Coop: 2011 brought so many good projects, I couldn’t bring myself to cutting my list down to ten.
12. Gift Raps – Chip Tha Ripper x Chuck Inglish: Chip spit some of his best rhymes/flows in a while and Chuck should be seriously consider as one of 2011′s best producers. (Light One Up, U.A.F., Everyday Chillin, The Coldest)
11. Lost In Hollywood – Yonas Michael: The former half of U-N-I succeeded in making a genre defying album work. (Big Body Benz (Coochie Max), Lead The Way feat. Polyester & Phil Ade, Ms. Popular, Scorpio Lover)
10. Watch The Throne – Jay-Z x Kanye West: Everything surrounded the album overshadowed the actual project, but it was still very good. (Gotta Have It, Primetime, Who Gon’ Stop Me)
9. Live For, Die For – Overdoz: Party raps filled with girls, life, and weed never sounded so good. You need to soul search if you can’t have a good time to this album. (December, Pasadena, It Girl)
8. The DiV – Pac Div: The Knuckleheads’ chemistry and versatility is comparable to some of rap greatest groups. This long awaited debut was worth the wait. (Top Down feat. Skeme & Casey Veggies, Brown, Move On)
7. House of Balloons – The Weeknd: What started all the XO hype, and it was well deserved; emphasis on was. The Weeknd’s latest efforts haven’t been as good as HOB, but that is asking for a lot. (The Party & The After Party, What You Need, The Morning)
6. Covert Coup – Curren$y x Alchemist: Production wise, Alchemist made the best album of 2011. Spitta spat that Pilot Talk better than the albums of the same name. (The Type, Life Instructions feat. Smoke DZA, Smoke Break)
5. From The Westside With Love II – Dom Kennedy: The Summer’s best album makes you feel as if you’re smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles. This album may have the most quotables of any project this year. Dom stated, “I got the most game, never said I had the best flows.” It was definitely shown and proved it with this album. (Platinum Chanel, Money Don’t Stop, Ice Cream Truck, Mr. Champagne Intermission feat. Polyester)
4. L.A. Riot – Thurz: The other former half of U-N-I dropped what may be the most cohesive album of 2011. The way the album cliques is similar to Jay-Z’s American Gangster. Thurz focused on giving us an album with the seriousness of L.A. in ’92 and succeeded well in it. (Rodney King, Riot feat. Black Thought, Prayer)
3. Section. 80 – Kendrick Lamar: Snoop Dogg passed the West Coast torch to Lamar for good reasons. Section. 80 showed why he’s one of the rap game’s best lyricists. (The Spiteful Chant feat. Schoolboy Q, Ronald Reagan Era (His Evil), A.D.H.D)
2. TGTC – Fly Union: If you haven’t heard of Fly Union, you need to take a listen now. The production here is top notch and Jerreau is seriously one of the rap game’s most underrated players. Not too many albums can mesh the subject matter Fly Union does, as well as they did. (Salutation, 5000, Love For You, Don’t Call, Who You Wit)
1. The Brilliance – Jalin Roze: Roze dropped a true classic here. It gets better with every listen, it meshes together so well, and is just flat out good. Roze’s growth from “Few & Far Between” is highly evident and amazing. This is one for the ages. (F^#k That Hilfiger, Trumpets Please, For The Love, Soul Searching)
Bonus: Late Nights & Early Mornings – Marsha Ambrosius: Hands down the best R&B album this year. (With You, Far Away, Sour Times)
Song of the Year: “Party” – Beyonce x Andre 3000
Ace: My list consists of what I’d like to look at as timeless material. All of the selected albums/mixtapes is music from 2011 that I’m sure will continue to hold high ratings on my itunes.
10. Ambition – Wale: Although this album received generally favorable reviews and music critics deemed this album as average, I think that it was very well put together. I’m not the biggest Wale fan but I definitely think that it helped him to cross into the mainstream market.
9. Talk That Talk – Rihanna: This definitely was not one of my favorite albums from Rihanna but i still believe it deserves a mention.
8. Dreamchaser – Meek Mill: Probably the best addition to MMG.
7. Watch The Throne – Jay-Z x Kanye West: The Promo Gods went hard with this one and many questioned if the dynamic duo could deliver.
6. Femme Fatale – Brittany Spears: Call her the Comeback Queen! B. Spears broke her own record with this album making her still the youngest female with the most album sales. Ms. Spears is definitely one to give both Rihanna and Lady Gaga a run for their money.
5. TM:103 – Jeezy: There was a lot of doub that surrounded not only the release of the album but many questioned the content as well. Jeezy showed up and showed out. Definitely the Jeezy I missed!
4. Section 80 – Kendrick Lamar: K. Lamar proves why he’s been called a lyrical genius.
3. Sailing Souls – Jhene Aiko: I was almost tempted to put this mixtape as my number one pick (as it should have). Jhene really set the standards for herself with the Sailing Souls mixtape. The production was dope, the lyrics are unmatched, and her voice is heavenly! I am so anxious to see what Ms. Aiko has for us next!
2. Take Care – Drake: There was a lot of hate with the drop of Take Care especially via twitter. But the album sales speak for themselves.
1. 4 – Beyonce: Need I say more?
Song of the Year: “Racks” – YC & Future
10. 1977 – Terius Nash: We don’t get free R&B projects everyday. Terius blessed us with a quality album earlier in the year that would have been worth purchasing. Although The-Dream was airing out his ex-wife at the beginning of the album there weren’t many misses on the project at all. Standout tracks like “Ghetto” and “Wedding Crasher” kept 1977 in heavy rotation in the whip.
9. The Brilliance – Jalin Roze: We have to show love to the hometown hero. Jalin set ablaze in 2010 and now we’re ending 2011 with the house on him. The Brilliance was true to Roze with introspective raps with that soul feel and his production was A-1. His ode to Pimp C on “Polo Fuck That Hilfiger” is the standout track on this project. Roze used Houston slang on a crazy instrumental that is not south-driven. Even though Jalin is unsigned his project is still thorough enough to be mentioned in this countdown.
8. Finally Famous – Big Sean: A lot of the hip-hop heads would say I’m being blasphemous by putting Sean on the list but I think his debut was pretty good. G.O.O.D Music is known for having a lyrical group of rappers on their roster. Big Sean is not one of them. The expectations were low for the album and Big Sean found himself being the punching bag of the internet before it’s release. When the track list and production credits dropped people began to sing a different tune. When Finally Famous dropped a lot of people were converted. Even though the album was riddled with features, (another beef critics could have with a debut album) the standout track on this album was “Ass (Dance)” which had no features. An excellent song for the club. A dope beat and a simple hook is the perfect formula for club bangers. It’s also produced by Da Internz. Most of the album was produced by No ID, which would give one the assumption that he would give Big Sean his first hit. Finally Famous is an album that every rap fan can enjoy.
7. House of Balloons – The Weeknd: House of Balloons was one of the most popular projects this year. His first installment to the trilogy made websites crash when the other two were released. Thursday and Echoes of Silence don’t compare to House of Balloons. It’s a completely different sound from what you’re use to as far as R&B. The drug references gives The Weeknd his own lane. The standout track on this project is “The Party & The After Party.”
6. Live.Love.A$AP – ASAP Rocky: Live.Love.A$AP has a noticeable Houston and Bone Thugs influence. Rocky also keeps the flashy Harlem tradition alive. All of these things were well balanced throughout the project. ASAP Rocky had everyone calling themselves ‘Pretty Motherfuckers’ out of habit. All it took was a few spins. My personal favorite joint is “Houston Old Head” but the standout joints are “Bass” and “Pesos.” ASAP Rocky came out of nowhere and is looking at longevity in the game. New York has been quiet in hip hop for a while. Live.Love.A$AP has shown signs of life.
5. From the Westside With Love II – Dom Kennedy: The west really made a strong comeback in 2011. With artists like Kendrick Lamar, Overdoz, Casey Veggies and of course Dom Kennedy, the west coast is back and here to stay. Dom is coming in at #5 for his independent release, From the Westside With Love II. This album had a collection of summer anthems and feel good music. The standout tracks on this album were “Grind’n” and “Platinum Chanel.” My copy of Westside II is on ice for the winter but it will definitely resurface around the spring.
4. Section 80 – Kendrick Lamar: Kendrick Lamar is the best lyricist from his class. Section 80 was conceptual and clever. “Keisha’s Song” and “Tammy’s Song” are not your everyday misogynistic raps, giving Kendrick Lamar an edge on originality. On the track “No Make-Up” his character, Keisha raps “It’s the beauty in me but what he don’t see is that I had a black *bleep*” and Kendrick Lamar says “To be continued. Eleven.” If you skip to number eleven it’s “No Make-Up’s” sequel, “Keisha’s Song.” I felt like I had to mention that because it took me so long to catch it. The standout tracks on this album are “Hol’ Up” and “Rigamortis.”
3. Late Nights & Early Mornings – Marsha Ambrosius: My timeline on Twitter was a buzzing when Marsha’s album dropped earlier this year. It’s usually about a rap project so after seeing her name flash across my screen a few dozen times I had to see what the hype was about. Marsha did bring it with this album from the very first song to the last. With great songs like “With You,” “Your Hands” and all of the singles that she released from the album it’s hard to choose some standout tracks. My personal favorites from LNEM are “Your Hands” and “Stay.”
2. Charity Starts At Home – Phonte: Phonte has been around for a while now and he still doesn’t get the attention that he deserves. Charity Starts at Home was released around the time J. Cole’s Sideline Story dropped and was kind of lost in the sauce. Even though Phonte only moved under 8,000 first week units he managed to drop quality music for his fans. Charity Starts at Home has wit and some comedic value. The album also shows that Phonte is just as good of a singer as he is a rapper with the standout song, “Ball and Chain.”
1. Lincoln Way Nights – Stalley: Stalley had another one of those projects that was hard to believe it was free. Lincoln Way Nights had a strong boost from it’s production. Producer, Rashad Thomas, complimented Stalley’s Common-like flow with beats that were made to rattle trunks. This mixtape has popped up in conversations all year after releasing on February 8th. The entire project can be played without skipping but the standout joints are “Pound” and “She Hates the Bass.”
Song of the Year: “Zan With That Lean” - Soulja Boy
10. Inglorious Bastard – Gunplay Once the BAWSE’s right-hand man Gunplay has seemed to turn into the redheaded stepchild of MMG, but that didnt stop him for putting out one of the best street tapes of the year. High quality, high energy music with features from Rick Ross, Diddy and Waka Flocka. Dopest Tracks: Rollin feat. Waka Flocka; Another One Feat Diddy & Rick Ross, & Mask On isnt on the tape, but go download that anyway.
09. Settle 4 Le$ vol 2 - LE$ L-E-Dolla has the best beat selection in the game. His production squad Da Shit Factory always laces him with something so smooth it makes me want to try my hand at rapping, but i’mma leave that to the Boss Hogg Outlaw. I must admit that even though this tape gets daily rotation it doesn’t quite seem up to par with his last two releases The Quik Tape and The Beautiful Struggle. Settle 4 Le$ vol 2 is most definitely a fitting title because it seems more of a throwback to his earlier material. Regardless it still bangs and is worthy of the a download. Just know if you like this you’ll love his other shit. Dopest Tracks: Get What You Give, Havin’ Thangs, Smokin’ Exotic, Want It All
08. Finally Famous - Big Sean “Oh shit! We finally famous i’m ridin w/ the muthafuckin’ top down!” That is my jam! and I really should probably post this album higher on the countdown but oh well. Before this album I loathed Big Sean, but songs like A$$, Dont Tell Me You Love Me, Marvin and Chardonnay, Memories and So Much More have helped change my opinion. Sean dropped a cohesive feel-good album in the midst of all this depressing hipster rap. The dopest tracks are highlighted above.
07. Spaced Out - Marcus Manchild At the forefront of the “New Houston” movement stands Marcus Manchild. His 13 track ep Spaced Out is probably the most overlooked and under-appreciated albums of the year. The classic Houston sound minus the repetitive bravado, Marcus managed to make one of those albums that you can just pop-in and ride to, never having to hit the “skip” button. Dopest Tracks: She Can Roll feat. BC, Never Low feat. Devin The Dude-Korey Blues & We R Not The Same feat Short Dawg & Killa Kyleon
06. Dream Chasers – Meek Mill I read that The Source crowned Ricky Rozay “Man of The Year.” If so his MMG signee deserves Rookie of The Year. One of two guys from XXL’s freshman list actually worth something, Meek did his thing with Dream Chasers. High Energy, solid production and full of hits. I mean two-words, “House Party,” the “Meet me in the bathroom..” line is most definitely go down in history. Meek’s headed to the top and Dream Chasers was his springboard, I just hope he doesn’t ”dumb it down.” Dopest Tracks: House Party, Tony’s Story, Imma Boss, Im Me
05. Ashtray - DJ Burn One Dj Burn One aka Mr. Country Rap Tunes aka The Savoir of Indie Rappers dropped a free instrumental album this year. Burn One has produced for some of the most buzz worthy artists including Yelawolf, Rittz, KD, Jackie Chain & Starlito but his roots go as far back as Gucci Mane’s first mixtape “Chicken Talk.” An album you can either ride, roll-up or rap too, full of classic, southern influenced beats. Dopest Tracks: Live, More Mashed Potatoes, Bobbie Cox, The Last Doobe
04. Take Care - Drake I honestly dont feel like I need to explain why Take Care is on my list; he’s a platinum selling artist so i’m sure the general opinion is the album is dope. I love r&b and Drake does a good job of not letting the genre die. Too soft? Nah, you niggas just aint getting enough pussy. Dopest Tracks: Look What You’ve Done, We’ll Be Fine, The Real Her, Cameras
03. Sailing Souls – Jhene Aiko I’ve been in love with Jhene’s voice since she sung “Santa Baby” on B2k’s Christmas album. Sailing Souls fills that r&b void that has been open so long. SS is an album full of beautiful, relatable lyrics, and years from now it will be looked upon as the coming out party of one of r&b’s greats. Features include Gucci Mane, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, H.O.P.E. and Kanye West. Dopest Tracks: July feat. Drake, Hoe feat. Miguel, Higher, Growing Apart Too feat. Kendrick Lamar & H.O.P.E.
02. Section. 80 – Kendrick Lamar – The best album that dropped this year, I say that because its the only album that all 4 of us have in common. You’ve read the accolades 3x all ready no need for a 4th. Dopest Tracks: Hol’ Up, A.D.H.D., Blow My High (Members Only), Rigamortis, Spiteful Chant
01. Step Brothers – Starlito & Don Trip My favorite tape of the year, hands down. To me this is the perfect rap album. Stepbrothers manages to mix great production, content and lyrical ability with pretentious street swag. The contrast between Lito’s nonchalant flow and Trip’s aggressive, accented articulations leaves no room for boring songs. I’ll be playing this tape for years to come. Dopest Tracks: Life, Hate You 2, In Her Mouth, Pray for Me, 3rd Song
Song of The Year – Kirko Bangz “Drink In My Cup”