Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Albums of 2011

Top 16 Albums of 2011

16) Tyler, the Creator: Goblin

The most anticipated album of the year for anyone who knew who Odd Future actually were created a cult buzz worldwide and all over the Internet. For fans it was a disappointment and for newcomers or critics it was a masterpiece. It was pretty good and that's it. It is weak compared to his previous release Bastard. The hype began literally overnight after Odd Future gave one of the best television performances ever on Jimmy Fallon. The energy and aggression was there and people wanted more. Tyler didn't sell out with this album, going against convention he actually made a darker and less accessible album. There are very good highlights that again revolve around Tyler's disturbing and confused outlook such as Golden (my favourite track) Her, Goblin, Nightmares, along with his impressive rhyming skills on Yonkers and Tron Cat. He just needs to ease up on the rebel shit, he's just a fucking kid and immature, not a genius like some say.

15) Drake: Take Care

Drake is that guy that you can't help but hate. I mean you just look at this album cover and think "what a douchepacker!" Just go to and you will shit yourself laughing at the descriptions of this guy. However, credit is due where credit is due and this is a good record. Drake is an average rapper and lyricist, but  he is sincere in topics of insecurity and lost love. On Doing it Wrong he states "We live in a generation of not being in love",  a ballsy line for a rap artists, but it is an accurate claim. It is his musical ear that proves to be great, his plays out more like an R&B album than a hip-hop one. The music is soft and dreamlike with Drake pointing out vulnerability after vulnerability. He sounds desperate, lonely, and heartbroken and isn't shy about expressing it, and after he may boast about spending six million or fucking in Palm Springs. He has chosen a good direction in terms of producers and his sound is influenced by The Weeknd, James Blake and The xx, which gives thus album a minimal and ambient atmosphere that suits his depressing mood. Big Ghost Chronicles destroyed him in hilarious fashion with lines like:

"It's like this muthafucka jus slid down a rainbow n landed in a big pool of estrogen before he made this shit b." 


" This that shit Drake listens to on his lavender i pod when he's usin his flying umbrella to get from point A to point B son."

Big  Ghost Chronicles may be the best blog of the year, but that can't take away the fact that Take Care is one the years best albums.

14) AraabMuzik: Electronic Dream

Produced one of the hardest street anthems of the past few years (Diplomats: Salute) and has now has delivered a hypnotic dance album with no rappers featuring. It reminds me of dance music heard when I went to under 18s clubs, but these are more advanced with strong beats ricocheting off dance rhythms and high vocals. Araab is taking the dance club music to the streets and it sounds good.

13) A$AP Rocky: LiveLoveA$AP

New York rap has been weak for a couple of years, even when there are good releases they are missing that New York sound. A$AP has taking elements of Houston hip-hop and attempted to make a new New York sound and with the intrinsic help of Clams Casino he has somewhat succeeded. A resident of Harlem, he has taken the street anthem rap of the Diplomats, chopped and screwed it, hazed it out and brought it down into the stank basements of Uptown Manhattan. Songs like Leaf and Demon with their trapped haunting sample vocals are reminiscent of Burial. He is part of the new generation of rappers that can transcend from underground to mainstream easily enough. What I like about A$AP is that he is not a hipster rapper, and you can tell he has been recognized as that in the past. Signed the biggest deal in for a starter rapper since 50 Cent...not exactly a lightweight.

12) Fucked Up: David Comes to Life

Punk Opera has become a new favourite of mine since listening to Damian Abraham scream out his lungs over these fast paced guitars...its an enthralling loud and energetic album. There is a concept to it too about some guy named David, but I couldn't give a shit in following the story because the music and screaming vocals are just too good. Normally screaming "Slipknot" shrieking vocals aren't too accessible, but here it blends perfectly with the music. It's actually a romantic album I think.

11) Beyonce: 4

She's already the biggest female recording artist in the world and has certainly released some of the most successful pop hits over the past ten years, but this is her first really strong album. Ballads (1+1),  club song (Girls Rule the World), party song (Party) and 90s R&B (Love on Top)...Still the best out there.

10) Danny Brown: XXX

"I miss when rappers were they're all just nerds" -Beavis and Butthead

Danny Brown may look like a nerd, maybe that's why G-Unit pulled out from signing him, he may also look like a lizard with fucked up hair, but one thing is for sure and that is that he raps hard as fuck. He doesn't try to adapt to any image because his image surely doesn't adhere to his ferocious and insane rap style. He has this yelp when he raps on Monopoly, but it's not some stupid works into his flow. He is obsessed with drugs, more with abusing then selling. When he talks about his selling days he doesn't glamorize it describing his "pencil to the temple" like past. He delivers funny quips "pussy stank like Cool Ranch Doritos" or "on the same pill that had Carlton dancing fast". It seems like Danny Brown really doesn't give a fuck and he is good at expressing that. Definitely the hardest record of the year.

9) Frank Ocean: Nostalgia, Ultra

Frank Ocean may not sound to different from your average R&B singer, but it's his content that compliments him. On Strawberry Swing he reminisces about childhood, which is like a rite of passage. Next song is Novacane, where he sings about having no emotion during sex. On American Wedding he expresses the emptiness and faults of an American marriage. "They don't last to long" he sings over a Hotel California sample. Nature Feeling has him singing a fuck song (respectably) over MGMT's Electric Eel. Unlike The Weeknd, Ocean is tired of fucking around, drugs, women, late nights and wants something more simple and stable. And unlike his clique Odd Future he is more mature. A vey impressive and interesting mixtape.

8) Real Estate: Days

This is just your basic hippy, soft rock, guitar layered album. This is hammock music right here, listening to this on a lazy summer day seems about right.

7) M83: Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

Nothing much has changed for M83, still making unbelievably epic music. I have found this album difficult to get into compared to his previous work. Midnight City is an ode to city life on a huge scale with a saxophone to can you go wrong? Steve McQueen is another epic burst. When the chorus hits it's like a soundtrack for fireworks, the weekend, busting a nut after holding it in for a month, Judd Nelson raising his fist in the air at the end of The Breakfast Club...yeah its good.

6) Jay-Z/Kanye West: Watch The Throne

I can't believe this actually worked. Usually these big hype albums are a let down and there is nothing bigger than this. Just look at the fucking cover! After Kanye West's opus last year he has teamed up with Jay-Z in his spare time to create this extravagant album. They invite Beyonce, Justin Vernon, RZA, Pete Rock and Frank Ocean to help them out. Expensive samples, listing off seriously expensive and rare brands while reflecting on fatherhood, black on black crime and race. Who Gonna Stop Me? has Jay-Z rapping over a dubstep sample in which Kanye speeds up at the end. Big Ghost Chronicles described it the best : "sounds like niggas is drivin Lamborghinis around in the studio and drums is hittin like automatci weapons"

5) James Blake: James Blake

After dabbling in minimal dubstep and sampled vocals, James Blake has returned with a proper album that is less complex and he uses his own vocals, which are very good. This is more like minimal R&B than dubstep, he still adheres to his own sound, but this is more accessible to the public. Check out his version of A Case of You.

4) The Weeknd: House of Balloons

The Weeknd are not your average R&B band: cocaine, shady parties...the music and content is dirtier and grittier than others. House of Balloons begins with the uplifting chorus "this is a happy house!", but when we reach Glass Table Girls we are dropped down into a cellar of drug abuse and aggressiveness. Love the line or we can turn into a Nightmare...Elm Street." Sounds like all these songs were written after a rough night (The Morning) and they are preparing to do it all over again.

3)Girls: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

I don't really know what to say about this album except that it is just so fucking good. Its a soft rock album with nostalgia of 1950s and 1970s rock. Titles such as Honey Bunny, Saying I Love You and Magic correspond to this, but they can go hard to (Die). This year has lacked experimenting and expanding among artists, which isn't  a bad thing. They are perfecting their skills within their genre e.g. Quik, Blake, M83 and Girls can't get more perfect than this.

2)DJ Quik: Book of David

DJ Quik has been my favourite artist ever since I listened to his 2009 BlacKQout collaboration with Kurupt. What's so great about that album and this is that nothing is riding on it, there is no pressure or expectation/media buzz. He doesn't have to prove anything to anybody, he just enjoys making good music. Music is a fun pastime and Quik is here to remind us of that. He sticks to what he does best, which is westcoast gangster rap, but adds his own little elements without over doing it. He may add some world music or dubstep in here or there, but he never strays too far from the basics. The music represents California...the sun, BBQs, girls, palm trees. It's not complicated, strictly business/fun.

He gets more personal on Book of David, addressing his family problems or rendevousing with an old girlfriend. He's more mature than his contemporaries . In his forties, not trying to be in his twenties (Jay-Z). He acts his age and has fun doing it. No pressure and freedom to do what he wants, hang out and make fun music.

1) Bon Iver: Bon Iver

This year has proved to be the year of the vocals.  Last years All of the Lights transcended into 2011 and had listeners trying to pick out the odd twenty vocalists. James Blake introduced his voice to his music, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd made R&B more interesting and The-Dream and Beyonce belted out a few. However, the most soothing came from that guy with the beard, Justin Vernon. It seems his time with Kanye West has inspired him to become a perfectionist and this album is the proof. It consists of eleven great tracks with not one disappointment. The closer Beth/Rest sounds as if it should be Lionel Richie singing over it, but Vernon can transcend from folk to indie to pop/R&B when he feels like it. On Holocene he sings in realisation that he is "not magnificent". Someone should tell him that this album is though.

Honourable Mentions

Kendrick Lamar: Section 80

Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica

Freddie Gibbs: Cold Day in Hell

Shabazz Palaces: Black Up

tUnE-yArDs: w h o k i l l

St. Vincent: Strange Mercy

Big K.R.I.T.: Return of 4Eva

Smith Westerns: Dye it Blonde

Clams Casino: Instrumental Mixtape

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