Jay-Z, American Gangster
Official release date: November 6
We think: After last year's disappointing Kingdom Come, we were quite prepared to laud American Gangster simply for its lack of Chris Martin cameos. On a first listen, though, it turns out Jay's quasi-soundtrack to the Ridley Scott film doesn't need to be graded on a curve — it would take way more than an annoying Englishman to screw up a song like "Fallin'" or the Lil Wayne–assisted "Hello Brooklyn 2.0." Lyrically dense (he spits most of "No Hook" without taking a breath) and made up largely of cut-up soul samples, Gangster sounds more like Jay's trying to recapture the glory of The Blueprint than attempt anything new — but hey, we'll take it!