For anyone who’s reading this, please know that I’m not normally so one-genre-centered when it comes to music, I tend to get into all kinds. I did notice this year, however, that most of the spins on my iTunes or in my car were from R&B albums, which, hasn’t happened since high school (a while ago). I also noticed that this wasn’t even a good year for R&B and like all great things in life, what is readily available to you isn’t always the best… The best stuff you have to search for.
Anywho, I’m no music/movie/tv critic… These were just the things that got to me big time in 2011.
5. Africa HiTech - 93 Million Miles Like I said, I’m no music critic… I sometimes can’t articulate properly what an album or song does to me physically or even mentally very elegantly. As a layman, I do know that this record took me all over the place. At times I was chilled and relaxed with tunes like “Don’t Fight It,” or deep in a Holy-Ghost-like trance during the hard-hitting, undulating, bone-shattering, hypnotic “Out In The Streets.” It’s a dance album that is much more than that. There are some ideas here that I’ve not heard expressed before and can only hope to hear more of.
4. Muhsinah - Gone 2XEP This is a six track EP, a collection of three songs done two different ways. The more ‘urban’ versions of these three tracks are top notch and should give any producer night terrors, but I feel that Muhsinah really shines on the rocked out versions, and especially on the standout “Stop.” Crunchy guitars and sweet vocals come together in a recipe that has turned me into a glutton.
3. Jhené Aiko - Sailing Soul(s) Jhené Aiko sings with a steely-cool voice that, while it may be thin, still packs a wallop of a punch. On songs like the lush “Stranger,” she gives the kiss off to lame would-be-suitors all without raising her voice above a purr. This record, for whatever reason, was not released in stores. You can download it for free from various websites including my favorite find of the year, DatPiff, as a free mixtape. This record, had it been released and promoted correctly, would put her among the likes of Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Drake all of whom seemed to have a banner year. I can’t wait to hear more from her and I hope she gets the attention she deserves.
2. Raphael Saadiq - Stone Rollin’ Saadiq has found a niche that is serving him well. His past two albums, this and the 2008’s superb The Way I See It were both inspired by the sounds of soul in the 50s & 60s. Just a well rounded record from start to finish. Standouts for me include the haunting “Just Don’t,” “Go To Hell,” and the rollicking “Movin’ Down The Line.”
1. Thundercat - The Golden Age of Apocalypse I was not prepared for this record. At all. It sounds like acid jazz from the late 70s, early 80s… But from the future. The synths are smooth and unpredictable at times. The vocal harmonies are sweet and comfy and couldn’t be more evident on tracks like “Daylight” and the superior, best track of the year, IMHO, “Walkin’.” This album has gotten me through a pretty tough semester this year, if I hadn’t have found it, I’d probably be institutionalized. No joke.
- 20. S. Carey - In The Dirt
- 19. Drake - Marvin’s Room
- 18. The Black Keys - Dead and Gone
- 17. Fleet Foxes - Battery Kinzie
- 16. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Ffuny Frends
- 15. Frank Ocean - Thinking About You
- 14. Jacques Greene - Another Girl
- 13. Ifan Dafydd - No Good
- 12. Musiq Soulchild - Waiting Still
- 11. William Fitzsimmons - Fade And then Return
- 10. Adele - Rolling In The Deep
- 9. Jhené Aiko - Higher
- 8. Miss Jack Davey - PHD
- 7. Robyn - Call Your Girlfriend
- 6. J*Davey - Kill For Fun
- 5. Raphael Saadiq - Movin’ Down The Line
- 4. Muhsinah - Stop
- 3. Africa HiTech - Out In The Streets
- 2. SBTRKT Feat. Sampha - Something Goes Right
- 1. Thundercat - Walkin’