Best of 2011 Hip-Hop Part 3: Billy Jam's Picks

Posted by Billyjam, December 30, 2011 09:00pm | Post a Comment
      Talib Kweli was among the hip-hop artists to embrace the Occupy movement
  in 2011 - even shooting his video for "Distractions" @ Zuccotti Park

This is the third and final of the Best of 2011 Hip-Hop Amoeblog posts. The first Best of 2011 Hip-Hop installment featured a hundred of the hip-hop album releases that were popular sellers at the three Amoeba Music stores over the past year while the second Best Of 2011 Hip-Hop featured favorites of the year chosen by current and former Amoeba hip-hop department employees  Meanwhile this Best of 2011 Hip-Hop post is this Amoeblogger's personal favorite 30 albums of the year. But before I get to these (all below) first let me briefly mention a random list of a few of the interesting hip-hop news stories or events/happenings that generated attention over the past year.

In 2011 hip-hop lost some great artists and most of them were young; tragically taken from this earth long before they should have been. These included 44 year old, Golden Era hip-hop star Heavy D who died of a heart attack while climbing the stairs to his Los Angeles apartment back in early November. Even more recently, just three weeks ago, Special One of The Conscious Daughters (aka TCD) died suddenly the result of a blood clot. The Bay Area hip-hop community was really shaken by this news but glad to learn that the rapper's longtime partner in rhyme, fellow TCD member CMG (Cash Makin Girl) would continue the TCD legacy and about a week ago announced that she would be (sometime in early 2012) be releasing a posthumous TCD album. A famous Bay Area rapper who didn't die but was rumored to have in the latter half of 2011 was Too $hort. This was around the time that $hort had a run in with fellow Bay rapper Messy Marv who foolishly started a beef (at first on the internet and then in rhyme) with the "godfather of Bay rap."

Speaking of controversy Kreayshawn's White Girl Mob sure stirred up some this year; first when the white girl, who claims Oakland but lives in LA, enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame (including a major label deal all within months) thanks in great part to her viral video "Gucci Gucci." But it was her sidekick / White Girl Mob rapper V-Nasty's unapologetic use of the "N" word that caused the most controversy. Add to that controversy a degree of confusion as to why certain black artists (Mistah F.A.B. and Gucci Mane) would endorse/support this N word spitting white girl.

Another controversy stirring item in 2011 happened just in the past week after Billboard chart topping pop/rap star Drake dedicated his latest video/song to Mac Dre and traveled to the Bay Area with Lil Wayne to shoot the video. Instead of welcoming the star and congratulating him for promoting the late great much loved Vallejo rapper most Bay Area rap fans were far from pleased - rather they were outraged and considered the gesture shallow, calculated, and sacrilegious - even though Mac Dre's mom is featured in the video giving her blessings.  On a side note the video featured a quick shot of Amoeba Music San Francisco in it and as such was just one of numerous music videos to incorporate one of the Amoeba stores this past year. Other 2011 hip-hop videos to include shots of Amoeba Music include ones by both Souls of Mischief and Eligh & Amp Live.  

In 2011 The Beastie Boys returned (after health issue set backs) triumphantly with their excellent overdue album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. They also got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the actual ceremony in April 2012. More than any other genre hip-hop constantly mirrors and reports on in verse what's happening in society at that particular time and in 2011 that was the Occupy Wall Street movement and other spinoff Occupy protests.  The movement spawned the Occupy Hip-Hop spinoff. But more importantly during Occupy Wall Street's first two months numerous hip-hop artists stopped by the downtown NYC park in a show of solidarity. These included Immortal Technique and also Talib Kweli who shot the video for "Distractions" from his anticipated forthcoming Prisoner of Conscious album at Zuccotti Park. That video is above at top of page.  Below is the video for Blueprint's "Radio Inactive" off his album which in my opinion is the best song of the best album. The video is followed by my top 30 fave albums of the year. 


Billy Jam's Top 30 Favorite Albums of 2011

1) Blueprint Adventures in Counter-Culture (Rhymesayers)  

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

3) Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol)

4) Lateef The Truthspeaker Firewire (Quannum)

5) DJ Quest Cosmic Parasite

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

7) Del Tha Funky Homosapien Golden Era CD (Council)

8) Serengeti Family & Friends (Anticon)

9) Foreign Legion Night Moves (Quality Control)

10) Saigon The Greatest Story Never Told ()

11) DJ Shadow The Less You Know The Better (Verve)

12) Talib Kweli Gutter Rainbows (101 Distributions)

13) Freestyle Fellowship The Promise (Decon)

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

15) Atmosphere
The Family Sign CD (Rhymesayers)

16) Elzhi & Will Sessions Elmatic (Fat Beats)

17) Evidence Cats & Dogs (Rhymesayers Ent.)

18) Sims Bad Time Zoo LP (Doomtree/Modern Radio)

19) Celsius 7 Life Well Spent (Psychokinetics/Mindbendingbeats)

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

21) Raashan Ahmad For What You've Lost (PID)

22) Beans
End It All (Anticon)

23) M.E.D. Classic (Stones Throw)

24) Flash Bang Grenada 10 Haters (Hellfyre Club)

25) Buckshot The Common Knowledgy of The Entertainment Industry (Duck Down Music)

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

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

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

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

30) Los Rakas Chancletas y Camisetas Boradada EP (Raka)


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