It’s that time of the year again where I try to make the world a better place by compiling my annual Best Album lists hoping that a few will listen and stop giving money to shitty artists that take their support for granted. So without wasting any of your precious time, I now present AQUILOGY’s Favourite albums for 2011:
14 Muhsinah – “Gone”
The Golden girl with an angelic voice released a double concept EP. The concept is simple enough, divide the EP into two sides, “urban” side with R&B ish beats and “Suburban” side with pop/rock ish version of the same songs. This is pure magic, but what else can you expect from the chick that stole the show on “leave it all behind?”
Best tracks: “Stop & go”, “Stop!”, “Down to 1”
13 Culoe De Song – “Elevation”
Culoe managed to do something impossible: get me to care about a house album! The last time this happened was way back in 2004 when the late DI Iggy Smallz release small sweet sound compilation. Culoe has this rare ability of crafting deep house tracks that aren’t boring or samey. The album begins on a high note, with the remix of 340ml’s “let the sun shine” from then on it’s 75 minutes of pure bliss all the way through to the off-beat banging cymbals of the Zano assisted “Hold Strong”. Even if you don’t fux with house music, this album is worth a listen.
Best tracks: “I really do”; “Sunset”; “Harmony”
12. Jesse Boykins III – “Way of a wayfarer”
A lot has been said about the alleged death of Hip Hop but until recently no one has said a thing about the continued degradation of R&B/Soul music. There was once a time when R&B music was about love and romance, when you had to actually sing to be considered an R&B days but alas, those days are almost gone. We just have to die inside every time a little girl sings along to a Trey Songz zone. To hear good R&B music nowadays, you just have to switch off your radio and swim in the deep ends of the internet. But enough with the winging, I’m here to talk about good music and Jesse Boykins III makes good R&B music. Way of a wayfarer, a free EP produced by Gold Panda is beautiful. Help make the world a better place by checking this out.
Best tracks: “Back Home (Mermaids and Dragons)”; “I can’t stay”; “Light to dark”
11. Danny Brown – “XXX”
Just when I was under the impression that I was too old, salty and sound minded to enjoy misogynistic rap in comes Danny Brown with his XXX mixtape. XXX as in thirty, his age and not Porn, by the way. Danny Brown can rap laps around your favourite rapper, he has the hyper-technical flow that rappers from Detroit have plus, misogynistic as it is, his twisted sense of humour resonates with me. With lyrics like:
I got dem/ Penis palms/ for your vagina momologues/ love a feminist b***/ oooh the get my D**k hard/ So no apologies for all the misogyny/ I just want some company/ for you to watch some porn with me
How can one go wrong? I kid. I kid.
Do I find misogynistic rap lyrics offensive? yes
Did that stop me from enjoying this really good mixtape? hell to the no.
Best tracks: “Outer Space”; “Bruiser Brigade”; “Monopoly”
10. REKS – “Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme”
Being REKS must really be frustrating. For the last ten years, dude’s been releasing projects that go hard. Razor sharp rhymes over boom baps can never disappoint. Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme is possibly the best album of his career (Besides the shoddy album art), rhymes are as sharp as ever, boom baps from the likes of DJ Premier, Statik Selektah, Alchemist and Pete Rock, features from Styles P, Termanology, Freeway but nobody is listening. They’re busy debating if “Watch the throne” is a good album. So make this guy’s life a little easier. Give this a listen.
Best tracks: “This or That”; “The underdog”; “U know”
9. Feist – “Metals”
I don’t wanna front, I don’t know how to write about folk music. All I know is that ‘Metals’ is a well crafted, beautifully written album. It’s sounds different from the pop sounds of ‘The Reminder’ but ‘The Reminder’ was also very different from ‘Let it Die’, I guess that’s her schtick. Give it a spin, you won’t be disappointed.
Best tracks: “Caught a long wind”; “Undiscovered first”; “Bittersweet melodies”
8. Median – The Sender
Everyday man’s raps over weird sounding boom baps. Nerdy, fun and deep at times. Three features from Phonte (Who at one time we all thought we had lost to R&B), a surprisingly good verse from veteran female emcee, Bahamadia and an ambitious Marvin Gaye sample. This album is good. ’nuff said.
Best tracks: “Okie Dokers”; “Bright individual”; “Sizzlin'”
7. Adele – “21”
The politics of Adele’s phenomenal success aside (A white girl having the biggest selling album of the year singing a genre that isn’t well known for moving units because she is white), 21 is a beautiful and mature album about heartbreaks and break-ups, reminiscent of Me’shell Ndegeocello’s “Bitter”. The lyrics could have been a little less corny but Adele’s powerful vocals absolves the LP’s sins. The only mainstream album that I enjoyed this year. Worth a listen.
Best tracks: “Someone like you”; “Turning Tables”; “Rolling in the deep”
6. Phonte – “Charity starts at home”
After the success of the last two Foreign Exchange albums, we thought we had lost phonte to R&B, for good. But the former Little Brother MC blessed us with a stellar debut, “Charity starts at home”. Back to collaborating with 9th wonder again, Phonte feels at home rhyming over 9th limp-wristed but otherwise nice beats. Guest raps from Elzhi, Median, Big K.R.I.T, Evidence and Pharoahe Monch. Unlike his more popular imitator, Drake, Phonte can rap about everyday things without sounding whiny and annoying. If you’ve missed Little Brother, phonte’s rapping etc, this album is for you.
Best tracks: “We go off”; “Everything is falling down”; “Who loves you more”
5. Little Dragon – “Ritual Union”
Little Dragon, the swedish electro-soul band best known for stealing the show on the Last Gorillaz album are back with their third and best album “Ritual Unions”. It’s kinda hard to describe the sound they went for in this album. It’s bold, brilliant and Yukimi’s voice still sounds heavenly. All tracks are amazing and if I ever die without seeing them live, I would have wasted my life.
Best tracks: “Crystalfilm”; “Please turn”; “Nightlight”
4. The Roots – “Undun”
A concept album about the life and death of a street hustler named Redford. Beginning with his death, the story is told backwards and we get to see what lead to Redford’s death. Black thought, as usual, delivers deep and phenomenal rhymes. Guest raps are on point, and everybody stuck to the concept, which is amazing. I could complain about how much I miss the 90’s era roots, but that would take away the brilliance of this album. Not as great as everybody says it is, but phenomenal nonetheless. You’d be doing yourself a great disfavour if you don’t give this a chance.
Best tracks: “One Time”; “Lighthouse”; “Make my”
3. CunninLynguist – “Oneirology”
The best produced album for 2011 in my opinion, Kno is one of my favourite rap producers. The stuff he’s been crafting for cunninlynguist these past ten years has been phenomenal, I really don’t understand why he’s so overlooked. At any rate, last year these dudes watched Inception and decided to create an album about dreams. Kno’s production is the showcase of the album but Deacon and Natti bring the heat on the mic as well. Guest verses from Tonedeff, Big K.R.I.T and Freddie Gibbs. Southern Rap at it’s most finest.
Best tracks: “Stars shine brightest(in the darkest of nights)”; “Enemies with Benefits”; “Hard as they come (act I)”
2. Kendrick Lamar – “Section 80”
See a lot of y’all don’t understand Kendrick Lamar
because you wonder how I could talk about money, hoes, clothes, God and history
all in the same sentence
You know what all them things have in common?
Only half of the truth if you tell it
See I spent twenty-three years on this earth searching for answers
till one day I realised I had to come up with my own
I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m not on inside looking out
I’m in the dead fucking centre looking around
You ever seen a newborn baby kill a grown man?
That’s an analogy for the way the world make me react
My innocence been dead
So the next time I talk about money, hoes, clothes, God and history
all in the same sentence
just know I meant it, and you felt it
cause you too are searching for answers
I’m not the next pop star, I’m not the next socially aware rapper
I am a human motherfucking being over dope ass instrumentation
That pretty much sums up what the album is about. A masterpiece of an album that covers domestic abuse, racialism, growing up in the post-regan era etc. It epitomizes the struggles of being an 80’s baby. The hasn’t been an album as well crafted in a while, I won’t say anything about Kendrick’s age because unlike most rap critics, I don’t think precocity is such a rare attribute in Hip Hop. If you don’t like this, you don’t like hip hop. ‘Nuff said.
Best tracks: “Rigomortis”; “Ronald Regan Era”; “Hiii Power”
1. Pharoahe Monch – “W.A.R (We Are Renegades)”
It’s 2011 and the world isn’t a better place, the economy still hasn’t recovered. People’s liberties are still being slowly taken away by governments. Monsanto is planning on patenting every gene known to man. Africa’s fertile lands are being bought at a cheap prize by foreign investors, creating further food insecurities and the people are slowly realizing that they have been fed bullshit all their lives, so their standing up, streets are being occupied, Arabs are uprising. People are generally fed up. What’s all of this have to do with Pharoahe Monch’s album? That’s the general theme I got from this album. Pharoahe Monch managed to release a socially relevant album in a year where much hype was place over an album by two rap superstars that celebrated crass consumerism. After all these years, P-Monch is still technically a better MC than most of the rappers out there. Guest appearances from Jean Grae, Royce the 5’9”, Immortal Technique, Jill Scott, Styles P, Phonte, Idris Elba and others. A dope album from a rap veteran.
Best tracks: “Clap (one day)”; “Assassins”; “Still Standing”