In terms of hip-hop, 2010 has started out with … well, not much. It seems like we’re still rocking with the same stuff we were in 2009. Looking at the landscape, 2010 has the potential to be a pivotal year in hip-hop.
This year seems like its up for grabs. Wayne is going to jail, Gucci is in jail, T.I. is coming home soon. Hov ain’t getting no younger, Nas’ career seems like it may be on its last legs and Kanye has kinda disappeared. A lot of the up and coming artists of 2009 dropped and flopped, and Lord knows when Drake will finally release an album.
That said, here are the contenders and underdogs who have a chance to dominate the hip-hop scene in 2010.
Gucci Mane – Gucci isn’t schedule to come home until November, but who knows how that will play out. Right now, he doesn’t have much to do besides write rhymes. When he does come out, he should be able to drop an album in no time. Right now, he’s still buzzing thanks to the album he put out right before he went away.
Lil Wayne – Speaking of jail, Weezy is probably going away in a few weeks. Imagine if he drops a “No Ceilings 2” right before that? That would keep him on top through the entirety of his sentence for sure.
T.I. – And for our last jailbird, T.I. is coming home in March. His album is supposed to be good to go. With two of his biggest competitors on the way in, T.I. could take the top spot with a strong mixtape + album.
Jay-Z – There’s no talk of a Blueprint 4, but Hov did drop an album a year from 96-03. Until he says he isn’t dropping, I’m almost inclined to think that he will come out again this year. BP3 had a mixed reaction from fans and critics, but it moved enough units to justify Hova to continue his career, if he were to choose to do so.
Young Jeezy – Thug Motivation 103 should drop this year, setting Jeezy up for a run at the top. The streets have and will always love Jeezy, but his lyrical ability has always kept him from earning the respect of all hip-hop fans. If he can step up his game, this might be the year he puts it together.
Drake – I didn’t know where to put Drizzy. A year ago, he would’ve definitely been an underdog. Now he’s on the radio 10 times a day. I was inclined to put him as a wildcard, because I don’t know when his album is dropping or if it will even be good or not. But considering his buzz and the strength of his fan base, if Drakes album is even halfway decent, he could very easily finish 2010 as the best in the game.
J. Cole – J. Cole has the lyrical ability to make it happen, and he’s backed by Hova and the Roc Nation machine. His problem is in his lack of personality/presence. Lyrically, he’ll always be popular with the backpackers, but if he can work on his image the mainstream will love him too.
KiD CuDi – CuDi had a weird year last year. His album came out and it was pretty good, but it wasn’t really a rap album. He had some run-ins with fans and some odd interviews and appearances. Yet, Cudder might have the most devoted fan base of any non-mainstream artist out. If he does come out with an album this year that’s equal or better to “MOTM,” it will be hard to keep him down.
Cam’Ron – Cam just dropped the “Boss of All Bosses 2” a few weeks ago and it sounds like Killa Cam from the Dipset era is back. I don’t know if he’ll get back to the point where he had half of America wearing pink, but if he comes out with another “Purple Haze” he can reestablish himself as a force in the game.
Lupe Fiasco – Lupe’s “Enemy of the State” had hip-hop buzzing for a minute. Now “I’m Beaming” is moving up the charts as well. I’m an admitted Lupe stan, but when Lasers drops this year I don’t think anybody will be able to deny that he belongs in the discussion as one of the best out.
Kanye West – “Where are you Yeezy?” Sheesh, ever since the Taylor Swift incident went down, Kanye has pretty much been out of the limelight. No freestyles, no features, not even a recent production credit for Mr. West. I have a feeling he’s been cooking up something in the studio that will make everybody love the self-proclaimed International Asshole again.