Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Top 20 Albums of the Aughts

This post has been a long time coming. Sometime back in November or December I came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to compile a list of the top 20 albums of the past decade - because that is a completely original idea that nobody else would duplicate as the first decade of the current millennium was coming to an end. Unfortunately, I have no real musical background that qualifies me to say what is or is not "good" music, but I do buy a shitload of music and, at the very least, that qualifies me to have some opinions. Instead of trying to come up with albums that had some significant cultural impact or any other such pretentious reasons, I just tried to figure out which albums I got the most enjoyment out of over the past 10 years and which ones still sound good today. Being a nerd, I tried to quantify each album's "goodness", but there's no need to go into that here.

In no particular order, here are my top 20 albums of the aughts:

The Darkness, Permission to Land (2003). This album was on heavy rotation in my old '87 Bronco...until that car prematurely died. Justin Hawkins' voice is easily my most favorite singing voice of the past decade. Permission to Land is generally regarded as The Darkness' best album, although they only released two before breaking up. Subsequent to the break-up and after emerging from rehab, Justin Hawkins formed a new band, Hot Leg, and their album is definitely worth seeking out.

Kanye West, College Dropout (2004). All four of Kanye's albums could easily be on this list, but I chose College Dropout because it was the first new hip hop album I bought after being turned off by most early 2000s hip hop (something I blame CVE and Ellay Khule for). Kanye's definitely continued to improve as a rapper and producer since College Dropout, but it still stands the test of time, just like Sammy Hagar's finest lyrics.

Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III (2008). Similar to Kanye, just about any, or every, Lil Wayne album from the past decade could be on this list, but I warmed to Lil Wayne later than most people and The Carter III is his first album that I actually looked for to. Needless to say, I thought the wait was well worth it.

Outkast, Stankonia (2000). Outkast and CVE were just about the only hip hop groups I listened to in the early part of the past decade. I remember going to Tower Records at Stonestown the morning this album came out, either right before or right after class at SF State. That Tower Records no longer exists, but this album still sounds fresh. I really wanted to include "Humble Mumble" or "Red Velvet" on the playlist below, but they weren't available.

Plastic Little, She's Mature (2006). Plastic Little is a rap group from Philadelphia that I don't really know too much about, but I like their music, especially their humorous lyrics. My favorite song on the album is "Rap O'Clock".

Tegan and Sara, If It Was You (2002). Since I heard "Monday Monday Monday", the lead single off It It Was You, Tegan and Sara have been one of my favorite groups of all time. This is another album that was on heavy rotation in my Bronco. This list could very easily include Tegan and Sara's three subsequent albums, but this is the album that turned me on to them and it's their "hardest" album in my opinion, so it makes the list.

Weezer, Weezer, aka The Green Album (2001). I totally slept on Weezer in high school, when I was too busy listening to only hip hop, but since getting into them, not coincidentally around the time this album was released, they've become on my favorite bands. Rivers Cuomo is a great nerd songwriter and I'm a great song-listener, so it's a perfect match.

San Quinn, The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds (2006). San Quinn carried the torch for Frisco rappers in the aughts and this was probably his best album from beginning to end.

Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend (2008). The blogerati's favorite album of 2008 was pretty damned good. Who knew a bunch of preppy whiteboys could incorporate African rhythms into catchy indie pop songs so easily?

XRabit + DMG$, Hello World (2009). A British producer hooked up with a Houston rap duo to make what is probably my favorite rap album of 2009. It also appears to be one of the more slept on albums of the year. "Damaged Goods" is my favorite track on the album, but I can't find a link to it so here are two of their songs: "Follow the Leader" and "Ferris Bueller".

B.O.B., Hi! My Name is B.O.B. (2008). This is technically a mixtape from Atlanta-based rapper B.O.B., aka Bobby Ray, but it's better than most rap albums that came out in the last few years. B.O.B.'s proper debut album is supposed to be released in May 2010, but a simple search can probably find all the songs he's released to date. As another option, put together a digital version of what they thought his first album should've been.

Mates of State, Team Boo (2003). I saw this husband and wife duo open for Santigold and immediately went to the merch table and bought three of their albums. This is my favorite album of theirs.

MURS, The End of the Beginning (2003). MURS isn't exactly the same rapper today that he was in the late 90s, but this album still holds up. Further, the cover art features a bunch of action figures - that's more than enough to win me over.

The Virgins, The Virgins (2008). I'm not sure when Dance Rock became an official genre of music, but this is my favorite Dance Rock album. This is my evidence: Exhibit A, Exhibit B and Exhibit C.

The-Dream, Love Hate (2007). Despite the fact that The Dream is probably plotting against humanity, he's helped make some of the most popular songs of the past few years and Love Hate is arguably the best R&B album of the aughts. The Dream's second album, Love vs. Money, was a borderline great album as well and his next album, Love King, should provide more of the same.

Afroman, The Good Times (2001). This is probably where I lose whatever credibility I had been building, but I think Afroman is probably the single most underrated rapper of all time. I would imagine everybody knows his biggest, and possibly only, commercial success, "Because I Got High", and I'm sure he's been written off as a one-hit wonder as a result. Afroman's flow isn't complex and his beats aren't exactly groundbreaking, but his songs sure are fun to listen to. He's got some pretty funny concepts and lyrics, and he's not afraid to do his best to write some more poignant songs. All things being equal, "Palmdale" is easily my favorite Afroman song.

Santigold, Santogold (2008). If memory serves, this was one of the most anticipated albums of 2008, and it actually stood up to the hype. Two years later it still sounds good, although maybe not as great as I thought it was when it first came out. "L.E.S. Artistes" is one of my favorite songs of the decade.

Chromeo, Fancy Footwork (2007). Chromeo is another group I initially slept on, but once I became aware of them I jocked them pretty hard for a minute. Their music kind of reminds me of what Hall & Oates might be doing if they were new artists in the 2000s, although Chromeo's vocals obviously pale in comparison to Darryl Hall.

Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (2006). Easily the most relevant Wu-Tang member in the 2000s, Ghostface had a strong run in the early to middle part of the decade, and Fishscale is his most complete album as far as I'm concerned.

Jules Santana, What the Game's Been Missing! (2005). I never fully jumped on the Dipset bandwagon, but I think this is easily the best Dipset album and one of the better hip hop albums of the decade. In addition to clever wordplay, this album boasts some of the most ridiculous beats from the past ten years.

There you have it, my top 20 favorite albums form the first decade of the 2000s. Below is a playlist with one song form each of the above albums. Hopefully now that football season is winding to a close, known associate will be able to post something similar.

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