2011 will be known as the year of planking, the year when people turned in their BlackBerry in for an iPhone (RIP Steve Jobs), the year we lost musical greats Amy Winehouse and Heavy D and the year when Jay-Z and Beyonce produced an heir to the throne. 2011 also marked a great year in music.
Since everyone is doing a top-something-of-2011 post, I thought it would only be right and put our two cents in and give you the eleven albums/mixtapes that I vibed with in twenty eleven. Some of the projects you may be surprised with and some you may already have on your list but whatever the cause is check what I found post-worthy after the jump.
Favorite line: “They say I’m gettin’ trendy like I come after a pound sign/ Hashtag Mac, this ain’t backpack rap/ Give a fuck bout what you sayin’ after platinum plated plaques.”
Favorite song: “Frick Park Market”
Mac Miller could check two things off his list this year: joining XXL’s 2011 Freshman class and having the first independently distributed debut album to go No. 1 in 16 years. Blue Slide Park gave him something to boast about. It wasn’t an easy task but somebody had to do it.
10. Ambition – Wale
Favorite line: “Lebron shit, I was in that 6 after 23.”
Favorite song: “Ambition”
In 2011, Washington D.C. rapper Wale signed to one of the hottest rap groups, Maybach Music Group, and released a solid sophomore album, Ambition. If you want to look at charts, the LP debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. If you want to look at features, Wale drafted Miguel, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Kid Cudi and more. You need a song for the ladies? “Lotus Flower Bomb.” You need a club hit? “Slight Work.” There’s something for everyone on Ambition. Dope album to just play and vibe to.
Favorite line: “They don’t want my love/ They just want my potential.”
Favorite song: “The Party & The After Party”
If you haven’t heard of The Weeknd by now, please get up from under the rock you’re living in. The Canadian crooner helped Drake compose a handful of tracks on Take Care and aside from that, he released three sex-love-and-drugs themed mixtapes this year. The Weeknd promised his fans three projects in 2011 and came through with House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes Of Silence. An artist who can stay true to deadlines? I can rock with that. OVOXO.
Favorite line: “Suck my cockiness/ Lick my persuasion/ Eat my words and/ Swallow your pride down, down.”
Favorite song: “Talk That Talk” ft. Jay-Z
Rihanna has been hard at work spewing out consistent Grammy worthy albums every year. Since Loud is nominated for a Grammy next year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Talk That Talk will reach a little Grammy success. The album’s first single, “We Found Love,” has added another notch on Rihanna’s No. 1 singles belt reaching a total of 11 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. That’s more No. 1 singles than Stevie Wonder, in case you were wondering.
Favorite line: “I’m standing on the field full of land mines/ Doing the moonwalk, hoping I blow up in time/ Cause 2012 might not be a fucking legend/ Trying to be a fucking legend, the man of mankind.”
Favorite song: “HiiiPoWeR”
The other classmate of XXL 2011 Freshman class, Kendrick Lamar dropped one of his greatest projects to date. Section.80 didn’t break any Billboard records but the album’s complex and pensive lyrics did earn the Compton emcee major respect from the rap elite (Dre, Drake, Game). 2012 is already shaping up to be a good year for Kendrick Lamar.
Favorite line: “My own friends wondering what’s up with me/ But they ain’t got enough ambition to keep up with me.”
Favorite song: “CDC” ft. Casey Veggies & cARTer
LA’s own Dom Kennedy sure released one of the best free releases this year with The Original Dom Kennedy. The project includes production from Chuck Inglish, Hit-Boy, Swiff D (to name a few) but best part about it is that Dom brings himself to the table on each track, no matter who produced it. This year, he also released another solid project, II: From The Westside, With Love, which you can cop on iTunes.
Favorite line: “And everytime a ni–a asks me/ If I sing songs to get at women, I say naw/ They say who do you think you’re kidding/ I know you, you stole my girlfriend.”
Favorite song: “Novacane”
So sometime earlier this year, Frank Ocean dropped a little mixtape titled Nostalgia, Ultra. which didn’t have any real promo except for word of mouth, which we all know is the best promo. The mixtape spread like wildfire and before you knew it, the internet was buzzing with Frank Ocean’s music. It also helped that he was in Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the most notorious crew of 2011. Unlike his fellow crew member who rap explicit scenes, Frank Ocean croons about love and relationships but not in the good ol’ fashion happy way. He adds his little twist to it. Just listen to “American Wedding” and “Novacane.” I’m curious to see what he’s bringing to the table in 2012. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Favorite line: “The same teacher who told me rap is what not to do/ Said I’m throwing my life away, if I drop out of school/ Want me to come speak to the kids, the point I gotta prove/ Is that I did everything they told me not to do.”
Favorite song: “So Much More”
Big Sean was another artist to have an anticipated debut album in 2011. Finally Famous may have debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Charts but it boasted three major singles (“My Last,” “Marvin & Chardonnay,” “Dance (A$$)”). With No I.D. laying a majority of the beats, the G.O.O.D. Music artist kept it real on Finally Famous rhyming about his struggles and successes.
Favorite line: “On to the new, on-on to the new shit/ Jigga wouldn’t even take my CD when he seen me/ Two years later bitch we made it on, on to the Blueprint.”
Favorite song: “Lights Please”
2011 is the year that Roc Nation’s first official signee J. Cole finally dropped his debut album. After three successful mixtapes, the Best New Artist Grammy nominee combined mainstream and thoughtful lyricism into Cole World: The Sideline Story. The well-balanced album borrowed a few popular cuts (“Lights Please,” “In The Morning”) from previous projects and included some radio friendly tracks (“Work Out,” “Can’t Get Enough”). Oh and did I mention that he produced a majority of the album? Good things come to those who wait.
Favorite line: “Ball so hard/ This shit crazy/ Ya’ll don’t know that don’t shit phase me/ The Nets could go 0-82 and I look at you like this shit gravy.”
Favorite song: “Ni**as In Paris”
Watch The Throne is the collaboration we’ve all secretly been waiting for. Legendary sh*t. Like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan on the same court. Like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali in the same ring. With Hov and ‘Ye at the peaks of their careers, Watch The Throne offers a lavish playground where the two rap moguls can nonchalantly throw around lyrics like “ball so hard muthaf*ckas wanna fine me” and “planking on a million.” And you know what? Muthaf*ckas do wanna fine them and they have planked on a million (and don’t need pictures to prove it).
Who else can get away with playing one song and one song only live 7,8,9, 10 times in a row?
Favorite line: “I know of all the things that I hear they poking fun at/ Never the flow though, they know I run that/ F*ck you all, I claim that whenever/ I change rap forever, the game back together/ Yeah YM, I remain that forever.”
Favorite song: “Underground Kings”
In a time where only pop records over 125 BPM were getting radio spins, Drake came in the game and brought rap singles back. October’s Very Own Drake released his sophomore album, Take Care, last month and sold 700k in its first week. Off the bat, Take Care showed tremendous growth from his debut album, Thank Me Later. The lyrical content, production and collaborations (especially with his secret weapon, The Weeknd) have set high standards for his next project. Drake is, hands down, my favorite artist of 2011.