this is the biggest album of the year from a sales perspective, selling 1 million the first week and 3.5 million in total, a great feat for Wayne in a time where the album sales had declined considerably. 50 Cent is one of my favorite rappers and after dropping the weak Curtis album in 2007, he brought back G-Unit with the two amazing mixtapes Return of The Body Snatchers and Elephant In The Sand, along with a disappointing group album titled Terminate on Site, which wasn't necessarily bad, it just couldn't compare to the two classic tapes earlier on the year.

Other mainstream releases ranged from Ice Cube returning with Raw Footage, which was a solid effort, T.I. with the successful (yet disappointing to me) album Paper Trail, and of course, how could you forget the conceptual album Untitled from Nas, that was originally titled "Ni**er". Nas changed the title at the behest of Def Jam, but not before releasing a solid mixtape titled "The Ni**er Tape". As for the album itself, it had a lot of great moments, though it was lacking in cohesion in some ways. Songs like "Louis Farrakhan", "Fried Chicken", "Testify", and more were gems to add to Nas' catalog, and the only downfall in this album honestly would be (surprise!) the production that boggles down a few songs that would be amazing with a better beat. As far as my favorite mainstream release, this would like be the one for me. Nas came with a solid album that exceeded everyone else as far as I'm concerned. Scarface, the legend, dropped Emeritus, which was supposed to be his final album, but as we see, that wasn't the case thankfully.

Snoop returned this year with his subpar Ego Trippin album, though it spawned the hit "Sexual Eruption" or as it is known to the public "Sensual Seduction", which is still a hilarious song. However, the rest of this album falls victim to sounding unpolished and unfocused. I enjoyed Jeezy and his Recession album, though I admit at the time I was swept up in the whole Obama election process being supported by hip hop. Still, a solid project. If you consider this hip hop, Kanye dropped 808's and Heartbreaks, and while plenty of people love this album, I personally don't enjoy it. It's not a bad effort necessarily, it's just not my cup of tea. One album that I think was slightly slept on mainstream wise was Ludacris' Theater of the Mind. The album isn't his best per se, but there was a more serious tone from Luda here, and his production was at the highest it had ever been on this album. Revisit that one and you'll see what I mean. The same goes for The Roots and their cryptic yet honest Rising Down album.  Another noteworthy release comes in the form of Game with one of his lesser albums in LAX. LAX was a decent project overall, but it feels lifeless throughout, something that rarely happens with Game albums. I guess I'd have to throw Rick Ross and Trilla into the pile, but I honestly think that album is completely and utterly terrible. His worst by far.

Now, with most of the mainstream releases out the way, let's get into talking about the true heart of 2008: the underground. I've always been a fan of what's considered underground hip hop, and 2008 did not disappoint me. One of my favorite MCs, Blu, would end up playing a role in two projects, the underrated but super dope "Johnson&Jonson" and "The Piece Talks". Both albums are really solid and solidifies Blu as the MC of 2008 to me, along with Elzhi, who released the solid album The Preface this year. Though Q-Tip is more mainstream, he put out an underground type release with The Renaissance, one of my favorite albums this year overall and his best solo project. One of my favorite female MCs Jean Grae was active this year as well, releasing the Jeanius/Evil Jeanius project, taking the crown for the ladies. 9th Wonder was busy, and after working with Jean on Jeanius, he teamed up with Buckshot to drop the smooth yet rugged album The Formula. 9th then continued his partnership with Murs on the Sweet Lord project as well.

2008 could really be the year of the producer, as on top of 9th Wonder, we got Jake One releasing an album titled White Van Music, and there were some gems on that as well. Pete Rock dropped a project, Black Milk released the solid Tronic project, and Madlib was yet again at work, contributing to so many projects, including his own instrumental albums and of course, Madvilliany 2. 88 Keys was active as well on his Death of Adam project, and while I wasn't the biggest fan, it's still a noteworthy release to cover. All in all, though 2008 disappointed on a mainstream level, it shined on the underground, which was the norm honestly in hip hop during the late 2000s. However, it's not all about me and my opinion on the year, as I'm sure the team has a difference of opinion on some of these projects. So, let's get into it.

2008 was awful. Terrible year. Not a lot of anticipated projects, but definitely some disappointing ones. Paper Trail, for example, disappointed me horribly. I was giving T.I's music another chance and it failed. The Recession was also bad to me and I think the highly anticipated LAX by The Game wasn't great either compared to his first 2 albums. Ego Trippin' and Trilla by Snoop and Rick Ross respectively were also bad albums. It was not a great year for hip hop. However, The Carter III was released this year, which is arguably Lil Wayne's best album. 808's & Heartbreak was also a good project by Kanye West from this year. Untitled by Nas also helped give the year another positive. Overall, it was a terrible year with some bright spot, but not a memorable year at all.

I am not a huge fan of 2008 to be honest. We did have Tha Carter III from Lil Wayne, which was solid. Songs like "Lollipop", "Mrs.Officer", and many more made this album dope and it still has replay value in my everyday playlist. T.I's Paper Trail was alright to me, as "Live Your Life" , "Dead and Gone" and "Swagga Like Us" were great singles. Madvilliany 2 also dropped in this year. It felt as if 2008 was a quiet year. I also want to note Kanye West with 808's and Heartbreaks. As you can see, I'm a fan of his and I enjoyed this album very much. This is a genre bending cohesive album made at his lowest point with his mom dying. "Heartless" was a huge single. Estelle's Shine was a great debut, though it might not be fully hip hop, it felt like it. I enjoyed "American Boy" featuring Kanye West himself, but Estelle's vocals were superb. However, Immortal Technique takes this year with 3rd World in my opinion. That lyricism and rapid fire delivery sounds like an AK and was the best thing in 2008.

2008, I think a lot of good projects dropped this year to be honest. The Game, Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Nas, T.I., Kanye, Ice Cube, T-Pain, Plies, and Snoop all dropped music I enjoyer. These are a lot of nice projects. My favorite though has to be Wayne's Carter 3. That album is a classic, in my opinion. From the beats to his lyrics to his flow, I think that was Weezy around his best period. I won't say it was at his best, but it was around his best. Paper Trail is dope as fuck to me and it still gets played. T.I. is just dope and the song with him and Justin Timberlake is fucking amazing. 808's and Heartbreaks.... man I still listen to that album and can get in my feelings. Last but not least, A Kid Named Cudi. That album is just beautiful. A really complete project. 2008 was dope to me.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-While 2008 would never be considered one of my favorite years, it still was a glowing endorsement of the underground over the mainstream. The music during the year mainstream wise was up and down, but the underground came with consistency. When 2008 is looked back on for me, that's what I remember. Hip hop lives in the underground anyways, so it all makes sense. Regardless, 2008 brought us great moments and some not so great moments, and for that, we thank you, 2008 hip hop.



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