LUPE FIASCO Food & Liquor (1st & 15th/Atlantic)
The hiphop-saviour hype rained upon Lupe Fiasco by tastemakers everywhere is totally justified. With humility, the charismatic skateboarding Chicago MC combines brilliantly complex wordplay, realism and a daydream-like sense of imagery to concoct the most nourishing debut of the year.
CLIPSE Hell Hath No Fury (Star Trak/Sony BMG)
Pharrell may have dropped the ball this summer with his undeniably wack-core solo LP In My Mind, but the Neptunes are back with some neck-snapping hard production in Clipse's much-delayed Fury. Wamp Wamp (What It Do) is only the first in a long procession of heaters.
RAYDAR ELLIS Late Pass (Brick/Traffic)
Raydar Ellis expresses his love for hiphop with a spirit that evokes the hunger of a young Kanye. College student raps on number of intelligent topics - Sambo Song discusses modern minstrelsy in a way other MCs aren't equipped to articulate.
THE SOURCE PRESENTS Fat Tape: Volume One (Koch)
The Source magazine no longer has Benzino on staff, meaning it's back to promoting good hiphop instead of... Benzino. Hiphop's ex-bible presents just that with Fat Tape, which features a handful of ill new DJ Premier joints.
PEANUT BUTTER WOLF PRESENTS Chrome Children (Adult Swim/Stones Throw/Koch)
Forget the Cartoon Network connection. Unlike the Danger Doom album, Adult Swim's presence here only decorates this flawless compilation of smouldering Stones Throw obscurities, plus a sharply shot DVD of the innovative label's Madvillain-headlined SXSW show.