Crunching jazz-metal-salsa hooks, blissed-out ADD songwriting, and Rick Rubin's perfect pitch production. Tied with Whitney Houston's debut for best album recorded while the artist(s) were high on crack. Allegedly. Allegedly high on crack.
9. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter II
With it's unending, effortless verses, and uncharacteristically soulful beat selection, it was the second Carter that put Weezy in the "best rapper alive" conversation. That was back when men were men and kissing your daddy on the lips didn't need to be paused.
8. Ghostface Killah: Supreme Clientele
When Wu Tang debuted Ghostface Killah was the nine-man group's sixth biggest star, but Tony Starks' second set set him apart not only from his crew, as the Clan's true star, but also from all of hip hop's painfully linear thinkers. Why the rapping-in-a-bath-robe-holding-an-ice-cr
7. The White Stripes: Elephant
It took the two palest whites in rock n' roll (an already anemic affair) back to its black roots. But where their first couple discs's distortion limited the group's appeal, Elephant's polish propelled them to new heights: Indie rock that's played at major sporting events. Camper Van Beethoven's fan asks: "Is nothing sacred?"
6. Justin Timberlake: FutureSex / LoveSounds
On his second solo set, Timberlake partnered with uber-producer Timbaland and his protege Danjahands to conjure a pop masterpiece, whose superior songwriting and precise production transcended all the genres it tapped for inspiration (R&B, dance, hip hop). And you know it's gotta be that incredible for us to put former cockboy poster-child J.T. in our Top 10.
5. OutKast: Stankonia
With Stankonia, one of rap's most progressive groups ever outdid themselves and broke every convention of commercial hip-hop (see: "B.O.B." as first single). And in doing so they unwittingly created a perfect blueprint of cross-cultural mash-up that would set the tone for music on both the rap and rock sides of the aisle for the rest of the decade. So fresh, and so clean, indeed.
4. Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP
This album threw the entire world into a tizzy of Marshall-mania and catapulted Eminem to the eschelon of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Elvis, thanks to its brilliantly dark, funny, controversial, and articulate dissection of fame, fourtune, and family. 10 years later, anyone that's ever heard the album is still a Stan.
3. 50 Cent: Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Thanks to his hypnotic song-writing and the big budget production from Dr. Dre, Eminem and others, 50 Cent crafted an ultra-violent Thriller of rap, where virtually every album cut spun on radio stations across the country. Also, Mr. Jackson proved that it's perfectly fine for rappers to sing all their hooks. And pose shirtless on their album cover. As long as they've been shot nine times.
2. Kanye West: Graduation
The Omega to Stankonia's Alpha, Yeezy took 'Kast's genre bending blueprint and made it better, faster, stronger, redefining the boundries of rap, while cementing his position as the decade's top tastemaker in the process. Now he truely can't be told nothing.
1. Jay-Z: The Blueprint
A pitch perfect bird's eye view of celebrity, from the celebration to the angst, featuring a re-revolution in hip-hop production—via Kanye, Just Blaze, and Bink—that brought rap back to its soulful roots, The Blueprint is a flawless listen. Any naysayers left with a reasonable doubt after his first five LPs had to concede that Jay was hip-hop's master architect of the album format.
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