Top 5 Albums of 2011

Its that time of the year where 2011 is being reviewed in all shapes and forms from TV moments to fashion trends it seems like everyone wants to make a list! So why not make my first post on Musk&Mocassin be a list of my top 5 hip-hop/rnb music albums that have been released this year. Music is something that I love and always have an opinion on, 2011 has been a year of some unexpected wonders and some catastrophic flops. There have been some tough decision made and some notable albums missing but there is only space for 5.

 

5. PUSHA T – FEAR OF GOD EP

One half of the duo ”The Clipse”, Pusha T was at the forefront of this year through several high profile performances via label boss Kanye West and his G.O.O.D Music ventures, most notably his performance of the smash hit Runaway at last year VMA’s which was followed by his first solo mixtape Fear of God. This drug dealer fuelled story, full of powerful imagery and strong production to suit was the perfect platform for Pusha to work his magic and that he did most, notably on Open Your Eyes where the mesh of the drums in the background and the soft vocals throughout are the perfect backdrop for Pusha T to ”lay his memories”.

4. Lowkey – Soundtrack of the Struggle

Independent UK ‘concious’ rapper Lowkey released his highly anticipated first album in 2011 and despite no commercial backing or airplay proved to be a success with it going straight to No#1 on the iTunes  Hip Hop Chart. The album featured smash hits such as Obama-Nation and Terrorist? as well as new songs such as Too Much which samples the great Lauryn Hill. The song that summed up 2011 and Lowkey for me was Million Man March ft Mai Khalil which could have easily been used as the soundtrack for the revolutions across the Middle East most notably on Feb 1st in Egypt which saw its own Million Man March and lyrics such as ”My friends are still fighting against all the tyrants
So then why would it end when I die then?” seem to fit perfectly.

3. Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

This album was set up to be one of the greatest albums of all time, two of the greats in hip hop combining to cement their place at the helm of the industry and to an extent their mission was complete. Album sales were not as impressive as say Lil Waynes Carter IV however the buzz of the album was incredible and when a tour was announced the hip hop community went krayyy (pardon the pun). The sell out 24 date US Tour was a resounding success and dates for the rest of the planet are being hotly rumoured.  The album itself is a much more mature version of hip hop and explicitly reveals the lives of the mega-stars. It is as Kanye brashly puts it ”Luxury Rap” but something that a listener will learn to love and play over and over again (Niggas In Paris was performed 11 times at the last date of the tour in Vancouver). The stand out track for me was the Otis Redding sampled Otis, and the over the top nature of the album spread to the visuals for this track where a $150,000 Maybach was torn apart Mad Max style to provide some added indulgence.

2. J Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story

Buzz surrounds many hip hop artists when they first start but in most cases it fizzles out and the one hit wonders are left for MTV specials 10 years later. J Cole was signed to Roc-Nation in 2009 and was quick to re-release his mixtape ‘The Warm Up’ which featured the smash Lights Please which according to rumours was the song that got him signed. However an album release just didn’t come to fruition and young simba was left sitting on the benches of the Roc-Nation roster till mixtape Friday Night Lights and then after several delays Cole World:Sideline Story was released and the hype was in my opinion realised. The album is one you can play throughout without skipping one song and showcases his talents both lyrically and his ability to adapt his flow. From flashy Mr Nice Watch featuring label boss Jay Z to more serious songs such as Lost Ones which tells the story of a teenage pregnancy from both sides in the two verses. My favourite song of the album has to be In The Morning ft Drake, which showcases both very talented artists who combine very well on this chilled out joint and is one of those songs that I definitely will be listening to for years to come.

1. Kendrick Lamar – Section.80

No I didn’t misspell Drake and your eyes are reading right, my favourite album of 2011 came from up and coming West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar, most of you will be asking why and I will try and answer this to the best of my abilities. After the release of his mixtape   O(verly) D(edicated) K.Dot was all over the hip hop blogs and was touted as the next big thing and then came his infamous picture (below) which sent the cyberfans wild!!!

Snoop Kendrick DreSnoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Dr Dre in the studio

This album was released with an amazing response from the hip hop community for an artist from an independent label. The album is not your average West Coast listening session, it involves some epic imagery and story telling which Kendrick cites Tupac Shakur as inspiration. The story telling in some of the tracks speaks of the problems faced by youths today in American and all over the world and challenges some norms, No Make Up – Her Vice tells the story of those who use make up excessively and Kendrick raps ”Don’t you know your imperfections, is a wonderful blessing, from heaven, is where you got it from, I love your smile, You can do it without style”. Other outstanding tracks such as  Tammys Song and Hol’ Up give Kendrick Lamar the ability to live up to his Dr Dre crowned title as the next King of the West Coast. My favourite song is the lead single ”HiiiPower” produced by J.Cole (who is rumoured to be collaborating with Kendrick Lamar on an entire mixtape) where Kendrick pleads with his fellow man to rise up against the difficulties they have faced and to no longer be slave to society ”So get up off that slave ship, build your own pyramids, write your own hieroglyphs”.

Honourable Mentions…

Yes Drake will finally be mentioned!!! Take Care was a very good Sophmore album from the Toronto singer/rapper but I just wasn’t blown away the more noticeable songs which I still love are those featuring The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) I did not see anything different and new from the rapper and the visuals for Headlines and The Motto were just useless. The Weeknd provided an amazing trilogy of mixtapes also this year and they are someone I am very much looking forward to in 2012, a s/o also goes out to Childish Gambino whose ”Camp” album has provided me with some epic tunes particularly ”HeartBeat”. Frank Ocean also gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of with ”Nostalgia, ULTRA”and 2012 will be a good year for him.

2012…

Yes I will say it like I have been been saying for the past 8 years…. DETOX!!!! Do I really think it will be released…No…the good Dr is making too much fun from promoting and selling Beats headphones to get back in the studio for a long enough time to produce something special. Rick Ross has delayed the release of God Forgives I Don’t to the coming year and is definitely one of the albums I am looking forward to. Nas Life Is Good should also get a release, his first album since the epic collaborative album with Damien Marley.

Biggest Flops…

DETOXXX!!!! Yes its been mentioned again and with good reason, after the smash hit ‘I Need A Doctor’ there was hope but that was quickly extinguished when the follow up was cancelled and Dr Dre disappeared from view once again. Lil Wayne and the Carter VI was also a major disappointment for me

There are so many more I could have mentioned but this really made me think, if your reading this and disagree comment and let me know your top 5 🙂

Peace out!

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