10. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
“You are witnessing elegance, in the form of a black elephant…” with that single bar, Killer Mike manages to nicely encapsulates the inevitability of his album R.A.P. Music‘s inclusion on any album of the year list. Like it’s audaciously blunt title indicates, R.A.P. Music comes on like an unstoppable force; a runaway locomotive, a bull elephant in full charge, a rap attack the likes of which the genre has not seen in decades. Sounding as much like Ice Cube in his prime as the Killer Mike who stepped into the spotlight of mainstream radio with Outkast’s “Whole World,” post-Purple Label, the Atlanta-based rapper has reinvented himself as the archetype of the angry black man. The best way to describe him to any listener not familiar with the new Killer Mike, in fact, would be to say that he combines Sean Price‘s pure lyrical hitting power with the fire and intellect of a young Malcolm X. Weaving the quintessentially American tropes of bibles, guns, paranoia, strip clubs and vast conspiracies into a distinctive southern gothic worldview over production from El-P (who puts his dark post-Moroder synthwork and b-boy drums to excellent use here), Killer Mike fashions R.A.P. Music into a blunt instrument that is both a searing indictment of his homeland (Black President or no) and a steel-toed Adidas to the ass of hip-hop.