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Top 10 Rap Albums - December 2011

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This month: Jeezy breaks his three-year silence; Naughty by Nature take us down memory lane; Roscoe Dash takes wing; The Roots come undun. Proceed for December's Top 10 Rap Albums.

10. Median - 'The Sender'

Median is one of the least googleable names in hip-hop, but the man behind the moniker is definitely worth looking up. His sophomore album, The Sender, dropped way back in August but you've probably never heard it. So here's your second chance. Don't blow it. Producers on board for the project include: Kev Brown, 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Fatin "10" Horton.

Guests: Phonte, Rapsody, Khrysis, and more.
Release Date: In Stores Now

9. Roscoe Dash - 'JUICE'

Roscoe Dash made noise in 2009 with the party starter "All the Way Turnt Up" alongside Soulja Boy. He's now ready to write the first chapter in his career with the release of his debut, J.U.I.C.E. I'm not sure what "J.U.I.C.E." stands for (I don't feel like googling it for several reasons). Somehow I suspect you don't, either.

Guests: K'LA, Kanye West, Big Sean, Wale
Release Date: December 13, 2011

8. Boog Brown - 'The Brown Study Remixes'

You remember Boog Brown, don't you? She placed 6th on my list of Best New Rappers earlier this year. That was mostly on the strength of The Brown Study, Boog's collaborative album with producer Apollo Brown. Brown brought in the likes of Georgia Anne Muldrow, 14 KT, Def Dee, and Apollo Brown to restyle The Brown Study. If you're still sleeping on Brown, may this be the 10-foot spring mattress that renders you awake. Really, it's a fresh way to rediscover an old gem.

Release Date: December 20, 2011

7. Roc C - 'Stoned Genius'

Stoned Genius is Roc C's third outing. It's a start-to-finish sonic thrill with thick, sample-heavy production courtesy of veteran beatsmiths Alchemist, Madlib, Oh No and Jake One.

Guests: Freeway, Termanology, Big Pooh, Blu, Chali 2na), etc
Release Date: December 13, 2011

6. Naughty By Nature - 'Anthem Inc.'

Anthem Inc. is the first Naughty By Nature album with all three members in over a decade. It includes seven new tracks and six of the group's old school hits, like "O.P.P." and "Hip Hop Hooray." Hence, the title Anthem Inc. Duh. It also marks the platinum-selling group's 20th anniversary.

Release Date: December 13, 2011

5. yU - 'The Earn'

DMV rapper yU caught my attention with last year's Before Taxes, a powerful statement that whisked the listener to a place where music wasn't diluted by economic motivation. He's now ready to cement his place as one of the most promising newcomers with The Earn. yU is also showing off his production chops by giving away a free 23-track instrumental project humorously titled A Garbage Beat Tape. Download A Garbage Beat Tape here.

Guests: Diamond District, Duff, DJ 2 Tone

Release Date: December 13, 2011

4. Onra - 'Chinoiseries Part 2'

Arnaud Bernard, better known as Onra, is a Parisian beat chef with insatiable curiosity. In 2007, he released Chinoiseries, a trail of South-East Asia-inspired hip-hop beats. Five years later he returns with another relentlessly exotic beat journey inspired by Asian music. Chinoiseries 2 serves up more of the same mysterious pop-folk records we've come to expect from Onra. There's an orchestral and vintage feel running through the instrumentals. I imagine there's a yoga instructor out there teaching Surya namaskara to these beats.

Release Date: December 13, 2011

3. Common - 'The Dreamer/The Believer'

Common - The Dreamer/The Believer
© Warner

All beats by Dion. All raps by Lonnie, with the exception of "Ghetto Dreams" which enjoys a smooth massage from Nasir. Common once told me that he's questioned some of his career decisions, particularly in his Electric Circus phase. The jury is still out on his decision to make an entire album over No I.D. beats. It's either genius or insane.

Guests: Nas, Maya Angelou, John Legend
Release Date: December 20, 2011

2. Young Jeezy - 'Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition'

© Def Jam

Nearly three years in the making, TM 103: Hustlerz Ambition is Jeezy's follow-up to 2008's The Recession. And what's Da Snowman whipping up this time? A star-studded affair with the likes of Jay-Z and Andre 3000. Also in the works: a similarly titled biographical film which chronicles Jeezy's rise from the mean streets of Atlanta to music stardom. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Guests: Jay-Z, Andre 3000, T.I., Eminem, Freddie Gibbs
Release Date: December 20, 2011

1. The Roots - 'Undun'

© Def Jam

Undun is a concept album built on existential narratives. It follows the life of one Redford Stephens (1974 - 1999). The album essentially illustrates Redford's internal dialog, while prescribing his destiny as it plays out. It starts with the listener finding Redford disoriented, attempting to make sense of his previous life. Gradually, he weaves through key moments in his life through reverse narrative, ultimately deconstructing what led to his and our coming undun.

Guests: Big K.R.I.T., Dice Raw, Greg Porn, Bilal, Truck North
Release Date: December 6, 2011
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