Please, a round of applause for hip hop and R&B.
We’re over halfway through 2013 and we’ve already enjoyed some outstanding albums. Things are actually looking up in the world of music (at least until those Young Money albums hit later this year. Ugh).
Let’s look at the 10 best albums of the year so far. Now before you get all whiny, keep in mind that this list doesn’t include mixtapes or EPs, so no Pusha T or Action Bronson.
If these 10 albums haven’t been on your radar, they’re definitely worth your attention.
10. Tyler the Creator, Wolf
Edd said: “If you told me I’d ever cosign anything dealing with Odd Future not named ‘Frank’ or ‘Ocean,’ I’d advise you to get psychiatric help. But Tyler won me over with great production and poignant concepts. Yeah, he’s still borderline psychotic but there’s a method to his madness. I even caught the wifey enjoying one of his songs. That alone is a miracle.”
9. Fantasia, Side Effects of You
Edd said: “Props to Fantasia. She went from punchline to R&B prominence thanks to an album that retooled her image. No out-of-control screaming, no embarrassingly ghetto lyrics – it’s a more mature Tasia that uses her struggles as a lesson, not a pity party.”
8. Prodigy & The Alchemist, Albert Einstein
Edd said: “This one’s a no-brainer: Find a veteran wordsmith, let him cut loose over pavement-pounding production and you’re guaranteed a hit. P seems even more bitter and irritable that usual here, which makes him that much more potent on Alchemist’s tracks. The album is probably too hard for some fans to swallow (stick to those MMG compilations, young’ns) but for fans of grimey ’90s hip hop, this is an early Christmas present.”
7. Styles P, Float
Edd said: “This album follows the same formula as Albert Einstein above, except this set is a bit tighter and the themes are slightly stronger. Instead of just bragging about how tough he is, Styles takes the time to tell listeners why he has a chip on his shoulder and why he refuses to conform. It adds a bit more substance to the usual street tales and makes for a compelling collection.”
6. Ghostface Killah, 12 Reasons to Die
Edd said: “Hands down the most creative album of the half-year. Ghostface and Adrian Younge craft what literally plays out as a B-horror movie. After being betrayed and brutally killed, Ghostface is resurrected and goes on a vengeful rampage. It’s like Shaft mixed with Jason, fueled by GFK’s vivid wordplay. It’s the highest form of hip-hop storytelling.”
5. J. Cole, Born Sinner
Edd said: “After a lukewarm debut, Cole finally lives up to his billing with his sophomore release. Filled with hat-tips to his rap forefathers, the album see Cole wrestling with the temptations of fame while trying to stay on the path of righteousness. It’s a surprisingly thought-provoking release.”
4. Jay-Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail
Edd said: “If you give your album an overblown title like Jesus Superstar Christmas Cookie, chances are you’re setting the bar way too high. Jay-Z’s new album isn’t as immaculate as its billing but you won’t find a better rap album this year (so far, anyway). Along with the usual braggadocio, S. Carter shows a bit of vulnerability when he opens up about fatherhood and his celebrity. He’s 12 albums into his career and Jay-Z continues to shine.”
3. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
Edd said: “JT had arguably the most anticipated release of the year and it largely lived up to the hype. Backed by Timbaland’s stellar production, Justin slid back on the scene sounding like he never left. Mellow grooves and danceable cuts showed a more mature side of Timberlake – that constant evolution is what keeps pushing him ahead of the pack.”
2. Bilal, A Love Surreal
Edd said: “Wow. I’ve never been much of a Bilal fan but this album made me a believer. Seamlessly blending together genres like rock, country and contemporary R&B, there’s a little something for all musical tastes. But what really drew me in was the album’s arching narrative of a love found and squandered. It’s absolutely compelling.”
And now, the No. 1 album of 2013…
Playa please. Do I look like a 12-year-old girl who spends her afternoons watching World Star Hip Hop?
Only the Ghost Town DJs, Future and Ciara’s mom are rocking with this album.
Here’s the real winner:
1. Chrisette Michele, Better
Edd said: “I’ve long recognized Chrisette’s talent. Nice voice, nice songs, nice performances – which has resulted in nice albums. But this time, Chrisette kicks everything up 11 notches. She’s gone from simply nice to downright spectacular with a release reminiscent of R&B’s ’90s glory days. Chrisette has finally realized her potential.”
What did I miss? Speak out in the comments.