The next category up in our #2011RapUp list is Best Albums of 2011. Hundreds of albums have dropped over the past year and we want to highlight on some of the significant ones. Hit the jump to see all of our picks!
Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
Easily the best album of 2011. Kendrick’s debut album comes with a wide range of different tracks that appeal to the true hip hop fan. He has the best lyrical talent in in the game right now and it shows in all of his songs.
Tyler The Creator – Goblin
“Fuck rolling papers, I’m a rebel bitch i’m ashin’ blunts.”
Take us back a year ago and no one knew who the hell Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All was. The ODFWGKTA leader, Tyler, The Creator, has been building his own solo reputation, carrying an original style that most would say “is too far over the line.” However, his uneasy humor, boyish demeanor, and horrific fantasies from muder to rap give a deep presence in his music. His music isn’t for the everyday fan but it definitely steps away from popular rap music that rovolves about money, hoes, and cars and instead addresses deeper issues in society that is needed in hiphop today.
Common – The Dreamer, The Believer
I just gave this album a spin the other day for the first time and was blown away. Common puts everything on the table in this album and may be one of his best projects to date. I know that’s a bold statement but Common’s flow + lyrics are just too damn good.
Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne
A lot of people are going to give me shit for picking this album. Most of us werent ready to hear an album like this from Jay and Ye. The two took a much different approach in their lyrics and choice of beats than we are comfortable to hearing from them. Ignoring the fact that the two talk an awful lot about how powerful they are, I think it was a very well constructed album with some very dope beats. We know that they could easily make a classic album together, so why not try something different and give it a shot. They also aren’t the rapers they were ten years ago and can’t talk about the same thing, so take it as you will. The two really bring a lot of energy to the table and their lyrics are catchy as hell. The album is still better than 99% of the other crap out there. The track of the year undeniably goes to ‘N*gga’s in Paris’, in which they performed close to a dozen times at each stop on their recent tour and the crowd gives the same amount of energy the last time as the first time it was performed. Now don’t tell me that shit isn’t cray!
Jay Rock – Follow Me Home
The 2010 XXL’s freshman’s album is full of good tracks. He helps spread the new west coast movement incorporating high energy with a rugged sound. He reflects on his roots and the struggles of everyday life. He has collaborated with some of the finest in hip hop today. My favorite being ‘Hood Gone Love It’ featuring Kendrick Lamar. Other notable songs are ‘All My Life’ featuring Lil Wayne and ‘Say Wassup’ featuring Black Hippy.
Big Sean – Finally Famous
Big Sean has really had a big year and this album set his career in motion. The album is full of replay value. It also has dope features from Kanye, Pusha T, Lupe, Chiddy, and Wiz Khalifa. Do it boi!
Yelawolf – Radioactive
Yela has had an epic year, especially after signing to Shady Records. The deal truly put his career in the good hands. Getting to work with Slaughterhouse and Em was probably the best decisions of his life. The album delivers as expected and I never skipped one song while playing it through its entirely.
Pac Div – The Div
Pac Div is rising quick in the game and this album really set them in the forefront. They keep it alive for the west coast and consistently deliver good music. Take a listen for yourself. My favorite joints off the project are ‘Top Down’, ‘Posted’, and ‘Useless’.
Mac Miller – Blue Slide Park
Mac Miller made indie history in his debut album. He hit nearly 150k in his first week sales and claimed the #1 spot on the charts under the independent label, Rostrum Records. The album is just as good as all his previous mixtapes. He doesn’t change and that’s what breaks many artists.
Other Notable Mentions
Bad Meets Evil – Hell: The Sequel EP
The Roots – Undun
Pusha T – Fear of God 2: Let Us Pray
10. Daley – Those Who Wait
10 tracks of ear soothing music that not only showcase the superb songwriting skills of one of the UKs finest emerging talents but also the promise of what this young artist has the potential to achieve. Considering this is just a mixtape release, it has an album like feel and can relax you into meditation.
9. Quelle Chris – Shotgun & Sleek Rifle
Ever since Quelle dropped ‘The Loop’, I have been patiently waiting for this album. What this album has achieved to do is perfectly find the balance between the two fundamentals of Hip Hop, dope beats and dope rhymes.
8. Mastodon – The Hunter
When you listen to a Mastodon album it’s hard not be impressed with the sentiment and ideas expressed, not to mention the execution. This is a very well thought out album which is a worthy sequel to ‘Crack The Skye’.
7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Self-Titled)
The debut album of UMO gives a lot of promise of what they can accomplish in the future. The breakbeats mixed with the warm vocals of the lead singer make this one of my albums of the year.
6. Toro y Moi _ Underneathe The Pine
The texture and layers of this album is what makes it such a wonderful listening experience. Everytime I listen to this album it takes me to a different place.
5. Has-Lo – In Case I Don’t Make It
Earlier this year I got the opportunity to interview Has-Lo, and while being just a genuine down to earth person, he possesses a rare gift for crafting raw, gritty gems.
4. Kendrick Lamar – Section 80
Section 80 is the natural progression from 2010’s crtically acclaimed ‘(O)verly (D)edicated’. Kendrick’s storytelling and rhyme schemes are back and as good as ever, while the melodies and instrumentation have been refined.
3. Cults (Self-Titled)
When I first heard ‘Never Heal Myself’, I was completely blown away by the sound and decided almost instantly to buy the album. Madeline Follin’s voice is angelic and really connects the listener with the content of the music.
2. Danny Brown – XXX
I have run out of superlatives to describe this mans work, you will be hard pressed to find a wack Danny Brown verse. Danny Brown described this project as an audio movie, and I for one cannot wait for the next installments.
1. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
The sound of this album will blow away, and it is one of the only albums that I can say I ‘FELT’ the ideas rather than had to THINK about it. This is not only the album of the year, but one of the best albums to come out in the past decade.
The Weeknd:House Of Balloons
Unexpectedly a unknown Toronto native would introduce a sex induced, drug influenced world that completely overtook the internet. House of Balloons started his reign. 9 tracks that will summon urges for pills, cocaine, and hipsters. A formula that would catch Heart Break Drakes attention. I probably spent a month of my life listening to nothing but this album. Even though Thursday, and Echo Of Silence are acceptable, extravagant, Weeknd projects, the high given from the House filled with balloons has yet to be achieved again. Even though it was released as a mixtape, it will be packaged as an album next year, which i think makes it credible to be on this list.
Frank Ocean-Nostalgia, Ultra:
His voice, his topics, his imagery, couldn’t be denied. He came in like a missile, and exploded like a bomb. Not many people drop a mixtape and work with Beyonce, Kanye, and Jay-z. It’s unheard of. Other than Chris Brown, who could hate on the Odd Future’s song bird, as he serenaded his way into the hearts of many. Brought you Novacane for your pain, the struggles of a american relationship, and why gardens are great spots for sexual fulfillment . Nostalgia,Ultra is a project i enjoy to this day. Deny all you want but this kid is one hit away from world-wide stardom.
Big K.R.I.T: Return Of 4Eva:
The free album that should have been sold for currency equivalent to the debt in America. Filled with trunk bumping production, thought provoking lyricism, and good wholesome southern charm, Big K.R.I.T displays why he is a force to be reckon with. Each song is almost linked, as they flow into each other encompassing a complete sound. Hate the south with all the animosity in your soul, but that doesn’t change the fact Big K.R.I.T will do big things in the future. The bandwagon has room, grab you a seat.
Kendrick Lamar: Section80
First off J.Cole took L of the year by handing over the HiiPower beat. With that out the way, Section80 is raw talent,potential, Compton, and greatness blended into audio. Kendrick development is the kind of growth that makes the world take notice, and this release alone has more eyes on Kendrick than ever before. Not just a rapper, but a story teller that gives life to words. Playing this album will leave you envisioning a place of struggle,soul-searching, dreams and lesbians. 4 things we all can relate to… well except lesbians but we envision them on a daily basis.
Jay-z & Kanye West-Watch The Throne:
I’m not explaining why this albums on my list. Yes it made me feel like i was poor. Yes this isn’t Kanye and Jay in their prime. You know what though? This album is still doper than your existence. Unless my mom is reading this, she’s excluded.
The Roots are the Harlem Globetrotters of the hip-hop world. Together, they can bring forth a sound that will rival your favorite artist. The concept, execution, and creativity of Undun makes it an instant standout, and with so much music being released uniqueness is key. Most artist have one song that you believe deserves a music video, this album deserves a movie, with Lawrence Tate as the star(Menace II Society reference)
Don’t kill me Shaffes haha. I enjoyed Drake wearing his lyrics on his sleeve, it’s the closets he’s been to the So Far Gone rapper that some hailed as the future of hip-hop. Yes, he infused alot of R&B elements into this album, but we can’t shun his obvious rapping abilities on songs like Underground KIng and Lord Knows. The production was key, and is easily was one of the main reasons this album can be enjoyed. 40 knows how to bring out the best in Drake, these two would be in the running for W.W.E tag team champs if hip-hop had such a title. The constant 4am Take Care sessions alone is the reason why i must have this project in my top. F.Y.I, i do not condone to the song I Hate Sleeping Alone, that gets no plays round here #LonelyofTheLonelyMusic.
Other Notable Mentions:
Tyler The Creator: Goblin
Danny Brown: XXX
Common: The Dreamer, The Believer
Curbside Jones: Cherry Blossom Effect
Phonte: Charity Starts At Home