We “ummm’d” and “ahhh’d” for a while about whether or not Rawroots should do a “Best Of 2011″ or not. In the end, we reckoned that we probably should – of not only to ensure that a few of the artists on our list were given a mention SOMEWHERE during the year I like to affectionately coin as “The Year Of The Kraeyshawn” – And NO… She is definitely NOT on this list!
Here are a few of our 2011 favourites compiled by me – Butterflynothippy (Ayara) and my homeslice Dukie Hendrix III…
***** Section.80 – Kendrick Lamar
Not really too much to say. Not really a surprise to anybody. Hip hop perfection. NEXT!
*****Camp – Childish Gambino
Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino made a brave and electrifying move with the release of his debut album CAMP. Gambino took a great risk in the content of his lyrics ranging from racial alienation, relationships and other subjects , especially considering how fickle the hip hop community is with reguards to acceppting actors and entertainer as credible hip hop artist. His brash style was made palatable by his playful humor sensibility. His album will stand as one of the most polarizing rap records to date. This is not an album which you will feel lukewarm about.
It’s fire or ice, you will love it or hate it.
***** L.A. Riot – THURZ
One Rawroots – we featured a lot of THURZ this year. And for good reason. L.A. Riot was definitely one if the illest albums to drop in 2011. THURZ is not a rapper for the faint hearted. If your are looking for the shallow, ‘snap ya fingers’ type rap then it’s probably safe to assume that this is not one for your collection. If you are looking for something with more substance couple with super seriously hot beats - definitely add this to your list. My favs? “Colors”, “Rodney King” & “Dope”.
*****Hustle & Work – KuwaitG
KuwaitG AKA Da JinjaBread Man teamed up with DJ Bobby Black and B-Swift to cook up one of the best products to come out the mid-west since BONE was creepin’ on the come up. Preparing fans for what is being called “The album that will be the re-birth of gangsta rap”. One of the most downloaded albums of 2011, Kuwait G showed the world what they have been over looking til now in the mid-west. Jinja lets his inner freak fly free in lyrics so creatively that your mind can’t help but think twice about what your ears just heard. The album will leave you hungry for more.
******Cookies or Comas – Jean Grae
On her first full length project since “Jeanius” , Jean Grae rises like the Phoenix of HIP HOP and takes DJ Drama along for the ride. She proves once again that lyrical mastery is not just a male attribute, as she towers over her male counterparts. Along side Kweli and Pharoache Monch – she delivers a hypnotic and satisfyingly slick project. Jean Grae shows the world that she is still one of the best to bless the mic – male or female.
***** Where Do We Go From Here? – G Huff and Vice Souletric
This duo really made their make on 2011 with this album. Where Do We Go From Here? (which is available on iTunes) boasts features from some of the undergrounds elite including Reks and Guilty Simpson. I predict that 2012 will be even more promising for the pair both as a unit and as individuals. Vice is def a classic producer in the making and G Huff’s lyrical style packs a punch that leaves the eardrums ringing for moments after. Loved it.
*****Well Done – Action Bronson
Teaming up with Statik Selektah has always spelled out a hit. Action does nothing to change this only reinforce it as a universal fact. The project features M.O.P.’s Lil Fame, Mayhem Lauren and Maffew Raggazino and proved to be one of his best offers in 2011. Pushing it back to November only left fans on the edge of their seats. Action turns up the heat on the track “Cocoa Butter” featuring the lovely voice of Nina Sky. Fans of his debut album were thrilled by “Central Booking” as he teamed up with Meyhem Lauren for what will soon be a classic. The production was superb. This is what true HIP HOP sounds like.
***** LiveLoveA$AP - A$AP Rocky
This mixtape was translated through to me as an album. It was no doubt, way more solid than the majority of the mainstream hip hop albums 2011. I look forward to seeing and hearing just what the Harlem rapper has to offer in 2012 after signing his mega deal with RCA. If you haven’t already given it a listen – download it today! Why not? It’s free. Stand out tracks for me? “Trilla”, “Bass” and “Roll One Up”.
*****Cold Day in Hell – Freddie Gibbs
Gary, Indiana born “Gangsta Gibbs” as he calls himself - successfully details his personal struggle with a side of politics. Here he shows his style is way more than hardcore rap. Though his life was influenced by the grimy dangerous streets of the once murder capital of America, he speaks like a man transformed by pain and the hope for a way out.
***** Setbacks – Schoolboy Q
Hooked. Schoolboy Q is really doing it for me right now. He is one of the industry’s best kept secrets and even though Setbacks was no doubt – an excellent offering, it still managed to slip through the net. Many of us chose to focus our attentions on the better known rappers whose releases this year were just not up to par. “I bet I got some weed” is def my jam right now. The beat is just soooo smooth and Schoolboy’s flow is so laid back it’s damn near horizontal. I feel awkward saying a track called “Druggy’s Wit H*es” is my ish… but it is! Lol. I make no apologies. I love the rawness of Setbacks. The honesty and the melodic production. DOPE.