The 2011 Finale: The 100 Other Unforgettable Songs We Enjoyed

12.31.11 5 years ago 21 Comments
Graphics: Talia

Last day of the year and everything’s in the books. The best and worst projects, the mixtapes, the “Notable Quotables” and even a full list of slept-on releases*. With the formalities out of the way, we offer our bi-annual** round-up of the 100 songs we played ad nauseam***. Click through, enjoy…and we’ll see you on the other side.


* – All of which can be read by clicking here.

** – Did you forget July’s 75-song “Intermission”?

*** – In totally random order because we believe in organized confusion.

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1. Rihanna – “We Found Love” — You thought this wasn’t going to be on the list? Rih-Rih’s pop smash was so infectious it won over the hearts of several TSS mafia members (ok, just Tins and Gotty™). If you’re still doubting the power of this record, go to Vegas and do a line off a stripper’s chest and follow it with three shots of Henny. Thank us later. (Listen | Buy)

2. Game – “Born In The Trap” — Considering all the Primo beats Game’s gaffled over the years, it was only right the Gang Starr great laced this Comptonite’s most hyped album to date with some heat. (Listen | Buy)

3. Outasight – “Tonight Is The Night” — Now, we don’t usually favor commercial jingles, but the fact this jam by our homie OU spices up primetime TV on the regular makes us feel all toasty inside. It’s good to see good people succeed. (Listen | Buy)

4. SL Jones – “Fligher Learning”“So Southern smothered, I’m drenched in biscuits and gravy, baby.” For as many marketable tracks were packed into Jonesy’s The Number 23 mixtape, this triumphant, clearance for take-off may have been the most capable of taking the Arkansas MC to the skies. (Listen | Buy)

5. Kendrick Lamar Feat. Ashtro Bot – “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain)” — Even though the genre has produced many a little-girl-lost song, K-Dot’s penchant for detail sets this heart-breaker apart from the pack. If you can listen to this song all the way through, hear Kendrick say he played it for his sister and not get goosebumps, you have no soul. (Listen | Buy)

6. Tech N9ne Feat. Nikkiya – “Delusional” — As Tecca Nina’s All 6s and 7s catapulted him to the limelight, this dark ode showed his longtime backers as well as new fans that he no amount of sales would change his style. Nothing like some emotional, vintage Neezle to put all those doubters back into place. (Listen | Buy)

7. Mobb Deep Feat. Nas – “Dog Shit” — When the rumors of a Queensbridge reuniting came true, the end product was fabulous. Alchemist cooked up a gem of a beat reminiscent of Hip-Hop’s golden era, and all three emcees delivered incredible verses that were strong enough to belong on any of their previous classics. (Listen | Buy)

8. T-Pain Feat. Lily Allen & Wiz Khalifa – “5 O’Clock” — The Waffle House crowd got some company with this credible radio smash. (Listen | Buy)

9. Killer Mike feat. Big Boi & T.I. – “Ready, Set, Go (Remix)” — Deading any past beef, Sir Lucious Leftfoot showed this beat no mercy and made an already great song even greater. Tip’s shit-talking ad-libs at the end added some vivid character as well. (Listen | Buy)

10. Strong Arm Steady – “Hand Guns” — SAS Gang’s firearm ode that was an extra on Arms & Hammers leaves me popping off my air pistols every time I press play. Jelly Roll’s head-thumping bass-lines and the trio’s lyrical assault take you back to the classic days of West Coast dominance. (Listen)

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11. Drake – “Over My Dead Body” — Call Drake “soft” one more time. Please, I dare you. The man’s carved his own lane and he’s doing it damn well, as evidenced by the gentle beat and pensive lyrics of “Over My Dead Body.” He’ll never be masculinity’s poster child, but, hey, at least he’s sincere. (Listen | Buy)

12. Big Sean Feat. Nicki Minaj – “Dance (A$$)” — Lately the radio doesn’t actually all-the-way suck. And here Big Sean invokes the spirit of another great era of Detroit radio when Friday night was just DJ Assault’s nasty-ass footworking jit music. And not for nothing, but Nicki Minaj is a better rapper than almost every person who has her on a track. (Listen | Buy)

13. L.E.P. Bogus Boys Feat. Lupe Fiasco – “Zombie Land” — Bodies are being lined up all along Lake Shore Dr. and Count & Moonie are holding the shovels. Also one of The Lupester’s better showings of 2011. (Listen)

14. Radiohead – “Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene RMX)” — Radiohead’s music was remixed more than they put out new material this year and Jacques Greene provides the best of that re-interpreted bunch. (Listen)

15. Kanye West & Jay-Z – “N*ggas In Paris” — “It gets the people going.” (Listen | Buy)

16. MC, Second Nature & Jimmy Wigz – “Late Night Chillin'” — A song dedicated to night owls who see midnight as the beginning of an evening rather than the end. Distant gun sounds, Nick at Night, clouds of smoke & the hiss of vinyl are all covered in this ode to those with “bags under their eyes like it’s boarding time.” (Listen)

17. Common – “Sweet” — Rashid let the rapper turnt crooners of the day know what time it is. Just get ready for the Drake defense force anytime this joint gets some burn. (Listen | Buy)

18. Yelawolf Feat. T.I. & Slaughterhouse – “Hard White (Remix)” — This track is perfect for new age rap nerds. Polysyllabic rhymes and double time flows, oh my! (Listen)

19. TiRon and Ayomari – “I’d Rather” — No dude likes to argue with the misses. At least this song gives a soundtrack to shouting bouts we’ve all been through. (Listen | Buy)

20. Schoolboy Q Feat. Rapper Big Pooh & Murs – “Fuck Ya Hip-Hop” — As a rapper, you learn quickly that gaining fans is a cardinal sin in the Hip-Hop community. Making music that appeals to more than the Okayplayer messageboards or your homie who still has Blackstar’s first vinyl single on his wall is the equivalent to doing a GAP commercial & dating Miley Cyrus. Now, thanks to TDE, we have an anthem to play the next time a 19-year-old white kid “growing his hair out for dreads” decides to shit on our new song because we only use 49 multi-syllabic rhymes instead of 50. (Listen | Buy)

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21. Phonte – “Ball and Chain” — There is nothing a man fears more than castration, whether literal or figurative. Love is something that is too complicated to value as good or bad, but when it gets to the point where there is no longer individuality the union becomes cancerous, leading to some feeling like it is more incarceration than infatuation. Phonte captures this idea beautifully on “Ball and Chain.” (Listen | Buy)

22. Curren$y Feat. Dom Kennedy – “Hennessy Beach” — Quintessential Spitta. Over a jazzy, sanded-smooth beat, Curren$y enlists Dom Kennedy to rap about the high, the fly and everything in-between. For optimal results, mix well with close friends, bad bitches and bud. (Listen)

23. Kidz In The Hall – “Occasion” — Definitely errs on the bubbly side of Hip-Hop, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A track that all but begs to be played at your next party, the Kidz from the Chi concoct a tune so contagious that even the most hard-boiled will be tempted to sing along with the chorus’s “Ehhh!”s and “Ohhh!”s. (Listen | Buy)

24. Freddie Gibbs – “187 Proof” — Sitting at the head of Gangsta Rap’s big boy table, Gary’s Finest continues his rugged assault on any and everything fake. But then, with a menacing voice like that, it’d be kind of hard to imagine Gibbs in any other line of work. (Listen)

25. Danny Brown – “XXX” — Short and to-the-point, the titular intro to Brown’s breakthrough is grimy bliss. With a style trademarked by the pill-popping, line-hooting Brown, “XXX” exemplifies the album’s tight (claustrophobic?) plight. (Listen)

26. The Roots Feat. Greg Porn and Bilal Oliver – “The Lighthouse” — All of the elements on this song are great but you gotta love that cold organ on the hook. Consider yourself face down in the ocean if you can’t get with this. (Listen | Buy)

27. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” — Track number one off The Black Keys’ latest, El Camino, is what every Keys fan craves: lots and lots of guitar, heavy drum kicks and those oh-so soulful Auerbach lyrics. Music listeners, meet your newest Rock ‘N’ Roll gods. (Listen | Buy)

28. Mayer Hawthorne – “No Strings” — Everything a great pop record should be. A singable hook, catchy background vocals, and timeless instrumentals. A perfectly wrapped package with a bright, dance-y bow on top. (Listen | Buy)

29. WC – “Revenge Of The Barracuda” — WC will forever be the most underrated rapper in history & his albums will always be overlooked by the mainstream due to his unabashed West Coast style he (thankfully) never strays from. The fire he spits on the introduction to his latest album is undeniable, as is the rest of the music on the album, yet somehow he remains the West kept secret. (Listen | Buy)

30. Wilco – “I Might” — F**k a mid-life crisis. Jeff Tweedy and alt-country rockers Wilco show that they’re not suffering from the identity conflict that conquer many men of their age. The poppy rhythms and funky bassline show there’s still plenty of sunshine that comes with dad jeans, kids and mortgages. (Listen | Buy)

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31. J. Cole – “Lost Ones” — Cole had the weight of the world and everyone’s eyes for Cole World. How did he manage? He came through with records like “Lost Ones,” a skilled, passionate take on one of life’s hardest decisions. (Listen | Buy)

32. Childish Gambino – “Hold You Down” — For anyone doubting Gambino’s ability to construct cogent thoughts on Camp, look no further than this commentary on the multiple facets of race relations in the middle class. (Listen | Buy)

33. Mookie Jones Feat. Jackie Chain & Big Sant – “T.C.B.” — Pimpin’ ain’t the least bit dead, as evidenced by the young Houston head’s gettin’ money mantra. (Listen)

34. Tef Poe Feat. Theresa Payne – “Satellite” — Over an airy Tech Supreme track, St Louis’ war machine lets the world hear his inner voice, turning the mic booth into the proverbial psychologist’s couch. Between Tef’s therapy sessions, Theresa Payne adds another quality chorus to her growing catalog as The Force’s go-to hookstress. (Listen)

35. Drake Feat. Rick Ross – “Free Spirit” — On Take Care, these two gave the world “YOLO.” Prior to that, on the collaboration that didn’t make Drizzy’s sophomore cut, the equally dope “Free Spirit” gave the world the now classic Twitter hashtag #SoIKnowItsReal. (Listen | Buy)

36. 2 Chainz Feat. T.I. – “Spend It” — It only took a simple name change for 2 Chainz to double the worth in his pockets. Imagine what’s going to happen when he cheats on his taxes. (Listen)

37. The-Dream – “Wake Me When It’s Over” — Heartbreak usually translates into great music. While The Dream’s 1977 EP was nowhere Confessions in terms of quality or impact, Terius painted a picture of love lost, presumably about his ex, Christina Milian. “Wake Me When It’s Over” was the darkest cut from said release and one that’s stood the test of time (i.e. a few months) as the shining moment of Mr. Nash’s vulnerability. (Listen)

38. Cam’ron & Vado – “Bang Bang” — When Killa and Vado are on, they’re f*cking on. Plus, “Killa keep good talent, He the new Calipari” was such a dope line that we’re hoping Jay Bilas tweets it one day. (Listen)

39. Starlito & Don Trip – “Life” — We seriously could’ve picked damn near any song from Step Brothers and tossed them into this list. The autobiographical, down-tempo track “Life” barely nudged out the more aggressive “5th Song,” which is a subtle way to say listen to them both. (Listen)

40. A$AP Rocky – “Peso” — The only time we’ll condone men saying “I be that pretty motherfucker.” (Listen)

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41. Tyler The Creator – “Radicals” — Tyler’s leading a whole new generation of misfits and the tune they all march to would be “Radicals.” Even though the young artist implies the tune is art for art’s sake, you can’t help but feel there’s so many listeners whose thoughts and lives echo his sentiments. (Listen | Buy)

42. PUSH Montana & L.E.P. Bogus Boys – “Live Nigga Rap” — Alternatively titled “Slappin’ The Piss Out Of Shook Ones.” (Listen)

43. Common – “Blue Sky” — Oh, shit; is that Common bringing up 2011’s rear? Employing a kind of soulful hunger, Chicago’s elder statesman dropped a gem of an album, highlighted by “Blue Sky,” an audible, encouraging pat on the back if ever there was one. (Listen | Buy)

44. David Banner – “Swag” — Swag may have been Hip-Hop’s word of de rigueur , but Banner reminds all – artists and fans alike – that after the fun and games come larger issues. (Listen | Buy)

45. Kanye West & Jay-Z – “Gotta Have It” — Jay hasn’t gotten his hands dirty, physically or metaphorically, in years but the menacing verse he hands in for “Gotta Have It” lets debtors know he’s not to tested. (Listen | Buy)

46. Young Jeezy – “Win” — This is true motivation music. “Win” represents the 12th rep at the gym, the transition from overtime to double time and the sale that happens as the sun breaks through the clouds after a long night. If this doesn’t make you want to get something done, check your pulse. (Listen)

47. T.I. Feat. Pharrell – “Hear Ye, Hear Ye” — King Back! While his collaborations with Big K.R.I.T and unofficial assists on big hits by Jay & Ye and 2 Chainz, Tip didn’t really make his way back to his rightful place on the throne until he released this track. (Listen)

48. Big K.R.I.T. – “Time Machine” — In addition to being a time machine, K.R.I.T.’s slow burner can transform any car, even that rusty ass hatchback of yours, into a slant back Caddy on spokes. (Listen)

49. Clams Casino – “Motivation (Lil B Instrumental)” — Re-mastered and stripped of lyrics, Clams’ woozy, atmospheric production ensures that he’ll be in high demand come 2012. (Listen)

50. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – “Deep”According to Athrin of TSS’ comment section: “This sounds like shit I’d see in a blaxploitation film in a scene where a guy is driving around and we see a montage of the different areas of a city.” Amen. (Listen | Buy)

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51. Pusha T – “Blow” — Remember the movie Sugar Hill? Imagine Malice as Romello, Pusha as Raynathan and understand he’s intent on pushing dope rap til his dying days. (Listen)

52. Chevy Woods Feat. Wiz Khalifa – “Cookout” — Bust out the brats, brew and bud: the Taylor Gang duo crafted 2011’s perfect picnic anthem. (Listen)

53. Danny Brown – “Adderall Admiral” — In a minute and 44 seconds, Brown raps about the following: blue balls, Avatar, pregnant labradors and Ned Flanders’ son. Kids, this is your id on a 36-hour, pill- and alcohol-fueled bender. (Listen)

54. My Morning Jacket – “Victory Dance” — MMJ were doing more than just a victory dance this past summer. They were doing victory laps around the country while touring, celebrating the release of their latest album, Circuital. “Victory Dance”’s theatrical vocals and dark instrumentation launch their 2011 effort with gusto, ensuring that they tacked another “win” onto their career’s accomplished resume. (Listen | Buy)

55. Trouble – “Questions” — Wondering where a lot of Atlanta’s rap one-hit wonders drifted to after the spotlight got flicked off? Trouble’s got the answers, sparring no punches or overlooking any names. (Listen)

56. A$AP Rocky Feat. ASAP Ferg – “Kissin’ Pink” — NYC’s (latest) chosen one appears here with his eyes wide shut, rapping about pussy and purp. A trippy, trance-inducing ballad. (Listen)

57. The Black Keys – “Little Black Submarines” — A bit premature to label the Keys a contemporary Led Zeppelin? Hardly. The Akron legend continues to grow, marching to the beat of one of rock’s greatest names. (Listen | Buy)

58. Freddie Gibbs Feat. Big K.R.I.T. and Alley Boy – “Rob Me A N*gga” — The Baby-Faced Killer takes the listener through the psychology of an armed robbery, making the most heinous crimes sound justifiable. (Listen)

59. Lyrikill Feat. City Sparks, Lyriqs and Elespee – “New Shoes” — In light of the recent Concord rampage, this song is a perfect example of the social ramifications of the pursuit of fresh kicks from Lyrikill’s slept-on gem. (Buy)

60. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire Feat. Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown & El-P – “Huzzah (Remix)” — eXquire brought along a rag-tag and loquacious crew for the posse cut of the year. (Listen)

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61. Kendrick Lamar – “My Mind Drifts” — Few make stream of conscious rap sound as cohesive as the West Coast’s new golden boy, especially over the type of easygoing beat Quartermaine provided. Smooth keys plus hard drums is nearly always a winning combination in my book. (Listen)

62. Mayer Hawthorne – “A Long Time” — This poppy sobriety check from Mayer’s How Do You Do debut was for all the impatient Detroiters out there, reminding them cities don’t get rebuilt overnight. (Listen | Buy)

63. Bambu – “None Left” — Ominous strings by Josh The Goon and a broadcast urging folks to squat in their foreclosed homes begin the latest banger from Bambu before he proceeds to spit his usual brand of streetwise politicism. Two verses of the knowledge the people need are followed appropriately by a news report on the National Defense Authorization Act. Listen up folks. (Listen)

64. Schoolboy Q – “#BETIGOTSOMEWEED” — Schoolboy Q delivered a smooth, hazy gem with this one. The bars are quality, as always, and I’ve had the hook stuck in my head for months now. (Listen)

65. Big K.R.I.T. – “R4 Theme Song” — Just one of half-a-dozen songs, at least, from Return Of 4Eva that could be on this list. This song is warm and clear, a shot of energy – the drums pound, the sampled vocals are honey-sweet, and K.R.I.T. put everything he had into the verses. (Listen)

66. Scotty – “Dream Catcher” — The Summer Dreams mixtape flew under the radar for the most part, but those that caught it heard a consistent and relatable lyrical performance from Atlanta’s Scotty over a slew of worthwhile country rap tunes cooked up by DJ Burn One. The overarching plot of the project is the pursuit of one’s goals, and with a bouyant chorus from Indeed and Chrissy Chambers, “Dream Catcher” could be the theme song. (Listen)

67. MAM – “Can’t Live Without Music” — If you decide to do any digging on this shimmy-shaking ray of ’80s-esque house-funk, you’ll turn up next to nothing and probably wonder if MAM is actually a real group at all. That, or you’ll disregard the artist completely, break a leg or two and wear the soles out of your Nikes. (Listen)

68. OnCue – “Feel Tall” — After building up his steez over the past few years on the harsh NY underground circuit, OnCue grew into his own in 2011 and batted away all his naysayers with this empowering, giant of a single. Self-fulfillment never sounded so good. (Listen)

69. Too $hort x Skrillex – “Blow The Whistle” (Brenton Duvall Remix) – Take the sweet-spots from Mr. Dubstep’s best song, combine them with Shorty The Pimp and voila, a feel-good mash-up the whole party can sing along to. (Listen)

70. Avicii – “ID (Levels) (Original Mix)” — Flo Rida might’ve turned Avicii’s breakout song into a radio hit. But, the Swedish producer who originated this world-renown instrumental parlayed it into a career-making, EDM game-changer. (Listen)

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71. Juicy J – “Stoner’s Night — No artist had a stronger resurgence than the Juiceman. Going at it virtually solo, Juicy J turned some of the year’s best get high music, including numbers like the bass-heavy “Stoner’s Night,” which sounds like the dark, filthy material Three 6 made in their early days. (Listen)

73. A$AP Rocky Feat. ScHoolboy Q – “Brand New Guy” — This ScHoolboy Q character seems to be making a habit of stealing the show when he collaborates with his higher profile rap buddies. After his unforgettable presence on more than a few Black Hippy tracks, he dominates H-Town’s current champion (that’s Harlem, not Houston) with aggression and energy, not to mention a touch of humor. The “netflix on your couch/what this popcorn about?” bars get a chuckle out of me every time. (Listen)

74. Mookie Jones – “Everybodi Wanna B Famous” — Young and on the rise? Here is your theme song. (Listen)

75. Fortie Bowie – “Impala” — There isn’t a more aptly named song on the list as this track is perfect for the whip. Cruise the Chevy with pride. (Listen)

76. 2 Chainz Feat. Big K.R.I.T & Bun B – “Pimps” — Whether it was readily apparent or not, the artist formerly known as Tity Boi dominated the “First To Be Called For A Feature” slot previously held by Wayne. How and why? Check the silky smooth “Pimps” and 2 Chainz fluid delivery of lines like “Pull out the garage, hit a button then the top faint, You ain’t from the “A”, all you really did was migrate, Asking me if I’m great, yeah bitch I’m great, Swerving down Peachtree, yeah bitch I’m straight.” (Listen)

77. Dopehead – “Airbags” — Detroit, stand up! (Listen)

78. Phonte – “Who Loves You More” — Exemplary big brother rhymes emanate from the ex-LB member. Phontigallo’s consistent on the mic but his performance on Charity Starts at Home’s finale is easily one of the best records of his career. (Listen | Buy)

79. Future – “Tony Montana” — Al Pacino’s most famous character strikes Hip-Hop again. (Listen)

80. Drake – “Look What You’ve Done” — Criticize the Canuck’s propensity for making sappy songs but “Look What You’ve Done” is one where the overflowing emotions produce a moving piece of music. R.I.P. Static Major. (Listen | Buy)

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