The Year 2010 in Review
Author: Susan 'SusiQ' Kim
10. Qwel and Maker - "Owl"
Committed to their third album, this Chicago duo has only matured through
the years. Qwel of Typical Cats and DJ Maker construct a creative union
while balancing elaborate lyricism with subdued beats, yet still remaining
9. Atmosphere - "To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy"
Seventeen years going strong, Slug and Ant are veterans in the hip hop
community; many still cannot compare to their unmatched talents. Slug's
nostalgic lyricism provides insight on life as his stories unfold in your
head. Ant takes on a grimier, edgy sound while enhancing Slug's narrative
8. Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and HiTek) - "Revolutions Per Minute"
It's been ten years, but Talib Kweli and HiTek finally reunite to continue
where they once left off. Signature political rhymes from Talib Kweli and
HiTek's multitalented production skills were worth the wait.
7. Gorillaz - "Plastic Beach"
Constantly pioneering in innovative sounds and complexity, Gorillaz always
keeps it appealing to their audience. This time around, Gorillaz is less
pop driven and more intricate in sound as they include an eclectic list of
guests including Snoop Dogg, De La Soul, and Mos Def.
6. Kanye West - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
Kanye has made a comeback after "808s and Heartbreak" as his lyricism has
gotten more superior and his production less muted. With choice guest
appearances and less auto tuned tracks, Kanye has definitely matured as an
5. Zion I - "Atomic Clock"
Amp Live still maintains his variety in production while introducing a new
dub sound as emcee Zumbi continues his unmatched delivery in his lyricism.
Live instrumentation and introspective lyricism fuels this West Coast jewel.
4. Nas and Damien Marley - "Distant Relatives"
Hip hop meets reggae as two musical giants assemble. Inspired by their
ancestry, the duo keeps their culture in mind, while remaining true to their
3. M.I.A. - "/\/\ /\ Y /\"
M.I.A. isn't quite a rapper, but instead, in a genre all her own. She's
boasts her own kind of distinctive artistry with her disorienting, but
intriguing sounds and continues to push the limit with her political
2. John Legend and The Roots - "Wake Up"
Smooth R&B skills and soulful hip hop beats are perfect complements to each
other even when it's fueled by political motives. Incorporating ideas and
sounds from the 60s and 70s activism, Black Thought shines with his lyricism
as well as incorporating guests including Common and CL Smooth.
1. The Roots - "How I Got Over"
Television fame hasn't gotten to this group quite yet. Their signature
jazzy sound and melodic, yet powerful lyricism still resonates throughout
their music. Even after two decades, they are a powerhouse that people
still continue to talk about and celebrate. They return to the basics and
beginnings of where they once started as they once again embrace true
Originally posted: January 4, 2011