10. (tie) Paul Wall: The People’s Champ / Chamillionaire: The Sound of Revenge

Every once in a while a rap album comes on that’s a little bit trivial lyrically but still so funny verbally and so fly musically that it makes an impression on you and stays in your jambox despite the fact you should pull it and play something else. Paul Wall is just such a rapper. Every once in a while a lyricist comes along who gets overshadowed because he’s from the South, who gets unfairly labelled as not having a great topic range or lyric ability, who exceeds all expectations with a well produced and smartly written album. Chamillionaire is just such a rapper. The only crime here is that these two split and went their seperate directions – they’re each excellent on their own but they could have been the EPMD of the Dirty South if they had just stayed together.

9. The Game: The Documentary

It’s been argued by many, even among the RapReviews staff, that this album is entirely overrated and not really that good. The question is – are you still listening to it almost a year later? I am. Maybe Game rides on the strength of his beats, but those are some damn good beats. Most of all you can’t deny that he has a flair to his speech, not unlike 50 Cent, or perhaps ironically TOO MUCH like 50 considering their rather public G-Unit/G-Unot feud once the two went seperate ways.

8. Atmosphere: You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having

Every now and then an album comes along and I go “Damnit! I wish I had reviewed that.” Such was the case with Atmosphere. My words can’t do justice to how potent this release is here but take Tom’s review for it – this is an album you should “Watch Out” for.

7. J-Live: The Hear After

I’ve been on this man’s dick since “Braggin’ Writes” and 2005 is no exception. It continues to amaze me how Live never seems to get tired of being hip-hop’s most overlooked lyrical genius, because he just keeps putting out one classic album after another that more people sleep on than Serta. If props were jewels this man would be living in a palace that would make the Taj Mahal look pale by comparison.

6. Murs & Slug: Felt 2: A Tribute to Lisa Bonet

The concept of this album may seem instantly outrageous, but when you move beyond that into the depths of the music and the hyper-intelligent raps of the duo behind the project, you realize that they need to pay tribute to sepia-toned honeydips more often. For their next album, could they please do a tribute to Naomi Campbell or Halle Berry? It would probably be the hottest record in 2006.

5. The Perceptionists: Black Dialogue

Speaking of rappers who get overlooked, you’ve just created the superhero team by combining Boston-area natives Akrobatik and Mr. Lif with the superb and underrated production wizardry of Fakts One. While most people were yelling at me for hating on Jim Jones and Young Jeezy, I happily replied “thanks for the feedback” and pushed play on this CD. No matter how crappy your day is The Perceptionists can see right through it and brighten your mood.

4. Kanye West: Late Registration

Pause. Insert generic Kanye West factoid. Blah blah George W. Bush, hurricane Katrina, tantrum at the music awards show. Then put in this album and SHUT THE FUCK UP. Kanye had nothing left to prove after his last album, but he did it again anyway. Not only did West go through the wire this time, he ripped it straight out of the frame and bent it into a musical message so dope you’d have to be deaf not to hear it.

3. Danger Doom: The Mouse and the Mask

This album just keeps getting better and funnier over time. Maybe it’s the sly way MF Doom is knocking mediocre MC’s for their boring topics by flipping mad cartoon skills. Maybe it’s the super groovy funk provided by Danger Mouse, a producer sure to be labelled as the “it guy” for the rest of this decade. Maybe it’s all those samples of Master Shake talking trash. Who can say? Despite being a late 2005 release this album may be getting the heaviest rotation currently of anything found in this top ten.

2. Blackalicious: The Craft

I’m not sure I can say anything better about this album than I already did in my review. Bottom line? If you haven’t read it, do so. If you haven’t bought it, go now. It’s after midnight you say? I DON’T CARE, GO BUY IT NOW.You won’t regret it.

1. Little Brother: The Minstrel Show

When you want to be reminded that hip-hop is not a dying art, that it’s only the stuff they play on commercial radio that’s whack, that you just aren’t buying the right albums if you’re feeling depressed about today’s rap music, stop right here. Get back in your car, go to the store AGAIN and get “The Minstrel Show” because you obviously forgot it while you were there buying Blackalicious. Ten years from now this album will be talked about in the same reverant terms as we talk about Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the 36 Chambers” over ten years after it’s release. Some albums make such a big impact that they change what hip-hop is and can be, and this is one of them. Like AJ Styles this album is simply phenomenal.


50 Cent: The Massacre
AZ: A.W.O.L.
Big Pooh: Sleepers
Bun B: Trill
Common: Be
DJ Quik: Trauma
Ghostface Killah and Trife Da God: Put it on the Line
Lone Catalysts: Good Music
Opio: Triangulation Station
Sage Francis: A Healthy Distrust