End of the year lists are always quite a fun thing to write, it lets you remember some of ya best moments and it’s often albums in your life that represent moments you had, people you met and personal struggles you have through the year. This year saw some huge releases from ‘The Throne’, J.Cole, Bon Iver, Gaga and a whole range of oterh cool and inspirational artists, but here is what we chose to be in our top 10 albums/mixtapes of the year. We couldn’t only pick 10 so we thought we’d drop 11 instead, with it being 2011 and all . Check the list below and feel free to comment and share you opinions.
11. Take Care – Drake
Not only was this Drake’s opus record (as of yet) but it showed such a subtlety we all knew Aubrey from his ‘So Far Gone’ mixtape and after the slight disappointment that was ‘Thank Me Later’ it took the Canadian rapper to almost go back to his roots of what people call emotional rap to really bring out the best work. He showed us why he is one of the biggest rappers in the world and the production from 40 was so sublime in its open, subtle and encapsulating deepness it gave Drake the perfect platform to really show his soft side once again.
10. Wretch 32 – Black & White
UK rap is on the up and whether you like it or not the UK now has its own mainstream rap scene for probably the first time in years. With other big releases this year from UK artists like Tinie, Tinchy and Giggs one really stood out for us and that was Tottenham’s finest Wretch 32 who has been slogging away in the grime and rap scene for years now with a small buzz but finally this year with the help of some good pop choruses and a massive single Traktor took to the front of the game. With number 1′s and a nationwide tour their seems to be no stopping him and if the music is as good as it was on Black & White we wouldn’t mind that at all.
9. Mac Miller – Blue Side Park
Mac Miller did it, after a slew of critically acclaimed mixtapes and a fanbase of a megastar he got an independent album to the top of the Billboard charts a feat that hasn’t been done for 16 years. It just shows that a steady grind, touring and releasing the music people want and you love will get you far. Blue Side Park may not be as good as KIDS or The High Life but it was still an amazingly solid piece of work that showcased Mac’s love for real hip hop beats along with his well documented bouncy flow. Thumbs Up Mac!
8. A$AP Rock – Live Love ASAP
Seemingly coming out of nowhere the whole ASAP crew managed to create a massive buzz even prior to the release of this mixtape/album and with ASAP Rocky they have their un announced “leader” who on some phenomenol production from other ASAP members Clams Casino and Ty Beats offered up one of the best free releases of the year (keep skimming down for the others). He is Harlem, he raps what he likes, is a pretty motherfucker and he just signed a deal with Sony…. You cant stop ASAP ROCKY.
7. Common – The Dreamer/The Believer
After a pretty long Hiatus of album releases and keeping a rather low profile over the last couple of years (the last release he brought out wasn’t all that good either) Common chose to release his album ‘The Dreamer/The Believer’ right at the end of 2011 and has managed to find himself at number 7 on our list for albums of the year and too be honest it could have been higher had he given us more time to formulate a larger opinion. What Common did was release an album that contains classic track after classic track, with supreme production from NO I.D. and the lyrics we all know and love from Common; he seemed hungrier on this album and we’re glad he was. The shot at Drake also helped push the album out and it’s good to see Rappers actually act Hip Hop for once, shout out to Comm, he smashed it with this one! Go Purchase it if you havn’t already!
6. The Weeknd – House Of Balloons
This probably could be one of the ultimate RnB/Alternative mixtapes/albums ever created, The Weeknd forged a loyal fanbase and a massive amount of secrecy this year with his releases. House Of Balloons was the catalyst for a new star of music to show off his talent and with it came a range of worldwide acclaim, you will find most lists will feature this guy’s work and we are absolutely happy to see him getting the recognition (its just a shame Thursday wasn’t as good as HOB). Big things in 2012 for The Weeknd we forsee.
5. Childish Gambino – CAMP
Donald Glover Aka Childish Gambino isn’t your stereotypical rapper (Im sure you know this) he is a writer, TV star and stand up comic with a rap name from a Wu-Tang Name Generator but it was his first studio effort this year entitled CAMP that put him into reckoning as one of the best new rappers in the game. CAMP is an album full of jokes, quick rhymes and most importantly GAMBINO’ness (I have coined this term). It was an album of real stuff spoken by a rapper who really gives the impression he just wants to succeed at all he does. With great tracks, some very decent rapping and a joke or too it was one of the best albums released this year bar none.
4. Kendrick Lamar – Section 80
Kendrick Lamar for me (miles) the best new school rapper in the last 2 years (even better than the guy at number 2 on this list) and Section 80 finally moved K.Dot into the limelight/mainstream, the beats were phenomenol, the stories in each track touch you and the topics Lamar weaves into his unflawed rhyme scheme really showcase an intelligence. I have not stopped playing this album all year and i’m very excited for the future of Kendrick Lamar.
3. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra
Frank Ocean is a revelation, a black RnB singer in Odd Future who raps about real emotions, tough ones at that and also manages to encapsulate the feelings of teenagers and adults all over the globe (his recent sold out tour shows magnify this). What’s best about Frank is his ability to make a song make you feel something, he releases music about emotions that you dont feel stupid singing along too and with his Nostalgia,Ultra release he managed to make himself one of the brightest stars to emerge in 2011.
2. J.Cole – Cole World:The Sideline Story
Cole finally managed to release an album and prior to it’s release I was worried for him, he had built the hype, kind of lost it again, regained it and released some poor singles prior to it but when it dropped the “haters” and worriers shut their mouths, Jermaine Cole delivered on pretty much all fronts, with some of our songs of the year on this album and a great flow track by track his beats and lyrics shone through from the sideline (dope pun). Getting number one and a nomination for best new artist at the grammy’s it was Cole’s year.
1. Jay-Z/Kanye West (The Throne) – Watch The Throne
What can we say, Kanye is our favourite artist so maybe this is biased but who can deny that Watch The Throne wasn’t among the top most anticipated albums of the last decade. With no leaks and massive anticipation The Throne duly delivered a focused album that yes bragged about expensive clothes and champagne but also touched on the topics wrong with society according to two successful black men. Watch The Throne was and is the album of the year because it is two of the games greatest artists coming together to form musical orgasms. The beats were fire, the lyrics were poignant and Jay-Z even managed to impregnate Beyonce in the same year as making it. Hat’s off to Hov, Yeezy and everyone involved on the best album of 2012.