I know its already 2011, but if Skillz can put out the 2010 Rap-up days after the year ended and call fans spoiled for asking for it earlier, I think we can get away with putting this out a few days late. With that said, take a second to reflect on the year in music that was by checking out the Top 10 hip-hop albums of 2010! Be sure to comment!
Need a refresher? Albums 6-10 (and honorable mentions) can be found here.
Unless you are from Mississippi, and even if you are, its likely that you had never heard of Big K.R.I.T. prior to this year. However, this talented southern emcee slash producer came out of nowhere and took the rap game hostage this year, holding it down for Mississippi in Banner’s “absence,” and the entire South as a whole. Although this album was originally a mixtape that started making its way around the net in late 2009, its as much an album as anything that dropped this year, which is why Krit put it out as his debut album in 2010.
The first thing you’ll notice about the album is how talented Krit is on the boards. With heavy bass-banging southern beats and a pinch of soul, Krit somehow creates his own niche and creates beats that are entirely his own. However, you’d be wrong if you put Krit in the category of talented producers who just happen to rap. Krit is as good on the mic as his beats are on the ears. We all know the stereotypes of southern rappers, but they don’t apply here. Krit creates the perfect balance of staying true to his southern roots while being as lyrical and thoughtful as any backpack rapper you can name. Add that to the fact that he produced the entire album and the fact that he has very few guest appearances on this album and you get the entire picture of not only who Krit is and where he comes from, but what kind of music to expect from him in the future.
- “Hometown Hero”-With an intro pulled from “Friday Night Lights,” Krit goes in over one of his most soulful beats about his hometown and exactly what he represents to Mississippi. This is the album’s standout, and its a treat. He uses alot of similes about sports and athletes, which works perfectly here. “I Michael Jordan Dennis Rodmans,” “Coulda bought my way to heaven but I blow it on my neck”
- “Country Shit”-this is a traditional southern track that knocks hard whether you are listening to it in a slab with some knock, an ipod, or your laptop. As one of the album’s first tracks, its a great look to hear him paying homage to his Southern predecessors on this one. (RIP DJ Screw)
- “See Me on Top”-The hook on this one was enough for it to be a banger before the beat even drops. “When I get a mill-ion, gator toe reptill-ian/Lamborgini killin them, money in my ceil-ian.” The beat consists of some heavy bass and a soulful voice singing over Krit’s hard rhymes, which makes for a perfect blend on this one. “I might just sell a mill-ion and never have to trap.”
- “Children of the World”-One of the many thought-provoking tracks on the album, Krit speaks for an entire generation of people forced into the hard life of crime. While this task is both difficult and overdone at the same time, Krit does a great job on this one. “I’m feelin like what the fuck/ They want my soul like my ancestors aint enough/If I cant trust my own government, who can I trust?/If I abuse myself daily, who can i love?/Shawty might have AIDS, like who can i fuck?”
- “Good Enough”-This sounded JUST LIKE a Pimp C song in everyway! The vocal sample in the background as well as Krit’s crooning on the hook. (RIP Pimp C)
- While no particular songs stand out as bad per se, the last half of the album doesnt have the same effect as the first half. However, the album NEVER lags or gets boring…
“My Conversations with God always seem to leave him speechless”
Full disclosure; Drake has been one of my dudes for awhile now. Prior to “So Far Gone,” the 2009 mixtape that set the world ablaze and started all of this Drake-mania, I was bumping its predecessor “Comeback Season” in constant rotation (In fact, I STILL listen to that tape). After SFG and the mega-single “Best I Ever Had,” its safe to say that Aubrey had the rap game right where he wanted it prior to his debut album; but with that status came Lebron-like pressure to perform, and with a lofty title like “Thank Me Later,” hip-hop fans of all ages and backgrounds were expecting a classic from Canada’s golden boy.
When TML dropped, it was clear that we weren’t dealing with a classic, and with such lofty expectations from fans, some people wrote the album off. However, those smart enough to listen to the album without such expectations were treated to a more than solid debut project that really showcased the talent that has launched Drake into another stratosphere. Tasked with the almost impossible task of creating an album meant to be commercially successful on the pop charts as well appeal to the grimiest of hip-hop heads, Drake masterfully provided an album that had something for everyone, but everything quality. With great production, catchy lyrics, and some of Drake’s staple creativity, while he didnt hit a home run with his debut, he’ll settle for a nice triple, and one of the year’s best albums.
- “Over”-This track was all over the radio this year. With a hypnotic beat from budding producer Boi-1da (“Best I Ever Had”), who is as much a prodigy as Drake himself, the song was near perfect. This song was a hit well before Drake laid verses on it, but Aubrey did his thing on the mic. “Bout to set it off in this bitch, Jada Pinkett”, “I swear this life is like the sweetest thing I’ve ever known”. One of the best tracks of the year by far.
- “Show Me a Good Time”- This one knocked in any club/bar/party you attended this year. Kanye and No I.D. murked the beat with that sample, and Drake murks the track with his first words of his first words. “I live for the nights that I cant remember with the people that I won’t forget.” This one is a hit, and the parting shot to the haters was classic. “Call me overrated or created or too jaded /because anyway you put it bitch I made (YUUPPP!)
- “Light Up” (ft. Jay-Z)-Drake’s in-house producer “40” did his thing on the intro to this track. Also, when it comes to Drake’s chance to go bar for bar with Hov, you really just need a beat that gets outta the way so we can hear these dudes spit, which is exactly what we get here. Two long verses from both Aubrey and Hov, and although Jay killed, “And since no good deed goes unpunished/I’m not as cool with niggaz as I once was/I once was, cool as the Fonz was/But these bright lights donturned me to a monster,” “Fuck niggaz, bitches too/all I got is this money, this’ll do,” Drizzy did more than hold his own on this one. “I keep thinking, how young can you die from old age.” At the heart of this track, Drake had to come out swinging to show the lyric lovers that he had the bars to hang with anyone. The hook was a perfect way to separate those long verses…Lets celebrate with a toast…
- “Miss Me” (ft. Jay-Z)- Need a say more about this one? Holy shit…I’ll just leave it at “Tell meeeeeeeeeeeee, whats reallly gooiin on!!!!”
- “Find Your Love”-When this one surfaced as a single prior to the album’s release, It scared me. I wouldnt wanna hear an entire album of this track at all, but the sequencing of the album (where he put this track) was nice, and the song itself jams…“You hear but you don’t listen…”
- The most common criticism of TML is Drake’s lack of personal reflection/storytelling on the album. Even prior to the album, people noted that Drake has about 3-4 go-to topics and really does not step outside of these pre-set boundaries. I’m not much to complain about the typical Drake “life as a young celeb is so hard” tracks, but I would have liked some new topics on this album.
- Most of the songs on this album only feature 2 verses, and on half of those, the 2nd verse is provided by a guest (Jay-Z, Young Jeezy, Nicki Minaj). As someone who (more than occasionally) purchases albums, I really wanted more verses from Drake himself. This was especially the case on “Over.” Giving only 2 verses to such a hot beat was criminal.
- “CeCe’s Interlude.” #Cmonson…nobody is feeling that shit…
- Drake and Trey Songz really grew up in the game together, and since Trey was already taking R&B by storm this year, a Songz/Drake collab would have been a great look
- “Thank Me Now” was a lame way to end the album…the song is ok I guess, but not as the outro…
“Promise to always give you me, the real me…”
We all knew that Rawse had the capability to make good songs from time to time, as all of his previous three albums had a few certified bangers on them. (“Push it to the Limit,” “Hustlin,” “The Boss,” “Maybach Music 2,” “Magnificent”) No matter what you think of Rozay, I’m sure you’ve heard one of two tracks of his that you like. However, (speaking for myself here) It wasnt clear that Ross would ever be able to make an entire album of solid tracks with little/no filler, and his previous efforts have failed epically in this regard.
That being said, you can imagine how shocked I was when I popped in “Teflon Don” to do my traditional Rawse ceremony (put all of the good tracks on my iPod and delete the rest, never to hear them again). Ross struck gold on this one; from start to finish, Rawse says true to himself, but manages to not only keep you intrigued, but to keep your head bobbing the entire album. Rawse uses pretty much the same producers as on previous efforts, (J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Lex Luger, The Olympicks) but this particular album is cohesive in a way that his previous efforts weren’t. Also, while no one will hail Ricky as a lyrical genius, he has the ability to match his flow perfectly to a given beat and to really bring these beats to life. This is great summer riding music, and easily one of the best albums of the year. No joke, I was in NYC a few months back, and I heard this album EVERYWHERE! Rawse is a household name not just in the South, but worldwide. Somewhere, John Gotti is in his grave nodding the shit outta his head to album. If thats not enough to convince you, the New York Times named Ross’ album their best album of the year, beating out superstars like Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, and Kanye West. This recent run of success isnt lost on Ross either, as he’s already put out a mixtape and has already announced his next album set to drop in 2011 called “God Forgives, I Don’t.” 2011 may be Rawse’s year, but this year he’ll have to settle for #3.
- “I’m Not a Star”-This serves as the album’s intro, and gets it off to a rousing start, letting the listener know exactly who we’re dealin with, the same guy whose spending c-notes of drug money at the bar. The Justice League really did it big on this beat too. This one even sounds great in my factory system… “If I die today remember me like Jon Lennon.” “My niggaz never sing, if I need it I go to Ne-Yo”
- “MC Hammer”/”B.M.F. (Blowing Money Fast)” (ft.
Gucci Mane/Styles P)-These are two different tracks that are placed right next to each other, but they have essentially the same beat (both produced by Lex Luger), and both knock just as hard. “She thinkin Felique, I’m thinking Wing Stop/fiending lemon pepper, I keep my think cocked” MC Hammer might have been the best song of the year. Its infectious, and you cant help but rap with it as it plays. “My gun dirty, my brick clean/i’m ridin dirty, my dick clean/she talk dirty, but her mouf clean/bitch I’m MC Hammer, I’m about cream”
- “Live Fast, Die Young” (ft. Kanye West)-This was the anthem of Summer 2010, hands down…Kanye KILLED these samples, and with a title like that, there is bound to be some reckless talk on the track. “She had a miscarriage, I couldnt cry though/Cuz you and I know she was only my side hoe.” Its really that kind of care-free life track, illustrated by Kanye on thing on the hook “They say we can’t be living like this for the rest of our lives/well, we gon be livin like this for the rest of tonight…” Kanye’s verse was damn good of course, but Rawse’s verses truly set the tone and theme of the song. “Die young, but fuck it we flew first class”
- Free Mason (Ft. Jay-Z & John Legend)- Ok, so I’ll admit that the main attraction on this track is Jay-Z’s verse sending a few shots at everyone pressing him about being a member of the illuminati. (Really though? THATS what yall come up with? SMH, check this story out and get ya mind right) “bitch I said I was amazin…not that I’m a Mason,” but Ross came with some heat too. “My top back like JFK, they tryna push my top back like JFK!/So, so we JKF, join forces with the kings and we ate all day”
- “Tears of Joy” (ft. Cee-lo)- This one was an anthem. Cee-lo killed the hook “my God, I’m scarred, I got tattoo tears of Joy,” really setting the tone for Ross’ version of an uplifting track, reflecting on his ascension to superstardom that hasnt changed him. “Niggas got beef, but it cant be much/I’m still walking through the crowd like I can’t be touched”
- “Ashton Martin Music” (ft. Drake and Chrisette Michele) -Rawse slowed it down a little on this one with the help of the Justice League. Drake and Ms. Michele sing the hook on this one, and Ross does a great job on these verses. Again, its kind of a different look for Rawse, but doesnt come off as experimental at all. Drake killed that bridge too…”woulda came back for you, I just needed time/to do what I had to do, caught in the life/I cant let it go, whether thats right/I won’t ever know, but here goes nothing…”
- That Gucci verse on “MC Hammer” literally ruined the last third of that song. So much so that I was forced to remove it from my personal version of the song. He could have literally asked anyone to be on that track, and after hearing it, no way they turn it down. I would have been fine with another Rawse verse. Even people who respect Gucci hated that verse. He threw off the whole mood and feel of the song.
- Taking that Drake verse off of “Ashton Martin Music” was a mistake. While Drake still killed the hook bridge and the song still came out pretty hot, it would have been better with that Drake verse. Who told him to leave the Gucci verse and nix the Drake verse?
- Pretty sure everyone noticed immediately that “MC Hammer” and “BMF” have pretty much the same exact beat! They both jam though, so I aint trippin…
- The middle of the album (“Super High,” “No. 1) was pretty awful. It was clear that Ross was going for a solid album not by making better music per se, but by including less songs on this album (only 11 tracks), but these two were pretty bad…
“Look at Haiti, children dying round the clock nigga/I sent a hundred grand but thats a decent watch nigga”
After 2009’s Relapse, which was an eerie mix of drug references, horror movie setups, rape ballads and that awful AWFUL accent, no one knew what exactly to expect from Eminem, hip-hop’s most talented, controversial, and most pale MC. The album was originally set to be titled Relapse 2, which didnt really make anyone happy, but we were all sure to listen to it anyway. However, since Marshall was going through a real life recovery from drug addiction, the title and tone of the album was altered to reflect the new Shady. Recovery finds Eminem backing off of the types of songs we heard on Relapse, and instead take a more motivational, positive turn. With songs like “Not Afraid” and “Won’t Back Down,” its clear early on in the record that Recovery stands in stark contrast to his previous effort; so much so that at multiple points in this album, Em criticizes Relapse. Takes a big man to do that.
On Recovery, we find Eminem at a level of technical greatness that we havent seen him at in years, if ever. The album’s production is good but not great, and there really isnt that one stand-out iconic track that will be played over and over again on radio stations when he passes (see, “Stan,” “Trapped in the Closet.”) However, Em gives us some of the best verses of his career on this album, and with expectations a bit low from his last two albums, its clear that Shady is back. If you love lyrics, this album is a must, and one of 2010’s best.
- “Cold Wind Blows”-You know from jump that the old Em is back, and this album will be nothing like his previous efforts. When the first lines of a CD are “You can get the dick, just call me the ballsack/I’m nuts, Michael Vick in this bitch dog, fall back,” you have no choice but listen to every word Shady spits. With his patented flow and out of this world wordplay, this one is a banger, and was a great way to jump the album off.
- “On Fire”- This one is all wordplay, and technically its amazing. Say what you want about his content, but nobody (I repeat, NOBODY) is fucking with Shady when it comes to flow and wordplay. You get two verses here, but they are longer than 16 bars. “I’m so sick I got ambulances pullin me over and shit”
- “Won’t Back Down” (ft. Pink)-this one has a monster guitar rift to give it a rock and roll feel, and Pink does a great job on the hook. The flow on this one is ridiculous. “Baby what the deal we can chill, split a half a pill and a happy meal/fuck a stank slut I cut my toes off and step on the receipt before I foot the bill”
- “Seduction”-usually when Em makes a song about women, its blatantly disrespectful and something only Em can pull off (see, “Superman”). However, this one is a more traditional “I got more chicks than you, and can even take your chick” kinda song, which I honestly didnt think Em could pull off. However, the song jams, and the hook is hot. “I’m cockin my head back like Ed Lover, Cmon Son/She’s on my Johnson, she brings my name of constant,” “How you expect her to act in the sack/when she’s closin her eyes fantasizing of diggin her nails in my back to this track”
- “No Love”-Em and Weezy have done one other collaboration, “Drop the World” on Weezy’s awful Rock and Roll album. This one is just as good. Just Blaze used a “What is Love” sample, which has been done before, but was still damn good. Weezy’s verse was sick, spittin bars like “Throw dirt on me and grow a wild flower/but its fuck the world, get a child out her/yeah my life a bitch, but you nothin bout her/been to hell and back, I can show you vouchers”. While Weezy’s verse was best IMO, Em, not to be outdone, held it down on his verse. Great track.
- “25 to Life” – This one is more on the serious side, talking about his relationship with his infamous ex-wife Kim as well as other things. Love the hook on this one. This one is slept on. Lots of pain on this one, and the way the beat changes throughout the verses was great. “I will no longer let you control me, so you better hear me out, this much you owe me”
- “You’re Never Over” -No Shady album is complete without Em trying to sing, and although he can’t, it always comes out good. No difference here. His ode to his fallen best friend Proof, this one comes from the heart. And he killed the hook.
- “Here We Go”-If you don’t understand what flow is, listen to this one. He rode this beat like a fucking pro. I dont know another rapper that could have pulled this off. I guarantee that most of you slept on this one, but its damn good. “Since when do you think its gonna cost me a pretty penny/shit if I think a penny’s pretty/just imagine how beautiful a quarter is to me”
- “Space Bound” -This album was 17 tracks. He could have got rid of this awful song. The lyrics were ok, and even the guitar on the beat wasnt so bad, but the hook was awful, and the song got old really fast.
- “Almost Famous” – This beat was awful. This was some mixtape shit…
- “Cinderella Man” – I hated everything about this song. The beat was too simple, the hook was bad, and its one of the few places on the album where the lyrics werent enough to hold my attention.
“This time around its different, them last 2 albums didnt count/Encore I was on drugs, and Relapse I was flushin em out”
From his multiple hot features to his production credits appearing on the year’s hottest albums to his epic 35 minute video/movie that showcased almost his entire album (seen below) to his unheard of G.O.O.D. Friday weekly offering of bangers that always shut down twitter, and on and on, it was clear that 201o was Ye‘s year; so its only right that he also put out the hottest album of the year. Even before this year, we all knew that Kanye was a genius on the boards, with lyrics so catchy and true to himself that we can’t look away. 2011 was no different.
With “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” the awful album title and controversial cover has no bearing on the masterpiece that lies within. The praise of this album is plentiful, highlighted by Rolling Stone giving the album a perfect score and the good folks over at A Thousand Grams deeming it was his best album. Thats high praise when we consider how amazing his previous efforts have been.
While I wont call it his best album, I will call it a classic. Kanye is in the zone and the album is gorgeously produced, but Kanye is also another level with his lyrics and songmaking. These songs sound absolutely nothing like his previous songs, once again showcasing Kanye’s unique ability to grow as a musician yet keep our attention. By some of the bangers that didnt make the album from his G.O.O.D. Friday series, we should have known that he had some heat for us. Although we had all heard most of these tracks from either the GF or the Runaway video, the album still felt like a breath of fresh air. Nobody is fucking with this guy, love him or hate him. The only think you can do is sit back, enjoy the ride, and toast to the Douchebag.
- “Dark Fantasy”-I was in love with this song from the second I first heard it. It serves as MBDTF’s intro, but it also served as the epic intro to the “Runaway” movie, with Ye sitting in the Murcielago driving down a deserted road.Picture perfect. Yall know how I feel about intros. This was easily one of the tracks of the year. “I fantasize bout this back in Chicago/Mercy Mercy Me, that Murcielogo”
- “All of the Lights” (ft. Damn Near Everybody) -Not only is the violin interlude to the track amazing, Kanye did his thing on this beat. Its so soulful! However, I really think it would have been better if it was done how the original leaks were, with the R&B acts singing the hook and Ye’ and Drake doing the verses. However, for the album version, the Drake verse was nixed (what is it with people nixing Drake verses?) and 11 R&B artists were added. It was epic, but at times it became jumbled. And Kid CuDi was god awful, as he usually is. The track still came out alright though. “Cop lights, flashlights, spotlights, strobe lights, streeet lights, all of the lights, all of the lights”
- “So Appalled” (ft. Swizz Beats, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Cyhi the Prince, and Rza)-This was one of the Good Friday tracks, and actually, its been floating around in different forms for about 2 years now. However, he added some verses from the friends and we got a banging posse cut. Only Kanye can say shit like “Champaign wishes and dirty white bitches” and slide. Epic track here. Cyhi killed his verse, and so did Pusha T. The more Pusha, the better. But end of the day, Jay shit on the track…”I mean this shit is, fucking ridiculous.
- “Devil in a New Dress” (ft. Rick Ross)-This one was a soulful banger even before Kanye did us the favor of adding Ross to the track. That Ross verse was amazing, and the interlude between Kanye’s 2nd verse and Rawse was very much appreciated. “Text message breakups, the casualty of tour/How she gon wake up and not love me no more/I thought I was the asshole, I guess its rubbin off”
- “Runaway” (ft. Pusha-T) Ye’ unveiled this song at the VMA’s with Pusha-T. This was probably my favorite song of the year. You cant help but sing the hook, and Pusha’s verse was perfect. Hard to imagine someone could come off as a better douchebag than Ye, but Pusha did the job. Adding in the “chops” he used at the VMA’s was a good look too. “I, I did it, alright alright, I admit it/So pick ya next move, you can leave or deal with it”
- “Hell of a Life”-say what you will about this beat (its slightly annoying, and there is ALOT going on with it) but the track itself is one of my favorites. The final bridge that ends the song is great. I love the concept of this song. “I fell in love with a pornstar/and get married in a bathroom/honeymoon on the dancefloor/and got divorced by the end of the night, thats one hell of a life”
- “Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America” (ft. Bon Iver)-This is hands down the best track on the album in my opinion. The track begins with an eerie rendition of Bon Iver’s “Woods,” then quickly evolves into an upbeat, vocal sample driven track that illustrates everything we love about Kanye’s beats. It ends with pieces of Gil Scott Heron’s “Comment 1” and is a perfect way to end the song. “Your my lies, your my truth/your my war, your my truce/your my questions, your my proof/your my stress and your my masseuse”
- Taking Drake off of “All of the Lights” was NOT a good look…
- Using the 9-minute version of “Runaway” instead of the shorter version was a bad idea. The last 5 minutes are literally nothing, and the random squeaky shit is annoying.
- This is petty, but I think the Chris Rock interlude on “Blame Game,” while funny, would have been better as its own track. I dont need to hear that part of the song everytime before I get to “Lost in the World”
- Why didnt get get a Big Sean verse on the album? Also, why didnt we get a Common verse?
- Rza was pretty annoying on “So Appalled.” Some people complained about Swizz, but I thought it fit.
“Who will survive in America?”
Hope yall enjoyed it! I’m very much looking forward to what 2011 holds.
“I do this for my culture”