3. Rhymefest - Mark Ronson presents Rhymefest in Man in the MirrorIsabelle's pick:
Best hip-hop record of the year? You bet. And it never even came out in stores. Mark Ronson applies his pop scented hip-hop production to a concept mash up of a mixtape, employing nothing but Michael Jackson (and the Jackson 5, natch) samples spanning the King of Pop's career to craft the perfect sonic landscape for 'Fest and his cohorts to rhyme on. As an added bonus, we get remixes of classic Jackson-sampling hip-hop tracks like Ghostface's "All That I've Got is You" and De La Soul's "Breakadawn." The homage reaches a new level on "No Sunshine," which finds 'Fest riffing on Jackson riffing on Bill Withers. It's free, so if you don't have it already, there's really no excuse.
3. Estelle - Shine
I think Estelle is John Legend's way of making up for his shitty Liberace schtick these last few years. I believe that this is his way of saying I DO still have good taste and I AM a talented musician, see what I brought you? Pure British R&B/pop gold. Sassy, sexy, talent for days...Estelle is just amazing. She can rap, she can sing the shit out of anything, and she can write too. You already know how I feel about "American Boy." I feel just as good about the rest of this record. She and John Legend singing together is nothing short of beautiful, like Marvin and Tammi, except not in love and not as good, but you know what I mean. And this album has Cee-Lo!