32. Deem Spencer, 'We Think We Alone'
An earnestly personal bedroom-pop album about the death of a grandparent is not exactly the type of project that grabs attention in the hip-hop world. But We Think We Alone is assembled with such gentle brilliance that its appeal is universally undeniable. Deem Spencer sings and raps, murmurs and mumbles, with a slight, breathily likable style, recording quietly as if trying to avoid disturbing anyone. The lo-fi production often scrapes and distorts, but Spencer's intuitive knack for textures and his off-handed sense of songcraft, especially melodically, allows the loose flotsam of recording to cohere into an album that's far greater than the sum of its parts. We Think We Alone makes an impression – Mos Def's "Umi Says" comes to mind, at times – with its singular, unassuming grace. D.D.