While I was on my 5 hour drive back to St. Paul (MN) from Madison (WI) today, I was thinking about music in 2004. I concluded that I think the best album released this year is Talib Kweli’s The Beautiful Struggle, with Green Day’s American Idiot coming in an extremely close second. The Beautiful Struggle is a masterpiece – it’s skillfully crafted, tactful, inspirational, beautiful, and all-around amazing. Talib Kweli has incredible lyrics and impeccable style. Green Day, back from the dead, has really grown up since their last album. American Idiot is the album I always suspected Green Day was capable of but never expected them to actually make. The album is a rock opera, with insightful social commentary and an amazing, mature sound. Last year’s overwhelming winner according to me was Jay-Z’s The Black Album. What do you think is the best album of 2004?