I hope everyone has gotten over their New Years Eve hangovers, polished the last piece of holiday candy and is getting set for the year that is 2012. That means that I’m trying to scramble to piece together what was the year 2011 in hip hop…meaning that I need get this done before we see the ball dropping for 2012 (unlike I did with 2010, which is still being pieced together as we speak). So for most of this month, I’ll be covering my favorite EPs, instrumental projects, albums and singles and maybe even the return of the WYDU Awards.
Kicking off our coverage of 2011 is the Extended Play projects. In the years past, the EP has been the one thing in hip hop I’ve always kind of looked forward to. First off, they are usually free. Second, with the consumers attention span being dwindled down to a minute amount of time, the EP is quick and easy to listen to, without being forced to listen to an album for an hour plus. There has been some great EPs dropped in the past few years. This year seemed a little slow on the EP front than usual, but we still had some great projects drop.
(Tie) 10. Soul Khan – Resolution
Soul Khan was pretty busy in 2011, dropping three EPs over the year, with Resolution being my personal favorite. Probably the thing that sticks out the most about Soul Khan’s music is his voice. Like Guru once said, “It’s mostly tha voice,” and Khan has the voice. Beat wise, this EP not too shabby either, with two of the four songs being really dope.
(Tie) 10. Elusive & ST/Mic – Preserves
A solid effort from the duo of ST/MiC & Elusive. On Preserves, MiC holds down the rhymes while Elusive holds down the beats. I’ve always thought of MiC as more of a producer, but he holds his own on the mic on the project. This is evident on the track “Eyes On Me”, which was able to touch a nerve. “Fly Def” takes what sounds like a Billy Joel sample and with the addition of the Jazz Addix (it’s time for some new music from that duo), makes it one of my favorite tracks of the year.
9. Dillon – Dillon Ain’t Playin’
Barely sneaking in under my self imposed deadline for music this year was Dillon and his EP, Dillon Ain’t Playin’. Dillon, a long time WYDU/BH favorite, brings production from Batsauce, Paten Locke, Diamond D, and Supa Dave West (of De La Soul fame). Dillon always brings a mix of fresh beats, humorous rhymes and songs that will make your mouth watering, since he talks a lot about food. The chef brought all that to the table with this EP, with tracks like “Take Japan”, and “Gimme That” with Boog Brown leading the charge. Just remember, Dillon Ain’t Playin’, suckas…
8. Juan Deuce & Falside – The Mechanics
Download for Free Here
Falside is one of my favorite up and coming beatmakers and he teams up with Juan Deuce on The Mechanics. Juan sounds similar to some of the cats from the Poorly Drawn People tribe that Falside represents, such as Storm Davis, Reason and Dirty Hank. As far as topics go, lots of partying, drinking and shenanigans highlight this EP. A couple tracks are down right great, while the rest are merely just entertaining. Still good for people who like their hip hop light and fun.
7. Zilla Rocca - Nights & Weekends
Zilla Rocca has improved in leaps and bounds over the last couple years, both behind the mic and on the boards. On Nights & Weekends, Zilla brings a wide variety of sounds and topics to the forefront as he starts to really come into his own. The swanky “Creme De Menthe” reminds one of being in a darkly lit, smokey ass bar, waiting for someone named Sam to make a deal. The single with fellow Wrecking Crew member Has-Lo, “Full Spectrum”, is top notch as both Zilla and Has show great chemistry (I like to think it was WYDU/Bloggerhouse that was instrumental in these two hooking up) as they bounce rhymes off of each other. More to come from Zilla…
6. Black Milk & Danny Brown – Black and Brown
While the beats are banging on the Black & Brown EP, it seems you either love Danny Brown’s style or you don’t. He is an acquired taste and in the past he hasn’t really been my thing, but there are jams on this short and to the point EP that does show this duo’s potential. Tracks like the title track, “Zap”, or “Dada” really get the head noddin’ and appreciate Danny Brown’s zaniness.
5. TzariZM – [Day] Dream EP
Doxside Music Group had a dominate year in 2011. It saw the release of the incredibly dope self-titled LP from IMAKEMADBEATS and it was capped off by this little ditty from TzariZM, [Day] Dream EP. TzariZM handles the majority of production and then does his thing on the mic. We’ve already experienced what TzariZM is capable of on the Heart & Brain project from last year and he proves he as equally talented on the solo tip. Melodic beats and hard edge rhyming is all one can ask for and they get it on [Day] Dream.
4. Diz Gibran & Moonshine – The Return EP
Free Download Here
Diz Gibran & Moonshine – “Brotha”
The duo of Diz Gibran and Moonshine team up again for the release of “The Return”. These two dropped the incredibly dope Soon You’ll Understand street album/mixtape in ’09, so it was good to see them drop this project, although it’s just a short EP. Moonshine, a producer from NYC, greats beats that seem to work great with Dizzy’s flow and vocal tone. I’d love to see more out of these two in the future, like a full fledged album.
3. Esh & Dox – The Invisible EP
Download For Free Here
Another EP that is tied to the PDP clique, with Dox (part of PDP himself) and Esh the Monolith (repping Labeless Illtelligence) dropping The Invisible EP. I’ve always been a big fan of Dox’s beats, so it’s good to hear his offerings with tracks like “Bored Games” and “Soap Scum”. Esh is one of those cat’s that has an unique voice that you are probably going to love or hate, but over Dox’s beats, he is nearly perfect on this. Again, it’s just more light hearted fun hip hop, which jesus knows we need…
2. Roc Marciano & Gangrene – Greneberg
Roc Marciano & Gangrene – Jet Luggage
Mixing together three great artists for one EP usually has disaster written all over it. After all, how often do “super” groups ever really work? Well, no fear as one of my current NYC emcees team up with Alchemist, who has a proven track record that spans many years is the hip hop field and Oh No, who do I dare say is just as good as his older brother, Madlib? That said, while the Marcberg from Roc was one of the best albums of that year, Gangrene’s album was a disappointment, albeit still good. Putting these three together though, damn, watch out. I don’t know all the ins and outs of who did what and how each track is correlated to one another, but Roc’s tracks are just as good as anything found on his Marcberg album and Gangrene do a good job at delivering what I thought the album would have sounded like in the first place. Great project from these guys.
1. Qwazaar & Batsauce – Style Be the King
Being familiar and a long time fan of Batsauce (of Smile Rays and Lady Daisey fame), I immediately check anything that Bat is behind beat wise. That was the main reason for checking out the colab with Qwazaar, who I never really paid much attention to in the past. The result is one of straight up dope music and a new found appreciation for Qwazaar on the mic. As far as beats, Bat is on a new level with some new sounds that I haven’t found heard out of his mpc before. A nice warm up to the full project.