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.
75.Statik Selectah ft Joel Ortiz & Brother Ali-Damn Right
Brother Ali might have the most underrated guest verses of all time. I never hear anyone talking about his cameos, yet when he blesses it's lovely. Might be the underground Andre 3k. That's how memorable his verses are. Joel delivers a dope verse as well. The beat is cold to, Ali needs more of this on his next album for certain.
74.Mayer Hawthorne-Mr Blue Sky
I usually have a hard time co-signing cover songs. The fact that I am on my Sunshine Anderson a.k.a Heard it All Before doesn't help either. But this jam from Mr Hawthorne was crucial for my ears. He brought a little more soul into it, and it fits his M.O a little more than the original.
73.Drake-Look What You Done
The piano loop on this is classic. What makes it work too is the lack of drums in the beginning that help sell the emotion(yeah I know folks will say he is soft for this) of the song. I might not be the hugest fan of this man's music overall now days, but I can't front he understands a thing or two about crafting a good song.
72.Lil Wayne ft Tech Nine, & Andre 3000-Interlude
Andre 3000 spits a verse on here and Lil Wayne doesn't.
Also:Those who have somehow never heard a Tech Nine verse in their life will be amazed by his technical skills. For those who have, there is a Andre 3000 verse.
71.9th Wonder ft Terrance Martin, Phonte and Bird and The Midnighters-One Night
When I hear this song, it reminds me of the stuff that the older folks would listen to at parties when I was a kid. Has the funk as well as the soul and has that groove that had your Uncle yelling “that's my jam” and let the two-step'n begin from that point on. I almost want to buy an old Cadillac(or Lincoln) so I can drive around with a tooth pick in my mouth, fur coat on my back and this song playing in the system. It's that type of jam.
70.DJ Premier ft Nas & The Berklee Symphony Orchestra-Regeneration
If I wanted to be lazy basically I would just say there all artist involved in the title are enough to warrant any amount of listens. I am not so I will say it was good to see Premo and God's Son teaming-up again after what seems like forever(Nas is Like). But then you add the fact that there also is an Orchestra from one of the most prestigious music schools in the world? This should have been playing after you read the song title basically.
69.Marsha Ambrosis-Lose Myself
A cover Lauryn(Miss)Hill's far and few new musical creations this year. Now taking the form of a ballad, the song finds new life under Marsha as it's message of losing ones self and then finding it again is slowed down and the lyrics take on a new meaning.
68.Lupe Fiasco-Words I Never Said
Remember when Alex the Kid and Skylar Grey were taking over Top 40 radio months ago? Much like the bankers/speculators on Wall Street, big labels seem content in capitalizing as quickly and recklessly on something “hot” at the moment. Though when the Kid/Grey production was presented to Lupe while reorganizing LASERS for mass consumption(aka record executives approval), Lupe transformed another would be sad love song, into a rebel anthem for the masses. One of the biggest songs(sales wise) in his career asked many questions that had been pretty much ignored or handled pooryly by popular music. A rant of sorts, the song brought up such questions like: Is Obama really a terrorist? What about that War on Terror? What am I doing while all this is going on in the world? Salute, for making smart, cool once again.
67.Lil B'-Gon Be Okay
I like the sample(as well as the movie it's from), the positivity as well isn't bad to. Though he is on the Based flow more so than a structured verse, so not all the bars are nice, but if the kids are listening to this versus some of the trash that I hear on radio, I Okay with that.
66.Blu ft SA-RA & NOLA Darling -Never Be The Same
Nola Darling kicks this off so lovely. Like that is as good as it gets when you want to start a song off. It's hard for me to really zero in on what I really like about this one, because on hand it kind of has that bounce that you would cruise to. On the other hand it adds a bit of the electronic sound in it to make it something new. It works well, and because of that I am still trying to fit it into some box that exist when really there isn't one for this type of song.
65.Kirk Franklin-Before I Die
Paging Wale! This is what should have been on Ambition! The Go-Go drums and horns on this joint are ridiculous. Kirk brings it, the arrangement is incredible and you can't get that DC bounce outta of your head either.
64.Snoop Dogg ft Wiz Khalifa- The Weed Iz Mine
I wasn't really checking for Snoop this year, but my homegirl sent me this one and I couldn't deny the groove on it. Some of that OG bounce right here. Wiz Khalifa who I usually could care less about, actually sounds cool on the track as well(props for him will go no further that sentence). Though I am not a marijuana advocate, I can still be OK with life when this song comes on, and get my two-step on.
63.The Weekend-What You Need
Up until a few weeks ago I had all but forgotten about this guy. But as I sat in front of a beautiful French woman with a glass of wine in her hand, who just happened to ask what I would like to listen to, this was the 2nd song that got played. She liked it of course, and set the mood for the night. A slow burner, for the late night sessions, almost transported from a time when slow jams weren't regulated to a day or certain night on a station. Perfect music to set the mood.
62.E-40 ft Devin the Dude-Looking Back
They spittn' game right here. From 40-Water and Devin we get a look back at a few tales of their early days in the music game. As a long time fan of both artist, it's treat to hear some insider stories from their early days over this laid back beat. It's almost like you are kicking it at a summer picnic and your able to listen to the two start those remember when stories.
61.Big K.R.I.T-American Rapstar
To think that this was something that he did with out the help of Def Jam money. I really look forward to seeing what a little bit more money behind him could do. Not only is this something to ride to, but it also has some thinking man lyrics as well this guy might be one of the best in the game currently.
60.Theophilus London-I Stand Alone
Anthem status song right here. I can't deny how contagious this song is,the fact that it was the theme song for Season 2 of HBO's How to Make it in America(though I didn't watch any episodes yet)doesn't hurt either the cause either.
59.Killa Mike-God Is In the Building 2
With Andre 3000 making appearances on some tracks that are questionable, you got to wonder why he isn't appearing on tracks like this that would further his legacy, instead of say...Llyod?Despite the what I feel would the lack of a 3 stacks verse, Mike sounds like the super-hero of the south over this southern banger. Seeking God, exposing his flaws, and telling you who is still walking with him through it all. You can tell I miss Outkast don't ya?
58.Blu ft Thurz, Yonas Micheal, Pac Div, J'Davey, El Prez, Tiron & Ayomari- Doin Somethin
A posse(I just said that word)cut that if it wasn't for Mr Muthafuckin Exquire(I feel guilty just typing his name), would have been my favorite posse-cut for sure. You of course want to know who has the best verses of course. I would say in this order: Blu, Like, Tiron,Thurz, Yonas, Beyong, Mibbs, Ayomari, J'Davey.
57.Drake ft The Weeknd(should be the other way around IMO)-Crew Love
This track right here was ridiculous! Like crazy! For not having any drums especially the majority of the track it works. The Weeknd goes off on the vocals(pause), and when Drake finally comes in, it's above average flow, and I can't hate that. This is is a song on paper I am not supposed to like, but when I press play I can't front on it like I don't. Fierce track though.
56.Toro Y Moi-New Beat
My homegirl put me up on this dude, and I am so glad she did. This song has grooves. Wouldn't mind bumping this at a summer Barbeque as well for the fam & friends. Funky, but cool, that's a good lane to reside in.
55.Shabbaz Palaces-An Echo from the host that protess infinitum...
A mind shifting song. When I first heard it I was like, this is fierce, but when it goes into percussion mode midway through the song, and the journey it goes on from there is what allows it to stand out amongst the crowd.
54.James Blake-Give Me My Month
So soulful...I love listening to stuff inside somewhere, with a cup of tea, on a rainy day, or by a late night winter fire. Yeah, I like this song a lot, and it's rawness especially. No unnecessary polish that makes it sound like an Alicia Key's track.
53.Rapheal Saddiq-The Perfect Storm
I need more songs like this in my life. So does the rest of the world.
52.Little Dragon-Ritual Union
There are two Sweden artist on this list, what is Europe doing to me? The title and opening track to their latest offering had some funk to it. Get yo' Prince on Little Dragon!
Songs about travel always will have a home in my favorites.
50.Mr J Mederios ft Stro- Serious
First off, Stro absolutely nails the hook! Like this might be one of the best features of the year. Just that alone should warrant a listen. A song that definitely should be getting some plays from a lot more people outside his fan base.
49.Theophilus London ft Dev Hynes- Century Girl
Theophilus has the type of lyrical content that Big Sean specializes in, which is about 80% nonsense. But when it clicks like this, it works. Don't know why he didn't put this on his album? It could have easily have been another single for sure.
48.Tiron & Ayomari-Back 2 U
For the foreign situation where you don't know if you are going to see that someone again, send them this song.
47.Phonte ft Elzhi-Not Here Anymore
New Tigallo-Tigallo-Tigallo! When it was announced that 9th Wonder would be working with Phonte again I really didn't know what to expect. I had at this point grown accustomed to that non-9th collaboration point of Te's career, and to be honest there wasn't too much that I had heard in the recent memory that had me begging for more 9th Wonder. Well, when I heard this jawn, you pretty much consider all those former thoughts invalid. The beat is beautiful, Phonte delivers two hip-hop quotable worthy verses, and then Elzhi takes us home with a fierce verse as well making this one hell of a trailer to one of this years best albums.
46.Tyler The Creator ft Frank Ocean-She
Two of the more well-known members of OFWGKTA link up for on one of the weirdest songs available to public this year. Yet, everything that makes this song abnormal, makes it that much more enjoyable. The off-time drums, weird lead synths, creeper like verses from Tyler, and another golden hook sung by Frank, all work together to create a strange, yet still wonderful jawn.
45.Beastie Boys-Make Some Noise
These dudes still can rock it. It's on some skateboarder type youthful music though despite their age. This one will set the crowd into a frenzy for sure.
44.Frank Ocean-songs for women
What goes around comes around is the theme for this song about an R&B singer who sings songs to get at a girl, then finds out that the very girl who he was singing about is singing a new song. Kind of has a post-modern Mowtown sound to it.
43.Tanya Morgan ft Napoleon & Che Grand-Gotta Get Over It
I actually came back from a Friday evening walk downtown and this has been playing on repeat since shuffle brought it to my attention. The perfect song for a day like such. All the obligations for the week are done, everybody in a good mood outside, Christmas lights are up everywhere you look, great scene. The music is perfect for this in environment. Also I would include family get-together's, and summer barbecues as well. Tanya has supplied a jam for anywhere good spirits are present.
42.Pusha T-My God
Easily the first track this year that had folks on that screw face. Pusha is at home over these type of eerie sounding productions. My God!
41.The Roots Ft Dice Raw & Phonte-One Time
Glad to see that Phonte making another cameo with the The Roots crew. He sounds right at home here on this beat, and This kind picks up where How I Got Over Left off production-wise, left off. I can't wait to get back home and get the LP so I can read more up on this album.
40.Lupe Fiasco-WWJD He'd Prolly LOL like WTF!
Best song title this year. Beyond that though, Lupe does what he didn't do enough of on LASERS and spits more of the complex introspective raps that originally turned heads on. This introspective look at consumerism is worth every replay.
The song is only clocks in at a little under a minute and a ½, but a song's length only matters if you're aiming for Clear Channel(radio) now days, besides since when did size matter? Anyways, this short jam on catching feelings is perfect for those afternoon hangout's and such. Doesn't hurt either that it's written by composed by Blu either.
38.Big Sean-So Much More
This beat is so nice that it doesn't matter that only 60% of Big Sean says on here is semi-interesting. NO I.D really did his thing this year on the beats. It's so soulful, I actually appreciate the part more when Sean is just talking at the end where he sheds the artificial and actually just gets real.
37.Lykee Li-Follow Rivers
Homegirl is so fresh! Songs like this continue to make my case. I hate using this term as it is something that the new school is more familiar with; swag. What I like about this is it has a swing to it than most indie music which allows you to groove a lot more than usual do to the hip-hop/r&b influence.
36.Beyonce- Rather Die Young
From the opening lines of this one, you know that B' is about to bring it. She sings with so much of the passion that I thought was lacking on a lot of the last two releases of hers. This is her track, it's not like I can sit here and think;oh _______would've killed this track.
This cut right here was vintage. A Neptune's produced song that was left off the cutting room floor of The Lady Killers(why?). The two had collaborated before back on Cee-Lo's second solo venture ...Is The Soul Machine and had me thinking Al Green back then. Now, my thoughts are further cemented by this one. Casual fans of Crazy, and F*&K You might not have flocked to, but for fans of soulful music, this is a cut that will bring goodness to your ears.
34.Jay-Z & Kanye West-Murder to Excellence
One of the few moments on the album were the two take a look outside their window finally. The production on this one is dope. Can't believe I am actually saying this two years in a row now about something featuring co-production by Swizz Beatz. What is this world coming too?
33.Kendrick Lamar-Ho'd Up
Kendrick Lamar is definitely a talented artist. The problem for me is sometimes his beats aren't the most creative for someone with such a fluid style. Though everyone might of went crazy over ADHD, or HiiPower!!! This song is the one that showcases all his talents the best.
32.Pharohe Monch ft Styles P & Phonte-Black Hand Side
This is on the real song. Nothing flashy, a hard look on the reality of the modern African-American struggle, and critique on artist who neglect to tell this story in their music. Accompanied by Phonte's beautifully sung hook, Pharohe Monch and Styles P trade reality rhymes.
31.The Cool Kids ft Mayer Hawthorne-Swimsuits
Summer Jam! Fresh to def, radio formatted, and ready to lock and load. This was the song that would of had folks dancing for sure. I don't know if the clubs were playing this cause I wasn't in a place where hip-hop music was getting burn. I do know that this is some feel good, have fun music none-the-less and Mayer on the hook is gold!
30.The Roots Ft Big K.R.I.T-Make My
The Roots and K.R.I.T??? Yeah, never would've seen this collabo coming in a million years. This is a kind of blues-based track though and you don't have the Blues with out the South. KRIT, makes the most of his opportunity and delivers a great performance on the mic, next to one of the best in the game. A beautiful track, that was the first peak to the instant classic album Undun.
29.DJ Quik ft Dwelle- Time Stands Still
Grown folks music right here. What can't Quik do at this point? This might be one of the best songs that Dwelle has ever appeared on. He really should enlist some more production services from him. On that smooth tip, grown man tip for sure.
28.The Dream-Body Work/F#*! My Brains Out
The first half of this song isn't all that different from his normal sigle aimed music. But when we get a little pass the half-point, the song gets really interesting. From a slowed down bridge the speed almost instantly picks up to something that owes a lot to Prince, but also get's reaaaal nasty in here. Almost ten minutes of music that you shouldn't be listening to around kids.
27.Tyler The Creator-Yonkers
My first intro to the universe known as OFWGKTA(Odd Future for short, not writing that all the way out again). I don't want to get into the video since what I am doing here is talking about actual songs. So let's start with the amazing production. The jazz chords, are what gets to me the most, and then you have Tyler whose flow on here is crazy. It's dark, it's raw, it's explicit, in your face, and everything that you wouldn't want your young kids to listen to. In other words it's just what rap needed this year... A walking paradox
Nas does these type of songs in his sleep now. He is JUST THAT GOOD. I don't know how people could even try to compare him and Hov? Besides making Ether the bar which all battle rap responses had to measure up to from that point forward, he has recently been over this year been seen commiting genocide on tracks left and right. Nas is the Chuck Norris of rap(in terms of bad ass, not ridiculousness).