I'm back with my 4th installment of my personal best albums for the year passed. Once again here are the rules:
1. The albums are selected from what i have personally heard
2. There is no need to argue because my opinion is what i deem to be the total after tax, it's nothing else to add.
This was a good year for music's sake, at least as far as I am concerned. Before I delve into the list i have to do the obligatory honorable mentions. J.Cole finished the year so strong with his Friday Night Lights mixtape [Correct, I count mixtapes as they are the new albums.] and followed up on the momentum his labelmate Wale's mixtape More About Nothing. I am utterly grateful for Kanye's GOOD Friday series, that's an album worth of material and it keep me musically fed all fourth quarter. And my last honorable mention is Kenneth Whalum III, simply phenomenal, see post below.
5. Drake - Thank Me Later
As amazing as i think this album is there is one deficiency, i didn't feel like he finished quite a few songs. He delivered one verse on many of the songs [See "Light Up", "Up All Night", "Unforgettable", "Miss Me"]. The one thing that i feel Drake does better than a lot of artists, he doesn't waste any words. All of his bars are hearty, very little cliche statments or metaphors/similies that don't really mean anything. The album is relatively personal and you feel like you get a grasp of his journey, even dating back before the music; tidbits that shaped Aubrey's well-rounded outlook on life which he fights to hold on to after his introduction to the fastest life he's ever seen. I would be remiss if i didn't mention the versatility of what he does, a major part of the reason he instantaneously strolled to the top; he sings with acceptable precision and is easily one of the better new rhyme-sayers. He's that rare.
4. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon II
I hate to repeat myself so I'm going to try to highlight some points i possibly left out of my Cudi post late last year. Cudi does a LOT with his music, it's quite versatile. One of the things that i like about his album is that it's really an adventure. Artist development is very hard to find these days, but so is album development. Cudi's albums always feel like stories that you can follow and not just a collection of songs. When you can get in the booth and take people where you want them to go and not where they want to go, that's special. Also i had to give him credit -- which often eludes him from what i hear -- his songs tend to have quite a bit of a message, sans the ones where he goes on his "stoner" binge.
3. Nas & Damian Marley - Distant Relatives
I was mildly surprised at how mammoth this album was. Now when i say that, don't think for one second-hand on the watch that i didn't assume it was going to be good. I just had no way to predict it would be this good, considering i 'thought' i didn't understand Damian Marley. The island influence on this special delivered this to my heart. The synergy these two created was top-shelf, it makes Jay-z & R.Kelly look like 4th grade homework [I shouldn't have done that, as it was demeaning, but comparisons work wonders for perspective]. Frankly, it's hard to explain this album, which is another reason i used a comparison. Just trust me that it's great.
2. N.E.R.D. - Nothing
This is the best #2 I've ever posted, it hurts me to even associate this with a silver medal. This album means so much to me and as contradictory as this sounds, it is my favorite album currently. The undertones of social commentary in the lyrics are sheer genius. I tell people this is my life manual [behind the Bible of course]. The music comes from left-field, yes even for N.E.R.D., but it works so well with your ears. I am convinced that Pharrell has a voice suited perfectly for music, it's magical and unclassifiable. The layers in N.E.R.D.'s music is so much more developed than what i usually hear these days.
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
This album is so complete it forced me to move my own favorite to #2. The first observation i had when i heard this is, there's at least two songs within every song. He creates so much mood and build in each song, nobody shifts the music like Kanye. Another amazing feat he conquered was turning a bunch of features into a positive and not a negative. Kanye is a symphony director that organizes the people with the sounds. He put 11 highly acclaimed artist, a few legendary, on the same song and it came out sounding amazing. He does the complete gamut when composing, and i had to give him his just due for just that. I wouldn't be surprised if he mixed the album himself. When i listen to this album i can't even go find another hip hop album to put in without it sounding simple, this simply dwarfs all of it's contempararies. The one thing i can always thank Kanye for is pushing the envelope. If you can stomach more of my superlatives about Kanye go back and read my previous post.