Hip-hop has gotten a lot of criticism for having lackluster years lately, but if 2010 proved anything, it’s that hip-hop should not be counted out! Artists who had not recorded together in quite some time united once again and hip-hop legends hit the studio to create great albums. Not to be outdone, rappers newer to the game stepped out with great music on par with their more-seasoned peers.
The blog you are currently reading is a presentation of what I consider to be the top 10 hip-hop albums of 2010. It was really hard to narrow down, so trust me when I say it was a competitive list to be on. Before I get to the awards though, I want to hand out a couple other music-related accolades.
The R&B album of the year goes to…
Erykah Badu- New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
Erykah delivered another great entry into her impressive catalog of music. She pushed the envelope with her video for “Window Seat”, but the real risk she took was with the genre-defying album that met and exceeded expectations.
Honorable pretty-much-hip-hop album mention:
Drake- Thank Me Later
I almost put this on my list and if I had, it would have ranked high, but it’s got almost as much singing on it as it does rapping, so I left it off. It was one of my favorite albums of the year, earning at least a handful of spins in the first month. As a matter of fact, “The Resistance” is my most-listened-to song on iTunes for the entire year! ”Light Up” will blow your mind, “Miss Me” made you really miss Lil Wayne and above all the album showed how Drake is a worthy heir to the status his peers possess.
Aaaaaaaand… here is the list for
My top 10 favorite hip-hop albums of 2010
10. Murs & 9th Wonder- Fornever
Their 4th collaborative album continued the creative legacy that they began back in 2004 with Murs 3:16. They tackled diverse subject matter, 9th’s production was infectiously head-nod inducing and Murs was great as always. Three albums later and they show no signs of stopping.
9. Nas & Damian Marley- Distant Relatives
(My favorite rapper) Nas reached out across genre lines and recruited Bob’s youngest son to create an incredible album full of reggae/hip-hop blends that satisfied both genre’s standards without fail. Entirely produced by Damian, with impressive lyrical displays by both, this album was one that people will talk about for years.
8. Big Boi- Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty
The under-appreciated other half of Outkast, Big Boi has never got the critical love that has followed Andre 3000 his whole career. Not for a lack of skills though, because once again Big Boi delivered an album that showcased great songwriting and lyrics unmatched by few.
7. Raekwon, Ghostface Killah & Method Man- Wu Massacre
3 of the Wu-Tang Clan’s finest unleashed an incredible, albeit short album not only worthy of their respective catalogs, but also one that proves the future is bright for the Wu. Since 1993, Wu-Tang has constantly released street rap that’s un-paralleled by their contemporaries and this album is yet another reason why.
6. Reflection Eternal- Revolutions Per Minute
Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli’s reunion had been greatly anticipated since their first and only previous album Train of Thought dropped in 2000. I am a massive Black Star nerd, so anytime Mos Def or Talib release a album in any capacity, I pay close attention and my ears were grateful once again. Though Revolutions Per Minute ended up ranking at #6 on my list, my favorite song of the year is still “Just Begun”. Featuring stellar verses from Talib, guests: J. Cole, the mighty Mos Def and the phenom Jay Electronica. Mark my words, Jay Electronica and J. Cole will someday be revered in the same way Mos and Talib are now. They are incredible emcees and their contributions on “Just Begun” are perfect examples why. J. Cole is officially my favorite new rapper and Jay Electronica’s verse is my favorite verse on ANY song this year! Those are huge titles to hand out and they are well-deserving!
5. Rick Ross- Teflon Don
Say what you will about Rick Ross’ artistic credibility. So what if he raps about being a drug kingpin, even though he once worked at a correctional facility in Florida. The bottom-line is, only Rick Ross really knows if he’s lived what he says he has. What I know, is that he puts out consistently great albums. Non-stop top-notch production, constant improvement on his lyrical skills and carefully picked guests to accent their chosen tracks. People can hate on what he’s done in his past, but what he’s currently doing, is making great hip-hop music that no one can deny!
4. Ghostface Killah- Apollo Kids
One of my top 5 favorite rappers of all time, the M.V.P. of the Wu-Tang Clan and easily the most-consistent album-creator in that 9-man collective. Ghostface is one of the those rare veterans who has remained in top form, delivering his 9th solo album full of intricate wordplay and his unique ability to leap from topic to topic without a stumble. His best album since 2006’s Fishscale, bringing together perfectly-tailored production and a long list of guests who only add to the album’s quality.
3. Kid Cudi- Man On the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager
Kanye’s protégé Kid Cudi thankfully avoided the sophomore slump, with an album that bested any and all of his previous music. A frightening, entertaining journey into what life has been like for Cudi this past year. The catapult to fame, the paranoia of media attention, brushes with law and coming within inches of death. Kid Cudi had an interesting year following his debut and he turned that into a thrilling album.
2. The Roots- How I Got Over
Some bands might drop off in quality after taking a gig as a house band for a late-night talk show like The Roots did for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but they did the complete opposite. Ever-evolving as individual musicians and in their chemistry as a band, The Roots repeatedly release albums of revolutionary hip-hop music that bleeds in all directions from the genre. Jimmy Fallon frequently refers to them as “The best band in Late Night”, but that is a ridiculous understatement. The Roots are worthy of titles far beyond that. The Roots are the best band in hip-hop and one of the best bands in existence. How I Got Over is essential listening material.
1. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Easily the most controversial hip-hop artist since N.W.A. walked the streets of Compton. Some might point to Eminem as being more controversial, but I guarantee a greater sampling of people have despised Kanye. And like N.W.A., Kanye dares to say what people don’t want to hear or admit, creating music that needs to be heard. Sure, their points of view were different, but both were bold brave broadcasters of the worlds around them. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a masterpiece full of sonic landscapes that showcase the distance Kanye has progressed across in his music career. After 2008’s 808’s & Heartbreak, Kanye crawled out of the emo cave and re-created the proverbial wheel for hip-hop with this album.