31 December, 2010@3:46 pm
All in all, a great year for hip-hop, with plenty of quality albums for each the indie, mixtape, and cross-genre releases – here were our 10 favorite major label hip-hop releases. In a word, Def Jam killed it this year…. Cross-genre list coming next…..
10. B.O.B. – “The Adventures Of Bobby Ray” – Atlantic / Grand Hustle – Bobby Ray had been making noise in the underground for some time, and finally kicked off his major label career with his Atlantic Records debut. Showcasing his multiple talents as an emcee, producer, musician, and songwriter, B.o.B. delivered one of the most original LP’s of the year, led by a pair of infectious singles “Nuthin’ On You” and “Airplanes”, respectively. Even the Grammys took note, with noms for Record of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Rap Song (“Nothin’ on You” with Bruno Mars), Best Pop Collaboration (“Airplanes, Part II” with Eminem and Hailey Williams), and Best Rap Album (The Adventure of Bobby Ray). Bet he bust.
9. Bun B – “Trill O.G.” – Rap-A-Lot/Universal Motown – While we didn’t quite agree with The Source’s “classic” status (and they probably don’t agree with our “classics”, but hey), Bun B still delivered one of the strongest records of the year, showing remarkable consistency throughout his 20+ year career. One of the most season voices of the south, Bun was able to arrange a posthumous collaboration with both 2Pac and Pimp C, as well as earn equal respect from all sides of the current hip-hop landscape, tapping T-Pain, DJ Premier, Young Jeezy, and Drake for appearances. Longevity in this game doesn’t come from wack releases, and Bun’s continued to prove himself time and again.
8. Kid Cudi – “Man On The Moon 2: The Legend Of Mr. Rager” – G.O.O.D. Music / Universal – One of the most highly slept on releases of the year, Cudder’s sequel delved even deeper into the persona of the lonely stoner, showing an ever darker side on this strange, psychedelic trip. Broken up into separate “acts”, Cudi also successfully captured the idea of a “sequel record”, acting almost as an extension of the first volume, yet still sounding wholly original. Nevermind of this album had a “hit single”, it’s beauty lies in the whole package.
7. Rick Ross – “Teflon Don” – Def Jam – On paper, this is the type of album we usually would hate, and then we listened to it. While his couch-standing anthem “B.M.F.” got all the shine, Ross gathered an incredible team of producers to craft the Teflon Don, making this one of the most surprising, musically statisfying LP’s of the year. While Ross’ best verse of the year still remains on Kanye’s “Devil In A New Dress”, and his over-the-top, larger-than-life persona is pure rap fantasy fabrication, it also is pure, guilty pleasure entertainment in the truest sense of the word.
6. The Roots – “How I Got Over” – Def Jam – One of two LP’s released this year, The Roots are no strangers to consistency, once again delivered pure rap satisfaction with their ninth album. Opening up the gates to a host of guest emcees helped give this one a slightly different sound, as Black Thought led the team, along with underground favorites Phonte and Blu, plus local Philly flavors Dice Raw, Truck North, P.O.R.N., and Peedi Peedi. Once again, ladies and gentlemen…..
5. Eminem – “Recovery” – Shady / Aftermath / Interscope – Easily the biggest album of the year on the charts, a rehabilitated Em led the scene with more consciously driven tracks like the post-additction anthem “Not Afraid”, a serious look at domestic violence on “Love The Way You Lie”, and the consequences of celebrity on “Going Through Changes” (that’s your next single, gentlemen). Of course, no stranger to lyrical ass-whoopings, Em delivered plenty on tracks like “Won’t Back Down” and “Cold Wind Blows”. A perfectionist, Em claims it was better than Relapse, but we loved that LP too.
4. Raekwon, Method Man, Ghostface – “Wu Massacre” – Def Jam – Audiences were split on this LP, but we took the side of this being a complete Wu-banger from start to finish. While playtime hardly stretched a half an hour, sometimes it’s about quality over quantity, which this delivered in doses.
3. Big Boi – “Sir Luscious Leftfoot: The Son Of Chico Dusty” – Def Jam – While Big Boi has seemingly second fiddle to his partner Andre 3000 in Outkast, he proved that he is just as talented of a creative force with his first official solo LP, which defied expectations in terms of both quality and musical direction. Too bad, Jive didn’t know what they had….
2. Drake – “Thank Me Later” – Young Money / Universal – Our most controversial review of the year, we stand by Drake’s coveted @@@@@ rating six months later, as this LP had the longest legs of any record listed here. Walk into any nightclub in the country and you’d could expect to hear “Fancy”, “Up All Night”, “Miss Me”, or “Over”, and then turn on the radio on the way home and you’d be bound to hear “Find Your Love”. Not to mention incredible collaborations with Alicia Keys (“Fireworks”), Jay-Z (“Light Up”), Kanye West (“Show Me A Good Time”), and Jeezy (“Unforgettable”), the album had a cohesive sound, largely due in part to the wall-to-wall production from Noah “40″ Shebib, who helped sew it all together, even when he wasn’t producing the tracks entirely himself. An album that resonated with many generations of hip-hop, we believe that this will be looked at as a classic by the rest of the industry in due time. You can thank us later.
1. Kanye West – “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” – Def Jam / Roc-A-Fella – Love him or hate him, one thing that cannot be denied is Kanye West’s talent. On MBDTF, he came back from nearly being shunned by the industry completely, to nabbing perfect scores from just about every media outlet available (HHS, AllHipHop, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, etc). A bold LP that took risks by employing a rich musical palette, layered on a backdrop of raw, dusty classic hip-hop beats, and a “fuck you” attitude.
Honorable Mentions: Curren$y – “Pilot Talk”, Ghostface Killah – “Apollo Kids”, Nas + Damian Marley – “Distant Relatives”.
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