Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Milk Crate Presents: The Dead Poet's Top Albums Of 2011

It's been an extremely busy year for me, one that has made me feel like a dude is getting too old for this shit...haha. I remember Kannon and I were trying to put one of these list together last year and I believe the year before. Both times, they for whatever reason didn't get finished. But I remember thinking that their wasn't really that many albums in those years, that I felt were going to be favorites of mine years down the Road. I really feel like this year was one of the better years in hip hop that I can remember. Some of the albums in the back of my list will probably surpass the others over time. It was a crazy year of really good project, and honestly there is still a lot that I haven't heard yet from 2011. So if there's something that wasn't on here that you feel I should've showed love to, feel free to let me know. But Remember bitches...this is my opinion. I don't want anyone emailing me some cry baby bullshit. Man up. Ok here we go.

20. Pharoahe Monch - W.A.R. (We Are Renegades): Pharoahe is one of those rare artist that can, seemingly, do no wrong. Everyone of his solo releases has been an end to end burner, thats a statement that I'll stand behind any day. W.A.R. was no exception, Pharoahe has a formula that works and he held to it.

19. Rittz - White Jesus: I find myself gravitating to anything DJ Burn One puts his stamp on. The guy's got an ear for talent that has yet to fail me. With that said, this time he came through with flying colors. Rittz, the yelawolf & burn one protege, pretty much came out of no where to deliver a rapid fire trunk rattling album. It comes off like a Dungeon Family meets 98 Three Six Mafia record, and I loved it.

18. Qwazaar & Batsauce - Bat Meets Blaine: If you've followed the Chicago Underground scene and/or Galapagos4, you for sure know of Qwazaar. If you haven't then, your doing yourself a huge disservice. Qwa is as well rounded as your going to get. Blessed with one of the best deliveries your ever going to hear, he effortlessly breezes over the boom bapish drum programming that Batsauce provides on; Bat Meets Blaine. This was the Duo's second release in 2011 and they came out about two months apart. Both projects were excellent, with this LP being the better of the two. Bat Meets Blaine to me was a great return to the sound that Qwazaar's group, Typical Cats left off with back with their first release in 2001.

17. Casual -The Hierophant: Casual's Hierophant kind of came out of no where for me. I've been a huge Casual fan over the years...but as time keeps spinning, you eventually stop checking for certain artist. Then Bam I get this in my inbox, and was pleasantly surprised at how well put together this album is (aside from the lol cover). Production and Emceeing was all on par with the old school hiero imperium sound that got me to purchase everything they released back in the day.

16. Kendrick Lamar - Section 80: I'm sure some will be tempted to throw out my entire list, with this placement, but fuck you it's my list. I've sort of always been on the fence with Kendrick Lamar. In one instance he'll do something incredible, then in another, he'll over stretch his boundaries in attempt to be different and it'll come off like an epic failure. In the case of this record, it is for sure my favorite album from him, and may have been liked a lot more, if he hadn't leaked the bulk of the heaters months prior to its release.

15. Freddie Gibbs - Cold Day in Hell: Gibbs is one consistent mother fucker. He also understands how to generate just the right amount of buzz for his record with out releasing all the highlight songs before his projects come out. In all honesty, leading up to the release of Cold Day in Hell, I had reached the point that I really wasn't looking forward to this record. The few songs that he had put out leading up to it, just weren't attention grabbing to me. I had all but accepted that his signing with Jeezyy would hurt his sound. I was thankfully way off in that assessment. Cold Day in Hell has it all, much like all of Gibbs projects.

14. Danny Brown - XXX: Off an initial listen, your probably going to either despise or swear by Danny Brown. I really haven't met anyone that has been luke warm with their opinion of the Motown spitter. So goes the story of win I first put on his "30" record from his XXX tape. The track knocked me on my ass. Prior to it, I really had been sleeping on Danny. Delving into the tape, I quickly found a unpolished/raw sound that seemingly had no father to the style.

13. Blu & Exile – Give Me My Flowers While I Can Smell Them: Had this came out a bit earlier, I'd more than likely had placed it in a way better position. Truth be told, I was honestly expecting to hate this record. Blu has probably pissed me off more than any emcee in the last few years. He's shown that he's got the ability to be one of my favorite emcees, but then decided to take his sound in to directions that induce cringe heavy reactions. I'd all but given up on him when, he decided to let loose this, Exile produced record. It was originally recorded in 2009 and for whatever reason stayed in the vaults till now. The album is pretty remarkable. Exile and Blu have proven yet again that they are a duo that compliments each other perfectly.

12. DJ Quik - The Book of David: Book of David came out at about just the right time out here in So Cal. The weather was warm with just the right amount of ocean breeze, to make for optimal ride around conditions. All that was needed was a sound track to roll the windows down and just cruise around. DJ Quik has been one of the most underrated artist for the better part of 15 years. He just outright makes great records. The Book of David didn't deviate from what we've come to expect from a DJ Quik record...and it works, as usual.

11. Timbo King - From Babylon To T1mbuk2: Timbo's a throw back to what we all loved from the late 90's Wu Affiliate movement. Him and Hell Razah have always stayed on point and taken pride in everything that they've been apart of. So it should've been no surprise at how well this record was put together. Push play and your instantly back in 1998, a time for me that was at the apex of the Wu Affiliates putting in work.

10. Nacho Picasso - For the Glory: From out of no where came, Nacho Picasso's For the Glory. The bulk of the production was handled by Blue Sky Black Death, which most likely is what drew everyone into the record. But by the time the first track was finished, your left feeling like Nacho's wit, humor, and pen skills is equal to the stellar production. They also decided to do a video for pretty much every song, which added to the hype train. Honestly the hype this was getting was just. The album is pretty fucking awesome.

9. Curren$y & Alchemist - Covert Coup: I'm sure I wasn't the only one that scratched his head, when hearing that these two were gearing up to release a project together. I'm a fan of both, but bringing them together just seemed like a strange combination that hand the capability of being a huge fail. It never felt so good to be wrong. The two hit the ground running as soon as play was pushed and didn't let up to the last kick hit.

8. MakeShift - King Choosey: I had no clue who Makeshift was prior to hearing this album. He handled the bulk of the production by himself, which made for a really cohesive feel to the record. There were a couple over used samples that he flipped, but despite of that, this album was one of the most enjoyable projects that I've heard this past year. It had the feel of an early 90's west coast underground. Which goes to show why I personally enjoyed it so much. Be sure to check it out.

7. Black Milk & Danny Brown - Black and Brown: Again Danny Brown isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, But this is probably the most easily accessible he'll get. Black Milk crafted some dirty heat all over this album. Him and Danny Brown went in on everything they spit on. Some were complaining about how short the project was, I for one, felt it help compliment the record. Either way, to me, this was one of the best projects that was released this past year. It also points to the fact that Danny Brown is the emcee of the year. No one came close to putting in the work he did.

6. DTMD - Makin' Dollas: Right off the bat, I felt this would go down as my favorite album of the
year. It got played a slight bit less over the last month, which is the reason it didn't go down as that best record of the year for me. However, that's not to take anything away from it. The Maryland duo's sound is reminiscent of those good ole' slum village days from 2000. Which at times seems like way more than 12 years ago.

5. Killer Mike - PL3DGE: This release hit like a ton of bricks. Killer Mike has quietly been putting out awesome projects consistently for a long time. That trend not only continued, but he took it to another level with the release of The PL3DGE. The versatility of Mike Biga is what shined through with this project. And with him & El-P linking up to drop a full length in 2012, you can probably pen in Killer Mike to be in the Top 5 again next year.

4. Asap Rocky - LiveLoveAsap: The kid came from no where. He had a couple joints blow the fuck up the second they were released. The crazy thing is, that prior to Pesso's, Purple Swag, & Wassup very very few heads could say they knew that ASAP Rocky was in fact NOT Aesop Rock. The meteoric rise that this kid experienced was pretty amazing. I feel like it was even more incredible than the offwgkta movement, that seems to have finally died down. He had a lot of hype and a lot of pressure that no one could have blamed the kid if he had dropped a dud. But he took that pressure in stride and released one of the best albums of the year. 2012 should be a huge year for Asap Rocky.

3. KD - G Fluid: The homie Blast from SteadyBloggin' put me on to KD. The bulk of the production was handled by DJ Burn One. This record has easily got the most spins from me out of any album on this list. The country blues/soul feel on production is stellar. KD ties everything together and point blank created an incredible album. I look forward to hearing what he comes up with in the following year.

2. Big K.R.I.T. - ReturnOf4Eva: K.R.I.T.'s ability to create an album is something to marvel at. From top to bottom he is bogged down with the full workload and has yet to fumble. Take a moment to ponder that............The fucking kid produces everything, then comes up with those catchy hooks and verses. ReturnOf4Eva is a work of art. Soulful dirty south chops, interweaved with 808 kicks and snares, all over deep and dirty bass lines that often knock the books off my shelves. You'd be hard pressed finding a song you didn't enjoy on this. The first time I spun the record from back to back, there was a few songs that I liked a little less than the rest. I recently put the record back in rotation and find myself loving those "lesser tracks" now a lot more than the other ones. Its just one of those albums that you'll be able to cruise to ten years from now. I am very confident that this is going to be this generations ATLiens. Take that shit to the bank suckas.

1. Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown - Daily Bread: Before this came out, I was relatively unfamiliar with Hassaan Mackey. I gained interest in the project by being a huge Apollo Brown fan. I wasn't really expecting anything. Maybe a few bangers. Maybe a few duds. Maybe some cool features. I would've been happy with that. You push play on this, and your going to be blown away at how effortlessly the sound takes you back to the 90's. From the mpc swing like feel on the drums and chops to the laid back, yet gutter delivery that Hassaan is utilizing. To me this record is perfect. Not a song that I can't sit through and not a beat I wish went to a different emcee.

Honorable Mentions:

2chainz - TRUe REALigion
Action Bronson - Dr. Lecter
Marq Spekt & Kno - Machete Vision
Evidence - Cats and Dogs
Malcolm & Martin - Life doesn't frighten me
Chuuwee - Watching the Throne
Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire - Lost in Translation
Chuuwee x Jonathan Lowell - Be Cool
Open Mike Eagle - Rappers will Die of Natural Causes
Focus - Music of the Misinterpreted
Fabulous - The Soul Tape
CunninLynguists - Oneirology
Edo G - A Face In The Crowd
Hail Mary Mallon - Are You Gonna Eat That?

Non-Hip Hop:

Fathers Children - Who's Gonna Save The World
The Weeknd - House of Balloons, Thursday, Echoes of Silence
Willie Wright: Telling The Truth
Frank Ocean - Nostalgia Ultra
Eccentric Soul: The Nickel & Penny Labels
Stone Coal White: S/T
Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio
Blood Orange - Coastal Grooves
The Dream - 1977

Instrumental Projects:

40 Winks - It's The Trip
Dirty Art Club - Heavy Starch
Apollo Brown - Clouds
Lee Bannon - BTB2 Circus Cuts Deluxe
Ricky Eat Acid - Haunt U Forever
Trebles and Blues - The Blue Note

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