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Eric’s 15 “Must Cop/Best” Releases of 2011 (Thus Far)

by Eric on September 9, 2011

1. “Section.80″ – Kendrick Lamar

Never, in a million years could you have told me that Kendrick Lamar’s first official LP, “Section.80″ would become my favorite ‘ish of 2011.  I mean, yeah (O)verly (D)edicated was iight.  Yet, this album right here, B?  On point like a ginsu.  Lyrically, dude is out there at moments, however, there’s not too many heads out there messing with dude’s wordplay, delivery and just overall lyrical structure today.  While tracks like “Tammy’s Song” nor “The Spiteful Chant” definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, even admittedly, they weren’t mine at first.  Simply put, “Section.80″ never grows tiresome.  One of the most original, unexpected outings in recent memory. Compton’s in the house!

2. “Elmatic”-Elzhi

I may regret saying this sometime in the future, but as you know “Illmatic” is hands down my favorite LP of All-Time, slightly edging out “Mecca & The Soul Brother”. Yet, would I be ashamed to say that Elzhi’s (with the help of Will Sessions) renditions of “Halftime” and “Memory Lane” eclipsed the original masterpieces from one, Nasir Jones? Not at this moment in time, no way. “ELmatic” is gold, simply flawless, and awe inspiring. So next time you think of taking a stab at a remake, ode, rendition, etc., please revisit “ELmatic”, take notes and please reconsider. To quote the legendary Rakim, “This is how it should be done”. Elzhi, Will Sessions, hats off…SALUTE!!!  Plus, I hear the instrumental version of “ELmatic” is just around the corner!?

3. “LA Riot”-THURZ

Never, never in a million years would I have ever expected an album this POWERFUL from 1/2  of U-N-I, THURZ.  No diss intended, but THURZ’ solo debut “LA Riot” is some potent stuff, mind you!  A debut that boasts a heavy dose of social commentary and potent production from the likes of Ro. Blvd, DJ Khalil & Aaron Harris, LA Riot rekindles an aggressiveness that will take you back to the days of Ice Cube’s sophomore opus, “Death Certificate”.


4. “Daily Bread”-Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown

Very similar to “Section.80″ for the fact that it took me a minute to really appreciate the collaborative outing between the likes of one highly under appreciated MC, Hassaan Mackey and one highly overlooked producer, Apollo Brown.  I’ll be like Jeru and “come clean”, I spoke with fellow Mello Music Group label-mate, Has-Lo on the afternoon of Daily Bread’s  release and explained to Has why I was initially underwhelmed by this release.  However, after a few “flawless” spins to accompany my taxing workouts, “Daily Bread” along with Black Milk’s 2010 release “Album Of The Year” have become my mainstays to pick me up on those somewhat overcast days.  Nearly flawless from start to finish, “Daily Bread” actually has a chance to surpass my favorite album from 2010, another Apollo Brown working, The Left’s “Gas Mask”.

5. “In Case I Don’t Make It”-Has-Lo

Yes, said the brown cow, it was “I” who introduced Mello Music Group label-head, Mike to the lyrical musings of Philly’s finest Has-Lo with his otherworldly “In Case I Don’t Make It”.  A dark, haunting and forward-thinking LP, athe first few listens to  ”In Case I Don’t Make It” had my calling Has on some “damn, you need a hug Has?”.  Having this album in CONSTANT rotation since mid-2010, “In Case I Don’t Make It” will go down in history as a “cult” classic and Has’ true introduction to the world.  Also, a re-working of “I.C.I.D.M.I.” is just around the corner in the form of “Conversation B”.  Stay tuned..

6. “Trials Of The Blackhearted”-Self Scientific

“Trials Of The Blackhearted” is filled to the rim with “Stadium Music” as DJ Khalil’s bass-heavy, sonically reliant production possesses that extra skip that you’ve become accustomed to hearing from only a select few in the production areana (i.e, Pete Rock, Preem, Dilla, etc.). Serving as an appetizer for the forthcoming (I HOPE) full-length effort from the underrated duo “Come In Peace, Prepare For War”, “Trials…” with it’s Schooly D-ish’ “Am I Black Enough For You” cover take, is void of any wastage. At only 8 tracks deep, “Trials..” will leave you salivating for more as Chace’s thought provoking lyricism and social commentary go together like PB & J atop Khalil’s production wizardry.

7. “Honkey Kong”-Apathy

I know a ton of cats that bitch about Apathy, Celph Titled, Demigodz, etc.  All this talk ’bout, “Oh, I’m not into that type of rap” or “it doesn’t really stimulate me mentally”.  Comedy, pure comedy, regardless of the subject matter found or lack thereof on “Honkey Kong”, this jawn is pure dope.  The only beef that I have with “Honkey Kong” is it really plays more like a compilation than an actual album.  I could only imagine how fresh “Honkey Kong” would have been had it been condensed to maybe just 12-15 cuts.  This album is such a fun, refreshing listen, very similar to the feeling that Celph Titled & Buckwild’s “Nineteen Ninety Now” from 2010 gave me.

8. “Self Titled”-Clan Destined

AmDex and DT aka Clan Destined, compliment one another very well on this outing, flashing moments of sheer brilliance on tracks such as the Illastrate-produced thumper “Livin’ Thru” (on a side note, please stop sleepin’ on Illa’s recently released instrumental LP “Eddie Coleman’s Friday Night Theme Music” in the days ahead..) and the numbing, goosebump-inducing finale “Far Beyond”, which pays homage to the deceased with a strong lyrical performance from one who was gone way to soon, Jax.  Also of note, it is equally impressive that the duo also handled the majority of the production for “Self Titled”.

I can’t explain in words just how much I LOVE THIS ALBUM, even 22 tracks deep “Self Titled” never grows tiresome.

9. “The Greatest Story Never Told”-Saigon

Did you ever truly believe that Saigon’s “The Greatest Story Never Told” would be an official release.? Who else can recall back in 2007 (!) when Saigon announced “I Quit” via HipHopGame? Here we are, nearly three and a half years later and the almost mythical, T.G.S.N.T. saw it’s release this past early in th year (Feb. 15). The question remains, after all the hype and banter regarded the LP, coupled with executive producer Just Blaze’s numerous statements regarding the birth and the difficult process that lead to the  finalization of the LP, was the interest still there?  Did you actually look forward to “T.G.S.N.T.”?  Even with the inclusion of the aged singles “Come On Baby” (the Swizz and Jay-featured Remix) and “Believe It”, which seem as if they dropped nearly a decade ago!  Could the combination of Saigon and Just Blaze (who handled the bulk of the album’s production) pique your interest for just one more moment?  Well, you should be hyped,  even if some of the LP did seem somewhat dated it was still well worth the wait.

I’m not gonna’ front, yeah, I downloaded this sh*t when it leaked. My sentiment was: “ahh sh*t, finally, lemme’ pop this on the BlackBerry (at the time, I’ve since re-graduated to the Iphone, LOL) and just see how this jawn has held up over the last few years”. Realistically, the album was somewhat of an afterthought, and who could blame me? However, what I found was a potent collection of material that showcased Saigon’s different personas to the fullest.

10. “A Dreamer’s Journey”-Strange Fruit Project

Yes indeed!  I’m fully aware that S.F.P’s “A Dreamer’s Journey” just dropped this past Tuesday.  So what? Is it too early to place this album in my Top 10 for the year, even after only listening to the album on repeat for…18 hours or so?  Hell no, I say!  “A Dreamer’s Journey” is one of the most pleasant, unexpected and refreshing (almost sounds like a Sprite commercial, huh?) listens that I’ve encountered this year!  S1, after gaining even more notoriety with his helping hand in recent Beyonce/Kanye West/The Throne projects, laced “A Dreamer’s Journey” with one of the freshest production canvases of 2011. Mythy, Myone and S1 have crafted an album that is original and not the easiest to classify, as they properly represent their stomping grounds, Dallas.

11.  “Greeneberg”-Roc Marciano & Gangrene

Cheese N Rice!  I wish “Greneberg” would have evolved into a full-blown LP!  Hovering around just 25 minutes in length, “Greneberg” is waaaay too short, especially when you consider the respective talents of the contributing parties.  While Alchemist won’t offer up anything to write home about lyrically, dude more than holds his own on the M-I-C alongside one of Hip Hop’s most overlooked “dual threats”, Oh No and a man who has seemingly obtained more of a cult following than any other underground emcee in the game over the last few years, Roc Marciano.

12. “Introducin”-Willie Evans Jr.

Speaking of “dual threats”, Asamov’s Willie Evans Jr. crafted what is sure to be one of the more “slept-on” LPs of the year.  I’d actually classify “Introducin” in a similar fashion to Has’ “In Case I Don’t Make It”, yet another future “cult classic”.  One word that best describes “Introducin”? QUIRKY, but not similar to say some of Doom’s earlier work, less dreary and certainly more uplifting, “Introducin” is filled with unexpected twists and turns both lyrically and on the production tip as Evans effortlessly completed one of the year’s most cohesive outings.  Again though, at only 35 minutes in length, “Introducin” is no “Illmatic”, but definitely worth copping.

13. “Self Titled”-IMAKEMADBEATS

IMAKEMADBEATS? Dude is a production genius, and what’s most scary, he’s only scratching the surface, in my opinion. With an on-point selection of features, well placed interludes and most importantly, flawless sequencing, you won’t want “IMAKEMADBEATS” to end! I’ve been throwing the term “classic” around loosely the last few years (most recently, “Gas Mask” and “Nineteen Ninety Now”), but you tell me what’s up after a few listens to this LP. I assure you, my assumptions are pretty damn accurate and “IMAKEMADBEATS” is one physical album you won’t regret scooping up!

14. “Covert Coup”-Curren$y & Alchemist

So, in 2011, I’ve made it my goal to be more “open-mided”, musically.  Even though I got off to somewhat of a late start, things all began to change in mid-April with the release/leak of “Covert Coup”.  Originally created as retail LP to be released on the Warner Bros. imprint, “Covert Coup” was essentially released as a free digital download.  Now, I’ve never been Curren$y’s biggest fan, lyrically, dude is on some “snooze button” ‘ish.  However, the production on this LP is phenomenal, of which is solely handled by the Alchemist.  To be honest, this album and it’s construction was very similar to which the fashion Alchemist linked up with Prodigy to craft the “Return Of The Mac” mixtape/LP.  Again, you had to average emcees as the benefactors of some ridiculous production courtesy of the A-L-C.

15. “Random Axe”-Black Milk/Sean Price/Guilty Simpson

Honestly, I had crazy high expectations for this album.  Lyrically, I’ve always been one of Sean P’s biggest followers/supporters.  As for Guilty Simpson? Ehh, you really can only slay so many emcees and wack rappers in an album, nah’ mean?  Now, Black Milk?  Love this cat man, really do, “Album Of The Year” did just that, it truly evolved into my favorite album of 2010.  So, while still ahead of the game and in the top 25th percentile of albums released this year, what exactly went wrong with Random Axe? Personally, I think the expectations for this LP were entirely to lofty.  Also, is it just me, or does some of the production from Milk on this album see a bit dated?  Still, you can’t front, this album when compared to most of the ‘ish that dropped this year still knocks, I just wish I could put a finger on what’s missing?

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Nizone September 10, 2011 at 11:43 am

Nyce list but I think you’ve missed a few absolute bangerz!

1) Action Bronson – Dr Lector
2) Hail Mary Mallon – Are you gunna eat that?
3) Co$$ – Before I Awoke

el jefe September 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Damn not another K lamar kool-aid drinker. No way section 8.0 is anywhere near Has, el matic or the amazing daily bread. You’d better hol up rating that r & b album so high.lmao

I agree that random axe is another disappointment. Besides the single and joffey joe its pretty much the same verses over average production.

Steve Nice September 13, 2011 at 7:09 am

Some notable albums not mentioned in your list which are definitely on my 2011 “must cop” list include:

Actual Proof – Still Hotter Than July
Aleon Craft – Mothership Decatur
Foreign Legion – The Red Eye Flight Mixtape
Gods’Illa – CPR BlendTape
Trek Life – Wouldn’t Change Nothing

But for real, a pretty solid list notwithstanding!

Josef Zehetner September 14, 2011 at 4:50 am


Eric September 14, 2011 at 8:24 am

@Nizone..had I gone to 20, two of your 3 listed would have made the cut

Vincent September 15, 2011 at 5:16 am

Definitley agree with the first two choices but where’s Meyhem Lauren “Butter”?

Eric September 16, 2011 at 8:29 am

Dude, is definitely behind the 8 ball lyrically….Hard to stomach for that many tracks…love the feel of the lp, jus’ sayin. Dude is no Nas, hell, not even up to par with his counterpart, Action Bronson

johnny5 October 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Random Axe ? FoREALZ ??? that album was nauseating !!
Elmatic at #2 ? that was a novelty album…
you not sleeping, your comatose!!!

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