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OUTKAST Stankonia (BMG) The year's freshest hiphop roars out of Georgia.
2 SARAH HARMER You Were Here (Universal)Great voice, great songs, great future for a major emerging Canadian talent.
3 RADIOHEAD Kid A (EMI)Moody, majestic magnificence from brooding Brits.
4 CALEXICO Hot Rail (Quarterstick)Culturally colliding latin-laced lunacy from the Arizona desert, rich in marimbas, accordion and long shadows.
5 JOHNNY CASH American III: Solitary Man (American)Rick Rubin teams up with the Man In Black for another great gamble on well-chosen cover tunes.
6 EMINEM The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope)He's not anybody's role model -- doesn't want to be -- but he's got tons of talent, and it shows.
7 ERYKAH BADU Mama's Gun (Motown)Gritty groove and a golden voice fuel this sexy soul with plenty of attitude.
8 BLUE RODEO The Days In Between (Warners)A strong, poppy outing from one of Canada's best.
9 OMARA PORTUONDO Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo (Nonesuch)Gorgeous Cuban cool from this sexy, soulful veteran.
10 ST. GERMAIN Tourist (Blue Note)Fusion doesn't frighten in the hands of Ludovic Navarre and a crew that hangs jazzy jams on straight-ahead beats.*in a year without an unequivocally great record on a par with Nirvana's Nevermind, Beck's Mutations or Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell -- discs that almost everyone could agree on -- 2000 still saw many outstanding releases. Artists like OutKast showed that innovative hiphop could be commercially viable, while Merle Haggard and the Handsome Family proved that the terms "rootsy" and "cutting-edge" are not mutually exclusive. Of course, all was not good. Herewith, NOW's music writers salute the best and take one final shot at the worst.
The year's freshest hiphop roars out of Georgia.