As we come to a close on 2010, we can look back and see a year of extremes, both highs and lows. This has been evident on many fronts, including our hip hop world. This year marked a point where underground and crossover melted together, causing the normal line of demarcation to almost be erased. There were quite a few releases on the local and national scenes that raised eyebrows. I witnessed many of the releases, listening intently for those artistic works to speak volumes. After twelve months of open ears, there were some standout albums that should be recognized for artistic and musical merits.
On the national level, many recognized, as well as up and coming, names dropped gems. Nas and Damian Marley, Fat Joe, Little Brother, Slum Village, Rick Ross, T.I., Drake, Kanye, Nicki Minaj, Zion I, Kooley High, Bun B, The Roots, Eminem, and Reflection Eternal, as well as others, blessed ears throughout this beginning of the 21st Century's second decade. Who made my list of the Best Hip Hop Albums for 2010? In the words of Slick Rick, "heeeerrrrrre weeeee go".
Honorable Mention: Slum Village, Villa Manifesto
10. Reflection Eternal, Revolutions Per Minute
9. Black Milk, Album Of The Year
8. Little Brother, Leftback
7. David Banner and 9th Wonder, Death Of A Pop Star
6. Big Boi, Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty
5. Nas and Damian Marley, Distant Relatives
4. Drake, Thank Me Later
3. The Roots, How I Got Over
2. Rick Ross, Teflon Don
1. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
It was a difficult proposition to rank the numerous quality releases for 2010, and I know I may have slighted a few artists deserving of accolades (Eminem, Bun B). Originally, this list only had five albums included, but after careful deliberation I decided to expand the list. It took me until 11:45 PM on December 31st to decide NOT to expand to twenty albums!
I had to wait until Christmas night to determine that indeed Kanye West was deserving of Best Hip Hop Album of 2010, mainly due to the fact that my daughter gave his newest creation to me as a Christmas gift (thanks Adrienne). Overall, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy encompasses all of Kanye's previous finer points on his past releases, from the College Dropout through 808's & Heartbreaks. The production from beginning to end is epic and pristine, and lyrically Mr. West brings his A-game with personal and introspective verses throughout. For those that already have the album, you know; for those without this masterpiece, add it to your 2011 resolution list! It indeed is living up to advanced hype and current public opinion.
2010 offered much in the way of diverse musical tastes, even within the realm of hip hop, and I believe that the stage is set for 2011 to have even more impactful albums, with Lupe Fiasco, J. Cole, Q-Tip and others working on hopeful hip hop treasures. Let's toast to hip hop!