bigseab::: Bell Rings ::: Class is now in session! Although the summertime is here and most people are just wrapping up with classes, things are only heating up in the world of hip-hop. For those who truly love music, the first quarter of 2009 has been a worldwind of new projects and endless “eargasms” (as a close friend of mine so passionately calls them). We’ve had new mixtapes, world premiere videos, mini-tours, and even news of recent deals with major labels – ca-ching!

Soooo, who’s at the forefront of this movement, you ask? Meet the Freshman Class: Big Sean, Drake, Wale, Kid Cudi, and Blu. Don’t get us wrong, though; none of these guys are “new”, per say. They’ve all been grinding for years and have countless projects to prove it. But Summer ’09 is finally their time to truly shine, so what better time to get our Clutch fam in the know? If any of these names/faces are unfamiliar to you, do your homework – read up here and get to downloading. Because sooner than later, they’ll all be on your iPod, radio, TV screen, and local concert stage. Don’t you dare say we didn’t give you ample advance notice, either. We’ll throw you in detention for such a fib. ; )

Big Sean

* Age: 21
* Reppin: Detroit, MI
* Label: G.O.O.D Music / Island Def Jam

* Why He’s Hot: By now, we’re all familiar with Kanye West and his huge ego. How many times does this guy have to remind us how great he is, ya know? So you can imagine how hard it would be for a new artist to garner the attention of Mr. West, let alone get signed to his label. Well Big Sean did just that. After a chance encounter with ‘Ye at the record label, and being snubbed at first, Sean continued to press on and made sure to let his crazy word-play, metaphors, and witty punchlines be heard. Soon enough, he received a call and personal invitation to G.O.O.D. Music, courtesy of the head honcho, himself. Score! Besides his undeniable music talents, Big Sean is quite the cutie-pie and fly guy, too. His clothing game? On point. Lately, you may have seen him doing his modeling thang for street wear brands such as Billionaire Boys Club and Society.

* Most Recent Project: UKNOWBIGSEAN – Finally Famous Vol. 2 (2009)
* Must Download:
o For Your Daily Dose of Motivation:Desire, Want, and Need
o Head Banga: Getcha Some
o ‘Awww’ – Something for the Ladies: “Love Story“: This love letter to Sean’s long-time sweetie will pull on your heart strings, for sure. And Keely’s smooth, lullaby-like vocals are the icing on the cake.
* Say Whattt? [Noteworthy Lyrics]: “I can make an Einstein’s mind feel stoopa /And I can make an insecure [chick] feel supa /Realest nigga eva – Kunta Kinte / Ultra – master, super – 20 sensei /Dawg, in the ninth inning we’re just trying to hit a homer – Marge/Comprende?/ Hard – al dente.” Supa Dupa

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Drake

* Age: 22

* Reppin: Toronto, Ontario [Canada]

* Label: Universal Motown Record with Young Money affiliations

* Why He’s Hot: This Canadian export has come a long way since his acting days on the teenage drama series, Degrassi. Nope, this aint hardly “Jimmy” we’re listening to! Only three mixtapes in, he seems to be at the top of his game and is already being backed by one of rap’s biggest superstars – Lil’ Wayne. In fact, Wayne spit an entire Drake verse at the VMA’s last year! So make no mistake, “Drake Drizzy Rogers” is holding it down and even providing inspiration for industry vets. Not to mention, making all the girlies swoon with tracks from his latest So Far Gone mixtape. Sold-out shows, collabos with the likes of Wayne, Trey Songz, and Bun B., and a Billboard “Hot 100” hit – all before he inked the deal with Universal Motown?! Seems as though this dude just can’t beat.

* Most Recent Project: So Far Gone (2009)
* Must Download:
o For Your Daily Dose of Motivation: Successful” (feat. Trey Songz) – Money. Cars. Clothes. Hoes? Not so much. But we all just wanna be successful! Side Note: Seeing this song performed live made a chick wanna leave the concert at that exact second and go chase my dreams. Listen to this on your way to work and I guarantee you’ll wanna step your game up, knowing what great things your hard work can bring.
o Summer Anthem:Best I Ever Had
o Lyrical Wizardry:Unstoppable” (feat. Santogold) – The entire first verse goes in – point blank. How he delivered this from beginning to end without even taking a breath? The world may never know… Try it for yourself – it ain’t easy!
* Say Whattt?: “Got niggas reactin without a sinus/ cause what i’m working with is timeless/ and promoters tryna get me out to they club/ They say I’d have fun but I can’t imagine how/ Cause I just seen my ex-gurl / Standing with my next gurl /Standing with the gurl that I’m fuckin right now/ And shit could get weird, unless they all down…” Unstoppable

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wale

Wale

* Age: 24
* Reppin: The DMV
* Label: Allido Records/ Interscope

*Why He’s Hot: First off, for those who are just recently becoming familiar with this DC native, let’s get the pronunciation straight – his name’s “Wahh-lay, don’t say ‘Wall-e’.” He said it, not me. For the past few years, Wale has really been putting DC on the map with his go-go inspired beats and tight lyrics. At first, he was only getting radio spins on a local level – and we loved it! But after a couple mixtapes and magazine interviews, he linked up with UK based producer Mark Ronson (Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse’s homeboy) who signed him to Allido Records and began spinning the hip-hop hopeful’s tracks on an international level. Despite having shows all over the globe and working with a wide variety of artists – from The Roots to M.I.A. and Solange – Wale has still remained true to his hometown and continued to express his own signature style. No wonder he was featured on the cover of XXL’s December 2008 cover as one to watch, alongside Cudi and Blu.

* Most Recent Project: Back to the Feature (Slated for release Summer 2009)
* Must Download:
o Summer Anthem: Chillin” (feat. Lady Gaga)
o Head Banga:Nike Boots” – Plain white/black tees, North Face jackets, Levi’s Denim, and all black Nike boots; it’s a DC thang, I suppose. [DMV representa, haha!]. In this song, Wale puts on for his city and explains why this is about more than making a fashion statement – it’s a metaphorical story of an entire region and a rapper’s quest for the come up amongst the nonsense. Get familiar.
o Because I Said So:Freaks” – Unfortunately, we all know a few of these. Some of us [ahem, fellas] more than others. Nevertheless though, this Fresh Prince sample will have you bobbin your little head, rockin your little hips, and giggling all at the same time. Besides, Wale speaks the truth and gives a couple of good tips, too – “Hold up – never spend your dough on a roller!” Haha!
* Say Whattt?: “You see the closer to success/ The higher up I get/ The more they try to box us up with them/ What you know about this buzz?/ You work so hard to get love, strive to be original they label you as “other”/ You flowin with such subject/ So now you subject/ To be the subject/ Them niggas dont fuck with/
So, muthafuck ‘em/ Nigga that’s how I go/ My rep is impeccable like a woman with mono – Muahh!” Fuck The Industry [Remix] – Solange feat. Wale.

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Kid Cudi

* Age: 24
* Reppin: Cleveland, OH
* Label: Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music

* Why He’s Hot: Honestly, who hasn’t heard of Kid Cudi by now? This G.O.O.D music representer – and, perhaps, Kanye’s protégé – has been all over the place since the release of his 2008 project, A Kid Named Cudi! Sure, “Day N’ Nite” was probably the track that got you hooked at first, but that was only the beginning of Scott Mescudi’s career (Yes, I did pull out the guhh-ment name, lol). Currently he’s working on his debut album Man on the Moon, which is slated to be released later on this summer. Thank God, too, because we almost thought we’d lost another great talent after earlier rumors of his plans to retire. Let’s hope he keeps his word and stays around for the long haul…
* Most Recent Project: Man on the Moon (Slated for release Summer 2009)
* Must Download:
o Head Banga:Day N’ Night” – Dope Song. Creepy video. I’ve been told that this is what an acid or shrooms trip looks/feels like. But that’s neither here nor there, lol. If you’re in a rave, glow-stick wavin kinda mood, try the Crooker’s Remix. I actually prefer it over the original.
o Summer Anthem:Poke Her Face” (feat. Kanye and Common) – A little raunchy as far as song titles go, lol. This we know. But I guarantee this one will have you dancing and attempting to hit Gaga’s high notes like nobody’s business.
o ‘Awww’ – Something for the Ladies: “Super Boo”
* Say Whattt?: “Focus baby/ Don’t look at me/ See right through me/ Understand my heartbeat/ Murmurs to mock your rhythm/ Yeah, my nu*s/ the other girls want em/ But they can’t have/ At least for the moment, I’m with you/ There could be people around/ I’m just focused on you/ You can sip chardonnay and imma have myself a brew…” Whenever.

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Blu

* Age: 26

* Reppin: San Pedro, CA

* Label: Sire Records /Warner Bros.

* Why He’s Hot: Being the stepson of a pastor can’t possibly be easy for an aspiring rapper, or so you would assume. But for Blu, the environment at home was more so a source of inspiration than a major obstacle or setback. Listen to any of his songs and you’re sure to hear a story – a message. His flow is sick – yes – but the smooth lyrical content and mellow beats are even more noteworthy. After releasing his collaboration project with producer Exile, Below the Heavens, the Cali-born lyricist became the talk of the town for most hip-hop heads. In fact, he was deemed “Rookie of the Year” by HipHopDX in 2007.

* Most Recent Project: HerFavoriteColo(u)r. (2009)
* Must Download:
o Lyrical Wizardry: “J&J”
o Because I Said So:Untitled [LovedU]2” – Cause you can’t be mad at Blu for making it clear that he’s not the same as Lil’ Wayne and that life is about more than chains and getting brain. Respect.
o ‘Awww’ – Something for the Ladies: “No Greater Love” – I’m sure we can all relate to being up at 5 in the morning rappin to our boo, knowing damn well that we had class or work=2 0in the morning. Hiding the phone under the pillow so that the ringer or keypad sounds didn’t wake anyone in the house. Momma tellin you to stop messin with this fool, but you can’t break this bad habit no hard you try. Smh… Did I just have a moment? LOL
* Say Whattt?: “I was trained to be a soldier for god/ But as soon as I used my own thoughts/ I kinda got lost in a small called reality/Where hell is a falacy/ And heaven is a fantasy – created by man/ So don’t believe in it/You came here with nothing/ And you leavin’ with nothing/So retreat from this/ world of deceitfulness/ My people it’s/ time to rise…” The World Is (Below the Heavens…).

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  • Alexis

    as many times as i’ve heard the song, i didn’t even notice that Drake spit the first verse of “Unstoppable” without taking a breath…HOT! he’s great, but i still sorta see him as Jimmy Brooks sometimes :)

  • urbansocialight

    @Alexis I kinda think of Drake as Jimmy too!

    I ♥ all of them. I’ve actually had the opportunity to see all of them perform and meet all of them exception of Drake. They’re all really cool dudes, who are great entertainers. I can’t wait to see Drake! I’m one of those fans who downloaded his mixtape the first hour it came out (I swear I’m not obsessed!)

    Really great feature.

  • Mazuba

    I find it annoying when people like Wale claim that theyre from dc when they are orginally african.Same with Lola Love.Shes ethiopian.Just cuz they live in dc doesnt mean they should forget where they came from.

  • a

    Wow great post I love all these artists , Big Sean Blu and Wale being in my top 4..you forgot J.cole though !

  • Miguel High

    I vote for Boog Brown for that female emcee follow up.