Welp, that’s it. The year 2010 is over, and what a rollercoaster it was. We lost many great musicians (R.I.P. Guru, Teddy Pendegras, Jay Reatard, Gregory Isaacs), but just as many stood up to take their place as the leaders of the next generation (Justin Bieber, Jackie Evancho, Odd Future). T.I. got out of jail, made a terrible album, and then went back to jail. Lil’ Wayne and Gucci Mane got out of jail, while Lil Boosie got invited to stay a little longer. Erykah Badu & Ke$ha got naked, and Miley Cyrus acted like a bitch. Justin Timberlake did some acting, and Joaquin Phoenix did some rapping. Don’t ask or tell about Lady GaGa’s dress. M.I.A. got in trouble for eating truffle fries, and Willow Smith suffered a neck injury. Kanye West had a busy year: he apologized to George Bush and Taylor Swift, then un-apologized to Taylor, never apologized to Matt Lauer at all, made a movie, showed his dick, and joined Twitter. Susan Boyle emerged from the depths of… somewhere dark… and Bruno Mars failed. Cee Lo said “fuck” a lot, and Jay Electronica drank Mountain Dew. Pomplamoose made commercials, and Earl was kidnapped/died/incarerated/no one is really sure. Taylor Swift sold 1 million (bad) albums in a week, Eminem sold 3 million in 52 weeks, and no fucks were given. Oh, by the way, Lil B looks like Jesus. Phew. Glad that’s over.
Now that I’ve put everything in context for you, here’s what you’ve been waiting for… I present… The Top Albums of the Year 2010.
#10: The Albert Anastasia EP – Rick Ross
This was actually a mixtape intended for promotion, but it ended up being better than the actual album. Several albums into his career, Ross is in his best form, giving his fans exactly what they’re looking for. Minus the ranting from Diddy, this tape is jam packed with hard-hitting gems, going back to the good old boom-bap raps.
#9: Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager – KiD CuDi
Despite relatively little publicity, Kid Cudi proved he is much more than a one hit wonder with the release of his sophomore album. He addresses much darker issues that on his last album, from suicide to drug abuse, and mental issues, but keeps the album tolerable with his humorous personality. Scott Mescudi’s rythmic chanting is one of the most distinctive styles in the music industry, and seems to have already found his niche, even this early in his career.
#8: Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty – Big Boi
As his first album in over seven years, the burden was placed on Big Boi to prove himself as a potent solo artist. Despite these high expectations, and several setbacks, Sir Lucious Leftfoot delivered more than enough proof of his underrated talents as an emcee, and his avant-garde production.
#7: My World 2.0 – Justin Bieber
Released days after his 16th birthday, Justin Bieber sent shockwaves around the world with the second half of his debut. His voice and sex appeal (Yes, even at 16 years old), sends females of all ages into a panic in a way that we have not witnessed since Justin Timberlake (before the Super Bowl). Already, he has shifted towards an R&B style, taking on more serious matters in his lyrics, and displaying a clear maturation that will be interesting to watch in the years to come.
#6: Pilot Talk – Curren$y
Although not a commercial success, Pilot Talk was an unexpected breakout moment for Curren$y. His laid-back delivery, with constant yet creative references to weed & women, rolls effortlessly over the smooth production of Ski Beatz. To top it all off, he followed up with the release of Pilot Talk II, making it two strong performances on the year for the New Orleans Spitta.
#5: Tron: Legacy Soundrack – Daft Punk
Here’s another film score that turned out just as brilliant as the visuals that it accompanied. A fantastic explosion of ochestral and electronic sounds, the movie was actually built around the music, rather than vice versa. The addition of Daft Punk to Tron’s distinctive visual style was one of those rare ideas that not only looked great on paper, but came out sounding great as well.
#4: BASTARD – Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator [sic] finds the perfect balance between spontaneity and consistency on Bastard, his self-released debut album. Even with his earth-rattling voice, he is able to smoothly transition from introspective topics to horrifying imagery, back and forth over his own compositions of walloping drums and eery piano chords. Also, his blunt disdain for hip-hop blogs comes as a much-needed breath of fresh air during an era of elitist circle-jerking in the rap community. Perhaps more importantly than the quality of the music is its significance: it signified the beginning of the movement that is the Odd Future Wolf Gang.
#3: The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga
Technically, this album was released at the end of 2009, but as the top selling album of the year worldwide, it gets a waiver to appear on this list. A true sequel to her debut album, The Fame, she discusses the darker side of fame, avoiding the all too obvious topics of money and popularity in favor of more relatable ones such as sex, and death.
#2: The Social Network Soundtrack – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Two well respected artists, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, came together to create this original movie score for the highly discussed “Facebook movie”. It does an outstanding job of complimenting the mood of the movie with dark, industrial sounds, without becoming too heavy. In fact, at times the music seems to dissapear, detetiorating down to the most fundamental rhythms and sounds, while still injecting powerful feelings. Even apart from the movie, this score stands on its own merits, and will likely be recognized with plenty of hardware over the next few months.
#1: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
Widely praised by critics as the album of the year, Kanye’s fifth album came after a long hiatus from music and the celebrity spotlight. The beautiful thing about the album is that it isn’t a hip hop album: it doesn’t sound like any other rap album, ever. Instead, he and his posse of celebrity musicians orchestrate magnificent combinations of pianos, cellos, vocoders. Add a plethora of quotable lines, and the final product is a well polished work of art.
And lastly, an honorable mention to the following great projects as well:
- Nothing – N*E*R*D*
- I Ruined These Songs For You – Intuition
- Take A Bite Out Of Dispensary Music – King FOE & Whygee
- Pomplamoose Christmas – Pomplamoose
- Flockavelli – Waka Flocka Flame
- ALI – Mike G
- Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans – Uffie
- The ArchAndroid – Janelle Monáe
- Trunk Muzik – Yelawolf