It’s the end of the year and I think It was a really exciting year in the world of music , probably one of the more eventful years in the Urban world of Music in a while, whilst it wasn’t Drake or Nicki Minaj’s debut, and there wasn’t a staged feud by Kanye and 50 to boost record sales or a Chris Brown – Rihanna Split, there were a lot of eventful things that happened this year from not hearing the long awaited Detox album (lol) to The Throne’s debut (Jay-Z and Kanye) with Watch The Throne to J’Cole’s Debut and Drake’s Sophomore album (which to me put more pressure on him than his Debut) to Weezy’s return and Carter 4 finally dropping to the mainstream emergence of OFWGKTA to T.I making a quick visit home for a couple hours from Prison before quickly returning(lol) to Rick Ross and Sean Kingstons near death experiences and so on. Well i’m not about to pull a Skillz and recap all the events of 2011, i’m just going to spill the 10 albums I think were the best on the Urban scene this year focusing on Rap/Hip-Hop and Some RnB (excluding Adele, Beyonce, Rihanna etc) some mixtapes made the list and i’ll also have 5 honorable mentions. Aight here we go from 10 – 1
10. Ambition – Wale (Best Track : Legendary)
Wale’s sophomore album, after low record sales on his debut everyone had high expectations of this sophomore album. He declared it a classic early and even though I disagree with it being a classic, he def pulled his weight on this installment. While most people argue that his debut Attention Deficit is underrated and better than Ambition, I beg to defer. He had more liberty to create what he wanted on this album as opposed to being controlled by his record label on Attention Deficit.
9. Finally Famous – Big Sean (Best Track : Live This Life)
Booiii … Mr Finally Famous did his thing on his debut album, after being Endorsed by Kanye you kind of have to come correct. However, i’m going to give more Credit to No I.D the producer that mentored Kanye and Produced most of this album, because his production adds so much and he actually works very very well with Big Sean. While the consensus would say “Dance(A$$)” is the best song, I tend to relate more to Live This Life produced by Tricky Stewart featuring the Dream, all together there was no way I was going to leave Finally Famous off this list, what other way to start off a career- with so much potential- than like this.
8. Soul Tape* – Fabolous (Best Track : Mo’ Brooklyn …)
The Soul Tape was such a breath of Fresh air from the generic “808″ genre that hip-hop was turning into. Fabolous took us back to old school jazz influenced hip-hop, with horns, organs and natural kicks, even reviving some old school classics, for example, my favorite track “Mo’ Brooklyn, Mo’ Harlem, Mo’ Southside” which is a remix of AZ’s classic “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Murder, Mo’ Homicide” off his classic album Doe or Die (go pick that up if you’ve never heard it and thank me later). All in all I think the Soul Tape was good enough to be an album.
7. Take Care – Drake (Best Track : Lord Knows)
The album that popularized the saying YOLO – that’s the motto nigga YOLO. When an artist releases a successful debut album the amount of pressure on him/her when releasing their Sophomore album is tremendous. I think it’s safe to say that Drake silenced all the doubters that said he’s going to fall off after his debut. Production on the album was impressive particularly impressive are Just Blaze’s Lord Knows and Doing it Wrong featuring Stevie Wonder. Looking forward to Drake’s next installment let’s see if the game will still need him by then and if he can prove Longevity.
6. House of Balloons – The Weeknd (Best Track : High For This)
Wow, Canada’s gift to the world! The girl I was talking to at the time put me on to him (in a good way). Initially I felt he was a rip-off of Frank Ocean but after listening a little more I was sold. From his unique choice of beats to his standout voice, The Weeknd is something new and someone to look out for. He recently put out a new album out -and his second this year – “Echoes of Silence” which you need pick up ASAP if I could put two number 6′s on this list House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence would be tied. Also checkout Thursday.
5. Live Love A$ap*- Asap Rocky (Best Track : Keep it G)
Classic Hustler-Rapper story. ASAP Rocky is raw, I first heard about him a while back but never really paid him any mind till I read Big Ghost’s review of his mixtape “Live Love Asap” and decided to pick up the CD. He is Rap in one of it’s rawest forms , I used his CD to get through finals gave me this edge and kept me sane. I don’t skip a single track on this mixtape up till now. You should pick that up , don’t sleep on him. He recently broke out a little more with his video for PESO making it on to BET’s 106 & Park and also went on tour with Drizzy and The Weeknd, definitely a show to look out for in 2012, let’s hope he doesn’t “sell out” in the event that a record deal comes his way.
4. Camp – Childish Gambino (Best Track : Fire Fly)
Multi-Talented Donald Glover. When he’s not writing for 30 Rock, he’s making hits or starring in his own sit-com Community – which is hilarious btw. My boy put me on Childish Gambino over summer and I instantly fell in love with his work. The first song of his I heard was “Freaks and Geeks” and I was instantly sold, the second song “Do Ya Like” which samples Adele made me fall deeper in love. Oh and he’s a Producer, he produces all his beats along with his friend Ludwig, which makes me kind of Biased being that I’m a producer also. I’m just mad that I didn’t know about his album -which Debuted 11 on the Billboard charts – till about a week ago. Btw he got his name Childish Gambino from a Wutang Clan name Generator haha you should google those it’s pretty entertaining. All I have to say is don’t sleep on this “Oreo Nigga”(you’ll understand when you listen to the CD).
3. Cole World- J.Cole (Best Track : Nobody’s Perfect)
This has to be the album I was most excited about this year. Ever since one of my partners, Yinka, put me on to Jermaine my Sophomore year, I’ve been a fanatic. J.Cole is one of the realest niggas in the game right now, or at least that’s what he portrays through his music. He has mastered the art of story telling and makes you feel a connection with his stories. In Cole World I feel like he told everyone’s story, from the Girl who grew up without her father, to the boy who grew up without his father to the usual bragging rights type flow of generic hip hop. Cole world is a solid all around album, I still don’t skip any tracks on this record also and still get goosebumps when I bump some tracks. If you still haven’t picked up this record there is something seriously missing in your life. This is the first time since 2004 I bought a physical CD and I bought 2 copies too. Yeah that’s how good it is regardless of if I’m a fanatic or not.
2. Watch The Throne – Jay-Z & Kanye West (Best Track : N*ggas in Paris)
This shit Kraayyyy! I bet half the people that say that shit still don’t know what Jay and Ye meant by that. The concept on the N*ggas in Paris record prolly seems like one of the simplest concepts on the album which goes to show the genius these two Rap gods poured into this record From the production to the organization to the story-lines, concepts and the lyrics. I read someone comment on the album, saying it’s a “True Black Album”, listen to the album and you’ll understand what that means, that’s a perfect analysis of the record. So many tracks on the album are uplifting to black people. They tell stories that are meant to give us things/people to look up to. Also another stand out feat of the record is only 3 features which were only on hooks(Frank Ocean-2 tracks- and Beyonce). Up till now I still get inspired while listening to this record and apparently they a rumored to be dropping the second installment to this in 2012. 2012 already promises to be an amazing year in the world of hip-hop. I may also be biased because Kanye is one of my favorite artists but I think most people will agree with me on my ranking of WTT.
1. Section 80 – Kendrick Lamar (Best Track : HiiPower & Blow My High)
The compton native had cosigns coming in from every corner of the nation from all of raps pioneers and he deserved it. It was a great year for Kendrick Lamar, my description of Kendrick Lamar is,, that he is what Tupac will sound like if he was still alive making music, yeah I said it. He sounds like Tupac reincarnated and he does hold Tupac on a very high pedestal. The Tupac influences are evident with the strong messages he sends and the awareness he tries to create. He is the current face of the “HiiPower” movement that AbSoul and SchoolBoyQ are active members of. These 2 MC’s are to be looked out for as well, i hope they do more in 2012. I don’t skip a single track on Section 80 and i’m constantly mean mugging when I’m listening to it, which is the typical response one gives to a hardcore hip-hop record. So if you see me in the streets mean mugging and nodding my head i’m probably bumping section 80. I feel like my analysis doesn’t do the record justice, you should go pick it up and give it a listen.
Black Up – Shabazz Palaces: I’m really mad I just heard about these guys, they should definitely be on the top 10, in the top 5 at that except for the fact that I just heard about them and didn’t get a chance to listen enough. The duo is such a breathe of fresh air and I hope they get more mainstream attention and don’t sell out. You definitely want to listen to this record, even if you don’t listen to anything else I’ve recommended.
The Greatest Story Never told – Saigon: I only started listening to this very recently so it was hard for me to judge if it should be on the list but it’s a dope album Just Blaze came with the heat and Saigon came with the spit.
There is No Competition 3* – Fabolous: Released Christmas day, it was the main thing I was looking forward to all day and when I heard it I wasn’t disappointed at all. Fab did his thing. RIP to the competition.
From The Westside with Love II – Dom Kennedy: California Native came correct on this album, gives you that westcoast summertime feel. Don’t sleep.
Fear of God 2 – Pusha T*: Dope ass record. Pusha stays going hard and I just hope the current hip-hop audience can still relate to his realness when he drops his album in 2012 cuz to be honest the game’s getting weaker.
The Dreamer The Believer – Common
The Book Of David – DJ Quick
The Warm Up* – Hardbeat Music (LOL)
Blue Slide Park – Mac Miller
Open Invitation – Tyrese
Hell: The Sequel – Bad Meets Evil (Eminem and Royce Da 5’9)
F.A.M.E – Chris Brown
* – Mixtapes
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Zone (feat. D-Money) – HardbeatMusic
Heat On Christmas (Prod. by HardbeatMusic)