Da Drought 3 (Young Money Entertainment)
There's only one rapper alive who'd try to get away with talking shit like "I get my Emmett Till on/In a New Edition I get my Johnny Gill on." And you know Lil Wayne won't let go of the rhyme until he's also gotten his ice grill, tip drill and Buffalo Bill on. Weezy was the undisputed king of hip-hop this year, running his crazy mouth on one underground mix tape after another. Da Drought 3 was easily the best, two jam-packed discs of Weezy cruising to Anita Baker and smoking weed by the acre.
Apples in Stereo
New Magnetic Wonder (Yep Roc/Simian)
There's always been something twee about Elephant 6 founder Robert Schneider's de facto Beatles tribute band — as the name indicates, their aesthetic has been very much late Beatles, with alt guitars mixed in. Here, prominent organ sounds, including a few Mellotron interludes, gesture endearingly toward an early-Seventies schlock that subsumes the music's high-end and spiky bits. Schneider's voice has deepened a little too. Hypercatchy songs about encountering the eternal and getting your head together, not necessarily in that order.