EW music critic Chris Willman makes his picks for the year's biggest achievements -- and names five dragged right to his recycle bin
10. LUPE FIASCO
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool (1st & 15th/Atlantic)
Lupe Fiasco has been mentored by Jay-Z and Kanye West, and on his second album, he channels them both. Like Hova's American Gangster, Cool is in part a concept album about criminal life. Since only a few of the cuts end up milking said theme, this release winds up being more of a concept EP within an album. Fiasco's certainly got an aptitude for street drama but really shines on the remaining tracks, which recall West's pop versatility and positive flair. Skating effortlessly from the self-defensiveness of ''Dumb It Down'' to the giddiness of ''Go Baby Go'' while making smart use of sung hooks Fiasco seems ready to join his former tutors in the big leagues.
Image Credit: Pamela Littky/Retna Ltd.