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Drake vs. Kanye West – The 2010 Album of the Year Contenders

Complete this sentence: When the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards roll around in February 2011, the Grammy for “Best Rap Album” will go to ___________________.

With word coming from that Drake’s Thank Me Later (“the most anticipated hip-hop album of the year”) finally nailed down a release date of May 25, it’s time to get an early start on what will be a much-debated topic this year and possibly years to come.

Drake’s Thank Me Later vs. Kanye West’s Good Ass Job: Who will have the best album of 2010?

The tale of the tape looks like this:

Nickname: Drizzy
Album: Thank Me Later
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal
Experience: Debut
Features: Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, The-Dream
Production: Boi 1Da, 40,
Lead Single: “Over”

Nickname: ’Ye
Album: Good Ass Job
Label: Def Jam
Experience: 4th Album
Features: Drake, Clipse, Big Sean,
Production: Pete Rock, Q-Tip, RZA, himself
Lead Single: TBA

First off, regardless of how you might feel about the state of hip-hop, you can’t be mad at the names that are about to release new albums in this opening year of the new decade. Along with these two anticipated albums are releases from Jeezy (TM 103) Ludacris (Ludaversal), and post-incarceration LPs from T.I. (still untitled), Lil Wayne (Carter IV), and Gucci Mane (The Appeal). Not mentioning a whole host of potentially memorable releases, 2010 could quite possibility go down as one of those definitive years in rap.

But, that’s another blog for another day.

Today, I want to focus on the two albums that could have a significant impact on rap for the next decade. Let’s just say both these albums are classics (a tall order), and touch platinum sales in a week (an even taller order), we might be looking at the game’s next two mega stars. Granted Kanye is already a superstar, but a triumph return from a self-imposed hiatus could elevate him to that iconic musical figure we all know he wants to become. This could be his Blueprint.

For Drake, being successful here will definitely mean far more than the money, the cars, the clothes and the hoes, I suppose. It will mean that he lived up to the enormous expectations he set for himself coming of a 2009 that saw him make the quantum leap from a rap unknown (from Canada, of all places) to the next big thing. This would put Drake on a path similar to the one 50 Cent travels as he dominated much of the last decade.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Asking for both Kanye and Drake to deliver on all would be a lot, but not unrealistic given their past accomplishments. What we’re talking about now is making a call on who is mostly likely to deliver on all the hype these two albums have generated.

The case for Drake is easy. He’s the younger, fresher of the two with more current radio hits than anyone in rap right now. He has a sound that can appeal to wide audience and it’s been working for him up until this point. You really don’t see things changing.

The case ’Ye is a bit harder to call given that he’s been off the radar, literally off the main land, making this album in seclusion in a Hawaiian studio. The eagerness and the potential of this album comes from the fact that the Louie Vuitton Don is getting back to rap. No more T-Pain-ing. He’s putting out his first rap album since 2008’s auto-experiment 808’s & Heartbreak. Add to that the fact he’s making his return to the spotlight since his Taylor Swift/VMA moment. Will he still experience some backlash from that or will people have no choice but to embrace him given that his music is too undeniable?

What’s it going to be? Drizzy or Yeezy?

The “Best Rap Album” of 2010 will be _________________? —Rondell Conway

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