When it comes to hip-hop’s class of ’09, no one made more noise than Kid Cudi, Drake, Asher Roth, J. Cole and Wale.

flows, sold-out tours, acclaimed mixtapes and chart-topping
collaborations put these five Rookies of the Year on the music map.

But who did Qcitymetro crown valedictorian?

Who outsold, out-flowed and outdid his classmates?

Read on to find out. And let us know if you agree.

Kid Cudi released his debut album, “Man On The Moon: End of Day,”
which featured mega-hit, “Day ‘N’ Nite” and “Make Her Say,” a sample of
Lady Gaga’s“ Poker Face.” It was a sample Gaga claimed to love, telling
MTV.com that Cudi (and featured labelmates Kanye West and Common)
captured the essence of her hit.

Cudi, who co-wrote several songs
for mentor West’s “808s And Heartbreaks,” helped usher in hip-hop for
emo kids (skinny jeans and all). Both “808s” and “Man On The Moon” have
been nominated for Grammys in 2010.

Cudi already has projects in
the pipeline for 2010: Promos are currently running for his new HBO
series, “How To Make It In America” — set to premiere in February —
and he’s lined up Snoop Dogg and Pharrell to guest on his sophomore

Drake: This year, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing
a Drake track at least three times a day. After releasing critically
acclaimed mixtape, “So Far Gone,” last February, Drake has been in
heavy rotation since early summer.

Record labels and the
blogosphere waited with bated breath to see where he’d go when he
placed himself at the center of a fierce bidding war. He ultimately
signed with mentor, Lil Wayne; had a rumored romance with pop diva
Rihanna; and got lots of sympathy from his female fan base after
tearing his ACL.

Drake ended his 2009 with news he’s nominated for several Grammys, all without yet releasing a studio album.

Just when we were in need of a party jam, newbie Asher Roth came
to our rescue with the frat-boy, spring break anthem of ’09, “I Love

Roth’s wrinkled sweatshirts, flip flops and “class
slacker” aura remind you of the senior who has yet to pass sophomore
English. But his flow made hip-hop heavyweights sit up and take notice.

2009 debut, “Asleep In The Bread Aisle,” has drawn him comparisons to
other white rappers, from Eminem to Vanilla Ice. But Roth maintained a
sincerity about his middle-class roots and need to have a good time
that set him apart from his Caucasian counterparts.

J. Cole:
Fayetteville’s own was the first artist Jay-Z signed to his Roc Nation
label. And Cole has been steady making noise ever since. On the heels
of the spring release of the much-buzzed-about mixtape, “The Warm Up,”
Cole was featured on Jay’s “The Blueprint 3” and toured with Hova.

Cole delivered clever lines in songs such as “Lights Please,” “Young Simba” and freestyle “Back To The Topic.”

he has recently grabbed the attention of several other hip-hop
stalwarts, collaborating on “Just Begun,” with Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek, Jay
Electronica and Mos Def.

Wale: After several years of playing
hero to Washington, D.C.’s go-go scene, Wale broke into the mainstream
with “Back To The Feature.” The mixtape came ahead of his debut album,
“Attention Deficit,” featuring folks such as Lady Gaga and Jazmine

Wale has been on hip-hop producer Mark Ronson’s radar for years (he’s signed to Ronson’s Allido Records).

recent buzz around Wale helped him land the gig of house entertainment
for the 2009 MTV VMAs. And since you’re no one’s star without some
tabloid fodder, Wale and “friend” (singer and Beyonce’s little sis)
Solange kept folks guessing with their rumored romance.

Valedictorian: Drake
though his video for “Best I Ever Had” – directed by Kanye West – was
widely panned, it still earned him an MTV VMA nomination.

a stone-cold spitter and Canadian crooner, seemingly could (lyrically)
do no wrong, working with the likes of Eminem, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige and
Trey Songz.
In 2009, everyone else learned what hip-hop heads have
known for years: Drake is nice on the mic. Plus, everyone else learned
what teenage girls have known for years: The former “Degrassi” star is
totally swoon-worthy.

Can’t get enough Drake? Check out his latest Web leak, “It’s Been A Pleasure.”

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