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Real Talk: The Top 15 Albums Of 2011

By 12.30.11

Who: Kendrick Lamar
What: Section.80
Why: 4 Cigs
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment | Producers: J. Cole, Terrace Martin, THC, Willie B., Sounwave, Tommy Black, Tae Beast, Dave Free, Iman Omari, Wyldfyer

The Good: On Section.80, Kendrick Lamar switched from introspective to malicious, austere to flamboyant, and cocky to vulnerable, sometimes in the same song. “Rigamortus” is lyrical exercise after a double dose of HGH. We were reminded that emotion doesn’t have to be “emo” on “Kush & Corinithians.” He defined urgency on “HiiiPower.” He came. He saw. He conquered.

The Bad: On a few too many occasions, the production is simply crushed under the density of K. Lamar’s lyricism. On “Poe Man’s Dream (His Vice)” Lamar describes himself as a devil and an angel, and compares his eyes to the sun that warms our earth. Imagery that intense deserves something more dynamic than a simple, repetitive kick/snare/keys combo. “Blow My High” doesn’t quite work for the same reasons. Nitpicky? Not really. This was damn close to being a classic, and the little things count.

The Lovely: When the biggest complaint about an album is that it was only few missteps away from masterpiece status, you know it is a great body of work. Section.80 stands out, not because so many of his peers have the depth of a liquor store cup, but because it proves that he is talented enough to compete with anyone in the world fearless enough to pick up a microphone. They know that the beast is already out of the cage, and it won’t be long before he comes looking for their spot. — Greg Whitt

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