1 DIZZEE RASCAL Boy In Da Corner (XL) Driven by PlayStation beats and cartoonish rhymes, Boy In Da Corner is so far removed from the hiphop mainstream it's not even funny.
2 JIM BRYSON The North Side Benches (Orange) The Ottawa singer/songwriter has only released two albums. His first was excellent. This one's even better.
3 OUTKAST Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (BMG) Two of the brightest minds in hiphop split up and are better for it. Neither record is the finished article, but this double-disc set is a hell of a start. Hey Ya is the song, and video, of the year.
4 MATTHEW HERBERT BIG BAND Goodbye Swingtime (Accidental) What happens when an electronic musician makes a big-band jazz record. No pipe cleaners or beard trimmers necessary.
5 MANITOBA Up In Flames (Domino) Electronic pop, with an emphasis on the pop side of things. And, hey, the singing's not too bad either.
6 MADLIB Shades Of Blue (Blue Note) Though not as blunted as his reworking of the Trojan catalogue, Madlib's reconstruction of records by Lou Donaldson, Wayne Shorter, Donald Byrd and Horace Silver is even funkier than you'd expect.
7 TWO BANKS OF FOUR Three Street Worlds (Red Egyptian) Dance-floor jazz at its rawest and most soulful. If this record were from 1973, you'd pay $200 for it. They've saved you $180.
8 RY COODER/MANUEL GALBAN Mambo Sinuendo (World Circuit) Ostensibly a duet record between Ry Cooder and the Los Zafiros string bender, but the gringo is wise enough to largely stay out of Galban's way. Abstract Cubans.
9 QUANTIC SOUL ORCHESTRA Stampede (Tru Thoughts) Hard, hard funk and two of the best cover versions of the year -- deep groove versions of 4Hero's Hold It Down and Beny Moré's Babarabatiri.
10 REQUIRED LISTENING (Do Right!) Proof that the current explosion of intelligent, community-based music in this city isn't strictly limited to white boys with guitars and laptops. Big up to John Kong for digging deep.