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Top 20 Albums of 2010

December 17, 2010

I’m a HUGE music fan and I have a large music collection. Every album that appears on this list, I own. While opinions are subjective, there is certain criteria that is used to judge the quality of music. When creating this list I had over 50 initial albums that I had to boil down to 20. It wasn’t easy, and there are many artists who I admire and whose albums I enjoyed that didn’t make the list. It doesn’t mean that they didn’t make good music or were ignored, just that I feel that the artists who appear on this list had stronger cohesive albums. And also, I am just one man; I can not listen to every single album released this year. But from the many many albums that I did listen to this year, this is what I feel are the best.

 

20. Soldier of Love by Sade

After a 10 year absence the lady of grace, with her band that shares the same name, made a long-awaited and highly anticipated return. The band doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary on this release, but it doesn’t fail at making quality music either. Perhaps the strength of a talented band is when even its safe music still sounds phenomenal and gets critical acclaim. The bulk of the album is slow-tempo, but Sade is known for making sensual engaging ballads with texture and atmosphere that will have you mesmerized instead of bored.

Best 3 track: “Soldier of Love” ~ “Babyfather” ~ “Bring Me Home”

 

19. Love Letter by R. Kelly

Robert Kelly has been one of the most successful rhythm and blues artists of the past 20 years. Some call him a genius, others find him despicable (particularly because of several underage sex scandals). But regardless of his controversies and problems in his personal life, his talent can not be denied. He has sold millions of records, won Grammy awards, and worked with Michael Jackson continuously, helping him to score a hit song in 1995 (“You Are Not Alone”). After releasing questionably and arguably mediocre albums over the past 7 years, he’s finally got it right- he went straight to the roots of the genre that he dominated for nearly 20 years. Love Letter is a throwback to classic vintage R&B; influences of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and even Michael are clearly heard. The signature R. Kelly sound is still there, but the album has more direction. In an era which auto-tune and electronic club beats dominate urban and pop music, it is refreshing to hear a quality R&B album that reminds us what talent-based music without any gimmicks sound like. And if you think he’s impressive on record, his talent as a live performer puts all of the young artists to shame. Check out his astounding performance at the 2010 Soul Train Music Awards. All 7 minutes are very much worth it.

Best 3 tracks: “Number One Hit” ~ “When A Woman Loves” ~ “Music Must Be A Lady”

 

18. Contra by Vampire Weekend

On its second album, Vampire Weekend wanted to show fans that it isn’t a hip flavor of month and that it is capable of musical growth. Contra has a world music feel to it; there is enough international influence to give the music more flavor without the band losing its signature style. What little hints of multicultural influences present on the Vampire Weekend LP, are more dominant on this album. But it isn’t M.I.A. type world music influence, it’s Brooklyn indie rock meets The Lion King type world music influence, but that isn’t a bad thing. On “California English” it had the audacity to use auto-tune, but it is bearable. The music is engaging and catchy, and amongst its indie contemporaries Vampire Weekend is in its own lane.

Best 3 tracks: “Cousins” ~ “Giving Up the Gun” ~ “Diplomat’s Son”

 

17. Airtight’s Revenge by Bilal

Bilal is another artist on this list to release a new album after a nearly 10-year break. But to be fair, he attempted to release his second album four years ago but Interscope shelved it after it leaked. Nevertheless, Airtight’s Revenge is gorgeous. Bilal is known for being a gifted singer and musician, the underrated contemporary Prince, like Van Hunt. He abandons conventions, labels or anything else that will box his music into something it refuse to be. Airtight’s Revenge has the ambition and depth of New Amerykah Part One, but it is being slept on. Most importantly Bilal is an artist that have something to say, from the captivating hood tale of “Flying” to his dedication to his two sons with sickle cell anemia and autism, “Little One.” Bilal has always been more left-of-field in the world of urban music. Airtight’s Revenge is eclectic, slightly experimental, and uninhibited. Where as Prince may have inspired him, he has inspired artists like Solange and Janelle Monae. Bilal is one of those artist that seems to pop up singing hooks on everybody’s song; the list of his guest appearances is endless. But on this album he shines all on his own, and his light shines bright.

Best 3 tracks: “All Matter” ~ “Levels” ~ “Little One”

 

16. Teen Dream by Beach House

Beach House delivered one of the most loved albums of the year with the release of Teen Dream in January (not to be confused with that Katy Perry garbage). The band exhibits a lush indie-pop sound that creates its own atmosphere. The album has more life to it than its predecessor Devotion, and the layer of soft ambient humming in the background of the songs help lift listeners right from where they are and drop them into the warm exuberant shoegaze environment they won’t want to leave.

Best 3 tracks: “Zebra” ~ “Norway” ~ “Lover of Mine”

 

15. How I Got Over by The Roots

The Roots is one of the most consistent hip-hop artists in the history of the genre. It has never been afraid of venturing outside of the parameters of hip-hop to incorporate different music styles and genres into its work. The Roots has a strong indie fan-base because it isn’t afraid to reach out to that demographic and audience. On How I Got Over it samples two relatively popular indie songs, “The Book of Right-On” by Joanna Newsom (“Right On”) and “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)” by Monsters of Folk (“Dear God 2.0”). But even with the outreach to indie music fans, the band never forgets where it came from; it is as afrocentric and politically and socially conscious as it has always been. John Legend makes two appearances, sampled on “Doin’ It Again” and featured on “The Fire.” The band lives up to its expectations of making quality music and knows that its fans expect nothing less. Black Thought couldn’t be more correct when he raps “I’m like Martin Luther King, you’re like Rodney/The difference is that I’m giving everything inside me” on “Doin’ It Again.” Only passion and talent can drive a band as gifted as The Roots.

Best 3 tracks: “Dear God 2.0” (featuring Jim James of Monsters of Folk) ~ “How I Got Over” (featuring Dice Raw) ~ “The Fire” (featuring John Legend)

 

14. Congratulations by MGMT

MGMT pissed off trendy hipsters all around the world when they ditched the electro-pop hits for fleshed out psychedelic surf jams. Artistically, it was the best thing for them to do. Those expecting Oracular Spectacular Part 2 should perhaps have a more realistic and mature understanding of the music-making process. How boring would Prince had been if he re-made Purple Rain over and over and over. Bands grow and evolve like people, and while “Time To Pretend” and “Kids” were fun songs, songs on Congratulations like “Flash Delirium” and “Brian Eno” are  more intriguing. Despite the juvenile backlash, Congratulations remains one of the strongest musically artistic albums released this year. Songs like “Siberian Breaks” aren’t written everyday.

(For a full album review of Congratulations, click here)

Best 3 tracks: “Someone’s Missing” ~ “Brian Eno” ~ “Siberian Breaks”

 

13. Nothing by N.E.R.D

Nothing is an album that got very mixed reviews, seemingly leaning more towards negative. It seems as if it is one of those rare moments in which I am in the Twilight Zone and everyone else seems to not make any sense at all. This album received harsh criticism from fans and reviewers, but it seems as if all of those people temporarily went deaf while listening to this album. In an era of Soulja Boi and Waka Flocka Flame, it doesn’t make sense for people to dismiss an album as musically sophisticated as Nothing. This is clearly one of those times in which I must truly go against the crowd. Good music is still good music, no matter what. Pharell Williams and the gang seem to be more focused on this album. The ambitious flare of “Love Bomb” from the band’s previous album Seeing Sounds is prevalent on Nothing. The album have jazz, progressive, and alternative rock influences with an urban lean. It is as colorful and eclectic as any other N.E.R.D album and includes the best attributes from each of its past albums. The standard version of this album is gold, the deluxe edition adds on unnecessary filler. Overall this is a very solid album, despite what anyone says. Opinions are subjective, but there are components to writing music which gives it power and value. Those components are present on this album.

Best 3 tracks: “Help Me” ~ “Life As A Fish” ~ “God Bless Us All”

 

12. Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi has never been Rakim on the mic, but his approach to making music is intriguing. He has a good ear for music and his beat selection is damn-near immaculate. Kid Cudi is an anti-hero in the world of alternative hip-hop and has a huge indie following. The album is darker and more somber than his debut album, but the last section of the album sub-titled “Act V: You Live & You Learn” offers a little glimmer of hope and optimism. The rapper talks frankly about using cocaine and people reaching out to him out of concern. In a recent interview he states that he doesn’t want to be seen as a “crackhead” and plans to be more responsible. Despite his flaws, his songs are as catchy as ever. “Erase Me” is probably his most commercial-sounding song to date; “Mojo So Dope” and “Ashin’ Kusher” are party anthems just waiting for loud speakers and a packed dance-floor. As a proud marijuana smoker, he also have a 420 anthem appropriately titled “Marijuana.” Cudi supports his indie-cred working with indie artists St. Vincent and Cage on “Maniac” (which samples St. Vincent’s 2009 song, “The Strangers”). With the addition of this sophomore album, Cudi is proving that he is capable of consistently putting together a decent album that entertains listeners from start to finish.

Best 3 tracks: “Marijuana” ~ “Ashin’ Kusher” ~ “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young”

 

11. Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus

Cosmogramma is beautifully psychotic, yet contained electronic bliss. While some other producers and DJs create generic techno and house beats, Flying Lotus pushes the limits and presents avant-garde music in a way that feels natural. Flying Lotus is known for his instrumental bumper music played in between programs on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Many of the songs on this album are short clocking in under 3 minutes, but are so captivating that you don’t even realize how brief they are. Many of the songs give you the feeling that you are running through an Atari video game on LSD, others like “Satelllliiiiiteee” and “Dance of the Pseudo Nymph” are futuristically tribal, yet jazzy. His mentor and great-aunt, the late jazz legend Alice Coltrane (widow of John Coltrane), is clearly an influence on his music. He takes her jazz influence and puts it through a neo-psychedelic electronic machine which churns out the pure art which is his music.

Best 3 tracks: “Zodiac Shit” ~ “…And The World Laughs With You” (featuring Thom Yorke) ~ “Satelllliiiiiteee”

 

10. Wake Up by John Legend and The Roots

Usually albums comprised of cover songs provoke yawns, but that is anything but the case with Wake Up. The Roots and John Legend on their own are outstanding, but together are ridiculously good. Wake Up is comprised of socially and politically conscious soul songs taken from the ’60s and ’70s. They don’t cover the most obvious or popular soul songs such as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” or Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” but instead go for more obscure gems that devoted soul fans are more likely to recognize. Black Thought’s added rhymes to several tracks are on-point as usual and fit into the songs naturally. The Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes cover “Wake Up Everybody,” featuring Common and Melanie Fiona, is Sunday morning fell-good nostalgia. But on the Ernie Hines cover “Our Generation,” featuring CL Smooth, the Roots and John Legend get downright funky while taking you to church at the same time. Their cover of one of my favorite Marvin Gaye songs, “Wholy Holy” is sensual and soul-stirring, but the star of the album is the nearly 12-minute Bill Withers cover, “I Can’t Write Left Handed” which is nothing short of a psychedelic spiritual experience. The closing track “Shine,” written by John Legend, is the only original song that appears on the album; it sounds so good that you’d swear that it too was a cover. Probably more important than the music itself is the message that these musicians are trying to get across. At a time when songs about partying and getting drunk in the club dominate the radio and popular music, The Roots and John Legend releases an album with substance about real problems and real issues that real people are going through everyday. And the songs are inspiring, they help give hope to those that need motivation to get through hard times, from the soldier shot in the shoulder in war who doesn’t fault his shooter in “I Can’t Write Left Handed” to the cries of  “Everything has got to get better” in Donnny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy.” In the interlude of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” Nina Simone states “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.”

Best 3 tracks: “Hang on in There” ~ “Little Ghetto Boy” (featuring Black Thought) ~ “I Can’t Write Left Handed”

 

9. Innerspeaker by Tame Impala

There must be something in the water in Australia, because lately it has been producing some of the most talented bands in music today. Along with Janelle Monae, Tame Impala released one of the most impressive debut albums of this year. Just when you thought that rock and roll got lost in the static of Nickelback-type bands, you have a band like Tame Impala that follow their talent and artistic intuition and gets it right. Innerspeaker is the perfect psychedelic rock album. It doesn’t get lost in excessive experimentation, but instead presents nicely crafted  songs that are catchy, yet feel authentic. A group of 20-something year old Australians managed to bring back a piece of the ’60s with their chill groovy psychedelic jam rock. It’s a little more Phish than the Mars Volta, and more Cream than MC5, but inevitably it stand on its own. Tame Impala has ridiculous potential and could have a very promising music career ahead of it if it stays true to making quality music.

Best 3 tracks: “Solitude is Bliss” ~ “Jeremy’s Storm” ~ “The Bold Arrow of Time”

 

8. Brothers by The Black Keys

Attack & Release, released in 2008, was the breakthrough album for The Black Keys. After years of having a devoted indie fanbase, the band finally started to receive the attention that it deserved. The Black Keys has never been one to disappoint with their albums; it too is one of those music artists that consistently release quality music. Its early albums were powerful and gritty, but the band didn’t evolve its sound very much. On Brothers the band continues to branch out with their sound, fleshing out their songs and giving it more texture and structure. Blues-rock isn’t as common as it was back in its heyday of the ’60s, but bands like The Black Keys are determined to keep the genre alive. Vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach tries out different singing styles, even effectively pulling off a falsetto in “Everlasting Light” and “The Only One.”  The Black Keys has always been a very soulful band as well, while its cover of Jerry Butler’s “Never Give You Up” doesn’t surpass the original, it still holds its own. Brothers is clearly one of the strongest albums of the year; some of the artists who seem to be the most effective at making quality music are the ones that are reaching back into the past for inspiration. Obviously the predecessors were doing something right.

Best 3 tracks: “Tighten Up” ~ “Howlin’ For You” ~ “Too Afraid to Love You”

 

7. The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire

The Arcade Fire has always been an indie band that thought big; I’ll never forget how mesmerizing their live performance was when i saw them at Coachella in 2007. The band sets out a concept and tackle it with all that it got. The Suburbs is an epic album about an ordinary subject; Arcade Fire manages to illuminate mundane simplicity of suburbia and make it sound like its worth every inch of a damn. Albums like this are what made Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen’s career. While its two previous albums, Funeral and Neon Bible, might had more engaging songs, the growing power of tracks on The Suburbs makes it just as good, if not better than its previous efforts. The most controversial song on the album is “Rococo,” an edgy baroque song that seemingly criticizes the downtown “modern kids” that use “great big words that they don’t understand.” Win Butler sings “They build it up it up just to burn it back down” which assumably refers to fans that hype up artists when they are popular amongst the “cool crowd,” but abandons them when they get too popular. In an interview from earlier this year, Win implied that the song isn’t intended to bash hipsters. The people who were most offended seem to be the people that the song is referring to. The most ironic thing about the “Rococo” backlash is that hipsters or indie music fans comprise most of Arcade Fire’s fan-base. In message boards online some fans complained that Arcade Fire is basically pissing on its own fan-base, coincidentally as it is becoming a more successful band. But Win, Regine and the gang don’t seem to care about trying to appeal to whiny narcissistic subcultures. They have a passion for making classic music, and their ambition will only cement their place in history amongst the greats.

Best 3 tracks: “The Suburbs” ~ “Rococo” ~ “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

 

6. /\/\ /\ Y /\ by M.I.A.

In 2008 M.I.A. broke through to the mainstream with the success of “Paper Planes.” But she never necessarily wanted to be a part of the mainstream. Since 2005 she has had a loyal subterranean fan-base, the success of “Paper Planes” was unexpected and in interviews she vowed to stay true to who she is. So, instead of selling out and commercializing her music to cash in on the success of “Paper Planes,” she decided to go in the other direction and make an album that was so experimental and so abrasive that it would drive trendy music fans away and pull in real fans closer. M.I.A. has always been controversial and fiercely political. She continues her ironic questioning of authority on the opening track “The Message” (“Headbone connects to the neckbone/Neckbone connects to the armbone/Armbone connects to the handbone/Handbone connects to the internet/Connected to the Google/Connected to the government”), and the punk driven single “Born Free” (which spawned a highly-controversial music video in which gingers are rounded up and slaughtered). “XXXO” is a very catchy electronica track which seems to declare her independence from the world of pop while imitating it in her own way; she sings “You want me to be somebody who I’m really not,” (that’s one interpretation, a more literal one suggest that the song is about cybersex and romance in the digital age). In “Meds and Feds” she samples “Treats” by her protege Sleigh Bells (who also released a decent album this year, but it didn’t make the list). The standout track is “Teqkilla” the schizophrenic 420 anthem, cloaked with an abundance of alcohol references, (“I got sticky sticky icky icky weeeeed/I got a shot of tequila in me”). “Teqkilla” is probably the biggest middle-finger to bandwagon “Paper Planes” fans; it pulsates with a rough gritty IDM and grime beat. It is clearly the most experimental song on the album. “Story to Be Told” shows that M.I.A. is still in touch with her world music, Eastern music side. The album overall has a theme that mocks internet culture and the digital age, from the abstract layering of the Youtube play bar on the album cover, to the multiple references to social networking sites and iPhones. Some people might not get this album, but it’s probably not for them anyways.

Best 3 tracks: “Steppin’ Up” ~ “Teqkilla” ~ “XXXO”

 

5. Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty by Big Boi

If people thought that Kanye released an impressive hip-hop album this year, then they really need to give Sir Lucious Left Foot a listen. The long awaited debut solo album from one-half of the groundbreaking hip-hop duo Outkast is made of everything a great hip-hop album is comprised of. Big Boi’s lyricism and wordplay is just as witty and invigorating as it was on Stankonia; the beats are immaculate. Outkast was the red-headed step-child of hip-hop, it pushed boundaries, merged genres and was always thinking outside of the norm. Innovation is nothing new to Big Boi, so it only makes sense for him to show his ass on his debut album. Tracks like “Shutterbug,”  “Back Up Plan” and “Fo Yo Sorrows” (featuring George Clinton), are unapologetically funky. “Tangerine” and “Hustle Blood” have a psychedelic feel to it with its dreamy guitar layers. “Shine Blockas” have the feel of a Southern hip-hop anthem and features a surprisingly tolerable Gucci Mane. Also featured on the album is Outkast protege Janelle Monae on “Be Still.” Sir Lucious Left Foot is what a classic hip-hop album sounds like. Each track flows into the next perfectly, there’s hardly any filler. His efforts on this album frankly embarrasses most of the rappers in the game right now; other rappers are Britney Spears, he is Aretha Franklin- there is no competition.

Best 3 tracks: “Shutterbug” (featuring Cutty) ~ “General Patton” ~ “Daddy Fat Sax”

 

4. Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens

2010 is the year of ambitious music. Many artists released albums that strived for greatness, that went beyond safe and ordinary. Sufjan unexpectedly released the All Delighted People EP in August of this year. The album  received a lot of praise and critical acclaim and had fans anxious for the release of his next full-length LP. All Delighted People was in itself quite an accomplishment; the songs were so captivating that their long-lengths were hardly noticeable. With Age of Adz he pushes his music even further, creating rich dynamic atmospheres and polishing them with lush melodies. Age of Adz sounds like the soundtrack to a revolutionary futuristic science fiction film. Sufjan thinks beyond folk, beyond what is established for most contemporary music. You have to be either a lunatic or a genius to create an album this eclectic, this far removed from convention. The title track boast a War of the Worlds-esque horn section; “Vesuvius” is an alien landscape, exhibiting experimental electronic beats, which is prevalent throughout the album. The closing track is the epic 25-minute jam “Impossible Soul.” The song is so moving and mesmerizing that the 25 minutes fly right by. The song is comprised of several segments and includes horns, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and electronic beats. The biggest surprise to fans was Sufjan’s experimentation with auto-tune on the track. But instead of it being used as a crutch for talentless singers, it is used as an otherworldly vocal effect; it just works, similarly to how Bon Iver used auto-tune for “Woods” and Imogen Heap used it for “Hide and Seek.”  There is nothing common or regular about Sufjan’s music. When he sings  “I’m not fucking around” in “I Want to Be Well,” you better believe he means it. Age of Adz is a prime example of a modern masterpiece.

Best 3 tracks: “Age of Adz” ~ “I Want to Be Well” ~ “Impossible Soul”

 

3. Gorilla Manor by Local Natives

Los Angeles indie-rock band Best Coast released its debut album Crazy For You this year, and although it was a decent effort, it was a very safe album. It perfectly captured the laid-back chill mood of Southern California, quintessential beach music. But whereas Best Coast strive to take you to the beach with its music, Local Natives strive to take you into the beating heart of the zealous youth. There hasn’t been a band able to capture the spirit of Southern California so beautifully since Incubus (and Local Natives possibly might have done it better). The band is based in Silver Lake, an East Hollywood neighborhood, the Los Angeles equivalent of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Its sophisticated approach to psychedelic folk rock has earned it comparisons to Grizzly Bear. But Local Natives isn’t quite a West Coast version of Grizzly Bear, it is a creative force to be reckoned with that stand out from the other indie bands that flood iTunes libraries. Its multi-vocal harmonizing enriches its songs. Local Natives is also strangely a very soulful band, not in a Al Green way, but more in a John Lennon way. The effort put into trying to craft perfect songs make each one matter. When it comes to composing music, this band knows what it is doing.  Vocal and song arrangements shows that the band is truly gifted; this kind of song writing is usually seen by more seasoned musicians. Like Tame Impala, Local Natives will have a very promising career ahead of it if it continues to do what it knows how to do best. Gorilla Manor was a widely overlooked album; musically and artistically it is clearly one of the strongest albums released this year. From track one to track twelve, it is perfection.

Best 3 tracks: “Cards & Quarters” ~ “Sun Hands” ~ “Cubism Dream”

 

2. The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) by Janelle Monae

Everything about the ArchAndroid is epic. It’s inspired by the 1927 Fritz Lang film, Metropolis; following the adventures of Monae’s android muse, Cindi Mayweather. Janelle has no interest in being a plastic pop artist churning out mediocre songs. She put her all into every song, and you can hear it. Jazz, soul, funk, psychedelic  rock, classical, folk, chamber pop, and hip-hop is all present on this album. When she isn’t wailing in her James Brown inspired funk songs (“Tightrope” and “Cold War”), she is seducing you with her sweet soulful crooning (“Say You’ll Go” and “Neon Valley Street”). Influences on the album range from Outkast and Parliment Funkadelic to Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson. There  hasn’t been a new artist this impressive since Prince. The song production isn’t only outstanding, but her lyrics are beautifully written as well. Janelle is a woman who is obviously cultured; “57821” is a gorgeous folk ballad and as a stark contrast, “Come Alive (The War of The Roses)” is pure afropunk (Bad Brains would be proud). She is clearly far ahead  of her time and much more innovative than her contemporaries. Her musical promiscuity strengthens her as an artist; she relentlessly defies categorization. The ArchAndroid is a cinematic journey that is rich and dynamic from start to finish. The album closes with the wildly ambitious nearly 9-minute “BaBopByeYa,” which is a grandiose musical adventure that touches on Afro-jazz, Latin, classical, Broadway, and Disney-like film scores. Janelle Monae is clearly in a league of her own; her biggest challenge will be following up with an album that matches the artistic fearlessness of The ArchAndroid. This is one of the most important albums of a generation.

Best 3 tracks: “Tightrope” (featuring Big Boi) ~ “Say You’ll Go” ~ “BaBopByeYa”

 

1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

Kanye West started his career producing songs for Jay-Z, and helping him score a hit album (The Blueprint). Several years later he would go on to release his own debut album, The College Dropout, which earned him widespread critical claim and 2 Grammy awards. West was an earnest and unapologetic conscious rapper with the talent to match his growing ego. Fast-forward to 2010, after numerous scandals, public temper tantrums, and backlash he is still determined to prove that he has the right to be as cocky as he is. And as irrational as it may sound on the surface, he has a point. Artistically and creatively, no one else in the mainstream can compete. His talent, at times, even dwarfs his mentor that helped make him (Jay-Z). Starting August 20, 2010, Kanye released free songs from his website every Friday; this became known as G.O.O.D. Fridays. Fans and music publications all remarked on how strong the leaked tracks were. Three of the G.O.O.D. Friday tracks ended up on the album, with “Devil In A New Dress” being extended. In addition to Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Friday leaks, unfinished versions of “All of the Lights” and “Lost in the World” were stolen and leaked. Kanye had the most highly anticipated album of this year. The Runaway short film was a motion-picture painting; it included portions of nearly every song on the album. No one else  in the industry, with the exception of several other artists who appear on this list, think as big as Kanye. And no other rapper in the game right now, with the exception of Big Boi, has been able to execute producing an album as artistically superior as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Like The ArchAndroid, but in a very different way, Kanye takes listeners through an elaborate cinematic musical journey. His sample selection is just as impressive as the final product, Kanye clearly has an ear for good music. Who else is crazy enough to sample “Afromerica” by Continent Number 6 and “21st Century Schizoid Man” by King Crimson in the same song? The guest rooster on “All of the Lights” should be overbearing, but instead everyone fits into the song perfectly. A ubiquitous Nicki Minaj steals the spotlight on “Monster,” dropping a verse that one music critic said is as memorable as Busta Rhymes verse on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario.” “Devil in a New Dress” is classic soul-sampling Kanye; “Runaway” is Kanye at his most vulnerable, embellished with irony and self-awareness. Everyone wants to hate on Kanye and point to him as the token asshole, but they forget that they too are flawed humans who have done questionable things in thier lives, and not under the microscope of the public eye, (“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”). And despite all of the hate, criticism, and death threats the man insists on being a pop icon; he shuts up the loudest critics with the power of his art. He is well respected and admired by indie-loving hipsters and mainstreamers alike. He might not be Michael Jackson, but he is the next best thing.

Best tracks: “Devil in a Dress” (featuring Rick Ross) ~ “Power” ~ “Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America”

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Deftones- Diamond Eyes
Avey Tare- Down There
Reflection Eternal- Revolutions Per Minute
Nas & Damian Marley- Distant Relatives
Usher- Raymond v. Raymond
Erykah Badu- New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh)
Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest
Kings of Leon- Come Around Sundown
Drake- Thank Me Later
Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer

Click here to see the Top 40 Songs of 2010

Click here to see the the Top 20 Music Videos of 2010

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2010 2:19 pm

    I like your list and I agree with your comments on MGMT.

    I’m surprised by how few people seem to be digging that album – I think it’s an improvement on their first.

  2. December 25, 2010 3:22 pm

    I have YET to get that Kanye joint and I keep hearing the best reviews about it. [Janelle Monae’s album is the shit though.]

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