10 January, 2011@8:47 pm
While hip-hop itself has come from sampled origins of funk, soul, R&B, rock, and pop, as it matures, it finds itself invading other genres of music as well. Here are our picks for 2010′s 10 Best Cross-Genre LP’s of the year. Like our other lists, these are ranked in terms of quality, not sales numbers….
10. Usher – “Raymond v. Raymond” – Jive – While the title was originally meant to refer to his divorce (then later presented as the “duality” inside Usher himself), Usher made waves with his latest release. Backed by the will.i.am produced club-smash “O.M.G.”, not to mention A-Grade collaborations with T.I., Bangladesh, Polow The Don, Nicki Minaj, and others, Usher’s latest was one of the few modern R&B records that we could stand, in a genre filled with disposable saccharine LP’s.
9. Erykah Badu – “New Amerykah Part 2: Return of The Ankh” – Motown While Badu’s second New Amerykah volume wasn’t quite as strong as the first, she still delivered an out-there album better than what many of her peers could deliver. And who could forget that “Window Seat” video, which broke the internet in half?
8. Mr. Hudson – “Straight No Chaser” - G.O.O.D. Music – Kanye’s Sting-esque vocalist, whom helped propel “Young Forever” into a massive hit for Jay-Z, released this LP in his homeland in 2009, but brought it over for U.S. consumption last year. Hudson’s brand of autotuned synth pop found him collaborating with Kid Cudi and Kanye on the surprisingly solid LP, but unfortunately the “Anyone But Him” video didn’t fly too well after Taylorgate…..
7. Mark Ronson – “Record Collection” – Allido – Ronson broke the mold he defined on both Version and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, this time going for an almost folky pop sound, while still finding spots for guys like Q-Tip, Ghostface, and Pill to rhyme over. One of the most diversely musical releases of the year, without a doubt.
6. N.E.R.D. – “Nothing” – Star Trak – N.E.R.D. albums have been hit and miss as of late, but consistency-wise, Nothing was the closest thing to their debut. Without sounding like rehash, Nothing found the crew experimenting with classic rock sounds, perhaps making it their most mature LP yet. We hear Pharrell and Chad are planning an actual Neptunes LP next.
5. RJD2 – “The Colossus” – RJ’s Electrical Connections - While RJD2 threw fans a curveball with The Third Hand, it’s safe to say he won most of them back with The Colossus. A mix of classically styled RJ instrumental tracks and original vocal compositions, the album’s strongest selection was “The Glow”, an RJ sung vocal cut. In retrospect, we now realize The Third Hand paved the way for this moment of greatness.
4. John Legend + The Roots – “Wake Up” – Sony/G.O.O.D. Music – Don’t ever be mad at The Roots for their NBC gig or John Legend for his American Express commercials, because that kind of corporate sponsorship allows them to make unadulterated albums like this one. A throwback to the politically charged music of the 60′s and 70′s, this LP of classic funk and soul covers found scary relevance in today’s climate. Add in some modern guest verses from Common, Black Thought, and C.L. Smooth and you get a beautiful new twist on a series of old favorites.
3. Cee-Lo Green – “The Lady Killer” – Elektra / Roadrunner - Cee-Lo’s brand of classic soul was a no-brainier for his third LP, scoring yet another easy win for the Goodie Mob / Gnarls Barkley frontman. Propelled by his ridiculously catchy middle-finger up anthem, Cee-Lo surprised us all with another massive hit that sure to sit right next to “Crazy” on the Grammy shelf.
2. Aloe Blacc – “Good Things” – Stones Throw - Perhaps one of the most versatile artists in the industry, Aloe Blacc’s Shine Through debut showed him flexing many styles. With Good Things, he took a scaled back approach and created an honest, old soul album, led by the How To Make It In America theme, “I Need A Dollar”, as well as the heavy album cut “Momma Hold My Hand” or the sultry Velvet Underground cover of “Femme Fatale”. Next up? A return to hip-hop, reuniting with Exile as Emanon. Good things, indeed.
1. Janelle Monae – “The Archandroid: Suites II and III” – Wonderland Arts Society / Bad Boy – Puff knew exactly what he had when he snatched up the rights to distribute The Archandroid, a ridiculous voyage into the robot metropolis inside Ms Monae’s mind. This fully realized concept album had her coming off like the Fembot Andrea 3000, with brilliantly penned songs and fully bodied musical backdrops. An “album” in the truest sense of the word.
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