Call me crazy, but I think this might be the best year for rap albums in at least the last couple of years. Not that that’s saying a whole lot.
Two things: A) A lot of these are underground rap albums, if that’s an issue, and B) I doubt any of these will go down as hip-hop classics or anything.
Still, things could be worse. Without further ado, in rough alphabetical order:
7L & Esoteric, A New Dope. A real riot of an album, this mixes some new wave-y and indie rock-ish textures with that good old-time boom bap. Some of the lyrics crack me up.
Bubba Sparxxx, The Charm. As I wrote back in April: “I can appreciate the fact that Bubba has gotten pissed off at the state of modern day hip-hop and his decided – rightfully so, I think – to take that anger out on women.”
Busta Rhymes, The Big Bang. Yeah, it’s somewhat of a disappointment, but a lot of the production is infirm. How Pitchfork managed to give this a 2.4 is beyond me.
The Coup, Pick a Bigger Weapon. Listening to an aging, self-proclaimed communist sings so many songs about fucking gives me a creepy Charles Manson vibe. I can dig some of these faux Cameo beats though.
Dilated Peoples, 20/20. I think the public kinda turned their backs on these guys after that “This Way” abortion, and I can’t blame them. Cop a bootleg of this somewhere though. It’s got some dope beats.
Ghostface Killah, Fishscale. The people’s favorite for album of the year, according to a poll I recently ran on my own site.
Jay Dee, Donuts. In retrospect, this was pretty thrown together and slapshod. Any J Dilla is still pretty good though.
Louis Logic and J.J. Brown, Misery Loves Comedy. Finally, a proper sequel to Logic’s 2003 minor classic, Sin-A-Matic. If you liked that album, you need this one.
M1, Confidential. I like this as much as either of the dead prez albums (yep), but it’s notably less agitated than either of them. It’s even a bit “grown and sexy” in parts.
Mr. Lif, Mo Mega. I wasn’t as crazy about that Perceptionists album, but this picks up right where I Phantom left off. The production, by El-P, Edan, and a few others, is sick.
Murs, Murray’s Revenge. I think people are generally growing tired of 9th Wonder’s shit (and who can blame them?), but I found this sequel to his and Murs’ 2003 collaboration Murs 3:16 about equally as enjoyable. Maybe I’m just a sucker for that mid ’90s sound.
Rhymefest, Blue Collar. Kanye West’s ill-fated former rhyme writer plans to finally release his album next week. You’re going to want to check it out. It’s what the College Dropout would’ve been like if Kanye could rap and wasn’t secretly gay.
The Streets, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living. I don’t know if it exactly qualifies as hip-hop, but the Streets is the shit. This album is album is like one of those old episodes of VH1′s “Behind the Music” (before it started to suck balls) come to life.
Sway, This Is My Demo. The Streets aside, this is one of the only foreign rap albums I’ve ever heard. It’s good though. I’d compare it to Slick Rick, but way more accented, if you can imagine. A similar gift for storytelling though.
T.I., King. The year’s most popular rap album by a wide margin. It’s got some expensive-sounding production and some genuinely impressive rappin’.