Taco Neck, Tutorial
The name kind of says it all—this is how you make an original hip-hop record in 2010: You take chances, take your time and take over.

V!rtu, The Shoe-In
This album came out of left field and killed us with its lyricism, old-school flavor and energy. V!rtu is awesome.

Mic Crenshaw, Under The Sun
One of the smartest lyricists in Portland music proves that being consistent doesn't mean you stop taking chances.

Cool Nutz, Incredible
I'll spare you the "return to form" hyperbole and just say that this was a really solid, cohesively produced album with some of Nutz's most versatile rhyming to date on it.

Cloudy October, The Aviator Is Dead EP
If this were an awards show, we'd also give Cloudy October Best New Artist, Best Male Lead and maybe best single for "Vagabondage."


For more year-end picks, see last week's paper or wweek.com/bestmusic2010.