5 January, 2012@8:43 am
There was an overabundance of great indie LP’s in 2011, but not majors. We struggled to find ten good ones, but cream rose to the top. Here were our favorite major label LP’s of the year. Best Mixtapes list up next….
10. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne – Roc-A-Fella – Yes, this album did make our most disappointing LP’s list as well, but it was still one of the better major label releases of the year. While it missed the mark of greatness, it still delivered, even if only in small doses.
9. Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa – Mac & Devin Go To High School – Atlantic – While both artists disappointed with their respective solo releases in 2011, the two surprised us with this smoker’s LP, exhaled from the perspective of two high school stoners. Boasting production from Exile, Jake One, Nottz, and others, the album had a surprisingly raw sound that meshed perfectly with the content. No club-bangers necessary here, these dudes never needed to leave the house.
8. J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story – Roc Nation – While J. Cole didn’t have any major club or radio hits to take him to Jay-Z levels of stardom with his debut, Cole World ultimately lived up to the hype that he’s built for himself over the last few years, which is a lot more than some of his XXL Freshmen peers can say. Astute as both a lyricist and a producer, J. Cole has proven himself to be one of the most talented new artists in the major label realm.
7. Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids – Def Jam – Actually a late 2010 release, it just barely missed the cutoff last year, so we made sure it got it’s due on this year’s list. While Apollo Kids didn’t feature any RZA production, it didn’t need it, as Ghost served up an LP of raw beats and grimy lyrics, with several of the other Wu members making appearances. Easily the Clan’s most consistent member, word is that he’ll follow-up this year with either DoomStarks or Supreme Clientele 2.
6. Raekwon – Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang – EMI - Like Apollo Kidz, Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang was another RZA-less Wu-Tang LP, which delivered in excess. Heads were skeptical of this release since it wasn’t Only Built Cuban Links 3 (which is still to come), but Raekwon proved he knew exactly how to craft an LP even without big name producers behind it. Rae was still razor sharp on in lyrics department as well, even without sonic backdrops from the RZA himself.
5. Killer Mike – Pl3dge – Grind Time / Grand Hu$tle – Talk about coming back with a vengeance. After a high-profile falling out with Big Boi and a two year absence, Killer Mike patched up old wounds with the Outkast frontman and returned with all guns blazing on Pl3dge. Acting as a precursor to his Grand Hu$tle debut, Mike blended southern fried joints like “Ready Set Go”, with politically charged tracks like “Burn It Down”, and the awesome braggadocio of “Ric Flair”. One of the year’s most well-rounded and solid LP’s.
4. Bad Meets Evil (Eminem + Royce Da 5’9) – Hell: The Sequel - Shady/Interscope – When Em and Royce first teamed up as Bad Meets Evil, each verse was a contest to see who could come with sicker. Back then, we didn’t want songs from these artists, we wanted an LP of disgusting, back-to-back battle raps for 10+ tracks. While fate kept this from happening for over a decade, looking back, there was no better time than 2011 to release this album. Eminem hardly needs to count copies sold at this point, which gave him and Royce complete creative control, delivering an LP just the way we always wanted it.
3. Drake – Take Care – Young Money / Universal – Say it ain’t so! The Las Vegas Review Journal described this album as “the most likeable, unlikeable record of the year,” meaning for all intents and purposes, this is exactly the kind of album we at HipHopSite are not supposed to like, but we do. One of the most well produced, cohesive releases, thanks to the backdrops of Noah “40″ Shebib, not to mention one of the year’s most sonically pleasing releases, Drake once again delivered with his sophomore release, meshing sung vocals with clever, introspective rapped lyrics. Thank us later.
2. Common – The Dreamer, The Believer – Warner Bros – Common and producer No I.D. reunited for their first LP since together since One Day It’ll All Make Sense, and the result was nothing short of spectacular. It’s a testament to success when an artist can abandon the major label pressures for making a record, and instead do it exactly the way he wants, which is exactly what Common has done here.
1. The Roots – undun – Def Jam – How do you approach the 11th LP of your major label career? Concept album, of course. While the concept itself was a bit loose-knit, the music itself on The Roots’ undun was lush and clear as ever, weaving perhaps the most cohesive album of their career. High ?uality.
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