Thoughts on 2008: Exclaim! Contributor Omar Mouallem

Thoughts on 2008: Exclaim! Contributor Omar Mouallem
To tide us over while we indulge in the holiday spirit gorging on stuffing and egg nog, we asked a bunch of our contributors to tell us their thoughts on 2008, as well as their favourite records that helped make it a memorable year. Omar Mouallem gave us his top ten favourite Beats & Rhymes albums:

I'm not a music snob, I swear. It just so happens that in 2008 the best work came from the ground up. Sure, Lupe Fiasco, the Roots and Nas all put out strong albums (I am aware that many will disagree on the latter, but I will not budge on my statement that it "could be this generation's Fear of a Black Planet)," but compared to the rest of their catalogues, they were far from their best works. Meanwhile, Jean Grae rose from the ashes like a phoenix and made something worth retracting all her retirement threats, while Common Market toned down the Christian-overtones to make something universally brilliant and the most verbally intricate album I've ever heard. And Rhymesayer's Jake One stitched together the mainstream and underground with his debut album as a producer.

Most remarkably, for me, I had three Canadians on my list this year (as opposed to previous years when it was one or zero), and the best one, of both the Canadians and the entire list, came to me almost accidentally. I drunkenly bid on D-Sisive's The Book for five dollars at a silent auction. My first listen shook me to my core. It is haunting and beautiful, moving and stiffening, unfamiliar and yet orthodox hip-hop. It's one of the best displays of lyricism I've heard in years.

1. D-Sisive The Book (Urbnet)

2. Common Market Tobacco Road (Hyena Records)

3. Lupe Fiasco The Cool (Atlantic)

4. Shawn Jackson First Of All... (Tres Records)

5. Justis Just Is (Do Right!)

6. Jake One White Van Music (Rhymesayers)

7. Nas Untitled (Def Jam)

8. Jean Grae Jeanius (Blacksmith)

9. Shad The Old Prince (Black Box)

10. The Roots Rising Down (Def Jam)