24. Lupe Fiasco-Double Burger with Cheese
Lupe once again chooses to rock over a Justice instrumental and the results are once again excellent. The subject matter of choice is 90's-era gangsta films(Boys In The Hood, Juice, Menace II Society, South Central), and with that, he presents a lyrical exercise in film history like few others can.
23. Lykee Li-Unrequited Love
This almost sounds like an old gospel hymn. She got busy on this number. Yes it's another getting over a break-up song, but the rawness of this one allows an almost spiritual feeling when listening. Soulful, confessional, simple, and sweet this is fireplace/campfire type music right here.
22. Big Sean ft Chris Brown-My Last
I am not going to kid myself and pretend that I didn't recognize that this was basically Kanye's Good Life-lite. NO I.D creates a similar backdrop to one of Yeezy's hits that still connects as an anthem for good times. Stadium status on this one.
21. Beyonce- Love On Top
I was watching her performance of this song from the 2011 MTV Video Awards and any time the cameras focused on other female artist in the crowd(Katey Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga, Niki Manaj), they were smiling singing along word-for-word and this wasn't even a single yet. In other words This is a jam! Especially for those whose born date is 1986 and lower, who probably heard an R&B hit on the radio with similar style of production. Oh, and of course Miss B did here thing on here with all those vocal climbs.
20. Jay-Z & Kanye West ft Frank Ocean-Made in America
Frank Ocean stole the show on this. His hook is killer. Might not be everyone's cup of tea as far as the beat goes, but Ocean get's his Marvin on for sure. Also this is probably the least 1% moment of the and Jay-Z's you get Jay-Z's best verse and most introspective moment on the album. One of the better executed songs the two have done in recent memory.
19. Frank Ocean-Dust
This is that dude this year. Sophisticated songwriting in a genre that severely needed a shot in the arm. It's almost as if this was the year that the light side of The Force returned to shine a little. A not so subtle song about fallen in love with a girl, from a more mature point of view. Go ahead and get your grown man on Frank.
18. Tanya Morgan-In The City
Donwill's verse resonates close to me, and I am sure it does with Bobo and others who have had this feeling as well. The one where you want more than life than the place you currently reside at has to offer. On the other side of the coin Pea contributes a tale of NYC pre-Gilliani and compares and contrasts with the city today to ultimately reach the conclusion; that though it may seem better, ain't much changed. Another addition to the ever growing superb catalog of Tanya Morgan.
17. Rapheal Saadiq- Moving Down The Line
When you get really good at something people just begin to expect greatness from you. Which is about one of the few problems(if you call it that) that Saadiq has now days. The man has it down, and this is yet another testament to all that is good about music. Here is another song that will get your fingers snapping.
One the most anti-being cool tracks this year came from a tiny woman with a huge voice. Calling out all these people frontin like they tough over the sounds of tribal like war drums just sounds so fierce. This might be one of the most non-hip-hop, hip-hop songs this year.
15. Mr J Mederios ft Kyle Gregory-Shower Curtains
The amount of things that make me like this song all begin with the words. One of the dopest verses this year. Powerful; is the only word I can utter when I listen to this track. A must listen.
14. Marsha Ambrosis- Late Night's & Early Mornings
She can make a song like this in her sleep. Check her resume, you will see that the she kills these type of tracks. Though I doubt this song has anything to do with actually sleeping, it's also arguably one of her strongest to date.
13. Tiron & Ayomari ft BJ The Chicago Kid-Her Theme Song
Fellas, insert the baddest one you ever seen in your life name here, and play this as the song that was in the background from when you first saw her. Yeah, the title of the song says the rest. Ladies, enjoy, this ones for you.
12. Phonte- Sendin My Love
My experience in a long-term relationship is very limited at this time of life. So a song like this, shouldn't appeal to me. It does though, if anything it really does capture some of the positives despite within the negatives that one could look forward to. Honest, grown-man music right here.
11. The Weekend-Wicked Games
Dude got his Prince-lite on for this number. What I like about this one, is how violent it sounds. What I mean by that, is in a world where most songs like this are written for boys and girls who mindset is still 18 & under, this crashes against. When he says “Tell me you love me!” he is demanding it, not asking. It's aggressive, there is not a hint of indecision what so ever. This is music for adults, it's the uncomfortable; comfortable. Prince was the king of this, and The Weekend does justice to that legacy.
Two tracks basically become one on off of The Greatest Story Never Told. A somber almost Chronic 2001-esque style beat begins the chronological tale of who learns they ultimately trust the streets. The surprise comes at the end of the song where the sample gets sped up to a more traditional Just Blaze fashioned beat(horns included) banger, resulting in one of the best moments on the album.
9. Frank Ocean-We All Try
Show don't tell with Frank. Instead of just writing some sappy song about how he is trying to make things work, he breaks talks about how all of existence itself is flawed, and because of that we must all still try. Now that's some of cold game right there.
8. Tiron & Ayomairi-Perfect
Trying to understand why a women does, exactly what she does, from the point of view of a man. Yeah that never works out. But that's what Ron, and Mari fully admit to in on here. We don't get it. Not only that they ask why don't we don't notice when a lot of things they do everyday is to meant to get us to do just that, notice.
7. Mr Mutherfucken Exquire ft Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown, & EL-P-The Last Huzzah
That is a long ass title. This guy's album cover had me ignoring him up until I saw the video for this The Last Huzzah. The best posse cut this year by a mile and a half comes from as someone elsed named them in a comment section somewhere on the Internets:“crew that looks like they kick it at Gamestop(hilarious I thought at least)”. Pretty much every one nails their respective verses, with standouts from Danny Brown, Das Racist, and El-P and Exquire himself. If you love hip-hop music, then you must hear this joint for sure(the video is pretty fresh as well).
6. Shabbaz Palaces-Swerve..The reeping of all that is not Worthwhile(Not withstanding)
Another one of those songs in which upon first hearing, time freezes. What starts off as a nice mid-tempo bounce number, morphs suddenly into a Jazz/R&B moment. Hip-Hop has never sounded so alive.
5. Bon Iver-Holocene
The vocal arrangements are heavenly on this one. I had to include it for sure. It's just that nice. Plus like I always say, I am always a sucker for brass arrangements, no mater how subtle they might be. I would love to have him and Kirk Franklin collab actually. Wonder where that would go? Speaking of which...
4. Kirk Franklin-Hello Fear
Yes on a predominately hip-hop oriented list Kirk Franklin gets some shine. My later adolescent years and up the mans music has been a huge part of my life. Whether you believe in religion or not, the man creates great music. This song arrived in a time in the world where fear itself is working at an all time high. An encouraging message that fear, need not hold a permanent place in our life. And backed by some of almost most heavenly arrangements in the universe, the message has never sounded better.
3. Blu ft Jimetta Rose- Spring Winter Summer Fall
I have never heard anything like this. I have listened to lot of music this year and there are very songs where I can say after a first listen, lack anything familiar. By far one of the best songs I have heard this year. Blu delivers a pair of verses that will allow him to enter Mt Olympus for the rest of his days.
2.DJ Quik-Killer Dope
Epic. Quik might be the Little Richard/Chuck Berry of hip-hop, he will most likely never get his proper due. The fact that he continues to create masterpieces like this after 20 years in the game despite the lack of recognition is something to be admired. The horns are something that the 300 of Sparta might march in to town to. A true testament of his new sense of rediscovered confidence. He has never sounded more alive than now. One of the best produced songs this year.
1. Lupe Fiasco-All Black Everything
My favorite song of 2011 is taking the idea of a re-imagined society where slavery never existed. A radical concept indeed to think about, and is handled very well by Lupe. The Fred Astire line in the song always brings a smile. Great song, challenging the way we think about race relations, and history, without coming across too preachy either. I would love to see a TED video just having him talk about this song.