Best Hip Hop Album (Unsigned/Independent) of 2009

Reader's Pick

Joe Budden

Joe Budden "Padded Room"

This year, Jersey emcee Joe Budden broke free of Def Jam, the label that had repeatedly foiled his attempts to release a sophomore album, and settled with indie Amalgam Digital to finally get a new project into listeners' hands. Padded Room was dark, lyrically-focused and more than a little crazy – in other words, exactly what Budden fans had been waiting for!

Staff Pick

Blitz The Ambassador

Blitz The Ambassador "Stereotype"

In addition to Best Hip-Hop Album from an independent artist I'd like to award Blitz the completely unofficial and completely uncoveted Most Slept on Album of the Year award. An album that combined dope, meaningful and memorable flows with some of the best live instrument production we've heard since The Roots glory days, Stereotype was the kind of album we'll still be playing in a year, in five years, in a decade. Stop sleeping.