5. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2
Run the Jewels, the rap duo made between Killer Mike and El-P, has proven to be one of the best projects in rap in recent memory. The two have impeccable chemistry, and El-P’s production has never sounded better. Out of the three they’ve released so far, RTJ2 is the most accomplished.
4. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
The Harvard pretty boys have come a long way since their first record in 2008. Their latest (though they intend to release a new one this year) is nuanced, mature indie. A poignant sound counts what is probably the best indie pop record of the last ten years.
3. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Who would have thought that a member of Odd Future would be capable of high art. Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” is high brow pop of the best kind; poignant, catchy, and full of depth.
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Not many people thought Kendrick could top his 2012 masterpiece “Good Kid M.A.A.D City” (which would probably also be on this list if I expanded) but then “To Pimp a Butterfly” came along. The fusion of jazz, funk, and hip hop, coupled with painfully relevant social commentary make TPAB one of the most important records of recent years.
1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The maximalism and commentary on fame that Kanye brought to the table in 2010 was something the world had never seen and has yet to see repeated. This is rap of the highest caliber.