As we wrap up the year, we couldn't help but recount the albums that made an impact in 2010. There's no formula for making our Top Albums of 2010 list, but one thing's for sure: Every project on this list, whether an EP, mixtape or label-released LP, is in heavy rotation on our music libraries. Check out our picks for the best albums of the year.

'Pink Friday'
Nicki Minaj
With hype on full blast, Nicki Minaj delivered on her pop-singed debut, 'Pink Friday.' Granted, the offering was light on hip-hop and heavy on Top 40, but she pandered to her mainstream fans as well as her underground stans, glossing it up on 'Save Me' and 'Fly' featuring Rihanna and pandering to the hardcore crowd on 'Roman's Revenge' featuring Eminem. Haters that wrote her off as a fad were silenced once and for all.
'The Stimulus Package'
Freeway and Jake One
In the classic vein of DJ and emcee pairings, rapper Freeway and beat-coddler Jake One teamed up for the hard-hitting 'The Stimulus Package,' chock-full of dope rhymes and bucolic, soul-splashed instrumentals. Free's gristly tenor best plays to Jake Uno's polished crate-dug loops on 'Throw Your Hands Up' and the organ-soaked 'Know What I Mean,' breathing life back into the stale economics of hip-hop.
'Trill O.G.'
Bun B
Bun B flies solo commendably on the third release in his 'Trill' series, yet he never once fails to pay respect to his UGK brother, Pimp C, as the fallen soldier lands a posthumous verse on the 2Pac-assisted 'Right Now.' While the disc features Southern beatmakers like Drumma Boy, due props are given to New York hip-hop with the DJ Premier-produced 'Let Em Know:' "Bun is on the mic, Premier is on the track / The South is in the house, now what can f--- with that?"
'Kush and Orange Juice'
Wiz Khalifa
When the title of a mixtape earns a hashtag on Twitter -- #kushandorangejuice -- there's no denying the commercial appeal of its creator and its respective tunes. After dropping in April, Khalifa's eighth tape, and predecessor to his Atlantic Records project, showcases much of what his daily life consists of: waking up, women and weed. The Pittsburgh rhymer parties through the 20 tracks but proves he has a knack for catchy hooks and laid-back lyrics with 'Mezmorized.'
'Wake Up!'
John Legend & The Roots
For his fourth album 'Wake Up!' John Legend turned to The Roots to craft a soulful covers compilation of socially-conscious R&B songs from the politically-charged 60s and 70s era. Legend unveils grittier vocals through gospel and funk riffs, as he breathes new life into staples like Ernie Hines' 'Our Generation,' and the album's lead single 'Wake Up Everybody,' a remake of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' 1975 hit. Set to live instrumentals from The Roots, 'Wake Up!' delivers an updated spin on classic protest songs.
'New Amerykah Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh'
Erykah Badu
Leave it to Erykah Badu to create a soulful R&B album that causes thought provocation and sexual stimulation. Where 'New Amerykah Pt. 1' was replete with political overtones, this 11-track disc explores love -- the ills and thrills of it all. Her voice, ever delicate, rides the piano-laden, I'll-do-anything-for-you tune 'Out My Mind, Just in Time,' dances over the cash-hungry attraction of 'Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)' and glides through the neediness of 'Window Seat.'
'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'
Kanye West
Successfully surviving Taylor-gate, Kanye West turned over a new leaf in 2010 by treating fans to superior freebies as part of his G.O.O.D. Friday series leading up to the release of his fifth studio album. But instead of half-assing it on the final product, Yeezy carried the songs into epic territory, tying together an insta-classic release with compelling musical motifs and brilliant strokes of lyricism. Forgiveness for public embarrassment couldn't be a more obvious choice.
'Thank Me Later'
The Toronto MC proved hip-hop wasn't dead after selling 447,000 units of his debut LP in its first week. With rap cameos from the likes of Nicki Minaj to production from Noah '40' Shebib, Drake welcomed the assists but shined bright on 'Up All Night' ("I made enough for two n-----, boy, stunt double"), 'Fancy' ("And look, I really think nobody does it better / I love how you put it together") and 'Karaoke' ("I tried to keep us together / you were busy keeping secrets").
'There Is No Competition: The Funeral Service'
Fabolous may have balked on his promise to unleash 'There Is No Competition, Pt. 2: Funeral Service' on Christmas Day, but he eventually made good on its delivery. The resulting 'tape justified the wait, with Loso in the best lyrical shape of his life. Rapping over beats originated by Gucci Mane, Shyne and Drake, the MC dropped head-spinners saturated in ominous ruminations on death, sprinkled with Mafioso braggadocio. Consider the competition bodied.
'Teflon Don'
Rick Ross
Despite scoring a No. 2 position on the Billboard 200 chart during its initial release, the Miami native came out on top with his fourth opus when everyone from suburban white folk to inner-city black youth were chanting, "I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover..." lyrics from his Lex Lugar-produced anthem 'B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast).' Ross served up an all-star feast -- Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, T.I., Trey Songz -- to satisfy the appetite of both rap aficionados and R&B devotees.

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