10. Cut Chemist: The Audience’s Listening

Out of all the record on my list, this is the one you are least likely to have bought, but most likelySHOULD have bought. So much emphasis is put on the arts of writing rhymes and making beats that it’s often forgotten that the original M.C.’s (as in Master of Ceremonies) WAS the DJ, who for the sake of getting people involved in parties often rhymed over the records they mixed. Cut Chemist is the bridge between old school and new school – he’s not rapping over the records, but he knows when to have an MC step up and do it for him, and he knows when to simply let his incredible selections and turntable skills speak for themselves. Chemist represents for the DJ like no other.

9. The Game: Doctor’s Advocate

Game ends up in this spot two years in a row, but this year he got it late instead of coming in way early and almost being forgotten. In all likelihood this record will continue to build momentum in 2007 once the epic “One Blood” remix gets played out and a few more singles are spun off the disc – there are a LOT of potential singles on this disc. Repeat value is high, and Game’s confidence continues to increase.

8. J Dilla: Donuts

2006 will be remembered as the year we lost two of the best names that started with James: James Brown and James Yancey, the Godfather of Soul and J Dilla respectively. One’s career has already been measured and considered great, the other’s may unfortunately have been too short to really amass a comparable catalog. If he had to go out on a high note though, “Donuts” was just about the highest possible. Cop this if you haven’t already.

7. Ghostface Killah: Fishscale

If the Wu broke up tomorrow Ghostface would still be standing tall the next day. The man is literally unbreakable – he gets a little more eccentric and more eclectic and still does it to death with his own impeccable Shaolin charm. When the Book of Wu History is written they will simply say that like Sinatra, Ghostface did it for New York his own way.

6. Murs: Murray’s Revenge

Best concert I saw this year, and one of the best albums I bought this year. Murs makes you remember why you loved hip-hop in the first place – NUFF SAID.

5. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere

This is a very strange album, and that’s part of what merits including it on this list. Strange may throw people off; it certainly did Pedro when he dropped his review on it. The strangest thing of all though is how the album grows on you over time – at first you’re not sure about it, then it’s kind of okay, and then when you look back over a year filled with humdrum mediocre bling-tastic rap you realize just how much it stands out.

4. Jedi Mind Tricks: Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell

Passionately violent, Vinnie Paz is one of hip-hop’s most anarchistic and militant advocates. There’s no shades of grey in his stance – you’re either with him or FUCK YOU. It’s that cajones up, bitches down approach and the always excellent Stoupe beats that gets the blood pumping in your veins. JMT makes you want to break stuff, in a good way.

3. De La Soul: Impossible Mission TV Series Pt. 1

The truly Impossible Mission may be finding a copy of this album at retail, but keep looking! De La Soul never dissapoints.

2. Nas: Hip Hop is Dead

This one only missed the top spot by virtue of being released so damn late in 2006; and even for coming out at the last minute it’s just that damn good. Nas is a lyrical craftsman who pays tribute to the old school while sounding as modern and fresh as anybody else in the business. Sleep on this album at your own risk.

1. Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor

Never has a debut hip-hop record been this anticipated or so fully lived up to all of its expectations. If you didn’t buy this one months ago you’d BETTER go and take some of that Christmas cash and cop it. East coast, West coast, third coast, don’t fucking matter a God damn bit where you’re from or what you like because Lupe Fiasco makes a soulful and heartfelt album straight out of the Midwestern United States that speaks to EVERYONE. He’s as real as it gets.


Aceyalone: Magnificent City
Busta Rhymes: The Big Bang
Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury
DL Incognito: Organic Music for a Digital World
Field Mob: Light Poles and Pine Trees
Method Man: 4:21… The Day After
Oh No: Exodus into Unheard Rhythms
People Under the Stairs: Stepfather
Rhymefest: Blue Collar
T.I.: King