*10. Eligh & Jo Wilkinson “On Sacred Ground: Mother and Son“*
Mother and son duo? Amazing. A project like this is rare as it melds the stylistic rhymes of a stellar hip hop lyricist with the passionate folk singing of his mother. What better way to share the art of music than with your fam! Perhaps a new sub-genre of hip hop to arise?
*9. Zion I “The Takeover“*
I always appreciate Zion I’s work even if it’s the sixth time around. Amp Live’s unique production still persists as he incorporates a variety of beats that he is known for. MC Zion has changed his name to MC Zumbi, but it’s all the same because even after ten plus years, the duo remains strong while still maintaining a rather ambiguous sound, in hopes of not being categorized.
*8. The Grouch and Eligh “Say G&E!“*
The Grouch and Eligh are the Bay Area at its best. Their third collaboration is unmatched and maintains its integrity through the years as their maturity shines through their music. The duo reflects on their years in the hip hop business, yet still maintains their own unique styles of rap to relay the message.
*7. BK-One with Benzilla “Radio Do Canibal”*
Part of the Rhymesayers family, the collaboration has produced something wonderful. With a twist on Brazilian music, they incorporate a new, refreshing sound that exposes many to worldwide musical diversity, yet still maintaining a hip hop feel. Also, the slew of guest artists on hand are endless as Scarface, Slug (Atmosphere), Black Thought, Brother Ali, Raekwon, Murs, Haiku D’Etat, Blueprint, P.O.S, The Grouch, and others rock the mic.
*6. J Dilla “Jay Stay Paid“*
Yes, another homage to the great J-Dilla as Pete Rock arranges the 28 track mix with highlights in the form of a radio show. Executive produced by Dilla’s mother, “Ma Dukes,” it was a way to respect and remember his early days and those he worked with and admired.
*5. Q-Tip “Kamaal the Abstract”*
After a label battle of 8 years Q-Tip’s album was finally released in 2009. Produced entirely by Q-Tip and Dilla, Q-Tip blends hip hop and jazz as he features suave singers such as Norah Jones, Raphael Saadiq, and D’Angelo.
*4. KRS-One & Buckshot “Survival Skills“*
Boot Camp Clik meets Boogie Down. A collaboration of two classic artists fuse Bronx and Brooklyn styles with an endless list of guest artists consisting of Mary J. Blige, Slug of Atmosphere, K’NAAN, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Pharoahe Monch, and Smif N Wessun, just to name a few, they also include heavy hitting production from famous names such as Havoc of Mobb Deep, 9th Wonder, and Black Milk.
*3. Souls of Mischief “Montezuma’s Revenge“*
After a nine year hiatus, Souls of Mischief make a comeback with production from Prince Paul and Domino. As they still preserve their classic Hiero sound, the group still drops rhymes like no other even after all these years. They even kept it “real” as they rented a townhouse in Frisco on Montezuma Street and thus named their album. Hip hop doesn’t get more authentic than this.
*2. Mos Def “The Ecstatic“*
Mos Def’s fourth album is a breath of fresh air for long time listeners and a revelation for new listeners. As he discusses relationships and society, Mos Def adheres to his effervescent rhymes over beats from Madlib, Dilla, and Oh No. Yes, this is something to be ecstatic about as it is Mos Def in his truest form and surprisingly matches up to his debut.
*1. K’Naan “Troubadour“*
Only on his sophomore album, he still amazes. K’Naan remains introspective while educating many on the troubles facing Somalia. Both globally diverse and well versed, K’Naan has only gotten better since “The Dusty Foot Philosopher.” A modern day troubadour, to say the least, K’Naan is the essence of true talent.