If you are an avid fan of hip-hop/rap, and derives joy from listening to people put words together to enlighten and fight for social justice, then you’ll love these cautiously selected albums. Real heads and hard listeners, I give you the top 10 Hip-Hop/Rap albums of 2010.
1. Modenine – Da Vinci Mode
He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest lyricists in Africa and the best out of Nigeria, and I’m sure rap cats have had to change their track listings on few occasions when this Hall of Famer releases albums. It isn’t always easy to bridge the generational gap in hip-hop culture especially with the younger generation coming off as being ignorant and tends to tilt towards the pop culture but this man is doing it with style and skills. His 8-ball corner-pocket rhymes are still the same and the only thing that changed was the dapper look he got going on in the video of “What You Want”, where he featured another promising female talent Mo Cheddah. His album Da Vinci Mode is the best album out of Nigeria in 2010. See you in 2055.
2. AQ – The Past, Present & Future
I have got a thing for underdogs and their against-all-odds stories. No Homo. Those that follow Nigerian hip-hop scene religiously will agree that this project is long overdue and I’m happy it took a while because this is a magnum opus by all standards. Some tracks are frenetic like NAMES and others like DIARY are arresting with a compelling, powerful message like “Born into this family, born with the mentality that I was born just to replace a past tragedy”. You got to love the seamless transition between the tracks.
3. B-Elect – Hard Listeners
He is a revered hip-hop personality and a member of the group that light up the scene with their lyrical bravado “The Thorobreds”. B-Elect is not your average lyricist but an educator and few of the heads in Nigeria who incorporate hip-hop as a valuable teaching tool. If you are not a hard listener you shouldn’t even bother to hit the play button.
4. M.I. – M.I.2
This is not an album but a movie. It is a collection of movie scenes that was wittily converted into MP3s. M.I’s transition from hip-hop to pop is of similarity with hip-hop producer-turned-hit rapper, Kanye West and most will argue that this is the best hip-hop/rap album of 2010 but I beg to differ. He is at the peak of his lyrical fitness and might have also put the industry on the global stage at the 2010 BET Awards but this album cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with “Talks About It”. His ability to work with producers like E kelly and produce himself is something most envy him for. This is an album that is hard not to like, no matter what the listener’s musical preference is.
5. Terry Tha Rapman – Boyz Are Not Smilin’
You cannot estimate the degree of novelty of Terry’s ideas; you just need to look deep into his mind’s eye and once you can see what is going on there you’ll probably never reach any conclusion you can truly believe as to how his mind operates. His “Boyz Are Not Smilin’” brand obviously helped him to expand his fan base and penetrate the market and I hope upcoming acts are paying attention to how he is strategically taking over the scene with a logo on a t-shirt. He is businessman. Period!
6. OverDose – Hustle Or Die
OD is another member of Nigeria’s hip-hop upper echelon and whether he is spitting over rock-influenced beats or dishing out street knowledge on Dilla-esque beats, he always come off nice and futuristic even for 2010. And don’t let the suit and tie fool you; he will still turn rap cats into punching bag inside the booth.
7. Pherowshuz – The Return of Phero The Great
He had the audacity to coin out the title of his album from his name “Pherowshuz” and the album cover was a bold statement that he is the ruler of the music industry, and he backed up the claim with all the tracks on this album. Thankfully, Pherowshuz delivered that good stuff, and he might have even handed us one of the year’s best street anthem: the Tommy Shields sleek production “Korrect.” This is a “KORRECT” album. Check!
8. Yung Hanz – Book Of Hanz
This is the year’s best debut by one of the future greats. Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Yung Hanz wrote the “Book Of Hanz” and he did it on self reliance. He flipped out on DISPLAY and ripped it to shreds. The fact that one producer produced all tracks “Ray-X” is a bold statement too and I’m putting my money on him because he is going the distance. This is a memoir for street disciples. (You might want to play Jay-Z’s “A Star Is Born” now).
9. Vector – State Of Surprise
Most Jay-Z fans will tell you that Vector mirror his vocal and that he is a copy-cat and as such he should be annihilated somehow. I feel there is no need for the finger pointing or a call by some in the industry to end his career. Why kick the kid in the groin for the way that he speaks? I just don’t get it and I must confess that I like the way he addresses it on the track ‘Kilode’ with these lines “You ain’t got a problem with Pype and Sean Paul/M.I, Kanye and Weazy, not at all/You ain’t got a problem with D’Banj and Durella/But when it comes to Vector the Viper and Roc-A-Fella/You fellas go crazy on me.” If DNA has the ability to replicate itself I don’t see any problem with Vector being Jay-Z’s replica and it is clear that the only disparity between Jigga and Vector is their lyrics. I think it is time for the industry to get a grip and get use to the fact that he going to be around and as such would still be spitting like Jay-Z. State Of Surprise is another great album in 2010.
10. Cyrus Tha Virus – Rebellion
Just when you thought there was nothing left for the Bengazi emcee to prove, the fierce rapper came out of the studio with an album that was loaded with enough lyrical cannonballs that’ll blow up your eardrums. He is the “deadliest virus of the year.”