FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2011
Just because it’s already March doesn’t mean that we still can’t talk about last year, right? Anyway, I’m lagging as always, but for my new readers/followers, I do this “favorite albums” thing on an annual basis. Also, I don’t know if I just took more time to search for new music in 2011, but out of all the years, this was definitely the toughest list to decide on (even with the Honorable Mention section). As usual, there’s a lot of hip hop, but the top choices are from a different genre.
1. Jeff Bernat - The Gentleman Approach
The closest thing I can come to describing this album is saying that it reminds me of 90’s R&B. The brotha is just smoove widdit (see previous post).
Favorite Tracks: Just Vibe, Ms. Seductive
2. Adele - 21
Even though this album came out in the beginning of the year, I didn’t get my hands on it until the last few months of 2011 (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that this was actually the first time that I really listened to any of her music). That woman can sing!!
Favorite Tracks: Someone Like You (I know…it’s played out), He Won’t Go
3. J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story
A lot of my homies have been J. Cole fans for awhile now, but this is another artist I slept on. I’m pretty selective with the hip hop content I listen to and this album doesn’t really fit the mold, but I found myself bumpin’ this…a lot.
Favorite Tracks: Sideline Story, Lost Ones
4. Blue Scholars - Cinemetropolis
This was a much different sound from their previous albums. Although I was feelin’ the lyrics, this album gave me a newfound respect for Sabzi (the DJ/producer) — he’s definitely one of the most versatile beat makers out there.
Favorite Tracks: Marion Sunshine, Yuri Kochiyama
5. Lupe Fiasco - Lasers
Upon my very first listen, I wanted to delete this album from my iPod. I was extremely disappointed with it and thought it was so watered down and tried too hard to have mainstream appeal, but considering his previous track record, I gave Lupe the benefit of the doubt. I still think a lot of the hooks are really lame and cheesy, but this album really grew on me and was actually one of my top contenders for most of the year. The lyrical content was still on point, which is ultimately what matters most to me.
Favorite Tracks: Words I Never Said, 'Til I Get There
6. Murs - Love & Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation
I’ve said it many, many times before, but Murs is one of my favorite MCs and I think this just might be his best album to date.
Favorite Tracks: Eazy E, Animal Style
7. Mayer Hawthorne - How Do You Do
What can I say? The dude is just smoove with it. I’m diggin’ this more than his first album too.
Favorite Tracks: Get to Know You, Dreaming
8. Prometheus Brown & Bambu - Walk Into A Bar
Two of my favorite MCs, Prometheus Brown (aka Geo of Blue Scholars) and Bambu (formerly of Native Guns) doing a collabo project together?! Yooo…I damn sure couldn’t sleep on this one! Yet another solid release from the Beatrock Music label.
Favorite Tracks: Nowhere, National Treasure
9. Phonte - Charity Starts at Home
Kind of like with the Lupe Fiasco album, this one really took some time to grow on me. I thought it was just aight at first, but was actually a little disappointed. I think he’s one of the dopest and wittiest rappers in the game right now, which is why I had really high expectations that weren’t immediately met. I’ve been bumping this a lot and the dude really touches on some good subjects while still having an original flow. This will be in heavy rotation for a long time to come.
Favorite Tracks: The Good Fight, Sendin’ My Love
10. Childish Gambino - Camp
This is probably the most “commercial” sounding album on my list. It’s similar to the J. Cole album in the sense that I might disagree with a lot of the content, but I’m still feelin’ it (see previous post).
Favorite Tracks: Outside, Hold You Down
HONORABLE MENTION (in no particular order):
1. The Roots - Undun: I have a strong feeling that this one will grow on me a lot over time, especially considering that it’s a concept album.
2. Krystle Tugadi - Time EP
3. Dumbfoundead - DFD
4. re:plus - Ordinary Landscape: Shout out to my FlowEthics fam for their Japan to CA collabo!!
5. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
6. Zee Avi - Ghostbird
7. Charles Bradley - No Time for Dreaming
8. Mikey Manifest - Collection Fifteen
9. Stic.Man - The Workout
10. Digital Martyrs Remix Beatrock
Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne: I had really high expectations for this one but was pretty let down. I’m not saying it was a horrible album, I just wasn’t feeling it as much as I thought I would.
All In a Day’s Work
This was a long, but extremely productive day. A few folks came through to my apartment around 12:30pm on Saturday and everyone finally cleared out by 1:45am Sunday morning.
We made about 45+ silk screen shirts, had an impromptu meeting about branching out to different areas of Southern CA with our community organizing, learned valuable life lessons from older and more experienced organizers, helped guide the younger homies with their FPAC set for next weekend and got a lot of good promotional ideas for an upcoming projects that’s been years in the making. Oh…and I almost forgot that I was able to squeeze a couple glasses of wine towards the end (don’t judge. It was well earned! lol).
On that note, it’s now 2am and I can hear the drunk college kids in the building next to me coming home from a night of bar hopping (“woooo! F**k yeeeah bro!!”). But that won’t prevent me from succumbing to the seductive allure of my comfortable bed and equally comfortable pillows that are literally a step away from my desk.
Yup…I think it’s time to do that head first slide into bed and get some rest. Good night, world…
I had a post a few days ago about how good it feels to see your hard work pay off in an office setting, but it doesn’t even come close to the feeling that I get from nights like these — a night where the community comes together.
First off, I have to send a huge congratulations to the Shining Sons on the release of their new mixtape! I met these guys when they were 15 and have seen them grow and mature in ways that I couldn’t even fathom when I was that age. These 17 year old twins are a true testament of what it means to be organized and supported by the community. The way they’ve been able to turn their lives around from being in a gang to serving the people in all their endeavors is a continual source of inspiration from me. Aside from that, they’ve really stepped it up as MC’s in the time that I’ve known them. Watch out y’all…they’re about to do big things with their music!
Shout out to all the performers who rocked the stage tonight, too — L.U.V was on point (thanks for co-hosting w/me brotha!). The amazingly soulful Krystle Tugadi did her thing as usual. I haven’t seen FlowEthics perform in awhile, but damn…they rocked it! It’s always good kickin’ it with the fam bam. Tony Blacc got the whole crowd turnt up (and also schooled me on some new slang. lol)! I just met him tonight but he’s a shining example of the potential that lies within the youth. And of course, DJ ET held it down on the 1s and 2s all night.
I can’t front though. The weeks leading up to the event were pretty stressful since I was heavily involved in the planning process. I’ve helped organize shows before where I’ve also performed, but I don’t think I’ve been this invested in it from beginning to end. With as stressed as I was leading up to tonight, I’m extremely proud of how everything turned out. Although I don’t see anything wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back, it’s never about just one person — this show couldn’t have been successful without the work of all my kasamas from Anakbayan LA. Again, tonight was a testament of what can happen when the community comes together. I gotta give props to all the community organizers out there. At the end of the day, it’s about the work that’s done, so if that work is rooted in helping the community, then I have nothing but love for that!
Lastly, thank you to all the folks who came out to support! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that much energy from the crowd since it was held in a small art gallery, but it got HYPE in there tonight!! That’s why I’m still wide awake at 2:30 am.
Overall, I’d say it was a great night. After holding my breath for so long and hoping that everything would turn out okay, it feels good to finally be able to exhale…