The Year 2011 in Review
Author: Emanuel Wallace
2011, where has the time gone? I'm not sure, but it seems like it was just
February and now we're here at the year's end reflecting on the year that
it was in hip-hop. 2011 was a trying year for me, especially the latter
half as marked by a decrease in my contribution of both reviews and
newsfeed items. Nevertheless, I still managed to pull it together enough to
complete the weekly (W)rap Up that I've been doing for the past couple of years.
So what all happened this year? I'm a little bit out of the loop, but I do
recall a few events from the past three hundred and sixty five days in the
world of hip-hop. Well, for one, I was nominated for an Ohio Hip Hop Award
for my photography work. What else? Tity Boi changed his name and became
hot. Jay-Z and Kanye became The Throne, Wayne almost sold "A Milli" in a
week again and Atlantic Records finally allowed Lupe's "Lasers" to see a
retail shelf. J. Cole proved the naysayers wrong when his album "Cole
World" dropped and exceeded the expectations of many. T.I. and DMX were
released from prison, Ja Rule went in and Officer Ricky had a couple
seizures on a plane. Speaking of health, two of the biggest bombs dropped
on hip-hop this year were the deaths of Nate Dogg in March and the more
recent passing of Heavy D in November. Rest in peace to both legendary artists.
I read a couple good hip-hop books this year. One of them was "The Message:
100 Life Lessons From Hip-Hop's Greatest Songs" by Felecia Pride and the
other was the excellent "Root For The Villain: Rap, Bullshit, And A
Celebration of Failure" by J-Zone. I really suggest you pick up "Root For
The Villain" as it is fucking hilarious and insightful at the same time.
There's been so much new music and so many new artists that I'm often
copping a late pass to check out a lot of the newest shit. I've been
catching up on tons of stuff by way of Spotify. If you fuck with it and for
some strange reason want to check out my playlists, my username is
Checkwriter. Also, if you aren't already connected to RapReviews via
Facebook and Twitter, please "like" and "follow" us on those respective platforms.
Now, similar to what I did last year, here are the top five albums of the
year that I actually reviewed. So there won't be any Kendrick Lamar or
Theophilus London, although I did enjoy their releases. There were a few
albums that I would be remiss if I didn't at least give them an honorable
mention on this list, including Baron Von Alias & Arhat's "Out-of-Body Experience,"
Maggz' "Maggnetic Opposites,"
Rock Most's "Rise & Shine" and
Blood Type's "Two Week Notice."
5. Johnny Polygon - A Wolf In Cheap Clothing
Tulsa, Oklahoma's native son returned early this year with another
collection of songs showcasing his versatile styles. Sometimes he sings and
sometimes he raps, but it's always in true Johnny Polygon fashion. So
whether he's feeling "Invincible" or trying to figure out how to handle his
definition of wasted, nine times out of ten the result is going to be
4. David Banner & 9th Wonder - Death of a Pop Star
The heavily [self] promoted "Death of a Pop Star," the collaborative album
between southern gentlemen David Banner and 9th Wonder was powered by the
singles "Slow Down" and "Be With You."The latter featured appearances from
Ludacris and Marsha Ambrosius, making a dent on urban radio. The recording
was brief but focused and the end result was a pleasant listening
experience courtesy of two hip-hop heavyweights.
3. Passalacqua - Passalacqua
Last year, Cold Men Young's "Champagne Nights/Red Stripe Budget" was one of
the best releases I reviewed. This year, CMY's Blaksmith and Mister joined
forces to create Passalacqua and have released two projects. I've only
gotten around to covering the first one, which did an excellent job of
focusing on the finer things in life: Tom Waits, Bootsy Collins,
Hot-n-Ready pizzas, women and Pineapple Faygo. I plan to review "Zebehazy
Summer" very soon.
2. Big K.R.I.T. - Return of 4Eva
How could Krizzle possibly follow up last year's YIR champ, "K.R.I.T. Wuz
Here?" Thankfully, K.R.I.T. wasn't just a flash in the pan and hit us with
what is affectionately known as "R4." Even though his Def Jam debut was
pushed back until next year, his fans have plenty of material to hold them
over, including his guest appearances and the chopped & screwed version of
"R4." As many of my contemporaries have pointed out, the Meridian native
seems to have all the tools in place to be a big star and it's easy to get
excited about his potential with releases like this one.
1. Killer Mike - Pl3dge
Mike Bigga is one of those artists who can gracefully walk the line between
being a street dude and a social commentator, thus almost making him a hood
philosopher of sorts. While not as preachy as KRS-ONE or as deep into the
trap as Jeezy, Mike seems to hold his own in the middle of the two. It is
for this reason that he's able to drop an album with scathing socioeconomic
songs like "That's Life II" and follow them up with joints like "Ric Flair"
without losing an ounce of his credibility in the process. He does it again
with the contrasting-but-never-contradictory "God In The Building II" and
"Player's Lullaby" and once more with "Animal" and "American Dream."
Honestly, "Burn" alone would put it in the top five for me, but the album
as a whole was enough to give the third installment of the "Pledge" series
the top spot this year.
Originally posted: December 28, 2011