Season’s Greetings to everyone reading this! Here we are in December (Is it just me, or did this year fly?) and you know what that means. It is time to reflect on the best books and albums of this year. Now keep in mind, that this list is not comprehensive. I am only commenting on what I have read and heard in entirety. A wrap up of all the major releases would be much too long of a post. So here goes:
Born To Use Mics– An Anthology based on Illmatic by Nas, featuring scholars like Kyra Gaunt, Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Lamont Hill offering critical engagement with the subject matter of this classic debut album. This was an enjoyable read. (Note: If anything like this is ever done for Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, I want in!)
Brainwashed by Tom Burrell- This book deals with the internal issues of the Black community, and how we can take steps to deal with them. All about solutions to social problems, Burrell gives us context to see exactly how we got to where we are today. There is no issue that effects us as a people that go untouched (I am still working on that whole “Chewicide” thing. LOL)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander- This important book really outlines how our modern prison system functions to marginalize those it ensnares to the point that it mirrors Jim Crow. With the news of the Georgia prison protest going on, this is an issue that will continue to be hotly debated.
Still reading: Disintegration by Eugene Robinson, and intend to read The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. When all is said and done, 2010 was a solid year for African-American book releases.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
Kanye really outdid himself with this album. From his stepped up rhymes to some of the most creative sampling this year, Mr. West reminds us why he is such a factor in the rap game. Only he can quote Napoleon Dynamite, bring Chris Rock on as a skit, end the album with Gil Scott-Heron and make it all come together. Favorite Song: “Power”
How I got Over– by The Roots
Roots pretty much had the album of the summer with this project Favorite Song: Dear God 2.0
I’m New Here by Gil Scott Heron
Gil Scott Heron, the iconic spoken word artist dropped a new album: after a 16 year gap. Was I the only one that noticed/cared? Hearing Gil speak over the “Flashing Lights” beat was worth the cost of the CD alone. Yup. Favorite Song: “New York is Killing Me”
Distant Relatives by Nas and Damian Marley
The collab album from Nas and Damian Marley with a strong Pan-African theme makes the list most definitely. Favorite Song: “Strong Will Continue”
Revolutions Per Minute by Talib Kweli
Talib teams back up with Hi-Tek and brings in some newer talent to showcase without getting outshined by them. “In This World” and “Midnight Hour” are definite standouts. Favorite Song: “Just Begun”
Melatonin Magik by Canibus
The ninth album of the “lyrical analyst” Canibus checks in with a good but slept on album. Featuring Prof. Griff and boasting a good combination of fitting production and edgy subject matter, Bis comes through with a banger. He hasn’t lost it, eff what the industry says about him. Check the full review here. Favorite Song: “Dead by Design”
Classic by Rah Digga
The Jersey MC comes back with her second album after a ten year hiatus. Check my full review of it when you get a chance. Favorite song: “This ain’t no Lil Kid Rap remix”
I want to end this post by asking my readers this question. What were some of your favorite books and albums of 2010? Were there any great albums that you feel that I overlooked? Get at me.
I didn’t include movies in this post, because the only ones I saw worth noting this year were Expendables and Tron Legacy. See you next year! Peace!
-Marc W. Polite