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The year is over, but our lists continue. There were a ton of great indie LP’s in 2011 and it was hard to narrow it down, but here are our very favorites. Best Major Label Albums and Best Mixtapes lists still to come…

10. Pusha T – Fear of God 2: Let Us Prey – Decon/G.O.O.D. – Pusha took the best moments from his Fear of God mixtape, and served them up with several new selections as well. Combining his sharp lyrical wit with effortless braggadocio makes Pusha one of the few “gangster” rappers really worth listening to in today’s day and age.

9. People Under The Stairs – Highlighter – PUTS – Easily one of the most slept on groups of all time, People Under The Stairs show remarkable consistency with their eighth release, presenting traditional, yet original hip-hop, which hinted at being their last. Let’s hope not.

8. Immortal Technique – The Martyr – Viper – Immortal Technique had vanished for a minute, but made a triumphant, timely return with The Martyr, a free album bridging the gap before he releases his long-awaited LP, The Middle Passage. In addition to collaborating with the late J. Dilla on “Toast To The Dead”, he also tapped Killer Mike and Chuck D for “Civil War”. If there was an album that could have served for a soundtrack to the #Occupy movement, this was it.

7. Bumpy Knuckles & Statik Selektah – Lyrical Workout - Showoff/Krupt Mob – It had been a minute since we heard from Freddie Foxxx, with many wondering if he still had it since his Industry Shakedown days. Statik Selektah has been known to bring out the best in emcees, and Lyrical Workout was no exception. Next up, Bumpy Knuckles and DJ Premier on The Kollexion.

6. Pete Rock & Smif-n-Wessun – Monumental – Duck Down – Pete Rock and Smif-N-Wessun coming together for an LP? This LP delivered on the promise of these so-called super-group projects that get announced and never happen. Monumental indeed.

5. Atmosphere – The Family Sign – Rhymesayers – Atmosphere continued to defy convention with their sixth studio full-length. With the production of Ant, along with Collis and Anderson, the sound of The Family Sign had both texture and mood, rather than just being a collection of songs. Slug, meanwhile, balanced the abstract with the specific in a way few, if any, MCs are capable of. This was Atmosphere finding the right balance—both elegiac and hopeful.

4. Action Bronson & Statik Selektah – Well Done – Showoff – The groundwork was laid earlier in the year with Action’s Dr. Lecter, making it hard to chose between that LP and this one. But ultimately, Well Done reigned supreme, with Statik Selektah once again producing his ass off. Comparisons to Ghostface are all but naught at this point, as Bronson The Chef has carved his own niche and persona with both LP’s.

3. Apathy – Honkey Kong – Dirty Version – Perhaps the best album concept of the year, that of an imposing white gorilla ready to eat anything in it’s path, Apathy’s Honkey Kong delivered on all fronts, making it perhaps his best LP yet. With production from DJ Premier, The Beatminerz, Statik Selektah, and DJ Muggs, Ap crafted a truly authentic east-coast boom bap album, and hardly wore out his welcome on it’s 16-plus-7-bonus-joints tracklist. King Kong ain’t got shit on him.

2. Evidence – Cats & Dogs – Rhymesayers - Although we rated this only @@@@ when it dropped, Cats & Dogs was one of those albums that just got better with time, slowly burning into your consciousness, like the rhymes of Evidence himself. Taking a backseat to production, Ev brought his lyricism to the forefront, letting cats like Alchemist, DJ Premier, and others provide the backdrops.

1. Saigon – The Greatest Story Never Told – Abandoned Nation – After being shelved by his former record label, Atlantic, this six-year old LP produced entirely by Just Blaze was destined to live up to it’s title. When it finally saw independent release in 2011, it undoubtedly lived up to the hype, as Just Blaze wove each track into the next, while Saigon built a bittersweet concept LP around it. It’s truly a testament to quality when an LP recorded six years ago can come out and deliver on all fronts. Never say never.

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43 Responses to "HHS 2011 Year-In-Review: The 10 Best Indie Hip-Hop LP's"
  • Bronson72 says:

    Good list. I’d drop Pusha T and Bumpy Knuckles tho for Charity Starts at Home (Phonte) & The Sender (Median)

  • Skins says:

    To keep the echo going, I absolutely would have put Doppelgangaz on here over a lot of the listed albums. Dr. Lecter too. If an artists earned being on it twice, put him on it twice dammit.

  • JustMarv says:

    My favorite indie release of the year, Has Lo-”in case I don’t make it” should’ve made the list, also that locksmith-”embedded” has been criminally slept on despite being issued on dame dash’s label DD172, not certain if technically qualifies as an indie release though. Nice beats by ski beats, & lyrically substantive.

  • Model Citizen says:

    @JustMarv, that Has-Lo record is good, I don’t think I’d put it in my top 10 though because it’s definitely something you need to be in a certain mood for. “Conversation B’ was just as good in my opinion.

  • KC says:

    The great thing about this list (as well as the ones we feel are snubbed) is that they’re all quality releases, which speaks volumes about the quality of indie hip hop last year. Hassan Mackey and Torae also came to mind for me. It’s a good time in hip hop, despite what some of this major label crap would lead you to believe.

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