Top 10 Albums of 2011
In no particular order, here are ten of my favorite albums from 2011 that stimulated my cerebral cortex / rustled up my soul :
- Thundercat - The Golden Age of Apocalypse
Stunning. Total excellence in musicianship, craft and originality. The vibe on this album puts me in a place between the ancient and the future. Features the phenomenal bass skills of Thundercat alongside FlyLo production with guest spots from Badu, Sa-Ra, Austin Peralta etc. CAN’T go wrong. Props to Master Fader who copped me this on vinyl for my golden bday, which was the day this record came out. Golden. Brain food.
- A$AP Rocky - LiveLoveA$AP
I’m normally not one for hype/blog/mainstream/drug obsessed rap. I could give two shits about Drake, Gucci, Waka or Childish Gambino. However, this album stands far above any of the aforementioned goofballs on a large number of levels. The woozy lo-fi aura of the whole thing puts one in the zone, even if you aren’t sippin on dat purple drank, which happens to be the album’s #1 matter of subject. I barely relate to the lyrical content being expressed here these days, but the dude’s versatile flow along with the hazy beats (many courtesy of other top 10 spotholder, Clams Casino) are super complementary on this homage to the dirty south from a Harlem cat.
- Davis - s/t EP
LA producer & cassette guru Matthewdavid along with Chi-town oddball rapper Serengeti pieced together a real gem on this seemingly one-off EP project. Some very original art here. The rhymes are clever, at times reminding me of MF DOOM in his prime, while Matthewdavid provides the perfect warbled hip-hop soundscapes to this release. The six songs here clock in at just under ten minutes and left me wanting more. Sets a high-bar for unique left-field hip-hop.
- Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape
Lo-fi and moody as hell, the way i love it. Dude is a beast. Producer of the year.
- Lostribe - Sophie
I have no idea where I came across this album. Hell, I barely know anything about these guys except that this was a top player of mine this year since discovering it this past summer. Futuristic west coast production mixed with refreshing lyrical content / delivery and some dope guest features made this the surprise find of 2011 for me.
- Salva - Complex Housing
Complex Housing had me gripped from the get-go. There was a Soundcloud stream of the whole album up a week or so before the release that I had become obsessed with right at that point. Totally clean and super crisp production with great programming (mad 808s and great tom drums everywhere!). Salva blends classic old school sounds and styles to create something completely modern, trumping most of his peers in this bracket.
- Dam-Funk - Innafocusedazed EP
The leader of the ‘Modern Funk’ movement and to me one of the most inspiring people/musicians of this time period brought us this EP, holding fans over til his new fully drops in 2012. The 4-song EP was offered to the people for free, but definitely contains no throwaway tracks or ‘skippers.’ Another all around solid ass release from Dam, complete with that funk from the soul and the classic analog sounds we’ve all came to love from this man. I had the good fortune to see Dam-Funk live in Los Angeles this fall with Master Blazter (R.I.P. J-1) and it was one of the best live performances of the year to me as well.
- Cities Aviv - Digital Lows
Hip-hop ain’t dead. Its just lurking somewhere deep within a Bandcamp or Soundcloud page, which is exactly where I scored this album. Cities Aviv hits the mic with a ballsy attitude on this full-length. Great, classic sounding hip-hop beats make this head-nodder a perfect current record for those of us who like to cling onto the long-forgotten glory days of hip-hop. No frills, just dope beats and rhymes here.
- Disco Biscuits - Otherwise Law Abiding Citizens
The DB’s killed it again on their latest studio full-length. Focusing this time on more of their live show element in the studio, no song clocks in at under six minutes. One of the kings of the jam/electronica crossover scene, the Biscuits keep their musicianship rock solid throughout the whole effort, taking the listener on a journey, just as they would in concert. Lots of jamming on this one. Awesome to drive to on the highway or on road trips.
- Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
Psychedelic, spaced out, weird, genre-defying, TIGHT. I can really lose myself in this record and all the depth and emotion that was put into its musical and vocal performances. I love records that make me feel like I’m taking drugs when I’m really not.
Honorable Mentions: Kendrick Lamar - Section:80, Shabazz Palaces - Black Up, Lotus - Lotus, Radiohead - The King of Limbs, Saturn Never Sleeps - Yesterday’s Machine, TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light, Samiyam - Sam Baker’s Album
Local cats / homies who dropped some ill shit this year: Ro Knew - Fool’s Wisdom, Lagos - Lagos EP, Loyal Divide - Bodice Ripper, Raj Mahal, Local Nobodies - One, Push Beats, Cutz on Cuts, Save the Clocktower - Carousel, Ghosthouse - Ghosthouse, Dormlife (keep it up y’all!!!)
Also, on one last note, I released a new Vapor Eyes solo record this past March entitled It’s Moving So Fast It’s Standing Still. Cop that for free here. I had a great year performing some cool gigs, meeting inspiring people, having stellar life experiences and writing lots of new music to be released soon. Grateful for it all! Can’t wait to see what 2012 holds. Peace!