Various Artists

Hip-Hop Hits, Vol. 9

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The Source is an apt name for the magazine that, by the early 2000s, had cemented itself as the leader in hip-hop writing, its vision firmly in sync with the pulse of the streets. The ninth volume of its always-awaited collection of timely rap hits predictably featured nothing off of the most recent Eminem record (due to an ongoing feud between The Source and the rapper), but it does offer up a slew of other hip-hop singles from 2004.

This compilation offers an excellent representation of the sprawling, multifaceted 2004 hip-hop scene. From some of the biggest crossover hits--Juvenile's naturally chopped-and-screwed "Slow Motion" and Petey Pablo's club jam "Freek-a-Leek"--to the underground pop of Slum Village's "Selfish" to the expert rhymes of Mobb Deep's "Got It Twisted," The Source celebrates hip-hop's diversity. The magazine wisely tips its collective cap to the R&B link in the rap chain with newcomer Akon's otherworldly ballad "Locked Out," which immediately follows one of the more frenetically flashy singles of the year, Lil' Flip's "Game Over." The Source's collections are always fascinating and entertaining, and VOL. 9 is one of its best.

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