2- Homeboy Sandman- The Good Sun- A tremendous assembly of playful rhymes, artsy and hard hitting beats, timely cameos (Fresh Daily in particular on "Table Cloth,") and the never tired rhymes railing on commercial Hip Hop ("Gucci, Fendi, Prada? All I hear is yada yada yada,”) The Queens MC brings together an eclectic cast of producers including Pyscho Les, Ski Beatz, and Ben Grimm. The latter lacing "Mean Mug" where Home Sand goes against the grimy faces so prevalent in the game.
3- Celph Titled & Buckwild- Nineteen Ninety Now- Take a lyrical wordsmith with crazy punchlines and metaphors and couple him with a DITC beat master, mix, add an entirely mid-90s feel and you have a boom bap classic. The cameos are the year’s best with Treach coming with his best work since 95, Chino XL, RA The Rugged Man, Vinnie Paz and a defacto DITC reunion with Showbiz, OC, and Diamond D along with Sadat X and Grand Puba. Makes 2010 feel like 94 all over again.
4- Junk Science- A Miraculous Kind of Machine- Junk Science follows the Nuk Fam blueprint of crafting an album based on soulful beats, precise lyrics, and cameos that raise your eyebrow. Baje One and DJ Snafu follow it to near perfection on their 2010 release. “Really, Man” dives into an impromptu autobiography of Baje One, while Cool Calm Pete makes his annual highlight appearance on “Millins.” Tone Tank comes up on “Words From The Prez” talking 86 Mets and more random hilarious bars.
5- Super Chron Flight Brothers- Cape Verde- Follow The Super Chron Flight Brothers as they take a journey watching TV- from daybreak to night time. Splice in your favorite 70s, 80s, and 90s after school and Saturday morning treats and you have a journey through the mind of Billy Woods and Edge. But it is more than a recital of TV, it’s a veiled look at our society as we know it. Guest spots include Vordul Mega of Can O and Masai Bey. Even a tribute to the TV staple, cereal is worked in on “Golden Grams.”
6- Roc Marciano- The Marcberg- Raw, stripped down, and precise- that’s Roc Marciano's 2010 release. The Long Island MC paints a gritty picture with off-kilter flow and minimalistic beats. Following his collabs on Marco Polo and Pete Rock the ex-Flipmode member unfolds his story 1-14 on tracks like "Snow", "Thugs Prayer", and "Jungle Fever." Don't expect any big name producers as he handles all the work solo, not any "name" cameos to give this album any sing songy hooks or cred, because it just doesn't need it.
7- Eternia and Moss- At Last- MC Eternia likes to sport a shirt that reads “My favorite MC wears a skirt” and it is hard to argue with her after one listen to this joint. Perhaps the year’s most introspective album, with Eternia examining her own demons with family, love, and alcohol (the deep “Dear Mr. Bacardi.”) Moss’ on-point beats add to the T-Dot MC’s unique flow. A bevy of guests include Rah Digga, Lady of Rage (both on “The BBQ”), and a bangin Joell Ortiz collabo.
8- Rakaa- Crown of Thorns- After this banger Rakaa Iriscience will no longer be the “other guy” in Dilated Peoples. A classic LA underground feel with lyrics that would make any mainstream rap dude go back to stage one. With topics ranging from infidelity on “Delilah” to an old school throwback on “Human Nature” featuring KRS-One, Rakaa’s inauspicious soft flow over a variety of Evidence, DJ Honda and other SoCal beat concoctions.
9- Taiyamo Denku- Artcles of Mind- After an impressive lot of guest spots on this album: Prince Po, Keith Murray, Vast Aire (“Emcee’s Blueprint” – a track where the title means exactly what it says) and the posse cut dope that is “Problemaddict” (Pumpkinhead, Jise, and Urban Legend), Denku needs nothing more than some creative beats to display his raspy style of rhyme. He gets by with a true MC’s emotion and thoughtfulness on very track from play to end.
10- Luke- The Dopeness- Inspired in part by the movie The Wackness, (a must see for any Hip Hopper who came up in the 90s; the film's audio snippets are some of the best) Luke weaves a tale of trying to figure out young adulthood. For us beyond that age, it is a great grounding tale of yesteryear. And for those still living in that age or still trying to figure it out, it speaks loudly. Beats are smooth, nothing hardcore, with some catchy hooks and nice lyrics abound.
11- Nocando- Jimmy The Lock- A seasoned Los Angeles underground MC, Nocando brings his witty and sometimes rapid fire delivery correct on his 2010 release. The slowed down “Hurry Up and Wait” showcases his verbal skills early on, while “DSD2” is a hilarious joint with Iron Mike Eagle. As a whole, the album paints an off-the-hook picture of the LA scene, complete with girls, parties, drinking, relationships, and the Nocando’s life.
12- Tab Liv- The Vermont Tapes- Picture a road trip to the Northeast with your realest Hip Hop and drinking friends and you get the Vermont Tapes. Tab and Tone Liv come together for this original work breaking down the all American road trip on tracks like “Killington Slopes.” Of course the boozing aspect hits hard and funny on “Booze Hounds” and “Strong Dranks.” Don’t front on the last track as “Yesterdaze” is a soulful track with a laid back feel and hook.
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES:
Jimmy Powers- Califoreigner- Guest appearances from Slaine , Copywrite, and Blame One make this album from the Boston to Cali MC (complete with "Eastbound and Down" Kenny Powers' samples.)
Ruste Juxx and Marco Polo- The Exxecution- Anything that producer/DJ Marco Polo sets out for the Duck Down MC seems to satisfy, as Ruste Juxx gets his on tracks like the hardcore “Death Penalty.”
E.S.Q. & Chikaramanga- The Great Succession- The Giant Panda beatsmith teams with Chicago MC ESQ and they come correct, especially “My Intellect” which samples PRT’s “Rock Dis Funky Joint” as the hook.
Meth Rae Ghost- Wu Massacre- A host album of Wu “leftovers” is better than most offerings this past year. “It’s That Wu Shit” flips the old Biz Markie “Make The Music” beat to perfection.
Skyzoo and Illmind- Live From The Tape Deck- The Biggie-inspired “Speakers On Blast” and the subsequent remixes is one of the highlights of one NYC’s brightest young lyricists.
BACK IN THE DAY: 2006 Best, 2007 Tops, 2008 Aces, 2009 Bangers