6. Teflon Don, God, The Government, The Game (Makeshift Music)

Former Army corporal turned Memphis hip-hop hustler Donald Askew turned out a conceptual LP that goes against the prevailing gothic, gangsta style dominating the city’s rap scene. His songs — including mini-epics about the trials of urban life, military life and the collateral damage resulting from each — flow with a power and grace that balances the grime of the street and a subtle spirituality.