10. Musicology, Prince (2004)
Prince’s best album in more than 10 years. When he released this, all I could think was “music is back!” Then again, I probably would not have picked it up if they hadn’t been passing it out at his concerts. The big revelation was that he was ready to come back full force – for a long time he had been in an extended “see what I can do” phase, where it was like he was trying to come up with the least memorable music of his career. In the years after Musicology, he’s released a bunch of new music that has been at a similar high level.
9. Sam’s Town, The Killers (2006)
After I heard “When You Were Young” while playing Rock Band on the XBOX, I was really impressed with the songwriting, so I downloaded the Killers album, not knowing what their music sounded like. But the album was like whooosh! Maybe it’s because I actively avoided radio rock music since I accidentally heard Nickelback and was traumatized. The weird thing was, I read a lot of stuff online about how Sam’s Town was a big letdown after their first album, but for my money, this is the album that defines their sound. Their musical execution in the studio is phenomenal, the guitar solos are lyrical, and the songwriting from beginning to end is as poetic as can be. (I’m of the opinion that rock songs tend to have the worst lyrics of any genre.)
Anyway, I know I’m a nerd. So what.
8. Greatest Hits, Foundation Movement (2006)
I used to see these brothers like every other week, but I guess it’s normal that as you get older and stuff, you tend to lose touch with folks here and there. Regardless, there’s no way I could forget to put one of the finest hip hop acts to ever come out of Boston on my decade-end list. Speaking of Boston hip hop, Edo G guested on “Movement” with an inspired verse that makes me nostalgic even now three years later – and he’s just one of several high-profile collaborators on here. I think the fact that world famous cats were itching to jump on a track with FM reminds us that sometimes the best stuff in the world is being made right next door. Don’t stop checking for it.
7. Supreme Clientele, Ghostface Killah (2000)
This was released almost exactly ten years ago, but it still looms large in my memory. I think Ghost kinda defined the split that was gonna play itself out in hip hop music over the next several. The first song on the disc – the bugged out “Nutmeg” – was the first I can remember to force a listener to understand its concept primarily from elements other than its lyrics. Ghost had always done a little roundabout stuff in his songs, but it was consistent throughout this entire album, and he went on the show it would be consistent for the rest of his career, pitting him in sharp contrast to rappers like Plies or MIMS or the Ying Yang Twinz who made songs that had no real meaning at all.
Something about Ghost’s raps on this album reminds me of ziti.