This was an exceptionally strong year for Black music so I chose to expand both lists to 30 just so I could have the opportunity to extol the virtues of a lot of worthy music. This was such a strong year that most of the albums at the top of this list are either flawless or within a song or two of being flawless (though it needs to be stated that emcees would probably make stronger albums if they limited themselves to 10 or 11 tracks).
Compiling this list took considerably longer than it has in years past because the order started becoming a hassle. I'm not entirely pleased with the order of much of this, excluding the top 10 or so…maybe. But I do think it is important to give you some sense of the relative quality of all of these albums, so I stuck with the ordering format. Imperfect though it may be.
As always, my list is a total reflection of my tastes, nothing more. So if you think Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne are somewhere on this list, you will be disappointed. I am not in the habit of conflating cultural impact with artistic merit…you know, unless an artist of superb quality happens to break into the mainstream. Which is exceedingly rare in this historical moment for the industry with respect to Black music.
Also – I do not make distinctions between official releases and mixtapes, or between singles, album tracks, or leaked songs. I just don't much care about that unless I can make a point about the kinds of songs that end up being left off of official albums that shouldn't have been (for instance, listening to mixtapes by Chrisette Michele and Raheem DeVaughn prove that they would be better served if the label just let them do whatever they want).
I usually do this as one big post, but I have decided to break this up into increments of 6. I will be publishing each installment – one post of singles and one post of albums – every weekday this week.