Saturday, December 24, 2011

Whats Whurlin in 2011? Favorite 25 Releases

Happy Holidays and welcome to my last blog post of 2011.  So much great music has come out in 2011, and a simple top 10 wouldn't feel right to sum up all the projects that I have grown to love.  Instead, I have chosen to give yall my list of my favorite 25 releases, mixtapes and albums.  If you notice I have left off The Roots new album Undun and Common's album The Dreamer The Believer, it is because I have not had adequate time to sit with those albums and really grow to love them, and it wouldn't be fair to just put them on my list just because I like them.  These are all projects that I love and are my personal favorites of this year.  Its all subjective.  TM103 my shit btw.

Well let's get into it....

25. Logic- Young Sinatra

Ok so, my number 25 has to go to Logic for his mixtape Young Sinatra.  Yea yo, I didn't see this coming at all.  I'm not too big on this guy or his music, honestly never really listened to him before this project.  But a friend of mine slid this to me months ago and I gave it a try.  I came out of my listening experience very very impressed, so much so, that since then I have replayed this project over and over again, loving it more and more by the listen.  I may get some hate for endorsing this guy but so be it.  This mixtape, very lighthearted, very well put together, and in my opinion....its simple yet lyrical.  Its catchy enough to hold you in the beginning but of good enough quality to keep you replaying it, and when you do, you uncover more of his lyricsm and its just really comes out well.  This guy is lyrical as fuck in my opinion.  The thing that caught me off guard is, that he's a young white suburban cat, yet he sounds so ol skool with his style...while somehow delivering a new age swag.  There's acts like Yelawolf, Machine Gun Kelly, Mac Miller, who are very popular and hot right now that a lot of people put in a category because of their skin.  You can add Asher Roth, Action Bronson, whatever white rapper you want.  Logic stands out to me, and honestly, the fact that he's a white kid from the suburbs escapes me.  I hear this guy spittin and I hear a young, hungry, lighthearted but lyrical EMCEE.  His style reminds me a bit of Lupe in how versatile he is...he can do lyrical onslaughts like his Dead Presidents freestyle, he has his swag material on his "Young Sinatra" swag...and he's just an entertainer man.  This mixtape is ol skool yet fresh as fuck, and like I said, he is only gettin better.  Many people will write him off, say he's nothing special.  But I dont know yo, I look forward to seeing what this guy can do with an album.  I even went back and listened to his some of his previous mixtapes, Young Broke and Infamous being another standout, and I love that one too.  This kid not only has a story, but a style thats kind of infectious, at least to me.  Yall can keep Yelawolf, MGK, and keep Mac Miller the fuck away from me.  This boy Logic is legit.  Mixtape is only 22 tracks....I could use another 22 tho.

24. Curren$y- Covert Coup

My journey with Curren$y has been a wild one.  I have not always been a fan of his style, his flow is an acquired taste to say the least.  I could only really vibe out to son when I was high.  Seeing as I don't spark up as much as I used to, his music has really served no purpose for me.  While I have acknowledged that he has a great ear for beats, consistent with his lyrics, like his appeal and genuine love for the game, I always had a reason to not like Curren$y, whether it was his flow, delivery, and so on.  Well this year, I had to get over myself.  Curren$y has not changed at all, yet somehow he grew on me.  It probably started with this project, Covert Coup, his collaborative effort with legendary producer Alchemist.  Alchemist laced Curren$y with some of his most potent beats to date, and Curren$y floated his way through the entire project.  It was hard at times like on the song Scottie Pippen with Freddie Gibbs and The Type with Prodigy, and it was relaxed at times with Ventilation and Smoke Break.  Seriously, these two made a movie, with Alchemist providing the soundtrack and Spitta scripting a perfect story for the mood.  A story of getting fly, getting high, and shaking your head at the haters.  Double 07 is my favorite track, and although I also enjoyed his album Weekend at Burnies, I feel that Covert Coup sounds better to my ears and puts me in a better mindset.   Spitta did work with this one.

23. A$AP Rocky- LiveLoveA$AP

It was a hectic time when this mixtape hit twitter.  I was listening to new Gibbs, Young Chris, and Nipsey Hussle all around the same time.  On top of that, Wale's album leaked and I had to write a review for it, so I was listening to that multiple times.  Here comes some story about some kid who allegedly got a 3 million dollar deal and was dropping a new mixtape.  Some kid named...A$AP Rocky?  I was intrigued, I played a lil youtubemixtape and kept it moving.  I'm sure many of you did the same.  However, I did download the mixtape later and came back to give it a go.  My mind was clearer, I was calmer, and I was ready to see what was the fuss about.  The speakers in my whip have never been the same since cuh.  This mixtape is dope from start to finish.  Yes, this french braid Harlem cat who raps like he's from Houston and his gang of misfit rappers somehow made one of my mixtapes of all year.  Get the Odd Future comparisons out of here, cuz there is known.  These A$AP kids are a bit on the different side, but their foundation is really solid to me.  A$AP Rocky himself incorporates different styles to his music, and has many influences.  Along with sounding as trill as UGK, he has traces of Bone Thugs, Kanye, even a hint of Mase?  Yes, I enjoyed this mixtape immensely b.  From the hardknocking songs like Peso and Bass, to the mellow Houston Old Head and Keep It G.  Trilla and Brand New Guys.........go dumb hard in the whip.  This aint some shit you over analyze or look too much into.  This is straight up throw it in your whip and blast at the most ignant levels possible.  Your speakers may never recover from blasting Bass while pushing your whip cuh.

22. Vakill- Armor of God

When I first heard this shit....I felt like I was listening to some of the hardest spitting at the TIME.  Vakill is a lyricist and has been praised by many as being the real PLK (Punchline King).  Its just hard hitting lyrics, production, Jake One had some shit up here....I mean man, what more do you want.  You can pick apart all the dope lyrics Vakill delivers or you can just throw it on and ride to it.  Its the best of both worlds.  Its lyrical, but listenable, and its not often I come across shit that can do that.  Songs like Beast Ballad with Crooked I, Rhymefest, Nino Bless, and Juice...just hit you over the head so hard with it.  The Apology is probably my favorite song at this point, but this whole album sounds better and better.  Loved it since day one, love it even more now.

21. Max B- Vigilante Season

First off, before you look at me crazy, you must not know that Boss Don Biggavell is that fuckin nigga.  That nigga Biggavell is one of my favorite niggas, and nothing made me happier than to see that even though he is currently locked up in prison, Amalgam Digital scrounged up some of Max's material and OFFICIALLY put out the Vigilante Season.  Many fans of that wave were upset that Amalgam got their hands on Max's shit, saying they put too many of them other niggas on it, and some other complaints I ignored.  I love it yo.  One problem I always had with Max, was that his quality didn't sound good, it messed up the mood sometimes.  Blow Me a Dub is one of my favorite Max B songs, but yet I still pray a proper mixed version surfaces.  The same was for Lord Tryna Tell You Something.  Well, Amalgam has answered some of my prayers, as Vigilante Season is mastered and mixed Max B doing what I loved to hear him do, riding that wave music.  Its not the most lyrical shit ever, but the beats are strong, the hooks are GREAT, its catchy, and Max B really sits you down and justs bring some ol skool funk to you.  Live Comfortable, Blowin My High, it don't get no better than that.  I wanted to put this in my top 10 to be honest, but I had to drop it by a lot, cuz as one of my friends reminded, most of these songs aint new, they just mixed better.  And while I'm not mad at the wack features, I do however skip them every chance I get.  However, this is easily one of my favorite releases this year, I play this shit to death.  I love this shit so much, if you catch me on the right day, I may say this is my favorite release of 2011. Owwwwwwww

20. MMG- Selfmade

Let me start off by saying that Rick Ross is on one of the hottest streaks in hip hop right now.  Everything this man touches is gold and just bumps.  Love him or hate him, he has a great ear for beats, is innovative in his direction far as his music, and has one of the smoothest flows out.  And in a land where being soft is the new shit thats whurlin, Ross is anything but soft.  He may be ignant, but soft...never that.  Enter the new empire, MMG.  After enlisting rappers with their own niche in the industry already, like Wale, Meek Mill, Pill, and Stalley, Ross has put together a pretty impressive roster alongside already signed Audra The Rapper, Teedra Moses, Masspike Miles, and Triple C's.  Me being a Meek Mill fan since 06, a current Ross fan, and liking the music I heard from Stalley and Pill, I gave their collective album Selfmade a whurl.  Son, that shit is WHURLIN cuh.  From the Just Blazed produced intro all the way to the last track Running Rebels, this album is damn near flawless.  You got Meek Mill killin all his verses, Wale showin some personality, Ross playing the puppet master, high quality beats, and the features on here were strong.  I didn't think it would be possible, but I liked every feature on here, from Cole to French Montana, every one.  This album has bangers left and right as well.  Tupac Back, That Way, Fitted Cap, Rise, Play Your Part, Big Bank, and of course the club banger Ima Boss.  This is just......this is just music to go out whurlin to.  Again, closed minded individuals who only like a certain type of hip hop may not enjoy this album, but I loved it...still do.  Many people say Ross is so formulaic with his sound and that this album sounds like one long ass song.  That is not the case.  Play By Any Means...and then play Running Rebels and tell me those are the same song.  Play Pacman....and then play Rise.  See where I'm coming from.  It has a little bit of everything for me, and I love this album.  MMG are winning right now, and its a fun going along for the ride.  *turns up Big Bank at obnoxious levels*

19. Casual- The Hierophant

I didn't know what to expect with this...and somehow I came away blown away by how this album sounded.  Very west coast, classic shit.  I love projects that leave me questioning where it came from and its background and also the artist's background.  I had to dig into Casual's music here to fully get this and I been sleeping hard.  Dude had lyrics b.  The beats....can get a little dull in my opinions, but I am willing to overlook that here, because Casual moves these songs...his words moves these songs.  His lyrics really stand out, like...I heard everything this dude was saying.  Of course I had to replay it to get more of what Casual was saying, but he also had great vibes on here.  This album brought me closer to the west side, as I feel how Casual wants me to feel....I can relate even though I'm from VA feel me?  The mood he sets just brings you in so well.  A lot of my internet nerds rejoiced once I told them that I loved this album, telling me how underrated Casual is and how he is a legend to most guys and also how dope The Hieroglyphics are.  His flow is smooth, his style is potent, its fresh, and the nigga got skills.  I want to go back more into his music, but I can't seem to stop playing this.  Its quality music.  Its fun, its lyrical, its just quality music.  You Like That=dope.  Mic Memorial=dope.  Where Do I Go=dope.  Fiend for Hip Hop=dope. My favorite is definitely Man wit Hustle tho.  This whole album is worth the listen, worth the purchase, and it can take you somewhere.  Casual be spittin too, never forget that.

18. Stalley- Lincoln Way Nights

Stalley won.  The most slept on artist on MMG, Stalley straight outta Ohio gave listeners a masterpiece for your ears both lyrically and musically.  With his right hand man Rashad lacing him with tough yet intricate beats, Stalley invites us into his world on Lincoln Way Nights, showing us thoughtful trunk musik.  The re-release which was mastered by Young Guru himself and with added songs sounds even better, and Stalley has really set himself a part from the younger acts around him.  He has a deep lyricism, and this project really captivated me through the booming beats as the back drop and his unique style.  He is also versatile.  I can see Stalley doing work with Pill, Ross and the fellas, and also doing work with a Jay Electronica or a Mos Def.  This is a very, very strong piece of work.  Enough lyricism, wit, deep content, and quality beats to keep me satisfied til his next release.

17. Pusha T- Fear of God II (EP)

PUUUSH!  What a year it has been for Pusha T and what a project he delivered in Fear of God II.  Essentially its a combination of his Fear of God mixtapes cuts with some other new material, which is why I had to rank it kinda low...but I love this nonetheless.  First time out on his own, and this shit is the Pusha I have grown to love and also a new Pusha.  Pushing boundaries on what type of tracks he does, getting features from Tyler the Creator and French Montana, Pusha really reached to impress and in my opinion, he did just that.  He is also emerging as one of the best writers in the game, widening his range and showing how intricate his words can be.  Dont get me started on what he did to What Dreams Are Made Of.

16. Los- The Crown Aint Safe

FINALLY!  Those that know or heard of Los know that his main draw, is his ability to absolutely annihilate industry beats, outdoing the original artist's version of damn near any song.  His own original music however, has always been less than stellar.  Well Los has finally showed signs of rapid growth, not only putting out a mixtape laced with that swag that only Los can deliver, but as always...hard, witty, mind blowing lyrics and a flow that is whurlin out of control.  Tracks like Finally Here, Whats Good, King Los where Swaggaboy Los just pushes the tempo so easily.  Money Loud where he just knocks but still keeps it lyrical.  I cant say enough about this mixtape.  I love it.  The Crown Aint Safe in the hood, whats goooooooood?

15. CunninLynguists- Oneirology

Cuh.......this shit feels like a long ass dream.  CunninLynguists took a nigga through a journey...full of fantasy and dreams and desires and goals and rises and falls and......well everything.  Omens in your dream, signs.....this album is incredibly deep.  I feel everything they say and how they say it.  I feel their emotion on this album as well as my own emotions.  The melodies and vocals all serve a purpose, and help me travel through the song better.  Its really a great vision like....I see what they sayin as well as feel it.  Hard as They Come (word to Freddie Gibbs) and Ignorant are crazy dope tracks to me.  Plus, Kno really is a dope producer man, I swear.  It bothers me that most of the niggas I know that would like this album, may never give it a chance because its so different than what other groups are doing.  This album has little to any flaws, at least to me.  Nothing sounds out of place, the sequencing is dope, the production is probably the best I have heard all year.  Plus, these southern emcees spitting this wide array of content warms my heart.  All around, dope album.

14. Jay Rock- Follow Me Home

Jay Rock gets little to no love by Black Hippy fans yo.  So many dismiss him as being the weak link and such and such.  In my opinion, Jay Rock is right behind K Dot.  Ab Soul and SchoolBoy Q are dope as well, but I vibe to Jay Rock more, especially here.  He did what the title says, he helped me follow him home.  Section 80 told me some real deep deep deep shit. Outside of a few tracks on their, Keisha's Song, No Make Up, K Dot didn't take me anywhere.  Jay Rock took me to his hood, his struggle, depicted it perfectly.  Its soulful, vivid, gritty, and very introspective.  Very humble feel here.  Not the most lyrical thing I ever heard, but I didn't need it to be.  Code Red is vivid and gritty as fuck.  My favorites, Life's a Gamble, Just Like Me, they just take me into that hood mentality so well bruh.  I Love this album.

13. Z-Ro- Meth (King of the Ghetto)

Z-Ro is a legend yo, at least in my book.  His soulful, SOULFUL southern style, the harmonies and melodies of his hooks, lyrics and beats.  Its really what southern hip hop should still be today.  Its not loud and random.  Its real chill, real relaxed, I can definitely ride to it, lay back to it, whatever yo.  I mean, who else can have me bumping a song entitled Pig Feet at the crib besides Z-Ro?  This shit has so many strong songs and can be played all the way through.  If you really have any knowledge of that classic southern hip hop, you will definitely love this album.  Pig Feet, Happy Alone, 3 Way Relationship, Real or Fake, this is grade A Houston shit right here.  H-Town Kinda Day personifies just that.  So many people ask me how in the hell Drake gets his influence from H-Town.  I tell them to play Z-Ro.  This is where those southern melodies and harmonies come from.  That "sing song" rap if you real, except this is a lot more credible, better content, more soulful, and much more authentic.

12. Torae- For the Record

Dope beats, dope rhymes, what more do you need?  Skyzoo is on another level with his pen game, but Torae aint no slouch tho, showing his barrel brother and us that he can kill shit too.  Great album right here man.  Production wise, top notch.....laced with cuts from Premier, 9th Wonder, !llmind, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Nottz and more.  And if you looking for some kinda ol skool gritty NY rap, this is the album for you.  Has quotables for days.  I mean....this is just good ol show and prove man.  In my opinion, he impressed the fuck outta me.

11. Kendrick Lamar- Section 80

Many people have labeled this album by rising star Kendrick Lamar as a classic, one of the best albums of the past decade, and an album that will define a generation.  No one can say for sure these claims are true because music is subjective, but these high praises (although over the top at times) hold some merit.  Section 80 is a great album.  Kendrick really did speak to my generation and even those a bit younger.  Showing he is wise beyond his years, K Dot gave a deep concentrated album here.  Yes, concentrated.  Nothing felt random or forced, everything fell into place well and sounded like it meant to.  You can tell Kendrick really sat down with this one.  I will not talk about Kendrick's lyrical ability, as he is a legit lyricist in his own way.  Thats really not the point here.  Kendrick took his level of music to another level with this one.  I think here, he molded his signature sound, his style. This is a big album for him, and for us, and Im sure this will be on everybody's list for one of the better albums of 2011 as it should.

10. Thurz- L.A. Riot

Maaaaaaan, shout out to Dead End Hip Hop for puttin me onto this guy Thurz and this album.  This album is west coast.  Not just west coast hip hop, but west coast period.  Amazing.  Kendrick Lamar had deep messages on Section 80.....but it just felt like he was telling me shit.  He didn't really me in and just walk me through anything.  The imagery was weak.  Thurz brought me to L.A., Thurz showed me a the times of the L.A. riots and the Rodney King beatings and police brutality.  I honestly feel like I was there standing in the middle of L.A. while it was being burned down.  Simply incredible.  These events happened round the time I was born.  So for him to bring that to present day and make it applicable to whats going on crazy.  Energy for days I mean.....its hard hitting, it feels like a riot, but can also be deep and thought provoking.  Its creative, and Thurz really embodies what L.A. was and the implications of its past in regard to how it is today.  Black Thought got busy on here too on that song Riot, the beats fit everything Thurz was doing, songs like Rodney King, Hell's Angel, Los doesn't get much better than this.  Love Section 80, but this is a little better to me.  West coast winning tho.

9. Jay-Z & Kanye West- Watch The Throne

Hate them or love them, Kanye and Jay gon do whatever they wanna do.  I'm not gonna list ALL the reasons why I love this album so much, but I will touch on a few.  The beats are all around quality beats that I can fuck with.  The lyrics are inspirational,simple, intricate, and real all at the same time.  Kanye has his bright spots, and Hov has his bright spots.  What makes WTT one of my favorites releases of 2011, is how often and where I can play this album.  I can play it for any mood, anywhere.  They cover so much.  Their success, how young black men can reach their status, the pitfalls of success, the enemies that come and the friends that go.  Its like they are both sitting on their respective thrones next to each other, just talking to us on how we can get there too but what it will cost.  Being that they are two of the biggest stars in hip hop, its not only credible, but its important that this comes from them.  Plus, replay value>>>>>>>>>>.  What Hov did to Who Gon Stop Me wasn't even fair.

8. Phonte- Charity Starts at Home

Grown man rap.  If Drake can do Tidy Cat rap and sell millions of records, Phonte should be diamond of this album by now.  There isn't a grown man that I know that can't relate to something on this album.  I reviewed here on my blog, pretty much saying all I needed to say about it.  All I can say is now, put your over-analyzing minds at ease for a second and listen and feel what Phonte is spitting on this album.  If you can listen to Charity Starts at Home and not really relate to the content or feel much of what Phonte is saying, you must still be living with your mama with little to no responsibilities and must be calling your ex girlfriend crying "you can do better."  I can see why Drake says Phonte is one of his favorite rappers......he's pretty much Drake if he was a grown man and 10x more lyrically gifted. Plus, my nigga can sing too.

7.  Meek Mill- Dreamchasers

Why is this one of my favorites?  Well I been following the rap career of Meek Mill since around 2006  when I found some random battles of him in the streets of Philly.  Since 2011....he's everywhere and I can't be happier for him.  I wasn't sure if he could outdo his Flamerz mixtapes after signing with Rick Ross, but imo...he did with Dreamchasers.  I mean....this mixtape has so much energy.  I knew the first time I heard House Party how big that record be.  His rapid fire flow and boss flow sound so fresh and authentic.  My main praise about Meek Mill is his story and his humble beginnings and how he talks about them.  Being broke, ditching school, feeding his mom, standing on the corner, being young and naive, its all in his songs.  Meek poured his heart into the title track Dreamchasers, and got even more real on Love Don't Live Here, one of my favorite tracks.  Yes he has his uptempo songs that I love like Derrick Rose and Im Me, but he showed growth in his music on Tony Story as well.  Never knew Meek could tell a story so well.  I can play this mixtape from start to finish easily, whether I'm in the whip or working out or even just sitting at the crib.  I'm listening to Body Count right now while typing this matter of fact.  Ok maybe not, but I love that song too.

6. J. Cole- Cole World

This pick was done more so with my heart rather than my head.  Like I said earlier, this list is completely bias.  J. Cole has an advantage over all these other artists mentioned being......that I went out and bought this album myself.  Yes I bought most of the other albums on here online, but with Cole World, I went out to my local FYE and bought three copies of Cole's debut. Why?  Because I buy into his story, I buy into him as a rapper and a man.  On his long anticipated debut album, he gave ME what I wanted.  People have said that this album is average and that J. Cole did not deliver lyrically or even sonically far as the beats.  I can rebuttal these claims all day, but I don't, because much like Section 80, that really wasn't the point.  It was the connection.  Did you connect to what J. Cole was sayin, the story he was telling about himself, his environment, the people he knew and the people he doesn't  Dollar and a Dream 3, the Cole classic Lights Please, Sideline Story, Lost Ones, Breakdown, Never Told.  When I listen to those songs and praise them, its almost never cuz of the lyricism.  Not that they aren't lyrically strong because I do think they are, but I connect with them more than that.  Its not just surface value.  You can love a rapper for his dope rhymes all you want, but there will always be rappers with doper rhymes somewhere you haven't heard yet.  There will only be a few rappers who you can honestly say you connect stories with, or buy into as a person.  Am I biased?  Yea.  Am I stan?  Nah I wouldn't say all that, I'm just a big fan.  And besides maybe two other projects, nothing that has dropped this year has hit home for me than Cole World.  Besides Cole's struggle with fame, I relate to the entire album.  Even with the struggles with fame he endures....I can see myself going through that same struggle.  Besides, my nigga brought back Missy nigga...MISSY NIGGA.

5. Elzhi- Elmatic

Its a remake, kind of like a tribute album, but Elzhi and Will Sessions took the Nas debut Illmatic and made it their own Elmatic.  It follows the signature sound we loved Illmatic for but takes a new spin on it, with Elzhi telling his story from the D and with live instrumentation.  This makes the beats and songs sound so lively, so fresh.  And Elzhi just paints beautiful pictures here.  Imagery is an underrated element in rap, but I always appreciate a rapper that can just bring me along with him for the ride through his words.  Elzhi put the pattern rap to the side here and did just that, he took me along down his Memory Lane, showed me his Detroit State of Mind, told me about life and how its a bitch, and told me an epic love story in One Luv.  And his verses on It Aint Hard to Tell were FLAWLESS.  Just a great piece of music.  Elzhi is an elite lyricist, and always have been.  But now, he can legitimately say he is also a great artist, as he took his artistry to another level.  It says a lot when you can go in making a remake of a classic hip hop album, and come out with a product that deserves its OWN recognition and acclaim.  Elmatic doesn't lean on Nas' stands on its own.  Never thought I would say that.  Wow

4. Big KRIT- Returnof4eva

This isn't a mixtape, this is an album, I will not let you niggas tell me any differently.  It isn't the most groundbreaking work to ever release, but its just a huge breath of fresh of air.  When Big KRIT dropped R4, I knew it was gonna be good considering how dope Krit Wuz Here was, but I didn't expect it to be this dope.  For most of the year, R4 was my number one.  Mostly because of just how it made me feel every time I listened to it.  It was so soulful, from the beats to the flows, the melodies and the lyrics.  And it was all done by Krit himself.  What an amazing piece of work.  R4 Theme Song, American Rapster, Dreamin, A.N.I.G.G.E.R., Rise and Shine, Time Machine, King's Blues, Free My Soul, THE VENT NIGGA!?  Nah yo, you can't tell me this shit wasn't amazing.  It literally warmed my soul and lifted my spirits.  I FELT Krit through every song.  The Vent is easily the song of the year.  It does seem a lil long at times, Krit could cut maybe 2 or 3 songs, but then again I love them all by now so I can't see any going.  Rotation, My Sub, Sook.......nah, Ima just have to name the whole thing.  Its that great to me.  Aside from the Gibbs mixtape, nothing made me feel what R4 did.  It just hit so close to home, just so vivid and soulful.  Krit got next, what more can I say.

3. Skyzoo- The Great Debater

Are you serious bro?  Did Skyzoo really drop this lyrical masterpiece or am I dreaming?  Can I even use the word whurlin to describe these bars?  I can't?  Ok.  This mixtape, The Great Debater, is one of the best (if not THE best) lyrical performances all year imo.  I mean, I slept on this mad hard.  Skyzoo been dope, imo he has a classic in the Salvation, but I slept on The Great Debater for quite some time.  But when the revisited version came out, I revisited it as well and picked up on some lines and references that flew over my head like a Frisbee.  Skyzoo is ahead of his time far as his writing goes.  His writing is on some next level shit.  I've heard Skyzoo write some amazing shit, and this is no different.  And its crazy, because its all original material yet he is essentially just telling you how dope he is in about a hundred different ways.  Meaning, this is free Sky shit, this is Skyzoo when he's just training.  Imagine The Penny series but longer, more in depth, and over original shit, and The Great Debater is what you get.  He's saving his deeper stuff for A Dream Deferred, his next LP.  Here on this mixtape however, Sky just lyrically destroys these tracks and throws Frisbees higher than he has in a minute.  The beats are dope too, from the hard knock from !LLMind, the soulful beats from 9th Wonder, even Jahlil Beats has a cut on the revisited version.  Just great bars, great feel, and Skyzoo is in top form here, setting himself apart from all the other rappers around him easily.  No one is writing like Sky is right now, and this mixtape has replay value for days.  Not because its catchy (even though in some spots it is) but because the more you listen to these songs, the more the lyrics begin to make sense.  So many double meanings that its hard to just get if off a few listens.  I still don't get some of these songs and I've listened to The Great Debater countless times.  These Frisbees are still too high for a nigga.  The Definitive Prayer alone is better than almost any song I've heard this year, just on lyricism.  You add Written in the Drums, Designer Drugs, Couldve Struck the Lotto, Test Drive to the mix?  This aint rap, this some literature folks. Read up.

2. Freddie Gibbs- Cold Day in Hell

I really really really really endorse this mixtape and Freddie Gibbs in general to the fullest.  This is by far some of the realest shit that I can relate to.  Yes, I can relate to Gangsta Gibbs.  Not sayin I'm gangsta or hard, there's more to me and there's more to Freddie than that.  Being gangsta goes beyond just mere violence.  In the streets, you gangsta for doing whatever it takes to feed your family.  I can relate to that.  I can relate with flirting with sin just to put food on the table, and this has been a constant message in Freddie Gibbs' music his whole career.  Its a blue collar approach and Gibbs' music is the personification of the desperate hard working man in the hood who not only has to ensure the survival of himself but also his loved ones, while also protecting his own soul.  Cold Day in Hell feels like an abyss of lying women, dirty cops, fake friends, dead friends, drugs, money, and small but reachable dreams.  Gibbs took me on a journey to the Midwest, to Gary, Indiana, and told tales that I can relate to and I'm sure any person in the hood today can relate to.  To top it all off, he adds amazing music behind his stories, dope features, and just a genuine soul that can't be downplayed.  UGK, 8 Ball and MJG come to mind when I think of Gibbs, and I loved those acts, so no wonder I love Gibbs and his music.  He has dropped consistently great material this year, but maaaan CDH takes the cake.  It flows well, the lyrics are on point, the beats are soothing to any mood, Gibbs just keeps shit as real as possible.  Gangsta Gibbs hoe, two bitches whippin in the crib hoe.

1. Lupe Fiasco- Friend of the People

I hate yall niggas b, like I really hate yall niggas.  I'm at my in laws...eating Thanksgiving food and getting fat as fuck, and all I hear all day is how much Friend of the People sucks and how much Lupe has fallen off and how it sounded like Lasers 2.0.  The next day, I went in preparing myself for the worst, as I myself only halfed liked Lasers.  So I listened to FOTP, ready to cringe my way through it.....and what I heard was the best release of 2011.  Are you serious bro?  Yall slander this man and this free ass mixtape, and for what?  Cuz its not "hip hop" enough for you?  It doesn't sound like F&L or The Cool?  All I saw was people saying how they miss F&L Lupe and he needs to go back to a conventional sound.  Excuse me nigga, Lupe just spit some of the dopest shit I have heard all year, over intense ass beats.  To call this Lasers 2.0 is an insult to him and....ME nigga.  Yall know how watered down Lasers sounded, how mushy and soft those beats were?  Not even Lupe's genuine lyrics could make up for it.  FOTP is a totally different animal.  These beats are far from watered down.  These beats are heavy, intense, they just move man.  Lupe follows the pace with hard HARD lyricism and excellent rhyming.  He has great imagery, story telling, punchlines, double meanings, what more you want cuh?  Lupe Back is amazing.  On that second verse, he pretty much put the whole music industry on blast, and all yall can talk about is wack the beat was?  Its all a matter of taste.  I am a man that thinks that beats are probably the most important piece of any genre of music, and if you don't like the beat, the chances of you liking the song are slim.  Here on FOTP, if you don't like these beats, I can understand.  They are not for everybody.  Don't act as if Lupe ISN'T rapping out of his mind here.  Don't act as if these beats are still not high quality.  Cmon son.  You listened to Double Burger with Cheese and didn't think to yourself "Man, Lupe on another level."  You didn't listen to WWJD and relate to everything that man was saying.....I mean he talked about consumer greed in America right around Black Friday.  You didn't think he lyrically destroyed Lightwork?  A lot of people hit me with the "SLR is the only good song on the whole mixtape and thats mad old bro."  I be wanting to smack them in the fuckin face.  SLR is an amazing record, I love he added it, but its not the only dope song.  Super Cold is just as lyrical imo.  Yall buggin, this whole mixtape is whurlin beyond comprehension and its my personal favorite this year.  It has so much energy both musically and especially lyrically.  How can you hear these lyrics and say Lupe fell off?  I know people loved F&L and The Cool and Lupe when he was on that wave, but don't discredit everything else he does just because it sounds different from those.  FOTP is Lupe on his super hero shit, and its just amazing.

As far as top ten mixtapes and albums, it shapes up likes this...

Fav 10 albums: Cole World, Charity Starts At Home, WTT, L.A. Riot, Section 80, For the Record, Meth, Follow Me Home, Oneirology, The Hierophant.

Fav 10 mixtapes:  FOTP, Cold Day in Hell, The Great Debater, returnof4eva, Elmatic, Dreamchasers, The Crown Aint Safe, Lincoln Way Nights, LiveLoveA$ap, Covert Coup.

Am I buggin?  What did I miss?  Oh you mad I didn't add Greatest Story Never Told?  Whats your favorite hip hop releases for this year?  Well, happy holidays to all, and see yall next year at the same point of view.  2012 should be a good year for music just as much as 2011 was right?  Lets hope so.  Til next year....


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