As each year passes, there’s a number of albums that go unnoticed, unrewarded and unheard of until years later – if that. “I didn’t know he was making music back then!” Let’s put a stop to this. These lists are definitely my favorite lists of the year, so, in no patricular order, here’s the Top 10 Slept-On Albums of 2011. (As I couldn’t pick a definitive 11th.)
M.O.P. & Snowgoons – Sparta
Who? A Brooklyn duo consisting of Lil Fame and Billy Danze who are ultimately (and unfortunately) known for their 2000s banger “Ante Up.”
Previous albums? Foundations, Warriorz
Why you should listen? In the year where everyone chose to air out their emotions, M.O.P came back hard as a motha’. There is nothing better than an album where you have to quote lyrics using CAPS, because it knocks that hard. Not to mention the collaboration between the European producing duo and the Brownsville bullies balances the entire album out.
Standout tracks: “Body on the Iron,” “Back at it,” “Hard Niggaz”
TiRon & Ayomari – A Sucker for Pumps
Who? A Cali duo who met on an online hip-hop forum, who’ve made waves individually and together
Previous albums? TiRon’s MSTRD, Ayomari’s PB&J Solution, En Kärlekshistoria EP
Why you should listen? It’s an album void of the “he-said, she-said” nonsense, and focuses on the raw dynamics of the relationships between men and women; the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s an uplifting joint that magnifies why we do the things we do in the name of love and heartache. With that being said, it’s not a joint catered just to women, as men face these problems, too.
Standout tracks: “Her Theme Song,” “No Wonder,” “If I Had You”, “All My Love” (feat. Yummy Bingham)
Action Bronson – Dr. Lecter
Who? A Queens’ native who at first listen sounds like Ghostface Killah, but holds his own to even be worthy of that comparison. Cooking, eating, weed and wrestling are his virtues.
Previous albums? Well Done (with Statik Selektah), Bon Appetit….Bitch!!!!! (mixtape)
Why you should listen? The entire album was produced by Tommy Mas, who, for the most part, used break-beat samples to create a familiar throwback feeling. Paired with Bronson’s ‘I-don’t-give-a-fuck’ attitude and quite frankly, pleasurable rhymes, it’s a tenacious album attentively delivered.
Standout tracks: “Barry Horowitz,” “Jerk Chicken,” “Buddy Guy”
Nemo Achida – Nemotional
Who? Nemo Achida has been making waves for a minute, and now signed with 88-Keys’ Locksmith Music, those waves may turn into typhoons. From Kentucky, but now based in NY, not only is he a rapper, but he’s produced a lot of his own cuts.
Previous albums? Digital Dan, Goodbye Brooklyn (mixtapes)
Why you should listen? It’s a honest approach to everyday matter. As smooth as his flow is, so is the production and the lyricism that follows. Nemotional invites listeners into Nemo’s life, only to discover it’s just as relateable to their own. It’s just an easy listen and a compatible tape to spin over and over.
Standout tracks: “Nemotional,” “Stoop Music”
Thurz – LA Riot
Who? One half of the now debunked group U.N.I., now trying things on his own
Previous albums? First debut album as a solo artist; with U.N.I. Before there was Love, A Love Supreme Vol 1 & 2.
Why you should listen? To create a project that doesn’t only pay tribute and relive some of the most devastating events one city has faced through word, but also speak on the oppression our generation has been affected by in present time, is a daunting task. With that being said, this album does it. It pays homage to 1991 beating of Rodney King, the 1992 LA Riots, and a crucial time where a community was powerless. Needless to say, it’s a socio-political documentary on wax.
Standout tracks: “Rodney King,” “RIOT” (feat. Black Thought), “Prayer”
Torae – For the Record
Who? NY rapper who’s often overlooked, but has worked with everyone from Preemo and 9th Wonder, to Toronto’s own Marco Polo, and recently, Tona and Eternia.
Previous albums? Daily Conversation, Double Barrel (with Marco Polo)
Why you should listen? Torae isn’t new to the game and has been thrown into the ‘underrated rappers’ category for far too long. He doesn’t need to convince you he can spit, it’s done effortlessly over the brawny production that backs this album, even matching flows to Pete Rock’s beat dead on.
Standout tracks: “That Raw,” “For the Record”
CunninLynguists – Oneirology
Who? A trio rooted in the South (Kentucky & Georgia), consisting of Deacon the Villain, Kno, and Natti. They’ve toured with people like Nappy Roots, Brand Nubian and Raekwon.
Previous albums? Dirty Achres, A Piece of Strange, Stranger Journey Volume 1 & 2 (mixtapes)
Why you should listen? This project is a concept album based on dreams, almost to the same like of the movie Inception, though it doesn’t educe any sleep-like symptoms. Being entirely produced by Kno, the production creates a very intricate and thought-out spine that’d carry the rappers’ flows, ultimately resulting in a ‘for us, by us’ album.
Standout tracks: “Hard as they Come (Act 1)” (feat. Freddie Gibbs), “Murder (Act 2)” (feat. Big K.R.I.T)
Co$$ – Before I Awoke
Who? Also known as CashusKing, this South Cali native who’s definitely a darker version of Blu, with a more raw flow. Ambitious and poetic.
Previous albums? Revelations, The Future’s Past
Why you should listen? Co$$ brings a hard edge to a soulful album. His versatility over the beats is infinitely his greatest attribute, while his rhymes about everyday life in Southern Cali connect effortlessly with listeners. It’s a testament to West Coast classics (and hardship) while lacing a jazzy futuristic-spacey (think Cudi) feel over it.
Standout tracks: “Pot Ash” (prod. Exile), “Spaceman,” “Before I Awoke”
Killer Mike – PL3DGE
Who? AKA Killa Kill & Mike Bigga. He’s been around since 2003, made waves with Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, and Pastor Troy. More recently, he signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records.
Previous albums? I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind, Underground Atlanta
Why you should listen? PL3DGE is a highly energetic version of the smooth Southern twang. As an entire project, Mike balances male braggadocio, socio-political issues, and overall ambition to create a solid project more complex than anything he’s put out before.
Standout tracks: “Ready, Set, Go” (feat. T.I), “American Dream,” “That’s Life 2”
Apathy – Honkey Kong
Who? He’s part Demigod, part Army of the Pharaohs, part Get Busy Committee – he’s all over the place, been all over the place, and continues to be creeping out of all avenues.
Previous albums? Eastern Philosophy, Wanna Snuggle
Why you should listen? Apathy’s story telling abilities and multilayered rhymes are exposed all over this tape. With standout production from some of the best (Preemo, DJ Premier, Teddy Roxpin,) the aural landscape of this project is ill. And while it gives off a ‘throw back’ feel, especially with guest features, Apathy is out there with the freshmen.
Standout tracks: “Stop What YA Doin’” (prod. Preemo, feat. Celph Titled), “Peace Connecticut” (prod. Beatminerz), “The Recipe” (feat. Xzhibit)
- Kool G Rap – Riches, Royalty, Respect
- yU – The Earn
- Joel Ortiz – Free Agent
- Bad Meets Evil – Hell: The Sequel
- Has-lo – In Case I Don’t Make It