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The Rules


In an effort to maintain some level of continuity, each album has been categorized by its year of release in the US or the UK. If an album never receives a US or UK release, it’s given a “five year buffer period” before it becomes eligible the year of its earliest release anywhere in the world. —SCM


  1.   Pieta Brown: Mercury (2011)

  2.   Vampire Weekend: Contra (2010)

  3.   Javiera Mena: Mena (2010)

  4.   Kelis: Flesh Tone (2010)

  5.   Maxwell: Blacksummers’night (2009)


01. The Roots: Undun

02. Me’Shell NdegeOcéllo: Weather

03. Gillian Welch: The Harrow and the Harvest

04. Frank Ocean: Nostalgia, Ultra Mixtape

05. Pistol Annies: Hell on Heels

06. Tom Waits: Bad as Me (Deluxe Edition)

07. PJ Harvey: Let England Shake

08. Fucked Up: David Comes to Life
09. Beyoncé: 4 (Deluxe Edition)

10. Tyler, the Creator: Goblin
11. Kanye West/Jay-Z: Watch the Throne
12. Colin Stetson: New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges

13. Lucinda Williams: Blessed

14. Rihanna: Talk That Talk

15. Pieta Brown: Mercury


01. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

02. King Sunny Adé: Bábá mo túndé

03. Various Artists: Africa: 50 Years of Music

04. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh

05. The Roots: How I Got Over

06. The-Dream: Love King

07. Lizz Wright: Fellowship

08. M.I.A.: Maya (Deluxe Edition)

09. Vampire Weekend: Contra

10. Taylor Swift: Speak Now (Deluxe Edition)

11. Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday (Deluxe Edition)

12. Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté: Ali and Toumani

13. Aaron Neville: I Know I Been Changed

14. Javiera Mena: Mena

15. Kelis: Flesh Tone

Decade—2009 - 2000:

01. The Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat

02. Kanye West: Late Registration

03. Youssou N’Dour: Egypt

04. Radiohead: Kid A

05. William Basinski: The Disintegration Loops I-IV

06. M.I.A.: Kala (Bonus Track Version)

07. Lucinda Williams: West

08. The Roots: Phrenology

09. Gillian Welch: Time (The Revelator)

10. Bob Dylan: Modern Times

11. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III (Deluxe Edition)

12. Kanye West: The College Dropout

13. Rokia Traoré: Bowmboï

14. Youssou N’Dour: Nothing’s in Vain

15. Orchestra Baobab: Specialist in All Styles

16. Outkast: Stankonia

17. Patty Loveless: Mountain Soul

18. Hank Williams III: Straight to Hell

19. D’Angelo: Voodoo

20. Randy Newman: Harps and Angels


01. Brad Paisley: American Saturday Night

02. Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca

03. Rihanna: Rated R

04. Miranda Lambert: Revolution

05. Maxwell: Blacksummers’night

06. Girls: Album (Bonus Track Version)

07. Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen: Inspiration Information 4

08. Sonic Youth: The Eternal

09. Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2

10. Mos Def: The Ecstatic

11. Oumou Sangare: Seya

12. Vieux Farka Touré: Fondo

13. Roberto Fonseca: Akokan

14. Rokia Traoré: Tchamantché

15. John Talabot: My Old School EP


01. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III (Deluxe Edition)

02. Nina Simone: To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story

03. Randy Newman: Harps and Angels

04. Taylor Swift: Fearless

05. Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation’s Dark

06. Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar

07. Amadou & Mariam: Welcome to Mali
08. Portishead: Third

09. Les Amazones de Guinée: Wamato
10. Kathleen Edwards: Asking for Flowers

11. Fennesz: Black Sea (Vinyl Version)

12. Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs

13. Girls Aloud: Out of Control

14. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War)

15. The Roots: Rising Down


01. M.I.A.: Kala (Limited Edition)

02. Lucinda Williams: West

03. Miranda Lambert: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

04. Trisha Yearwood: Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love

05. Burial: Untrue

06. Lil Wayne: Da Drought 3 Mixtape

07. Radiohead: In Rainbows

08. Youssou N’Dour: Rokku Mi Rokka
09. Sunny Sweeney: Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame

10. Patty Griffin: Children Running Through

11. Bettye LaVette: The Scene of the Crime

12. Feist: The Reminder

13. Panda Bear: Person Pitch

14. Rihanna: Good Girl Gone Bad

15. Supersilent: 8


01. Bob Dylan: Modern Times

02. Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
03. Hank Williams III: Straight to Hell

04. Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury

05. The Roots: Game Theory

06. Todd Snider: The Devil You Know

07. Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped

08. Javiera Mena: Esquemas Juveniles

09. Francisco Mela: Melao

10. Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

11. Solomon Burke: Nashville

12. TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain

13. Vakill: Worst Fears Confirmed

14. Beyoncé: B’Day

15. The Knife: Silent Shout


01. Kanye West: Late Registration
02. Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine (Bootleg)
03. Various Artists: Girl Group Sounds: One Kiss Can Lead to Another

04. Sleater-Kinney: The Woods

05. M.I.A.: Arular

06. Shelby Lynne: Suit Yourself

07. Silver Jews: Tanglewood Numbers

08. Animal Collective: Feels

09. Kate Bush: Aerial
10. Patrick Wolf: Wind in the Wires
11. The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday

12. Gorillaz: Demon Days
13. Danger Doom: The Mouse and the Mask
14. Patty Loveless: Dreaming My Dreams
15. Lee Ann Womack: There’s More Where That Came From


01. The Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat

02. Youssou N’Dour: Egypt
03. Kanye West: The College Dropout

04. Usher: Confessions

05. Mos Def: The New Danger
06. Sam Phillips: A Boot and a Shoe

07. Cam’ron: Purple Haze

08. Todd Snider: East Nashville Skyline

09. Allison Moorer: The Duel

10. Ghostface: The Pretty Toney Album

11. David Darling & Wulu Bunun: Mudanin Kata

12. Iris DeMent: Lifeline

13. Feist: Let It Die

14. Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South

15. Mamadou Diabaté: Behmanka


01. William Basinski: The Disintegration Loops I-IV

02. Rokia Traoré: Bowmboï
03. Dizzee Rascal: Boy in Da Corner

04. The Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight

05. Erykah Badu: Worldwide Underground
06. Oumou Sangare: Oumou

07. Vijay Iyer Quartet: Blood Sutra

08. Vakill: The Darkest Cloud

09. Wanda Jackson: Heart Trouble

10. Café Tacvba: Cuatro Caminos

11. The Wrens: The Meadowlands

12. Liz Phair: Liz Phair

13. Madonna: American Life

14. Tindersticks: Waiting for the Moon

15. Missy Elliott: This Is Not a Test!


01. The Roots: Phrenology

02. Youssou N’Dour: Nothing’s in Vain

03. Orchestra Baobab: Specialist in All Styles
04. Keith Fullerton Whitman: Playthroughs

05. The Delgados: Hate

06. Beck: Sea Change

07. Mclusky: Do Dallas

08. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: Source Tags & Codes

09. Solomon Burke: Don’t Give Up on Me

10. NRBQ: Atsa My Band

11. Nas: God’s Son

12. Deerhoof: Reveille

13. Sleater-Kinney: One Beat

14. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

15. Boards of Canada: Geogaddi


01. Gillian Welch: Time (The Revelator)

02. Patty Loveless: Mountain Soul

03. Jay-Z: The Blueprint
04. Bob Dylan: Love and Theft

05. Lucinda Williams: Essence

06. Orland Cachaito López: Cachaito

07. Aaliyah: Aaliyah

08. Tindersticks: Trouble Every Day

09. Tindersticks: Can Our Love

10. Fugazi: The Argument

11. Bjork: Vespertine

12. Tricky: Blowback

13. Kylie Minogue: Fever

14. Fennesz: Endless Summer

15. Radiohead: Amnesiac


01. Radiohead: Kid A

02. Outkast: Stankonia

03. D’Angelo: Voodoo

04. Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica

05. Erykah Badu: Mama’s Gun

06. Boredoms: Vision Creation Newsun

07. Sigur Ros: Ágætis byrjun

08. PJ Harvey: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

09. Nelly Furtado: Whoa, Nelly!

10. Sugababes: One Touch
11. Jill Scott: Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Music, Vol. 1

12. Merle Haggard: If I Could Only Fly

13. Allison Moorer: The Hardest Part

14. Sade: Lovers Rock

15. Sinéad O’Connor: Faith and Courage


01. The Roots: Things Fall Apart

02. Mos Def: Black on Both Sides

03. Randy Newman: Bad Love
04. The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs

05. Binary Star: Waterworld

06. Sleater-Kinney: The Hot Rock

07. Shelby Lynne: I Am Shelby Lynne

08. Gary Allan: Smoke Rings in the Dark

09. Willie Nelson: Night and Day

10. Latin Playboys: Dose
11. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris: Western Wall
12. Eminem: The Slim Shady LP

13. Papa Wemba: Fula-Ngenge

14. Taj Mahal & Toumani Diabaté: Kulanjan
15. Kelis: Kaleidescope


Sam C. Mac—Music Yearbook


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