Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Favorite Albums of 2011

Seeing as I'm an original and hate to do things that everyone else does just because, and since today is the last day of 2011, I've decided to step outside the box and make a list of my favorite albums from the past year. These are just the albums I enjoyed the most in 2011. There are probably tons more albums that I would have enjoyed just as much if I had known about them/given them a chance, but I've only got so much listening time and when I like something I like to hear it a lot, which is why Flockavelli was my soundtrack to the first six months of 2011. Anyway, without further ado, here are my favorite albums of the year, in no particular order.

Waka Flocka Flame, Flockavelli: Technically this album came out in 2010, and a lot of the individual songs are even older than that, but I kinda slept on Waka during his intiial mixtape surge and didn't cop Flockavelli until January or February 2011 and it didn't leave my cd player for several months. I'm pretty sure this is the hardest album ever and if you need proof, here you go. I can't wait for his new album to drop - BOW! BOW! BOW!

Frank Ocean, nostalgia,ULTRA: Odd Future's resident crooner's album kinda came out of nowhere in early 2011 and was just about the only thing I listening to other than Flockavelli from January to June. At first, "Novacane" and "Songs 4 Women" were my favorite songs, the latter partially for the Van Halen reference, but by the end even the "bad" songs had grown on me. On the strength of this album, Ocean got a couple notable features on Kanye and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne, which didn't make this list.

The Weeknd, House of Balloons: Another R&B dude who is often compared to Frank Ocean, The Weeknd digitally released House of Balloons, a "mixtape" that basically functions as an album, in March 2011. I downloaded it shortly after it was released, but I was in full Flockavelli-nostalgia,ULTRA mode and didn't give House of Balloons a listen until May or June, at which point it found its way into steady rotation on my ipod. Darker and dirtier than Frank Ocean's brand of music, House of Balloons kinda made me feel like a pervert when listening to it, but it's some good music, so I didn't mind. The Weeknd released two other "mixtapes" this year, but I've been too busy with other music to give either a good listen, not to mention that the third only came like two weeks ago.

Jay Rock, Follow Me Home: Everyone is on Jay Rock's fellow Black Hippy, Kendrick Lamar, but to me, Jay's Follow Me Home was the best Black Hippy release of 2011. Jay Rock has a voice that's pretty reminiscent of Xzibit, and while I never really loved Xzibit, the voice works for Jay Rock. I don't have too much to say about this album other than that it's some straight up Los Angeles gangster shit. Do with that what you will.

Killer Mike, PL3DGE: This is a very welcome surprise to me. I haven't really paid too much attention to Killer Mike the last few years and I kinda bought this album on a whim, but it quickly became my go to cd in the car. I think the case can be made that this was the best rap album of 2011 insomuch as it's got a solid combination of good to great production, strong raps that are accessible to the average listener, some good guests appearances, songs with a message and general across the board consistency.

Das Racist, Relax: I didn't really read reviews or much press on Relax, Das Racist's first "real" album, but my sense is that people would feel that it's more poppy/dancey and less rappy than their first two mixtapes, possibly levying that as a negative critique of the album. I definitely liked Relax, as evidenced by its inclusion on this list, but probably not quite as much as their mixtapes. It also has a Danny Brown feature and you can't go wrong with that.

Danny Brown, XXX: Speaking of Danny Brown, he's probably my current favorite rapper and XXX was a free digital album he released on Fool's Gold this year. I think his voice and delivery might be a bit much for some people, but they're really perfect for his overall aesthetic. If you like punchlines, drug and cunnilingus raps, then Danny Brown's your dude.

Cults, Cults: As evidenced by the rest of this list, I spent most of the listening to rap. I'm not sure if that's because I didn't really expose myself to other genres this year or if it's because there wasn't that much great indie/rock/pop music released in 2011. My guess, and hope, is it's the former. Regardless, Cults' self-titled debut album is clearly my favorite non-rap album of the year. I'm sure they've been described better elsewhere, but they have a very nostalgic sound to me without sounding too derivative. More importantly, they make really happy sounding music and they offer good advice.

ASAP Rocky, liveloveA$AP: The internets kinda love ASAP and I'm kinda tired of writing, so I won't say much here. this is the best weed-rap album I've heard in a while and definitely the best Southern rap album ever made by a Harlemite. Plus, it has my favorite rap verse of the year.

Young L, Praktica: Super fresh beats and super mediocre raps. A good combination as far as I'm concerned.

There you have it. This was pretty much the soundtrack to my year. I also want to acknowledge one of the hardest songs of the year from Waka Flocka and Slim Dunkin's Twin Towers 2 mixtape. RIP Slim Dunkin.

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