Bilal's incredible comeback album, "Airtight's Revenge," was a notable event on the local soul/R&B scene this year.
Released in September, it was Bilal's first studio album since his 2001 debut, "1st Born Second." Nine years is an eternity in the fast-paced music industry, but the hiatus was definitely not by choice.
Bilal spent most of that time in label limbo; his 2006 gem "Love For Sale" was leaked onto the Internet but shelved by Interscope. Now signed to independent label Plug Research, Bilal's expertly crafted "Airtight's Revenge" satisfied fans and earned a Grammy nod for "Little One."
Speaking of impressive comebacks on the local R&B scene, the Dell East Music Center reopened its doors this summer after a two-year hiatus and a $6.3 million renovation. Over the summer, the venue hosted the O'Jays, War, the Whispers and Teena Marie in her last Philly performance.
Local hip-hop luminaries issued a host of excellent albums in 2010. Freeway made his Rhymesayers debut with "The Stimulus Package," while the Roots offered "How I Got Over" and the collaborative "Wake Up!" album, with John Legend.
Philly-native singer-songwriter Kalenna Harper made her major-label debut as one-third of P. Diddy's Dirty Money on their album "Last Train to Paris," while experimental hip-hop group Chiddy Bang's single "Opposite of Adults" hit the No. 12 spot on the U.K. singles chart.
On the national scene, one event that stands at the forefront is the death of influential MC Guru from cancer in April.
Born Keith Elam, in Boston, Guru ended up in New York City after graduating from Morehouse University in 1983.
Working with the original lineup of Gang Starr, he met Christopher Martin, better known as DJ Premier. The group soon became a duo, featuring Guru on the mike and Premier crafting beats. They released their debut album in 1989, "No More Mr. Nice Guy."
Their unique blend of Guru's intentionally monotone, socially conscious rhymes and Premier's complex production, which drew from old jazz and funk records, defined an era in hip-hop.