What a bizarro year for hip-hop music. This year rappers were so busy chasing paper (and baaalllinn!) that they couldn’t be bothered to drop hot records. As a result, the market was flooded with tedious trap star talk, gimmick chant raps, bitter Big Apple mixtape barbs, and far, far too much rocking, leaning, and snapping. So much disposable music. Still, every time I sat down to pen the proverbial break-up letter to hip-hop, something came along to keep me from bouncing. Here’s the top ten albums that hit heavy rotation Chez Moi.
Everyone’s favorite fly dope boy this year, T.I. transformed the monotony of Southern rap trends to magic. “What You Know” is easily the best single of the year. And, for the record, “Why You Wanna” is enough to turn a good girl bad.
Busta Rhymes The Big Bang
The album that was supposed to Bring New York Back!—but didn’t. Bussa Bus came with almost enough fire to pull it off though.
The Roots Game Theory
The first hip-hop album to nail what it feels like to be alive in these days of post-millennial mayhem.
RELATED: Don’t Feel Right.
Obie Trice Second Round’s On Me
O can’t seem to catch a break. First he was shot on a Detroit freeway early this year. Next, he lost Proof. Then he recorded a seriously dope album and nobody even noticed. Obie wins the Tragically Underrated Artist of the Year award, hands down.
Ne-Yo In My Own Words
Between Southern d-boys chant-rapping about nothing (and then bitching about their lack of critical acclaim), and New York rappers tanking (and then seething with resentment over the commercial success of their Southern counterparts)—fans have been in desperate need of relief from the perpetual hate fest that is urban music. Enter Ne-Yo crooning about, um, love. What a concept.
Jay-Z Kingdom Come
Superman returned to save rap, and got his grown man on in the process. It may not be Hov’s best work, but it’s still light years ahead of all the Dipset ankle biters that are busy taking shots at him. You would be hard pressed to find a more moving rap track than “Lost One.”
The Game Doctor’s Advocate
Game is a wee bit melodramatic, it’s true, but nobody can deny that he defied all of the odds with this one. From tragedy to triumph in sixteen songs.
The Clipse Hell Hath No Fury
The Clipse had the Internet going nuts for most of this year and, amazingly, HHNF lived up to the hype. Go cop it. Don’t just stand there with your nose up.
Snoop Dogg Tha Blue Carpet Treatment
Proving that two wrongs can occasionally make a right, urban music’s top creepy players—R. Kelly and Snoop “Girls Gone Wild” Dogg—came together to spit a seriously sexy club banger “That’s That Shit.” The rest of the album is decent too, particularly in relation to the sleep-inducing cRap released this year.
Nas Hip-Hop is Dead
Esco simultaneously questioned the state of hip-hop and reaffirmed his own relevance to the game. Never on schedule, but always on time.
RELATED: Hip-Hop is alive.