What a year for music y'all, I cannot tell you how excited and inspired I am by the level of quality that has been released in 2010. Anyways here's the last two list from me this year.
The Edward James Almost
Found out about this guy a couple of months ago and I am glad I did. A very positive rapper, with skills to match as well? Yeah it's possible, the production bangs on this one and he has more to say than your usual conscious rapper as well is a plus as well. A definite gem, glad to had stumbled upon him for sure.
Rick Ross-Teflon Don
Seems like every rapper this year went over B.M.F(Blowin Money Fast), and that wasn't even the freshest song on the album. I am not a huge fan of the guy, but I can't front that the music he makes continues to improve. Used to think that the beats made the man, but this guy was actually spitting pretty well along side some of Hip-Hops best. Not that he is ever going to steal the show(though he pretty much does so from Kanye on Live Fast and Die Young),he isn't getting that out-shined by Jadakiss, TI, or Jay-Z(who delivers one of his best verses in the last ten years on Free Mason). He sounds more comfortable than ever on this release. Which sounds more epic than ever, and we even begin to see a bit of a reflective side of the self-glossed “Boss”.
Rick Ross ft T.I, Erykah Badu, & Jadakiss- Maybach Music III
Reflection Eternal(Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek)- Revolutions Per Minute
This is the best record Talib has put out since, well since the last Reflection album. Usually where he falters is with the amount of concepts and sounds he tries to fit into one album. I always like him best when he is more grounded and going one direction sonically. Where as Hi-Teks problem is that he probably spends too much time with Dr Dre and gets grounded in a certain style of production style. So the two join forces once again, and this time it's as good of results as last. Sonically its very cohesive, even though there are a few stale moments like Get Loose where once again Talib and Tek reach for the clubs, even though neither have seem to have much success in this arena(though last years Idle Worship single Bedroom Lites, goes hard). None the less there are really very few missteps, the sound isn't some recycled 2001 Lyricist Lounge, or Rawkus nostalgia you would expect. The beats all sound either right for this time, or a few years ahead of time. While on the other side Kweli sounds more focused than he has in years.
Reflection Eternal ft Jay Electronica, Mos Def, & J.Cole-Just Begun
Kid Cudi- Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr Rager
I wasn't the hugest fan of Day n Night to begin with, actually Dat New New was the first song I had heard from him that I thought would blow up. I loved his first A Kid Named Cudi Mixtape, and his first album has grows on me more every time I listen to it(Soundtrack 2 My Life Goes). This album though I took a liking to immediately much like his first mixtape. I thought it was better put together and wasn't trying to appease the fans of Kanye(who I feel has been influenced greatly by Cudi in his sound) or the Day N Night radio fans. So many good songs on here and though some might grow tired of this lonely stoners sound, I think his sound grows stronger every release. On this there is no exception to the what the man can do. He can do pop-rock numbers such as Mr Rager, or Erase Me, more Hip-Hop leaning like Mojo So Dope, or Wild'n Cuz I'm Young, duet with the Queen of Soul Mary J Blige or just blow our minds with a intergalactic hip-hop/electro jam featuring Cee-Lo right off the back. Whatever he does though, he continues to keep it fresh and ahead of the curve.
Kid Cudi ft Cee-Lo Gree- Scott Mescudi vs The World
Donwill & Von Pea-The Sandwich Shop EP
Now days its hard to garner any attention outside of the genre blogs because of the over-saturation of “mixtapes”, and freestyles being put out daily. 2/3 of Tanya Morgan somehow managed to think of a fresh way to stand out from the rest of the rappers who might of thought that it would be a good idea to rap over a track on The RootsSandwiches free download of instrumental outtakes from the Jimmy Fallon Show. These guys decided to choose nine of those they favored, and drop some the most impressive 35 minutes of rapping this year I’ve heard. This is a definite treat for those who are fans of The Roots and welcome great rap. Plus it's free as well? Definitely should get on this one.
Don Will & Von Pea ft Che Grand-Headphone Rock
H.I.S.D(Hueston Independent Spit District)-The Weakend
If I wouldn't have purchased this album last week online it might have cracked that list above. I really am digging what I heard so far just haven't been able to listen to it more than twice, and really break it down. These dudes definitely are on the next level. Some of the best conceptually thought out records I have heard in a while, wish I could say a lot more just don't have the time now to do it justice.
After leaving his label and starting from scratch, Rhymefest finally delivers on what has been in the making for 3 years now. He follows-up on his debut with a much more well-rounded effort overall. This album tends to show us who Che truly(Rhymefest real name) is as a man. My friend and I have given the name grow-folk rap to this album, cause it really isn't for the radio nor the “hip-hop heads” per say. It's for the everyday person who enjoys music. Not to say that he isn't still one of the best rappers in the game anymore, this album just shows how much more than that he just is.
Rhymefest- City is Fallen
Raheem DeVaugn-Love & War
When listening to Raheem is almost like a throwback. The spirit of classic soul just embodies this mans material. Not to say that it sounds dated, just that there is a conviction and integrity to his vision.
Upon my first listen a few months back something immediately connected with me. Whether it was the brilliant Cornell West spoken word interludes, or the way he is able to communicate love in a way that isn't corny or redundant sounding, It all just works. While the production isn't breakthrough, it is quality. Building pleasant sonic backgrounds to accompany a wonderful voice and great lyrics.
In today’s R&B(as well a good majority of music in general) I feel like a lot of the material and acts are cardboard and interchange-able. I thought after Usher put out Confessions it would get back to more honest material and grown up material across the board. Which it didn't for the most part. Good thing we have artist like him turning in quality projects staying true to what good music should be about.
Raheem DeVaugn-Nobody Wins A War
And Now without further ado...
The Top Ten
10)David Banner & 9th Wonder-Death of A Popstar
Have to admit that I was never on the 9th wonder bandwagon, his stuff with Little Brother was cool, his collaborations with Murs were pretty dope, just didn't understand all the hype. David Banner on the other hand, I've always liked. My friend let me peep Crooked Lettez-Grey Skys back in high school and when I found out the dude who made Like A Pimp, and T.I.'s Rubber Bandman was the guy from that group my interest was sparked even more. Well as time passed Banner continued making ok albums, but I wondered when he would show his social commentary side a bit more and move away from his more radio ready stuff. Well that question is finally answered as Banner decides focuses solely on his lyrics and lets 9th handle behind the boards work. Resulting in one of the best albums released in hip-hop this year. Those who might have doubted that MC skills of David, should be silenced after this album as the Mississippi college educated(who is working on his masters as we speak) shows not only his social awareness, but his great skill set as well. 9Th's production takes a leap ahead as well as he shows off some of his best use of soul loops with songs like Be With You, Stuttering, Silly(which he also shows a bit of his mic skills as well),and on others shows off his a more southern influenced style(which sounds like he's been listening to a lot of Goodie Mob).
This is the work of two men who have a new understanding of self, and the confidence shines through in this project. Where the mission isn't just to make the best music they can, but to leave something that others can look to and do just the same.
9)Ghostface Killah-Apollo Kids
Me: Damn...This last track
Just sitting here making that mug face right now
me: Man that might be the hardest consecutive 12 tracks I ever heard in my life.
This was part of the chat I had with Bobojojo while listing to this album for the first time. Think it almost sums up why I put it on this list. Ghostface just comes with what the fans have wanted all this year after a so-so Wu Massacre album, and last years Ghostdini: The Wizard Of Poetry album(which I liked but can see why hardcore fans didn't). This basically takes off where Only Built For Cuban Linx II left off. That gritty New York sound that only the members of Shailon can bring. The spirit of The Wu spreads over this album as guest artist turn in some of their best verses in years. Check out the The Game,Drama, Trife the God on Black Tequila, Busta Rhymes in rare pre-millennium form again on Superstar, and Black Thought....well... just mercenaries In The Park(would have been in my top 20 songs if I would have heard this earlier)which I couldn't put any nicer. This is a classic hip-hop album, meaning dope beats, dope rhymes and that's all it really is about when all is said in done.
Ghostface Killah ft Black Thought- In The Park
8)Foreign Exchange- Authenticity
What I like most about this group is how every album their sound evolves a bit. From Hip-hop, to R&B, to 80's new wave, Foreign Exchange never stops adding on to their sonic plateau. The growth of Phonte the singer really shows off this album, and the as far as songs go, there anything but what you think would be considered standard R&B now-a-days. From The Cure influences, country- western, and new-wave, the experimentation doesn't disappoint. Though a slightly darker tone than the other subject wise this time. The content deals with the end of the a relationship and a broken mans as he navigates all the thoughts that come with it. Well it starts off that way, then all of the sudden in the middle, we all of sudden have a little hope in new love. Songs like Don't Wait are like advice sung from the guy who just went through a long relationship, who are now giving hope to someone else. Then there is my personal favorite the Lionel Richie influenced The City Ain't the Same Without You. Which reduces Phonte to background vocals as YahZarah sings from the female point-of-view about why things might of not worked out.This is mature R&B music made well.
The Foreign Exchange-The City Aint The Same Without You
7)Von Pea-Peas Gotta Have It
Not just one of my favorite albums, but my also one of my favorite artist this year. Besides releasing The Sandwhich Shop EP with Downwill as well as So Motivational:Most Skullduggery of Mixtapes (which were both respectively great projects), he managed to make
a really good album as well. The album sonically just immediately transports you to NY the minute you press play. I haven't heard an album this New York probably since Ghostface Killahs Supreme Clientele.
The sound isn't the only thing which has this on my year-end list, conceptually and lyrically this album has it as well. From the first track to the end Von guest are able to create and sustain
one of the more creative rap releases this year.
Von Pea ft Don Will-We Should Be
6)Eryka Badu- New Ameryka Part Two:The Return of the Anka
The sequel to the 2008 gem takes a different route and returns Miss Badu to her Baduizum days.
What we get is a great collection of new soul jams that aren't a rehash of some played out neo- soul production. This all sounds very at home in the year 2010, as we check emails, text messages, and watch our favorite shows on DVR or via stream. You still need a soundtrack to groove to as you do housework on Saturday mornings, something you can listen to as you have your friends over for dinner and wine, or on a rainy day drive home from work. All the aforementioned situations are perfect for this album
Erykah Badu ft The Roots-Window Seat(Jimmy Fallon Live)
5)The Roots-How I Got Over
After two darker themed albums The Roots somewhere between being the dopest band in
late night talk show history, touring and recording a cover record with John Legend, turned in not only one of their strongest works to date, but strongest music releases overall this year as well. The darkness is gone as the band explores the everyday struggles of life, as well as the joys of adulthood as well. With help from an ecclectic guest list featuring female vocalist from The Dirty Projectors, Blu, Monsters of Folk, Joana Newsome, Phonte, and John Legend. All fit well, and join the band in what almost seems celebration of age.
4)Corrine Baily Rae-The Sea
Two years after the death of her husband, and three years removed from her first release Baily returns with a more mature and full set. Every time I listen to this album I find something new about it that I can enjoy. One think this album would fall into melancholy after the tragic loss, yet instead we find this artist singing songs about hope, fun nights, and continuing on and living life with no regrets.Though her self titled début had some strong songs, I must admit enjoy this album a lot more cause it actually sounds more like an album.
Corrine Baily Rae-I Would Like It Beauty
3)Big Boi-Sir Lucious Left Foot:The Son of Chico Dusty
I think the only thing that hurts Big Boi as an artist is being in a group with one of the most acclaimed artist of the last 20 years. Now I will say that Andre 3000 and him together...are untouchable, but as solo artist each have there strengths and weaknesses. Big Boi's would be his
lyrical content. Which sometimes comes across as simple at times. Which I don't know is the result of constant comparisons to Dre, or just his own limitations.
Well besides the pointless skits and at time weak content this album definitely deserves to be on more than a few year-end list. The production is next level. The way Big Boi uses his voice is everything that Niki Manaj(promise this will be her only mention on this list)unsuccessfully tries to pull off all the time. Not only that, but what truly stands apart are that these are truly Big Boi songs. I really can't see any rapper or artist in general performing or interpreting as well as he does. This album proves beyond a doubt that Big Boi is one of the best in the game for sure, as well as proving it is one of the great standout releases this year.
2)Kanye West-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye is another artist who seemingly always manages to amaze. I had doubts on how good this
would be. But those doubts were quickly silenced the first time I heard song Runaway. Though
many have their personal favorite tracks for this album, I really feel that this set the bar for the
rest of the album. Yes, All of The Lights, Gorgeous, and Dark Fantasy are impressive works as well I just feel like as a listener we wouldn't have been ready for what was to come without
this track. It was the gateway for what was to come.
I commend this album for taking risk it did though, and the only thing that keeps this from being my personal favorite of the year were the inclusion of three not so standout G.O.O.D Friday tracks. Not to say that So Appalled and Monster aren't good tracks. They are each interesting in their own right, just didn't fit well on the album. I honestly wanted to like Devil in New Dress as well. But over the last 3 months of Kanye track releases, this was the one I deleted originally. Other than that I had no complaints about this album and it will warrant more listens down the road for sure.
1)Janelle Monae-The Archandriod (Suite II & Suite III)
This is the album did more than simply met my expectations, it blew my mind away. There is not one person who I have shown this album to that has not been impressed as well. The Archandroid will be one of those albums that I can show the younger ones down the line and, most likely, will still blow their minds away. Much like when I had discovered Stevie Wonders Talking Book in high school.
I cannot not say enough about this album . This is this decades D'Angelo Voodo. What I mean by that is I feel it will lay a new standard for the genre for years to come. Pushing more artist to think outside their comfort zones. Only thing this lacked was the major push by radio to get it into the ears of tmore youth. Radio programmers probably couldn't find where it would fit most likely, and instead continued to force-feed Lady Gaga, and Kei$ha down listeners throats. Though at the end of the I highly doubt that Janelle aimed for mere chart numbers and album sales while creating process. The album artwork, liner notes, live performances, recording process, music videos, song order, and anything else that went with formation of this project shows that there was a greater vision than usual accolades and business obligations.
In the words of Jay-Z “What More Can I Say”