BOTTOM LINE: The Queens native Action Bronson gave up being a professional chef to pursue a rap career. His voice is similar to Ghostface Killah, but his lyrical content is completely different. Action rhymes about gourmet dishes, his beliefs, and inspirational figures from early blues music to wrestling. What makes this album unique is the production from Tommy Mas. Most of the beats were made from breakbeat samples, something Hip-Hop has gone away from since the 90’s. He also has a great album with Statik Selektah under his belt, and working with The Alchemist for a 2012 release. Give Action Bronson my vote for rookie of the year.
Top 5: “The Madness”, “Larry Csonka”, “Shiraz”, “Buddy Guy”, “Beautiful Music”
BOTTOM LINE: Everyone from the staff has that one album we should’ve reviewed last year and Oneirology is mine. The CunninLynguists has been one of the most consistent groups since they debuted ten years ago. On Oneirology, they focus on the study of dreams. Each song acts as a dream itself as Kno provides the perfect production for the group to fill in their dark versatile lyricism. Another standout about the record is the guest appearances by Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs, and Tonedeff. They drop some of the 2011’s best verses without taking anything away from the concept. This is an album that may take a few listens before realizing the brilliance behind it.
Top 5: “Hard As They Come”, “Murder”, “My Habit”, “Stars Shine Brightest”, “Dreams”
BOTTOM LINE: Evidence displays that his skills behind the microphone are improving with each album. Lyrically alone, this is a top five record of the 2011. Evidence brings so much pain behind his lyrics that it’s hard to deny his ability as an emcee. Production is also top notch. [Read the rest of my review here]
Top 5: “The Red Carpet”, “I Don’t Love”, “You”, “Late For the Sky”, “Well Runs Dry”
BOTTOM LINE: I probably played this more than any other album last year. It’s been in the whip since it first dropped. Kendrick Lamar states that Section 80 is for the new generation as the concept deals with drug and alcohol problems facing today’s youth. [Read B-Easy’s review here]
Top 5: “Fuck Your Ethnicity”, “A.D.H.D.”, “Poe Man’s Dream”, “Rigamourtus”, “HiiiPoWer”
BOTTOM LINE: I don’t understand how this album was so slept on last year. Kool G Rap has been around since the late 80’s and has been dropping gems ever since. He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled emcees of all time. This album is no different. G Rap brings us back to the golden era of Hip-Hop with his street mentality lyrics and gritty beats. Perhaps, the most slept on album of 2011. This year, he’s dropping an album with The Alchemist, in my opinion, the best producer of last year. He also has The Godfathers project with Necro in the works.
Top 5: “Ya Chic Chose Me”, “Pillow Talk”, “The Meaning To Your Love”, “Sad”, “Maggie”
One Be Lo – L.A.B.O.R. (Language Arts Based On Reality)
BOTTOM LINE: One Be Lo is half of the group Binary Star. If you’ve never heard of them, I suggest copping Masters of the Universe because it’s one of the best albums released since the new millennium. Now that One Be Lo has toured around the world, his insight through different mindsets and communities has made an impact on him. He’s been a star athlete, convicted felon, Christian, Muslim and all of those things are reflected in his music and this is the soundtrack.
Top 5: “Snake Charmer”, “MEGAchile Pluto”, “BEEF”, “Tails from the Hood R.a.t.s.”, “WILdeBEEST”
BOTTOM LINE: Pharoahe Monch said this album is a “throwback to 1993, ’94 Hip-Hop”. That’s about the same time Organized Konfusion was dropping some of the best Hip-Hop records of all time. In other words, you should give this one a listen. [Read Saule Wright’s review here]
Top 5: “W.A.R.”, “Clap”, “Assassins”, “The Grand Illusion”, “Still Standing”
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re into Hip-Hop then this is a must have album. Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme features stellar production with the likes of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, The Alchemist, Nottz, Statik Selektah, and more. Matter of fact, it probably has the deepest production list for any album released last year. The Boston native displays his talents as an emcee as he rhymes in battle form throughout the album. Reks is another highly recommended Hip-Hop artist that is improving with each album.
Top 5: “25th Hour”, “Thin Line”, “This or That”, “Like a Star”, “Self Titled”
BOTTOM LINE: This was one of the most delayed albums since Detox. Saigon gives us an album filled with deep personal stories, intellectual lyrics, and soulful production. The Greatest Story Never Told was definitely worth the wait. [Read SBK’s review here]
Top 5: “Come On Baby”, “The Greatest Story Never Told”, “Preacher”, “Oh Yeah”, “Too Long”
Action Bronson & Statik Selektah – Well-Done Apathy – Honkey Kong Bronze Nazareth – School for the Blindman Bumpy Knuckles & Statik Selektah – Lyrical Workout Cappadonna – The Pilgrimage DJ JS-1 – Ground Original 3: No One Cares Eligh & Amp Live – Therapy At 3 Has- Lo – In Case I Don’t Make It Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown – Daily Bread Joell Ortiz – Free Agent Killer Mike – Pl3dge KRS-One & Bumpy Knuckles – Royalty Check Lowkey – Soundtrack to the Struggle M.O.P. & Snowgoons – Sparta MarQ Spekt & Kno – Machete Vision Murs – Love & Rockets Vol 1: The Transformation Pete Rock & Smif-N-Wessun – Monumental Random Axe – Random Axe Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows Tech N9ne – All 6’s and 7’s Timbo King – From Babylon to Timbuk2 Vakill – Armor of God Vast Aire – OX 2010: A Street Odyssey