Critics Week Begins!

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It’s that time of year again, Critics Week here at Soundcheck. We’ve got expert analysis of the year’s best music in various genres, and today, we have Jody Rosen talking about pop and Jake Paine talking about hip-hop. Later this week we’ll look at classical, jazz, world, and – because that’s just the way we roll here at Soundcheck – a segment on the worst of the year.

We often talk about rock and hip-hop like they’re two different things, but my favorite pop record of the year, Angles by London rapper Scroobius Pip, is neither one nor the other – or maybe it’s both. I’m finding less and less of interest in the hip-hop that makes it onto the Billboard charts, and in that sense, it’s mirroring what’s happened in the rock world, where the most interesting music has for a number of years been made beneath Billboard’s radar, in the DIY world of indie-rock. And of course, hip-hop has often been built around samples of rock songs, and the best DJs have always had a keen ear for interesting rock. So maybe we’re doing both rock and hip-hop a disservice by covering them separately like this – except I can’t imagine Jody not talking about hip-hop and Jake not mentioning the DIY scene. So we’ll see…

As long as everyone’s weighing in with their faves this week, let’s hear from you too. For today, if you have a favorite rock or pop or hip-hop album of 2008 that you’d like to share, let us know.