With a newfound hunger on the mic and soulful, analog beats from his old collaborator No I.D., Common’s new album recalled his classic early work in the best way possible.
Drake – Take Care
Drake’s sophomore album proved he was a superstar in his very own category, covering all his out-there bases — the woozy, after-hours vibe of “Marvin’s Room,” the Mac Dre hyphy tribute “The Motto” and the title track, a dub-step duet with Rihanna.
J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story
Cole’s long-delayed debut lived up to the hype, whether making you move (“Can’t Get Enough”), making you think (“Lights Please”) or making you hit rewind (“Mr. Nice Watch”).
The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West) – Watch the Thone
This larger-than-life collabo from two of hip hop’s biggest stars — if not the biggest — stole the spotlight for months after its justifiably hyped release, with indominatable anthems like “Otis” and “Paris” and an epic world tour.
Young Jeezy – TM: 103 Hustlerz Ambition
They say good things come in threes. Well, Young Jeezy’s TM: 103 Hustlerz Ambition reinforced that notion by carrying on the street-savvy tradition he set with his 2005 debut Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.