Hip-Hop in 2010.
Real talk, if you didn’t find what you were looking for in
Hip-Hop during the course of 2010, then that’s your fault. Some where easy to
locate and others required some digging, but everything was present. Hardcore,
pop, girl rap, thug rap, old school, new school, creative, typical, lyrical,
mystical, visual…it was close to being a Hip-Hop miracle. Renaissance certainly comes to mind. Even though the
overall Hip-Hip community couldn’t seem to agree on what was what, the
AllHipHop Team got together and hammered out the Top 40 Albums of 2010. It wasn’t
easy and we didn’t agree all the time, but the list got finished. Here it is.
Compiled and written by THE BORG: Gina Torres, Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur,
Steve Raze, Seandra Sims, Jake Crates and “Grouchy” Greg Watkins.
The list is in no particular order…or is it…
#1 Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye West did it all this year, love it or loathe it. The rapper prevailed as the most rebellious, creative and exciting artist of the year. Simply put, while others were doing the norm, Kanye simply didn’t give a f**k – about anything but the art of his music. There was a lot of hullabaloo from so-called real HIp-Hop fans, but Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy embodied everything that Hip-Hop is. A lovely nightmare to America.
#2 J. Cole – Friday Night Lights
Of all those in the emerging brave, new generation, J. Cole is the one that has yet to have his day. Friday Night Lights, although technically a mixtape, is a gleaming example of what the North Carolinian emcee weilds in his pen. The opus offered commercial love joints with Drake and also hood rites of passage like “2Face.” Definitely one of the most enjoyable albums, which should continue to give well into 2011.
#3 Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
This year Big Boi jumped out on his own and released his long awaited debut solo project. Despite the delayed release due to conflicts with Jive, the project debuted on the US Billboard 200, selling over 62,000 copies in its first week of its release. Delivering greasy lyrics, using varied and rapid rhyme schemes , Big Boi didn’t fail to impress with this project. The ATLein featured classic funky Outkast production and appearances by Andre 3000, Scott Storch, T.I. Sleepy Brown, Yelawolf, Gucci Mane, Jaime Foxx, Janelle Monae, George Clinton, Too Short and B.o.B. to name a few but, one can only wonder when the next Outkast project will be coming out.
# 4 – Rick Ross – Teflon Don
Rick Ross solidified
his star status in 2010. With the release of his fourth studio
album, Teflon Don, arguably one of the best albums of the year, Ross continues to raise the stakes in Hip-Hop. His summer banger, “BMF,” dominated the airwaves and had everyone from your mama to your baby cousin thinking they were Big Meech or Larry Hoover. For someone who starts his album off with the track “I’m Not a Star”, Ross is indeed the polar opposite.
#5 Big K.R.I.T. – K.R.I.T. Wuz Here
Southern rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T. is making a name for himself the old-fashioned way – one underground fan at a time. Deemed the “Mississippi Messiah” in a recent AllHipHop story for his savior-of-Hip-Hop skills, his independent K.R.I.T. Wuz Here was one of the prolific, must-have street albums of 2010. Soulful, clever-heavy tracks like “Children of the World” and the Adele-sampled “Hometown Hero” helped earn him a Def Jam deal this past summer. And with his first major CD on the horizon, the young K.R.I.T. is certain to be a force to reckon with in 2011.
#6 The Roots –How I Got Over
While also working as Jimmy Fallon’s house band, The Roots didn’t show any signs of fatigue from work on the late night gig and put together their 9th studio album, full of Philly soul, jazz and hip hop. Never failing to make the listener think, Black Thought is accompanied by Dice Raw, Porn, S.T.S, Phonte, Blue, John Legend and others throughout the project. Highlights of the album include “The Fire”, “Dear God 2.0”, the title track “How I Got Over” and “Right On” featuring Joanna Newson and S.T.S.
#7 Eminem – Recovery
There is good pop music and there is corny pop music. Eminem creates the good kind of pop, you know, the kind that sells three million units when others are pushing cardboard. But, the greatness of Recovery doesn’t lie in the SoundScan. The album is a true recovery for one of Hip-Hop’s most profound lyricists, who by his own admission, gave the public subpar material previously. We didn’t find a man acting out a parody of himself in Recovery. In 2010, we found a maturing Marshall Mathers that, even with a pop sensibility, can murderlize your favorite MC.
#8 Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids
Lyrics – CHECK! Beats – CHECK! Ghostface Killah’s Apollo Kids barely made it in this annual rundown (released in December),but what a fitting way to finish off 2010. “Starkology” and “In tha Park” are straight-up hood. “Black Tequila” weaves a lucid tale unseen in today’s climate. “Purified Thoughts” offers wisdom with assists from GZA and Masta Killah Priest. Hip-Hop purists, this one is for you. Raekwon, Meth and Redman join Tony Starks in this voyage back to the future.
# 9 Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives
Throw your preconceived notions of Rap & Reggae collaborations out the window, this album is like a whole new genre of music. The lyrical Nas along with the unorthodox Damian Marley Reggae/Rap style, this album was put together for the love of music and people. “As We Enter” hit radio hard, but this album had strong inspiration songs like “Strong Will Continue” and straight spit track like “Na Mean.” This album has music for the music lover as well as the Hip-Hop lover. Nas told AllHipHop.com “If the s**t is right and you feel good about it, let that s**t out,” and this album feels right.
# 10 – Drake – Thank Me Later
GQ man of the year, a number one, platinum
selling debut album (Thank Me Later), countless scene stealing feature appearances, an electrifying Grammy performance and a fling with Rihanna, make Drakeone of the biggest stars of 2010. But the Middle class kid from Toronto broke into Hip-Hop on his own terms and didn’t compromise for anybody. Drake lived on the radio in 2010. Whether it was “Find Your Love”,
“Miss Me” or “Over” from his debut album Thank Me Later, he was everywhere. Thank Me Later was chock-full of club songs, but he spent a lot of time emoting, which was a welcome difference from his peers.
#11 Celph-Titled & Buckwild - Nineteen Ninety Now
An album that evokes the 90′s… The idea sounds a bit cheesy to be honest, but somehow producer Buckwild and Celph-Titled managed to kill the notion. While the album was meant to recreate a period of time long gone, Nineteen Ninety Now really ends up sounding fresher than anything out these days. Celph-Titled brings the lyrical abrasiveness without overdoing it and Buckwild captures the 90′s and the now without missing a beat.
#12 Yelawolf – Trunk Muzik
True lyricism knows no racial barrier, and just beyond Eminem is a star-in-the-making named Yelawolf. If his crazy Cypher freestyle at the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards was an appetizer, then Trunk Muzik offers a full meal for those who don’t know Yelawolf. Like the best of Southern MCs, he spits like gymnastics over slow bass about cars, weed, and bogus beef. Like the best of White rappers, he’s slightly crazy, so please don’t make him “Pop the Trunk” on you.
#13 Bun B – Trill OG
Earning accolades galore, Bun B completed his Trillology with epic arena sounds and amid a cast of A level talent on Trill OG. Standing for everything that embodies Trill, Bun’s project doesn’t come up short in any area of what such an album should sound like. Sprinkle a lil’ bit of T-Pain, add some Jeezy, add in the legendary but not forgotten Pimp C and 2 Pac, mix a little bit of Gucci, Gotti, a few Drake hooks, some Slim Thug and some production form Drumma Boi, Boi-1da, Play-N-Skillz, Steve Below and others and you have a classic.
#14 9th Wonder & David Banner – Death of a Pop Star
Many people wouldn’t have expected this combination of MC and producer, as most people are familiar with more of David Banner’s commercial sounding records. But this project shows Banner’s Mississippi roots, as his loud and at times rough and gritty voice contrasts and yet at the same time complements 9th’s smooth and soulful beats. In classic 9th Wonder fashion, this project is short and sweet with 10 songs that play straight through.
#15 Fat Joe – Tales From the Darkside Vol. 1
Embarking on his 10th studio album, Fat Joe released this project July 27th and hoped to solidify his legacy in Hip-Hop’s legendary and elite status. Fans and critics alike applauded the effort as Joe revisted a crack infested Bronx with his people. Cool & Dre, DJ Infamous, Just Blaze, Scoop Deville and DJ Premier laced Joey with some heat on this project.
16) Roc Marciano- Marcberg
Roc Marciano? Remember him? He used to be a member in Busta Rhymes Flipmode. Without even knowing the story, you know how that ended. But in 2010, Roc came back with a vengeance in the form of Marcberg. The album busted at the seams with soulful samples, reminiscent of old Wu Tang with a modern twist. If you want that ol’ gutter Hip-Hop, look no farther than Roc Marciano’s Marcberg.
#17 Lloyd Banks – Hunger for More II
While his crew was largely missing in 2010, Lloyd Banks still held the G-Unit flag high with a strong namesake follow-up to his first “Hunger for More” album. There is a ton of collabos on this one, but Lloyd holds his own on several tracks, too, including the mega hit “Beamer, Benz or Bentley.”
#18 Lil Wayne – I Am Not a Human Being
It’s hard to imagine life before Lil Wayne and his Young Money crew owned the airwaves. Despite being in jail most of 2010, Lil Wayne would not be silenced, releasing I Am Not a Human Being while still playing mentor to rookies Drake and Nicki Minaj. Tracks like the sexy “I’m Single” and triumphant “That Ain’t Me” featuring Jay Sean helped underscore his alien genius for knowing exactly what the people want and when to give it to them. Lil Wayne & Friends are everywhere these days, and quite frankly, he’s changing the game. Young Moolah, baby.
#19 Strong Arm Steady - In Search of Stoney Jackson
As a staff, we’ll never forget listening to Strong Arm Steady’s In Search of Stoney Jackson the entire time we were at the SXSW festival in early 2010. Since then, the album has been indelibly linked to a dope moment in time for good reason, it is a dope moment in Hip-Hop. Hearing the Cali lyrists over Madlib beats was a collision of worlds unlike anything else seen in 2010. Peace to Phil da Agony and Krondon, along with Planet Asia, Fashawn, Chace Infinite, Mitchy Slick, Evidence and all that presented this timeless classic.
#20 B.o.B – The Adventures of Bobby Ray
2010 was a huge year for AllHipHop.com’s own Breeding Ground artist B.o.B, as the artist dropped his debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray. The Decatur boy teamed up with mentors T.I. and Playboy Tre on the album, as well as label mates Janelle Monae and Lupe Fiasco to make the debut an adventurous ride through the miles of his mind. The album was a success, it sold 84,000 copies in its first week, and has recently achieved Gold RIAA certification. The album has given B.o.B the lead in the new age of hip-hop, and we can look forward to a legacy of adventures with him in the future.
#21 Wiz Khalifa -Kush and OJ
In 2010 there was no one better to wake and bake to then Pittsburgh emccee Wiz Khalifa’s Kush and OJ, a street album with hits . With over a million downloads This was the perfect theme music for those who partake in the herbal essences and if you don’t inhale, this mixtape was filled with good music from begining to end. Wiz successfully mixed, uptempo tracks as well as the slow melodic weed tracks to describe his favorite vice. After the buzz of this mixtape, this propelled Wiz’s status to that coveveted “next level.” So you don’t have to be hooked on weed to enjoy this mixtape.
#22 – Tech N9ne – Seepage
Sometimes great things are born out of tragedy. The same can be said about Tech N9ne’s Sophomore EP, Seepage. After learning the news that his mother had been institutionalized again and witnessing his best friend break down over the death of a loved one, Tech N9ne looked to his IPOD for solace. During that time is when he came across all of the beats used in Seepage. The emotionally charged EP features five tracks and one skit and is broken up into three sections: Anger, Madness and The Hole with Tech N9ne pouring his heart out in each one. The album paints a picture filled with hurt, questions of God and the supernatural so close to Tech N9ne’s heart that he refuses to talk to the press about the album. This is one of the realest releases of 2010.
#23 – Copywrite – The Life And Times Of Peter Nelson
Copywrite’s album came out of nowhere for us. His lyrical prowess is no mystery but the album The Life And Times Of Peter Nelson was a treat for the ears. The album represents a roller coaster of dopeness and emotion. Whether its his best work is a matter of opinion, but it certainly qualifies him for this list. Beats by the likes of RJD2 and Surock with feature appearances by the likes of Crooked I and Camu Tao make this a worthy work of art.
#24 – Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday
Nicki Minaj conquered the world in 2010. Shining with megastars like Kanye West, Usher and Lil’ Wayne on their own tracks is no easy feat, but this Barbie proved that she’s not lucky, she’s blessed – YES! She shattered several Billboard records, including having the most singles on the Nielsen /Soundscan list of the 200 best-selling songs with seven, a first for a female rapper as well as being the first female rapper to top the Rap songs category in over seven years. The release of her debut album Pink Friday, she has gone on to outsell Kanye West’s critically exclaimed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Family and spawned her boisterous single “Roman’s Revenge” which has her going toe to toe with Eminem and holding her own. If this is any indication of what the rest of her career will look like, Nicki will indeed have this moment for life.
#25 Black Milk – Album of the Year
As if producers turned rappers do not receive enough premature judgement, Black Milk adjudicates naming his LP Album of the Year, lighting fuel to critics already arbitrary fire. The debate of whether or not Milk lived up to the hype is one that Hip-Hop heads will argue out well into the new year. Still, the influence the 13-track project had on 2010 musically is undeniable. Black Milk may be pretentious, but the music is anything but subpar.
#26 Gil Scott Heron- I’m Here Now
To some Gil Scott Heron’s I’m Here Now doesn’t fit on this list, but we don’t agree. The poet is regarded as one of the earliest manifestations of Hip-Hop music with his hard-hitting, gritty and poetic way with words. From the first track, where he utilizes Curtis Mayfield’s “Little Child Runnin Wild,” (the same sample Kanye West uses for “Flashing Lights), it is evident this genius deserves to be here. The rest of the albums is largely comprised of spoken word over spooky, powerful instrumentation. Welcome back, Mr. Heron.
#27 T.I. - No Mercy
T.I.’s seventh album, No Mercy, shows an introspective, emotional side of T.I’s lyricism. The album is full of excellent features, brilliant production, and amazing arrangement. It lacks the aggression and arrogance listeners are used to from T.I. though, leaving fans desiring more mayhem and less mercy. With a few blemishes, the album has been successful commercially, and will have to hold us over until the next bid is.
#28 Termanology & Statik Selektah – 1982
Producer Statik Selektah and Emcee Termanology followed a positive trend in Hip-Hop with their collaborative album 1982. From the single “Goin Back” to the album, these two Massachusetts reps further brought back that New York rap boom bap. Preem and Guru are somewhere proud.
#29 Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek – Revolutions Per Minute
Thankfully, the Reflection Eternal duo Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek reunited on Revolutions Per Minute in 2010. Fresh from protesting immigration laws, uber-lyricist-turned-activist Talib Kweli waxes poetic over Hi-Tek’s sweet tribal beats on tracks like “Back Again.” The stars and planets align on “Just Begun,” which features beautiful bar after bar from J Cole, Mos Def, and Jay Electronica. We love Talib, but after 8 years apart, we love him so much more with Hi-Tek.
#30 Curren$y – Pilot Talk
If for no other reason that his past and present hip-hop affiliations, Pilot Talk by New Orleans spitter Curren$y was definitely highly anticipated amongst certain crowds. Funk-infused music and a play-by-play of Curren$y’s “weed and women” filled lifestyle made the LP a soundtrack for his loyal fan base. However, the standout records were those on which he showcased the fact that he’s a talented emcee with an impressive aggressive flow. All in all, the cohesiveness of the album make it a good listen, start to finish.
#30.1 Curren$y – Pilot Talk 2
“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Seven words that undoubtedly define Curren$y’s formula for cooking up Pilot Talk 2. He did everything he did on the first album, just better. The lyrical content filled with story telling of his escapades complimented by his lazy flow are identical yet the ears for production used when piecing together this project were divine. Curren$y has a method to his musical madness, constructing this album like a chef creates food. Listeners naturally appreciate the music because it’s “just right.” The production, the features and the wordplay were, just right.
#31 Rakaa – Crown of Thorns
Remember Dilated Peoples? Sure you do. Rakaa, one-third of the trio, made solo waves in 2010 with his well-received album “Crown of Thorns.” The project shines with guest appearances like KRS-One on “Human Nature;” but the real gem is how he fit 11 MCs on one track called “Ambassador Slang.”
#32 – Rah Digga – Classic
We all know the saying, good things come to those who wait, well this cliché rings true when discussing Rah Digga’s sophomore album, Classic, which was exclusively produced by Nottz. A full decade after her debut album Dirty Harriet, countless features and departing from the FlipMode Squad, Rah Digga is back and spitting straight fire. In her lead single, “This Ain’t No Little Kids Rap” featuring Redman, Rah Digga’s recites her rhythms with confident while her deep voice commands respect. Classic was the surprise album of the year. Lets just hope fans don’t have to what another 10 years for her next LP.
#33 – Method Man, Ghostface & Rae – Wu Massacre
Argueably the most charrismatic members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man, GhostFace and Raekwon teamed up in 2010 for their collaberative album Wu-Massacre. The trio did not disappoint their legion of fans, showcasing their remarkable chemistry and staying true to what they are known for. Raekwon’s laced the album with his vivid storytelling, Ghostface contributed his clever wordplay, while Method Man’s swagger and witty punch lines reminded us why we all love the Wu. This project proves that Wu-Tang is forever.
#34 Brotha Lynch Hung – Dinner & A Movie
If you know, Brotha Lynch Hung, you know what to expect the worst of the best…or the best of the worst. Either way, Dinner & A Movie represented some of the best macabre that Brotha could muster without catching a case. While there is plenty horrorcore, there’s also a fair amount of political commentary for those that can stomach the murderous verses.
#35 Kno – Death is Silent
Kno from the rap group Cunnin-Lynguists is best known as the crew’s producer, but he dabbles on the mic, too. On Death is Silent, he has a fetish for amazing, Euro-flavored beats that will keep you enthralled way past the lyrics.
#36 Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
Somehow he did it again. Kid Cudi composed 17 songs, organized into five acts, and labeled them with Roman numerals. Cudi gave listeners an introspective of his life that carried a dark and spacy subject matter. Pushing the envelope for what we define as hip hop these days’ Cudi’s project is an assortment of dance songs, rock songs, hip hop songs and psychedelic sounds. While featuring a great deal of work from Emile, No I.D. and Jim Jonsin, Cudi’s work is a little more subtle and soft than the aggression people have seen over the past few years in concert and in public. What can you say though his project debuted at #3 on the US Billboard 200 chart with first week sales in excess of 169,000.
#37 Devin the Dude – Gotta Be Me
If you don’t know Houston rapper Devin the Dude, it’s because most of his albums are too scandalous for radio play. Still, he’s a certified O.G. in most underground circles, and in 2010, he didn’t disappoint on his seventh album Gotta Be Me. There are surprises like Brandy on the hook of the super-freaky “Gimme Some” remix, and a lot about his other favorite topic on tracks like the smoky, skunky “I’m High.” Caution. This album contains funkadelic, parental advisory label, grown folk rap.
#38 Freeway & Jake One – Stimulus Package
2010 was an awakening for Philadelphia rapper Freeway, who returned with a new hunger on Stimulus Package. The track “She Makes Me Feel Alright” definitely made listeners feel great, painting ghetto love like only Ghostface could do. He pairs up with Raekwon on the Wu-inspired track “One Thing,” and the lyrical fight begins. Teamed up with Jake One’s awesome snare-filled beats, the return of Freeway’s unique voice and flow is like a long-lost stimulus check that finally arrives in the mail. Freeway and Jake One also get the award for most creative album packaging with their wallet/money/credit motif.
#39 Marco Polo – The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo
Duck Down Records super-producer Marco Polo released The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo to little fanfare in 2010, most likely because of the underground artists he featured. Still, the album plays like an epic movie soundtrack, with an awesome old-schooly guest appearance from Main Source’s Large Professor, and clever lyrics from Royce da 5’9”, Surreal, and others.
#40 Fabolous - There Is No Competition
There Is No Competition 2 put Fabolous where he was always meant to be – at the top. There weren’t too many rappers coming out of New York that had a greater impact on the bottom and the top. Perhaps it is fitting that There Is No Competition 2 started out as a mixtape and then went to retail. “You Be Killin Em” was more than a compliment to a girl…it was a metaphor for what Fab did to his peers.