10. meek mill - dreamchasers
meek impressed me with this one. i only listened to it off the strength of I’m A Boss cause i was expecting it to suck. but it got a lot of jams on it. work and house party are fucking large. i’m expecting big things from his debut.
fav song: house party
9. gucci/waka - ferrari boyz
shouts out to 2 of my favorite characters in rap for putting out a pretty good duo album in the heat of Watch The Throne. they put in a lot of work this year on their own, but we all know bricksquad flies highest when its stars fly together. 15 tracks of gully, grimy, trap jams.
fav song: suicide homicide
8. lil wayne - the carter iv
this is probably the surprise on my list. initially i disliked it, because it wasnt what i wanted from wayne’s first album out of jail. over time more and more of the songs creeped into my party playlists and driving mixes until eventually i knew damn near the whole album by heart. even shyne’s hilariously awful verse (a favorite for drunk rapping). wayne isnt breaking any new ground here, but he understands how to make an album you just cant avoid.
fav song: blunt blowin or she will
7. shabazz palaces - black up
definitely the most unique rap album i’ve heard since madvillainy. although the opinions ive seen across the internet are very polarizing. i applaud the group for the ambitiousness of the project even if it falls flat at some points. 10 years from now when people look at 2011 in rap, they will be talking about this album being ahead of its time.
fav song: swerve…
6. big krit - return of 4eva
i bumped this all summer. i’m a little surprised how big krit (not intended) has gotten. i hear people who only fuck w/ radio shit talking about him a lot. krit stepped up as a rapper on this project. that good old school southern sounding shit. very excited to see what his debut album sounds like, specifically in regards to guests.
fav song:time machine (w/o chamillionaire)
5. curren$y - covert coup
wow. what can i say about spitta that i havent said 10 times over. hardest working man in the game by a lot. so instead i’ll focus on alchemist. i’ve never been a fan of him really, so i wasnt really anticipating this project, but he fucking brought it. some of these beats sound like fucking movie scores (double 07, scottie pippens, full metal, etc). spitta is slicing these beats up. weaving in and out through the spaces and delivering KOs like ali in his prime. and then there’s a little matter of the verse of the year. freddie motherfucking gibbs. wow. just listen. most years this would be top 3, maybe aoty for me. but that shows how strong 2011 was.
fav song: scottie pippens.
4. kendrick lamar - section80
confession: i wasnt sold on kendrick lamar after OD. i saw a lot of potential, but it was a really scattered effort. section80 is one of the best produced and most cohesive albums i’ve heard in any genre all year. other than drake, kendrick is probably the best of the new generation at conveying how we feel, think and act. i really dig how kendrick was able to work the concepts and lyricism into really good, memorable songs.
fav song: blow my high
3. drake - take care
in a way, as much as i love thank me later, i almost wish he’d never made it because it wasnt really a drake album. i can see the business sense in how that cycle went down, but take care sounds like the album drake always wanted to make. very good balance of r&b and rap without some of the cringy moments that marred his previous r&b work. i think he understands that nobody wants to hear him croon his heart out, but we love the sing-songy delivery of his raps. also, drake is fucking spitting on this album. he’s blacking out on a few of these tracks (ugk, over my dead body, lord knows), but he also knows where to dial it back and let the subtle emotions of his work shine through (look what you’ve done, marvin’s room). all hail rap’s new everyman.
fav song: cameras (surprised right? but i’ve listened to that song the most by far) and hell yeah fuckin right
2. jay/kanye - watch the throne
so what happens when the two biggest rappers alive work together? well, a little bit of everything. even if this album wasnt that good, it’d still make my top 10 just for the experience of first hearing it cold. it was like a complete journey into the unknown. there’s some boom bap. some trap sounding shit. some pink panther music. and dat castle music mayne. im impressed at how kanye can now hold his own with jay as a rapper, and many times even best him. i really dug the focus on black wealth and excellence (it speaks to my situation). the perfect cap to the year of kanye (going back to good fridays). is it perfect? not by any means, but what other album defines 2011 better than watch the throne? the album that everybody and their mama wanted…no, HAD to hear.
fav song: illest motherfucker alive.
and now we’ve come to the finale. and i must say that i’ve enjoyed 2011 more than any other year in a long time. it really feels like quality is starting to win out again and what’s most interesting to me is it seems like the artists of tomorrow are driving the push. 6/10 of the albums on my lists are from relatively new acts (depending on how you look at shabazz palaces).
so lets touch on a few more things before i give you my album of the year.
rookie of the year: asap rocky / french montana / future (tie)
honorable mention albums: the roots - undun / gucci & future - free bricks / tyler - goblin / wiz khalifa - cabin fever / wale - ambition / main attrakionz - 808s & dark grapes II / mmg - self made vol 1
disappointment of the year: j. cole - cole world
shit from other genres i liked: sbtrkt - sbtrkt / james blake - james blake / the weeknd - hob & thursday / nero - welcome reality
producer of the year: t-minus (real estate/poppin bottles, i’m on one, underground kings, ambition, bang bang pow pow, etc)
beat of the year: just blaze - lord knows
1. asap rocky - liveloveasap
“goddamn…how real is this?” and i guess that is the question. how real is this? for a guy to come out of nowhere, and blow up in 3 months off 2 videos and assorted leaks. simply put, this guy is next. i havent been so confident about a rapper’s future since drake dropped so far gone. the production on this is immaculate. a lot of people like to focus on clams casino, but other producers like ty beats, beautiful lou and dj burn one have some ridiculous beats on here. it’s easy to say the beats make this mixtape, that’s part of the reason why people love lil b. but rocky sounds like the rapper these beats were always meant for. i cant remember a new rapper to come from the start, with such a mastery of flow and mic presence in general. he’s crushing these beats like if rikishi sat on michael cera. rocky spends a lot of time rapping about purple shit, drank, and just how flashy a motherfucker he is in general. but it works because he says it in such a factual way that there’s no doubt. if liveloveasap had dropped and was only average, nobody would’ve blamed him, because honestly he isnt supposed to be this good yet. and yet he is. and i cant wait to see what comes next.
fav song: brand new guy
and so that’s how i saw 2011 in a nutshell (or 3 pages in Word).