Best of 2011 Hip-Hop Albums At Amoeba

Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2011 06:30pm | Post a Comment

This is the first of two Best of Hip-Hop in 2011 Amoeblog posts. This post features most of the hip-hop releases that were popular at the three Amoeba Music stores over the past year while the next (more subjective) Best of 2011 Amoeblog will feature personal favorite top five or top ten lists of the year by such Amoeba folks as myself, E Lit, and Ray Ricky Rivera. As you will see from the list of approximately one hundred hip-hop albums listed (scroll down) that were popular at Amoeba Music in 2011 there was a wonderfully diverse melange of both mainstream/pop rap and underground hip-hop releases by a wide range of talented artists; some that may only be regionally popular and others that are phenomenally popular on a national and global level. 

This wide array of artists included Drake, LiveWire, The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West), San Quinn, Murs, The Beastie Boys, Curren$y, Lateef The Truthspeaker, Lil Wayne, Evidence, Talib Kweli, Wale, Dregs One, The Roots, Philthy RIch, Beans, Lupe Fiasco, Zion I & The Grouch, DJ Quik, Moe Green, Wiz Khalifa, Del Tha Funky Homosapien. Mac Miller, The Jacka, Tyler the Creator, Doomtree, Pharoahe Monch, and Ski Beatz to name but some. If you missed out on any of these releases over 2011 now might be the time to catch up. Most of them are still available, in stock at Amoeba in stores or online with their to-buy link embedded in bright blue in the long list below. Also immediately below are some randomly chosen videos with accompanying text from the past year to give a flavor of the year that was 2011 in hip-hop. Feel free to add in the comments below any of your favorites of 2011 that you think we missed.

Talib Kweli's 2011 album Gutter Rainbows was a most popular release at each Amoeba store including at the San Francisco where it landed in the number one slot with a bullet upon its release on CD. The album Talib Kweliwhich precedes the artist's anticipated Prisoner of Conscious  (to drop sometime in 2012) is "just for the fans," Kweli said in an interview. And fans approved of the album which sported cameos from several artists including Sean Price, Blaq Toven, Outasight, Chace Infinite, and Blacksmith Records (the label he co-founded/runs) artist Jean Grae. The number of producers enlisted is even greater; 13 different producers from all over worked on the album's 14 tracks. These include 88 Keys, S1 (aka Symbolyc One from Texas, who is now best known for producing "Power" on Kanye's new album), Ski Beatz (who produced "Cold Rain," the second LP single that drops online today), and Oh No (who produced the Jean Grae cameo track "Uh Oh").  E Jones produced "Friends & Family," in which he name checks a slew of hip-hop artists including the "Mystik Journeymen," who he raps, "introduced me to Top Ramen" in a humorous nod to the Living Legends low-budget early career survival techniques that included throwing Top Ramen parties. As for why Talib worked with so many different producers on Gutter Rainbows?  "I tend to want to work with a limited amount of producers but the producers for this album, they had sounds that were right for what I wanted," he told me in an interview a month before the album dropped. He then described Gutter Rainbows as a kind of "prelude" to the highly anticipated forthcoming Prisoner of Conscious.

Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right (Revisited) Full Length" (2011)

To coincide with the release of their excellent Hot Sauce Committee Part Two album (released in early May, 2011) The Beastie Boys released this star-studded, full-length, "revisited" version of their classic "Fight For Your Right." The mini movie was posted on YouTube and elsewhere online and came with the DeLuxe version of their 2011 album - which delighted new and old fans alike.

NAMM 2011 Digest for the Amoeblog by Shing02 with Yamato Kaneko

As per usual the year's first big industry event was January's four day NAMM 2011 Show at the Anaheim Convention Center in SoCal which provided a sneak preview of what new hi-tech DJ and producer gear would be unleashed throughout the year. As reported by Shing02 (with Yamato Kaneko) in video above in an exclusive for the Amoeblog there was a dazzling number of iPad apps / controllers on display plus many exciting items from first-time participants such as by Reactable, the Barcelona -based company that has made significant upgrades to the interactive instrument, also popularized by Björk - the new technology that is billed as "the instrument that has changed the way we create and perform electronic music."

Murs & Terrace Martin "We On Melrose" (2011)

Longtime friend of Amoeba Music, the popular & ever prolific artist Murs continued to be extremely productive in 2011 with several releases including his collaboration with Terrace Martin titled ...Are Melrose on Murs 316 which entered the San Francisco Amoeba hip-hop chart at number one back in early March. On the Left Coast duo's one-off concept album the pair morph into their party animal alter egos with tales of partying on such tracks as "We Are Melrose" (above), "Fresh Kicks," "We Got Sumthin (feat. Coi Mattison)," and "Ding Dong (feat. Uncle Chucc)." Another release by Murs in 2011 was Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation.

Moe Green "Cruise Control" (2011)

"Cruise Control"  was one of a few videos unleashed by talented young North Bay rap talent Moe Green win 2011 whose recordings included his album (or extended EP as it was originally billled) Lionheart which he gave away to fans for free as a CD and digital download. The album was as well received as his 2010 summer release (a popular item at Amoeba SF), Rocky Maivia: Non-Title Match. One of that album's tracks was "Cruise Control," for which J. Sutherland directed the above brand new video. The 22 year old Vallejo rapper, who many have cited as the next breakout rap star from the Bay, began writing rhymes in kindergarten with his childhood best friend (E-40's son) Droop-E.

Zion I & The Grouch "Rockit Man (feat. Silk-E)" (2011)
Zion I & The Grouch teamed up again in 2011 for the acclaimed album Zion I & The Grouch are Heroes in the Healing of the Nation - the sequel to Zion I & The Grouch's similarly themed, successful 2006 collaboration, Heroes in the City of Dope. Joining producer Amp Live and emcees Zumbi and The Grouch throughout this release were such guests as Fashawn, Casual, Mystic, Brother Ali, Eric Rachmany, Freeway, Roy Ayers, Jacob Hemphill of Soja, Eligh, Codany Holiday, The R.O.D., and Silk-E, whose soaring vocals elevate the single "Rockit Man," as seen in the music video above.

Pharoahe Monch "Clap (one day)" extended music video (2011)

Popular at Amoeba in 2011 was Pharoahe Monch's W.A.R.(We Are Renegades), which is only the third solo album in a dozen years (a long time by hip-hop standards) from the Queens, NY artist who first came to fame over two decades ago as one half of the renowned hip-hop duo Organized Konfusion. Album guests included Royce Da 5'9'', Jean Grae, Immortal Technique, Vernon Reid, Styles P & Phonte, and Jill Scott. Above is the video version of the album's second single, "Clap (One Day)," which was produced by M-Phazes and features Showtyme & DJ Boogie Blind. This extended ten minute video, complete with a dramatic police raid gone dramatically wrong, was directed by Terence Nance and features appearances from Gbenga Akinnagbe (known for his portrayal of Chris Partlow in HBO's The Wire), Kim Howard and Josiah Small.

Equipto & Michael Marshall "Frustration (feat. Mistah F.A.B. & Dregs One)" (2011)

Two of the Bay's best, Equipto & Michael Marshall, who have recorded together in the past, teamed up again in 2011 to both tour and record together. They released the collaborative full-length Keep it Movin' 2 Love Changes on Solidarity Records which was especially popular at the San Francisco Amoeba store and included such tracks as the heartfelt "Frustration" (video) above featuring Mistah F.A.B. and Dregs One and such other tracks the dank anthem "Wakey Bakey" featuring Berner and (Mr Smoke-A-Lot himself) Yukmouth.

Evidence "You (produced by Premier)" (2011)

Evidence, who first came to fame with Dilated Peoples, has been consistently been making good quality music over the years but in 2011 he outdid himself with Cats & Dogs - a sick album that included the above DJ Premier produced track "You." The album was the LA artist's first album for the midwest Rhymesayers Entertainment label (he joined them on tour too over the summer) who in 2011 could do no wrong by releasing a slew of other quality releases including ones from Blueprint and Atmosphere.

The following list of full length hip-hop releases,  in no particular order, is an overview
of many (not all) of the hip-hop albums that were popular @ Amoeba in 2011

Murs & Terrace Martin
...Are Melrose (Murs 316)

Livewire I Pledge Alliegance To The WIre (LivewIre Records)

Strong Arm Steady Arms & Hammers (Blacksmith/Element 9)

Beans End It All (Anticon)

Trackademicks State of the Arts (Honor Roll)

Talib Kweli Gutter Rainbows (101 Distributions)

Philthy RIch Trip N 4 Life (Town Thizzness/LiveWire Records/SMC)

Lupe Fiasco
Slaughterhouse The EP (E 1)

Elusive Hip-Hop For Hipsters (Elusive)
Buckshot The Common Knowledgy of The Entertainment Industry (Duck Down Music)

Lupe Fiasco Lasers (1st & 15th/Atlantic)

Raekwon Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang (Ice H20/EMI Records)

Cut Chemist Sound of the Police (A Stable Sound / Soul Kitchen Records)

Dregs One and Equipto The Generation Gap (mixed by DJ BeatsMe (Pocketwatch Productions/Solidarity Records)

Zion I & The Grouch are Heroes in the Healing of the Nation (Z&G Music)

Pharoahe Monch W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (W.A.R. Media/Duck Down Music)

Equipto & Michael Marshall Keep it Movin' 2 Love Changes-Solidarity Records

Gucci Mane Return of Mr. Zone 6 (Warner Brothers)

 Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol)

DJ Quik The Book Of David (Mad Science Records)

Wiz Khalifa Rolling Papers (Atlantic)

Del Tha Funky Homosapien Golden Era CD (Council)

Tyler the Creator Goblin (XL Recordings)

Bambu …Exact Change…Reloaded (Beatrock Music)

Blu & Exile Below The Heavens Re-Issue (Sound In Color)

Blu Her Favorite Colo(u)r (Nature Sounds)

Neek The Exotic Still On The Hustle (Fatbeats)

Blueprint Adventures in Counter-Culture (Rhymesayers)  

Sims Bad Time Zoo LP (Doomtree/Modern Radio)

Blue Sky Black Death Noir CD (Fake Four Inc.)

Atmosphere The Family Sign CD (Rhymesayers)

Vast Aire OX 2010: A Street Odyssey (Man Bites Dog Records & Fat Beats)

Oddisee Odd Seasons (Mello Music Group)

Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic & DJ Big Wiz are-Hail Mary Mallon Are You Gonna Eat That? (Rhymesayers)

Random Axe Random Axe (Duck Down)

Bad Meets Evil
Hell: the Sequel (Shady Records)

Serengeti Family & Friends (Anticon)

Pete Rock/Smif-n-Wessun Monumental (DuckDown)

Casual The Hierophant (F.B.M.G./Hiero)

Moe Green Lionheart EP (OnSMASH)

Curren$y Weekend at Burnie's (Warner Bros)

Shabazz Palaces Black Up (Sub Pop)

DJ Khaled We The Best Forever (Cash Money/Universal)

Philthy Rich & Messy Marv
Neighborhood Superstar Part 3 (Town Thizzness)

Matthew Shipp/Beans/William Parker/Hprizm Knives From Heaven (Thirsty Ear)

Vakill Armor of God (Molemen Inc.)

Raashan Ahmad For What You've Lost (PID)

Face Candy Waste Age Teen Land (Rhymesayers)

Wu-Tang Legendary Weapons (Entertainment One Music)

The Jacka The Indictment (

Light Up the Darkness (Mellow Orange) 

San Quinn Can't Take the Ghetto Out A Niigga (Prominent House Records)

MellowHype Blackenedwhite (Fat Possum Records)

Hassaan Mackey & Apollo Brown Daily Bread (Mello Music Group)

Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame Ferrari Boyz (Warner Bros)

The Cool Kids When Fish Ride Bicycles (Green Label Sound, C.A.K.E. Recordings) 

The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West) Watch The Throne (Def Jam) 

Sole & the Skyrider Band Hello Cruel World (Fake Four)

The Game The R.E.D. Album (Geffen)

Elzhi & Will Sessions Elmatic (2 Dope Boyz)

Ski Beatz 24 Hour Karate School Pt II  (Dd172)

Smoke DZA Rolling Stoned (Fat Beats)

Lil Wayne  The Carter IV (Cash Money/Universal)

Open Mike Eagle Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes (Hellfyre Club)

Blu Jesus (Nature Sounds)

J. Cole Cole World: The Sideline Story (Roc Nation)

Candy's 22 A Girl and Her Gun (Grimm Image Records)

Evidence Cats & Dogs (Rhymesayers Ent.)

Qwazaar & Batsauce Bat Meets Blaine  (Galapagos4)

9th Wonder The Wonder Years (It's A Wonderful World Music Group)

Madlib No.12-Raw Medicine-Madlib Remixes (Stones Throw)

Blu Open (Nature Sounds)

Das Racist Relax (Greedhead Music)

Freestyle Fellowship The Promise (Decon)

Phonte Charity Starts at Home (Hbd Label Group)

Superstar Quamallah & Deqawn Talkin' All That Jazz (Cotter Records/Brick Records )

J-Live S.P.T.A. (Triple Threat Productions)

Murs Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation (DD172)

Dessa Castor, The Twin (Doomtree)

Danny Brown XXX (Fools Gold)

People Under The Stairs Highlighter (Piecelock 70)

Exile 4 Trk Mind (Soulspazam/Fat Beats)

Idle Warship (Talib Kweli & Res) Habits of the Heart  (Element 9/Blacksmith Records)

M.E.D. Classic (Stones Throw)

Wale Ambition (Warner Bros.)

Statik Selektah Population Control (Duck Down)

Dessa Castor the Twin (Doomtree)

Black Milk & Danny Brown Black and Brown (Fat Beats)

Lateef The Truthspeaker Firewire (Quannum)

People Under The Stairs Highlighter (Piecelock 70)

Mac Miller Blue Slide Park (Ingrooves)

Drake Take Care (Cash Money/Universal)

Lateef The Truthspeaker Firewire (Quannum)

DJ Shadow The Less You Know The Better (Verve)

Celph Titled & Buckwild Nineteen Ninety More (No Sleep)

Locksmith Embedded (Dd172)

Webbie Savage Life 3 (Trill)

Hired Hand Hired Hand (Fake Four Inc.)

Flash Bang Grenada 10 Haters (Hellfyre Club)

Betty Wright & The Roots Betty Wright: The Movie (S-Curve Records/Ms. B Records)

U.S.D.A. The After Party (SMC Recordings)

Childish Gambino Camp (Glass Note)

Grap Luva Neva Done EP (Redefinition Records)

Big Quarters Party Like A Young Commie (Big Quarters)

Pusha T Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (Fontana)

Eligh & Amp Live Therapy At 3 ( Legendary Music/Live Up/Traffic)

Doomtree No Kings (Lazerbeak)

Jet Life Jet World Order (Jets International / iHipHop Distribution)

The Roots Undun (MCA)

Senor Kaos The Kaos Effect (High Water Music)

Dregs One The Wake Up Call (Infinite Potential)

Relevant Tags

Best Of 2011 Hip-hop (3), Hip-hop (217), Best Of 2011 (17), Rap (134)