10.  THE GRATEFUL DEAD-30 Trips Around the Sun: The Definitive Live Story (reissue)

It’s basically a greatest hits live album—which means it’s an actual greatest hits.  The Dead were always at their best live, and their studio versions felt thin.  No, you won’t find all the hits here.  You will find Scarlet Begonias, Uncle John’s Band, Shakedown Street, and a bunch of others—but you’ll also get esoteria like Cream Puff War and So Many Roads.  One song per year, for each year of their career.  And if you’re a real Deadhead (like me), you’ll buy the 30 Trips box set—the full show each of these songs are from: 80 shows, one per year, all on a Steal Your Face zip drive.  Heaven.

9.  REBECCA CLEMENTS-Pure Wasted and Boys Don’t Cry (The Cure cover)

Where’s the album? Because this single is even more extraordinary than your terrific cover of “Boys Don’t Cry.”

8. COUSIN STIZZ-Suffolk County
Best new rapper of the year.

7. JOSH RITTER-Sermon on the Rocks

Mr. Ritter seems to be incapable of making a bad album, or even one that isn’t catchy as fuck.

6. THE GAME-Documentary 2 and 2.5

The Game released over two hours of original material, and there’s not a clunker in the mix. All meat, no filler. No, every single cut isn’t a complete banger—but he’s earning his platinum status on both of these albums. Dr. Dre, Ghostface, all you great ones who released mediocre material this year pay attention.

The first album is kind of “traditional”—shout outs to rap greats, mimicking classic styles, and basically paying tribute to hip hop as a genre. The second is straight gangsta—hardcore songs with real emotion about the street life.

This is how it’s done, guys.

Next: The wait is over…The top five!

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