Number #9: Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco is a badass. In 2k8 alone, his stellar rap album--so fresh and cutting it's essentially spoken word set over a shimmering production--gained momentum and led to a tour with Kanye West in one of the most impressive shows of the year.
Lupe wouldn't be on this list if it weren't for "Hip Hop Saved My Life," a track that is not only deeply affecting but catchy and memorable. In the vein of Lauryn Hill's "To Zion," off Miseducation, Lupe tells a heartbreaking story about a Houston man rapping to make a living, going "back to the kitchen" to get "back to the mission" of getting his girlfriend off the streets and his mother out of the ghetto. The human side of rappers is rarely shown, unless you count dicks and prostitutes; Lupe's The Cool is a brave release, and certainly one to be remembered in 2K8.