The list author says: "While record sales continued to plummet, and the industry continued to trend to gimmick singles, 2010 also saw an inspiring flourish of creativity with within the mainstream and just outside it. From Kanye West's Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to musical adventures to Big Boi's alter-ego Sir Luscious Left-Foot, and even the lyrical density of Eminem's commercially dominant Recovery, this was the year of veterans following their creative instincts while still remaining current and relevant."
"Truly lived up to its title, as Kanye West returned with his most ambitious project to date. Production that was at once grandiose and nuanced, and haunting rhymes that expose the alienation and insecurity that come with fame. Sure Shots: "My Dark Fantasy", "Power", Gorgeous""
"The less heralded half of hip-hop's greatest group delivers an explosive solo set that is equal parts vintage southern rap and futuristic funk seasoned by everything in between. And, the trademark staccato flow is as potent as ever. Sure Shots: "Fo Yo Sorrows", "Shine Blockas", "General Patton""
"What looked like a gimmick on paper played as one of the year's most heartfelt and ingenious projects once in the deck. These two masters brought the best out of each other, bridging the sounds from across the diaspora with soul, spirit and fire. Sure Shots "Tribal Wars", "Strong Will Continue", "Despear""
"Miami's most famous former CO fully steps into his persona as The Boss. This isn't gangsta music for hustlers, these are anthems of success for Dons. Ross's delivery is direct but forceful, and his ear for beats remains impeccable. Sure Shots: "Free Masons", "Live Fast Die Young", "BMF""
"Perhaps no album captured the mood of the year better than the pensive tension of The Roots latest. While not as sonically powerful as their last couple, it is every bit as meticulously crafted, proving once again that the Legendary deserve their moniker. Sure Shots "Radio Daze", "Walk Alone""
"Nearly a decade after their classic debut, Kweli and Hi-Tek reunite for an eclectic romp through the different sounds of hip-hop. Classic like it's predecessor? Probably not. Rock solid set from a stellar MC and producer with impeccable chemistry? Yep. Sure Shots "Ballad of the Black Gold", "City Playgrounds""
"With the world expecting a victory lap from '09's rookie of the year, we got a moody meditation on fame, success and life rendered with honesty and maturity. Sure Shots: "Fireworks", "Show Me a Good Time""
"Port Arthur's finest proves that you don't have to sacrifice soul to make the club get crunk with this Source Magazine 5 Mic Honoree. Plus, we finally get to hear Bun lace a DJ Premier track. Sure Shots: "Put It Down", "Ridin' Slow", "I Git Down For Mine""
"With his back against the ropes after the surprising backlash to Relapse, Eminem toned down the morbidity and focused on delivering razor sharp rhymes over accessible production. Stan would be proud. Sure Shots "Talkin' To Myself", "No Love", "Cinderella Man""
"As the final chapter in the Slum Village story, brings together all of the elements that made the group so distinctive. Dilla and Baatin are present both in lyrical form and spiritual essence, and T3 raps like a man possessed over beats inspired by classic Slum that prove Dilla's musical legacy is in capable hands. Sure Shots: "Scheming", "The Set-Up""