I've decided that one can never have enough of the best of year lists, so here is my take on the overdone and quite possibly annoying best of... (the first of what may be a couple, just to warn you.)
The Best Albums of the Year (In my humble opinion and in no particular order):
- Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere: I've been a Cee-Lo fan since the Goodie Mob days. Who didn't like 'Soul Food'? So when I saw that Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo were collabing, I pre-ordered the album, and its been in my rotation since it came out in May. Best Song(s): 'St. Elsewhere', 'Smiley Faces', and 'The Last Time'. (Thought I was gonna say 'Crazy' didn't you? Well I just couldn't do it)
- Aloe Blacc - Shine Through: This CD is fantastic. I randomly picked this up after hearing about him from hiphopsite.com (a great website by the way) This CD doesn't really fit into any genres, as Aloe raps, sings and even does a Spanish version of John Legend's 'Ordinary People' that is amazing. Best Song(s): 'Busking', 'Gente Ordinaria'.
- The Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury: Finally... this album has been a couple years in the making, but it's been worth the wait. People can downplay "cocaine rap" all they want, and while I'm not necessarily a fan of said music, these boys can flow. They talk about the same things as say, a Young Jeezy, but make them sound much better. Also, anyone that can make a song entitled 'Chinese New Year' and have it make sense is doing something alright. AND they have Bilal (where has he been?) on a song. Best Song(s): 'We Got it for Cheap', 'Chinese New Year', and 'Nightmares ft. Bilal'.
- Lupe Fiasco - Food and Liquor: After much delay, it finally came out, and I think it might be the best hip-hop CD of the year, and one of the best cds overall, of the year. The newcomer of the year, he's got skills, plain and simple. There's nothing else to say... Oh, and he's got style too. I may or may not have a man-crush (no homo). Best Song(s): 'Daydreamin', 'The Cool', and 'Hurt Me Soul'.
- Robin Thicke - The Evolution of Robin Thicke: My new favorite White boy. If you only buy one White boy crooner CD this year, this is the one to get. I've been preaching about this album since day one. He changed up his style from when he first came out a little bit, and came out with a quality album. Nevermind that 'Shooter' was on Lil' Wayne's album and doesn't quite blend with the rest of it, it's still tight. Best Song(s): 'Lost Without U' and 'Can U Believe'.
- The Roots: Game Theory: It's not a best of list without the Roots. Not necessarily their best album, but definitely a return to their better stuff. Very dark and politically influenced, they came to play on this one. Best Song(s): 'Livin' in a New World', 'Atonement' and 'Long Time'.
- Outkast - Idlewild: I don't care what anyone says, I loved this album. I was disappointed that not all the songs from the movie were in the album, but it was tight nonetheless. Yes, I know Andre sang "too much" and they Dre and Big Boi were only on like 3 songs together and it's not 'typical' Outkast... but you know what? I don't care. It was great. And who can tell me that Lil' Wayne didn't rip 'Hollywood Divorce'? Best Song(s): 'Morris Brown', 'Hollywood Divorce', and 'When I Look in Your Eyes'.
- Little Brother - Separate But Equal: Now it may have been considered a mixtape, as opposed to real album, but the joint was sick. Whether or not the label made them do it or not, they showed a lot of folks that they can be both "backpack" and "mainstream". Aside from the "Gangsta Grillz" shout outs... this was a quality release from LB. While it didn't completely bridge the gap between backpack rap and cocaine rap (if there is such a bridge to be built), or put them on to the "common" folk that they apparently alienate, it's a good start. Best Song(s): 'Can't Let Her' and 'Speed Racin'.
- J-Dilla - The Shining: Even though Dilla is no longer with us, we were still blessed to get some great music from him. As always, his beats were just too sick for words. There really isn't much to say... R.I.P. Dilla. Best Song(s): 'Love'
- Murs and 9th Wonder - Murray's Revenge: 9th is one of the best producers in the game right now and Murs has always been clever and hilarious, and that didn't change on this "sequel". It is a short album, but they don't mess around. I'm usually not able to get into west coast hip-hop too often, but I was feeling this all the way through. Best Song(s): 'Murs Day', 'Yesterday & Today', and 'D.S.W.G. (Dark Skinned White Girls)'.
- Kidz in The Hall - School Was My Hustle: As much trouble as I went through to get this CD, it had to be on here. Now I might be a little biased cause I went to school with these cats, but Naledge and Double 0, really did their thing and are leading Rawkus' resurgence. I remember when I was younger and Rawkus was hip-hop to me. This album is bringing that back. The album is well produced by Double 0, and Naledge's rhymes are deep, but not "backpackish". You can definitely tell these dudes know their music. And "despite" their ivy league educations (which everyone loves to bring up), the album doesn't come off pretentious or obnoxious. Best Song(s): 'Wheelz Fall Off ('06 Till)' and 'Ritalin'.
- T.I. - King: My requisite "Southern" album. I bumped this in the car for a long time. Pretty quality beats, and T.I. has a very unique presence about him. Almost scary actually. 'What You Know' was definitely one of the best songs of the year. However, not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that this was one of the best of the year. Best Song(s): 'What you Know' and 'Goodlife'.