Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top 10 Albums of 2011

It can be difficult juggling being both a true film fanatic and music head. Ultimately, you have to sacrifice delving deep into one for another. This is a continuous see-saw in my life. At some points, you can catch me and I’m totally into movies, but at others, there’s nothing but music on my mind. Some consider it slightly obsessive compulsive wanting to see and hear every movie and album, respectively, but that’s just how it’s always been for me. Given that a goal like this is impossible and there’s no way for me to possibly thoroughly listen to and analyze every album that dropped this year, i give you the best of what I’ve heard. This year for me has been a bit hip-hop-heavy, so to speak. My top ten lists of years prior would reflect that. Unfortunately for you, I just started this blog, so those lists aren’t available for reference. I’m not calling this a best hip-hip album list though, because it’s not. Hip hop is just primarily what I’ve been into recently. Also, top 10 seem more appropriate than anything else, but I’d like to say that of the ten, the top 5 are of my hands-down-top-favorites of the year. Six through ten and my honorable mentions are arguably interchangeable depending upon the week you catch me. I guess I could have made this a top 15 but i thought 10 was more suitable, get it? If not, deal with it. I’ve also mentioned quite a few of the albums previously in music post on this blog. So for some, this may be a bit repetitive. For the others, feel free to check prior comments about some of these albums. Enjoy!

10. The Roots - Undun

I’d imagine that being a Roots fan is very similar to being one of those die-hard-super-geeks for Star Wars or Star Trek. It’s like, you know that what you support and follow (in my case listen to) is the bestest-mostest-underratedest shit out, yet people don’t treat it as such. The Roots are respected by everyone, loved and looked up to by artist, but forgotten within mainstream music. I’ll never really understand it. Black thought may be the greatest rapper never mentioned in a top 5 argument and the roots, as a collective, are arguably building one of the greatest bodies of works that hip hop will ever and has ever seen. Undun evidences this theory of mine. It’s definitely not flawless and also not their best work, in my opinion, yet Undun still manages to take you on a journey. It tells a story and is an album that is conceptually put together.  I highly recommend giving this a listen.

9. Ice Bird – The Abandoned Lullaby

The Abandoned Lullaby is the collaborative effort of RJD2 and Aaron Livingston. RJD2 provides the beats and Aaron laces them with his very-on-point vocals. Going in, I had no Idea what to expect from this album. As you can see, I was thoroughly surprised by this discovery.

8. Evidence – Cats & Dogs

Evidence definitely surprised me. Not that I didn’t consider him a good artist, because I do. I just didn’t expect to like this album as much as I do. An album not dressed up with a ton of features, evidence makes it known that he can hold his own with this opus.

7. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva

Originally co-signed by 9th Wonder, often compared to Outkast, and leading the next wave of producer/emcees, comes Krit. Staying true to the soulfulness of the south, he’s created an album for a variety of purposes. It’s not just club music, riding slow music, or tales-of-where-I-come-from music. It’s all of the above. Krit has definitely done a great job displaying his versatility. I think this ship has sailed, he’s bound to be a household name any day now.

6. Danny Brown – XXX

It may take a generation like the newest to allow for an artist like Danny Brown to shine. Given his tight jeans alone, some old-head-hip-hop-people would write him off immediately. With a rap style as unique and alternative to what we “know” as a rapper, comes Danny Brown out of Detroit. He’s sick. His flow is amazingly different and content deep. Danny Brown may not be for everyone, but he’s definitely for the people who like dope shit. I’m a fan!

5. Phonte – Charity Starts at home

As one half of the group Little Brother, I always thought of Phonte as the stronger of the two. Much like Andre 3000 in Outkast, Phonte has always been my favorite member. I love Outkast and Little Brother as a group but selfishly always wished both Andre and Phonte would release solo efforts. Well, Phontigallo’s solo opus has arrived and it’s great. Lyrically, I think Phonte is making it clear that he can hold his own with anyone doing it now, and I believe him. From beginning to end I can let the album ride with no disappointments. This is a classic in my opinion.

4. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

I’ve never quite heard an album like this. It’s genius in many ways but also slept on. A ton of “alternative” magazines have been giving this album love and critical acclaim. The hip hop spots haven’t been showing the same amount of love for this work. I’m not really sure why. It’s unmistakably a rap album. It’s definitely unique, in a manner that allows me to love it that much more. Please listen to this album before what’s done on it is stolen by whomever, and made into the next biggest thing, and given none of the credit.

3. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Following in the footsteps of other great Canadians like Celine Dion and Drizzy, comes The Weeknd. Accompanied by his great music and name that sounds like a young white punk band, The Weeknd is sure to become a monster on the billboard. House of Balloons, the second installment of his 3 mixtape release, is where I jumped on the bandwagon. With dark content and the voice of Michael Jackson, The Weeknd immediately pulled me in. I’m expecting major things from this young man.

2. The Black Keys – El Camino

Danger Mouse and The Black Keys join again. I will never be upset when these 2 collaborate. I was initially introduced to the Black key when they released Attack & Release in 2008. I literally bought their album solely on my attraction to the album cover. Yes, and that folks is when I first heard Danger Mouse and The Black Keys together. Since that point, I’ve definitely gotten much more familiar with their work and consider myself to be a huge fan.  You should to… get familiar.

1. Kendrick Lamar – Section 80

Kendrick Lamar is the best thing since whatever was the best thing before sliced bread. I listen to his music and say to myself, “he gets it.” One of the most passionate artist we’ll be seeing, it’s obvious that Kendrick’s track are made of blood, sweat, and tears. Section 80 is breath of fresh air, a hint of what’s to come, and a letter to the people that proclaims “this hip hop shit is alive.” He’s also a member of The Black hippy collective/group/crew, made up of him, SchoolBoy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul. Surprisingly enough, they all make exceptional music and musically speaking, I’d put that crew up against anyone.

Honorable Mentions
Little Dragon – Ritual Union
Drive (original motion Picture Soundtrack)
Stalley – Lincoln Way Nights
Schoolboy Q – Setbacks
2 Chainz – Codeine Cowboy
G-Side – the One…  Cohesive

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