#5: Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II

The Complex Co-Sign: It's been years in the making, but in 2009 we finally saw the release of OB4CL2. Sure, it didn't match its classic predecessor, but when are sequels ever as good as the original? Ditch the unrealistic expectations and you have one of rap music's highest points this year.

Listen:
"Gihad" f/ Ghostface Killah

[CLICK HERE TO BUY THE MP3 ALBUM FOR $7.99]
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#4: Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion

The Complex Co-Sign: Released at the very top of the year, Animal Collective's eighth studio album still holds up after 12 months of new music. We've been into the band's trippy sound for a few albums now, but we dig how they channeled their bizarre sensibilities into something a little more accessible this time around. The music community has been sweating this album all year, so it feels like backlash should have set in by now. Nah, son. MPP is as dope as everyone says it is.

Listen:
"My Girls"

[CLICK HERE TO BUY THE MP3 ALBUM FOR $9.99]
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#3: Drake So Far Gone

The Complex Co-Sign: Ubiquitous radio presence. A multi-million dollar record deal. Two Grammy nominations. These are just a few of Drake's 2009 achievements, and all of them stem from the success of So Far Gone, released in February. It's still hard for some to comprehend how this Toronto kid became a household name in less than a year, but the truth is, his mixtape is just that good. When re-released as a seven song EP in September, it still did impressive numbers despite the availability of the full version as a free download. Not a bad setup for Thank Me Later.

Listen:
"Best I Ever Had"

[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE MIXTAPE FOR FREE]
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#2: The-Dream Love Vs. Money

The Complex Co-Sign: Fuck the Grammys—Dream's brilliant sophomore album is a futuristic pop masterpiece that deserves its shine. Everyone tries, but no one is writing songs quite like the Radio Killa, whose pithy lyrics are disarmingly funny and instantly relatable to anyone who's ever felt lust, love, and heartbreak. With his trusty production partner Tricky (and young-gunner LOS Da Mystro) expertly crafting searing slow jams and epic electro beats, Love Vs. Money is an eye-opening glimpse at the potential of modern R&B when an artist really loves what they're doing.

Listen:
"Love vs Money Part II"

[CLICK HERE TO BUY THE MP3 ALBUM FOR $7.99]
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#1: Kid Cudi Man On The Moon: The End Of Day

The Complex Co-Sign: Hip-hop's lonely stoner threw the "debut rap album" blueprint out the window with his bold opening statement, a somber trip into the mind of Scott Mescudi. With producers Emile, Plain Pat, and Ratatat driving most of the music, Man On The Moon shows a remarkably fully-formed sound—dark, melodic, spacious—a feat that most unfocused artists strive for their entire career. Mixing the easy thump of hip-hop with the relentlessly introspective sensibility of indie rock, Cudi pushed the boundaries of both worlds, perfectly capturing 2009's unapologetically creative spirit.

Listen:
"Pursuit of Happiness" f/ MGMT & Ratatat

[CLICK HERE TO BUY THE MP3 ALBUM FOR $5.00]
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RELATED:
Complex's Top 100 Albums of the Decade
Complex's Top 100 Songs of the Decade

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