The 2011 Intermission: 75 Songs We’ve Enjoyed So Far

08.01.11 6 years ago 67 Comments

Like we always do at this time, we gathered as a Crew to throw together a list of the songs that have fueled our playlists from January through July. Be all, end all? Nope, the 75 songs listed are just ones that we enjoyed. Some joints plainly needed highlighting again or haven’t been spoken on until now.
Grab a notepad, read and listen then use our suggestions to assemble what we think should be a dope playlist.
1. Pusha-T Feat. Kevin KC Kossom – “Feeling Myself” — One of the high points of Pusha’s up-and-down solo debut, Fear Of God. A synthy, triumphant beat brings out Mr. Thornton’s best as he raps – rather arrogantly – about the high life. If there was ever any doubt, Push wants you to know that he made it. (Listen)
2. Chip Tha Ripper – “Plural” — A subdued, looping bass chord sets the backdrop to this ode to threesomes and chronic. Don’t call Chip shallow. He just likes to party. (Listen)
3. Stalley – “Slapp” — Giving an old Wiz beat a fresh paint job and enlisting producer Rashad to sing the track’s addictive hook proved to be keys to success for Stalley. One of the best tracks of the year off of the 330 MC’s Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music), “Slapp” is a ready-made warm weather anthem. (Listen)
4. Wiz Khalifa Feat. Chevy Woods – “Homicide” — Can we just forget that Rolling Papers ever happened? Wiz’s disappointing coming-out party didn’t please many die-hard Taylors, but Cabin Fever, released a few months prior, certainly did. One of the mixtape’s many highlights, “Homicide” is some old-school Wiz, harder than anything you’d hear on Papers. (Listen)
5. Frank Ocean – “Novacane” — One of the smoothest songs that’s come out in years, Frank croons about the usual suspects of love and heartbreak, but something’s different this go around. The clever numbing-agent analogy laid beautifully over simple, but powerful production makes to be anyone’s rainy-day anthem even in the summer. (Listen)
6. WOODKID – “Iron” — Honestly, we don’t even know exactly what he’s saying the entire time, but that doesn’t even matter. We just love how the regal horn section meshes together perfectly with the primal emotion of the drums and flute. (Listen | Buy)
7. Saigon – “Enemies” — Saigon hopscotches across the piano and drum kicks while breaking down how he fell victim to the streets: a bona fide wolf in sheep’s clothing. Managing to be both reflective, entertaining and refreshing all at once, it’s just one of the reasons The Greatest Story Never Told was well worth the wait. (Listen | Buy)
8. Danny Brown – “Cartier” — Do heed Danny’s words of wisdom before you think about strolling through the Motor City with a fresh pair of Cartier’s on. It’s for your own good. (Listen)
9. Fly.Union Feat. BJ The Chicago Kid & P. Blackk – “Look Up To The Sky” — While Jerreau and Iye have their eyes set on finagling their way from coach to first class, newcomer P. Blackk is just waiting to hear his name called off of the standby list. The desire burns deep for all three but Blackk’s yearning to be heard doesn’t allow him to play it cool. (Listen)
10. Curren$y – “BBS” — Alchemist unearthed some H.N.I.C.-era dope for Spitta and the nonchalant New Orleans native sets it aflame like…well, you know. (Listen)
11. Rittz – “High Five” — As soon as Jonny Valiant starts running at the mouth at approximately 147 m.p.h., you’ll be playing catch up trying to smack palms with him for creating such audio dopeness. (Listen)
12. Drake – “Dreams Money Can Buy” — No one in the mainstream samples weird shit like Noah “40” Shebib. And no one is better at making being rich sound simultaneously depressing and amazing like Drake. They both bring their A-Game to this quick hitter. (Listen)
13. Fat Trel – “Y’all Niggas Ain’t Real” — D.C. may no longer be a majority black city, but poverty, angst and anger are long time residents who don’t plan to move anytime soon. Trel speaks on behalf of a youth movement so hungry, that the food on your plate isn’t safe. (Listen)
14. Meek Mill Feat. Rick Ross – “I’ma Boss” — 2011 has been Meek Mill’s coming out party and this energy drenched number is a highlight. Best described as controlled chaos, Meek’s decibel breaking delivery sets the tone for an uber-aggressive verse Rick Ross. (Listen | Buy)
15. Freddie Gibbs Feat. Bun B – “Highway to Hell” — Gary, Indiana’s finest puts in work on this Mexicans With Guns-laid track, a sinister reflection on the psyche of the pound-by-pound, murderous lifestyle that Gibbs speaks towards. Equal parts remorseless and real, Gibbs continues to represent the dying art of gangsta rap better than anybody in the game. (Listen | Buy)

16. Killer Mike – “That’s Life 2” — Ever heard the term “politically incorrect?” Killer Kill from the ‘Ville eats, breathes and swears by it as he gave Bill Cosby, Oprah, President Barack Obama and Bishop Eddie Long a piece of his mind to cement PL3DGE into Hip-Hop lure. Righteous! (Buy)
17. DJ Khaled Feat. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne – “I’m On One” — Drake returned to the airwaves in a major way helping give Khaled a bonafide smash hit. The Fat Man and Skip Bayless’ BFF rode shotgun on this one. (Listen | Buy)
18. Dom Kennedy – “When You See Love” — Dom’s at his best with laid back poetics of the finer and realer sides of life. Case in point, this infinitely replay-able example of therapeutic rhymes and instrumentation. (Listen)

19. Terrace Martin – “Hennessy, Hotchips & Godiva” — Tha Bizness and Terrace combine for an effortless number sure to give the evening with you and the significant other an added punch of intimacy.

20. Adele – “Take It All” — Ever since Gotty™ hipped us to the UK songstress back in early 2008, we’ve been rooting for long enough to say we told you so. Then, before we knew it, she’ broke sales records and coveed Rolling Stone: making her ticket price a little out of our price range. Oh well! As long as she continues to release compelling, take-you-by-the-soul songs like “Take It All.” We’ll keep listening and work towards a day to afford seats. (Buy)

21. Avicii – “ID (Original Mix)” — This song will f*ck you up: point blank, period. Standing stories above most of its thick electronic competition, this mind-bending super-track has so much drawing power it’ll leave you seeking the Swedish beat-slayer’s live show as soon as the needle drops. (Listen)
22. Big Sean – “I Do It” — In the midst of one of the better promotional runs of the year, this edgy, Legendary Traxster beat gave Sean the most crossover-ready street-single of the year. Oddly enough, the track never took off. But, with the over-spun success of the Chris Brown joint, it never really needed to. (Listen | Buy)

23. DJ Quik Feat. BlaKKazz KK – “So Compton” — On a comeback album full of introspective rhymes from one of Cali’s most acclaimed artists, you might find it funny the one song chosen for this list doesn’t even feature a verse from DJ Quik. But the uniqueness lies in how the beautifully breezy beat contrasts the way CPT typically gets portrayed. The theme also puts the bridge between these two lifelong friends and business associates into perspective. (Buy)
24. Cris Cab – “Good Girls” — If your dime doesn’t have personality, you wouldn’t understand. (Listen | Buy)
25. Pulled Over By The Cops – “Authority” — The numerous MCs on this track – Freddie Gibbs, Chuck Inglish, Sir Michael Rocks and Chip Tha Ripper – force any Hip-Hop fanboy to instantaneously salivate. Combining Blended Babies’ sparse cymbal claps with the MCs’ subdued flows, this track makes the blogosphere crave even more from the whimsical supergroup. (Listen)
26. Action Bronson – “Set It Off” — If ever a rapper needed Ritalin and anger management classes, Action would be a prime candidate. But let’s hope he never seeks treatment. Otherwise we won’t get gems like this set of bars over U.N.L.V.’s timeless track. (Listen)

27. Toro Y Moi – “New Beat” — You just don’t get funk quite like this anymore. Leave it to a kid named Chazwick Bundick to bring the heat. His airy vocals and synthy beat will get all toes tapping and heads nodding whenever it bounds out the speakers. (Buy)
28. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – “The Crutch” — It’s unfortunate that this project will be a one-time deal. However, Gil granted Young Jamie permission to remix his critically acclaimed final album and “The Crutch” stands as one of the stronger cuts on an album full of plenty. Skittering and jittering, Jamie provides a beautifully lush backdrop to further heighten Scott-Heron’s trend-setting, free verse. (Listen | Buy)
29. Dela – “Westside Story” — Dela’s funky, lighthearted instrumental track off his sophomore album Translation Lost is one of 2011’s gems. The song showcases the Frenchman’s ode to the West Coast with incredible results. Taking a sample out of the Zapp catalogue, the international beat smith brings funk into the new decade with a crisp, smooth offering of audio goodness. (Listen | Buy)
30. Tyler, The Creator – “Radicals” — Hate them or love them, Odd Future has impacted the mainstream more quickly and effectively than your favorite new rap group could hope. “Radicals,” Tyler’s 7-minute opus off his Goblin project, has all the ingredients defining the collective’s music: self-aware commentary, caustic lyrics with more than enough profanity, busy, off-kilter production and strange song structure which never goes where you think it would. (Listen | Buy)
31. Joe Budden – “Ordinary Love Shit Pt. 3” — Mouse’s female problems have been known for years but this explosive installment had everyone in shock. (Listen)
32. Curren$y Feat. Prodigy – “The Type” — Curren$y’s dropped as much music as anyone this year and this track is among the best of it. He revs up his sleepy drawl for “The Type,” standing strong on Alchemist’s grimy, stuttering beat. Prodigy’s hardbody verse is the perfect final touch, smashing through the beat as easily as Spitta’s glides over it. (Listen | Buy)
33. Nas – “Nasty” — Whether he’s standing in Queensbridge or streaming from a Hulkshare page, Nas can captivate the Hip-Hop world just by rhyming. “Nasty” has no hook. Hell, it barely has a melody. Just Nas imposing his will on a dusty, thumping breakbeat doing what he was put on this Earth to do. (Listen)
34. Big K.R.I.T. – “Rise and Shine” — Since Return Of 4Eva dropped, we’ve started each day with this track. And honestly, it’s been one of our favorite decisions of this year. It’s beautiful, joyous even, to step into the early-morning chill with this up loud in our headphones with the entire day in front of us. (Listen | Buy)
35. Extended Walrus – “How To Bleed” — One downfall of following local music is when you get the CD and it sounds nothing like what you heard live due to discrepancies in the recording process. Burn Bright was an album that took exception to the rule and has ruled our iPods all year. “How To Bleed” is an acoustic ode to the chase of love even when we know of the pain that’s sure to accompany it. (Listen | Buy)
36. G-Side feat. S.L.A.S.H. – “Came Up” — The violin part in this beat haunts our dreams. ST 2 Lettaz, Yung Clova and S.L.A.S.H. do their thing too by vividly and poignantly reciting tales of their rise to success. (Listen)
37. Kendrick Lamar – “A.D.H.D.” — Young K.Dot rocks a catchy, even double time flow about the ills of substance abuse and hollow attention spans plaguing the current generation. The dreamy beat courtesy of Sounwave brings it all together as one you can definitely zone out to. (Listen | Buy)
38. Frank Ocean – “Swim Good” — Frank’s OFWTFYALL affiliation put many people off at first. However, after giving Nostalgia/Ultra a fair shake, it ultimately became one of the best surprises of the year. “Swim Good” off the aforementioned album excels as one of its hidden treasures while “Novacane” lured in the masses. (Listen)
39. SBTRKT Feat. Little Dragon – “Wildfire” — Chippy, electro-fused with whatever genre is all the rage these days. This time SBTRKT pairs minimalist beats with dub step to concoct a soulful record with sparse, compelling elements. (Listen | Buy)
40. Big K.R.I.T. – “Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed And Encouraging Racism” — This joint got tucked away near the end of Return… but its upsides, from the production to the theme, deserve top billing. The track exhibits K.R.I.T.’s accessible, thought provoking song writing and highlights his standing as a rapping/producing maestro. (Listen)
41. Rick Ross, Wale, Pill & Meek Mill – “By Any Means” — For what it’s worth, Self Made Vol. 1 was a whole lot of huff, fluff and jiggly puffs but the MMG empire come together like Voltron for at least one complete banger on the album. The rubber-burning-on-asphalt bass line and the Malcolm X perversion only adds to the track’s allure. (Buy)
42. Jay Electronica – “The Announcement” — Before he went into recluse again, the newly jeweled Roc Boy gave a rewind-worthy revelation with all eyes on him. (Listen)
43. Saigon – “The Greatest Story Never Told”“We was brought here to pick the cotton/Now picking the music the massa listen to/The clothes on which be rocking…” An entire generation of Hip-Hoppers were brainwashed into putting beats over lyrics but Sai’s long-delayed debut album showcased the original blueprint to the genre in mint condition. (Listen | Buy)
44. Mistah F.A.B. – “Boom Bap” – Beats. Rhymes. Life. Fabby Davis Jr. was never in A Tribe Called Quest but the way he delivered abstract verses of the culture, who could really tell? (Listen)
45. Ace Hood Feat. Rick Ross & Lil Wayne – “Hustle Hard (Remix)” — The majority of post-”B.M.F.” numbers fell flat on their face, but DJ Khaled’s understudy actually delivered the biggest hit of his career with this Lex Luger-wonderama. (Listen | Buy)
46. Middle Brother – “Blue Eyes” — Think of Middle Brother as Americana’s equivalent to Pulled Over By The Cops. The super group (consisting of members from hyped acts Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit) packs a rollicking punch into their smash, “Blue Eyes,” riffing off saloon-style piano and Southern-fried guitar licks. Smoother than a shot of Gentleman Jack, “Blue Eyes” ensures nothing less than repeated listens and a want for that “Southern girl without a drawl, a good girl who wears black bras.” (Listen | Buy)
47. Rockwell Knuckles – “Play Catch” — Is he rapping? Is he singing? It doesn’t matter much. Characterizing Rocky’s approach to this banger off You’re Fucking Out, I’m Fucking In just isn’t a concern when you take into account the bouncy vocal sample in the beat, the melodies throughout the various bridges and choruses and his ever-present lyrical ability. (Listen)
48. Outasight – “Losing My Mind” — Speaking of ambiguous vocal stylings, the singer/rapper/spin-mover Outasight dropped this catchy gem at the top of the year, which still finds itself stuck in our head at random moments seven months later. (Listen)
49. Tef Poe Feat. GLC “Out The Kitchen” — The Force’s most prolific member travels up Highway 55 and recruits the Knockout King for the remix to his St Louis radio smash, a Midwestern ode to ambition and desperation. (Listen)
50. Forte Bowie – “Ratchet” — It’s hard to make out exactly what Forte Bowie’s music is. Futuristic? Helter Skelter? Whatever it is, it jams and “Ratchet” is insanely fun and a near-sensory overload. If you can hang, then it’s well worth it. (Listen)
51. Raekwon Feat. Ghostface Killah & Rick Ross – “Molasses” — How is it that Rae’s most recent album, got so overlooked? That’s everyone else’s loss as Shaolin vs. Wu Tang is a treat. Rick Ross joins the Cuban Links duo and creates a triumvirate of stellar bars that stand up against anything that’s been dropped this year. (Listen | Buy)
52. Zo! & Phonte – “Return Of The Mack” — If people like Ross and Jeezy have taught us anything, it’s the fact that ad-libs can make or break a song. Thanks to Tigallo’s unbridled ignorance, the cover to the classic song is born anew for the Lil B generation. (Listen)
53. Common Feat. Nas – “Ghetto Dreams” — Common and Nas fulfill Hip-Hop fans’ dreams by coming together for an instant classic. See what they did there? Anyone else ready for a full album? (Listen | Buy)
54. Smoke DZA Feat. Kendrick Lamar — “How Far We Go” — K. Dot made a habit of obliterating features in the first half of 2011 and DZA’s joint was no different. But don’t count out the doobie’d up spitter as DZA more than holds his own. (Listen)
55. Pill – “Stayin’ Down” — We hope Pill subdued at least a portion of his black market ways with his relatively recent signing to a label based around a car worth half-a-million bucks. Yet the lead track from the ATLien’s Diagnosis tape makes us believe otherwise. (Listen)
56. Big Sean Feat. Wiz Khalifa and Chiddy of Chiddy Bang – “High” — No matter your opinion of Mr. Westside, his debut project in Finally Famous: The Album is here to stay and made waves. The collaboration with fellow it-boy Wiz Khalifa and the always-capable Chiddy makes this boisterous anthem one of the album’s numerous “high” points. Add Xaphoon Jones’ addictive production and “High” will still ring in your ears once your buzz is well worn off. (Listen | Buy)
57. JoiStarr – “Yellow (Coldplay Remix)” — R&B gets the stomach butterflies treatment from the brightest color in the rainbow. Love songs come a dime a dozen but when you’re a talent like JoiStarr, you have a knack for putting your own secret recipe in the mix. Have a sunny day. (Listen)
58. Mac Miller – “Donald Trump” — All the naysayers who thought the Pittsburgh kid’s dreams were too lofty got surprised when the billionaire boss himself validated the song. Truly accessible Hip-Hop makes the mainstream come to you and not the other way around. (Listen | Buy)

59. Saigon – “Oh Yeah (Our Babies)” — Sai spits a conscious rap spit while tucking a razor blade in his gums. (Listen | Buy)
60. Starlito Feat. Yo Gotti – “Shake Life” — Need a new mantra to really personify how hard you party? Borrow Star’s chorus of “You do this on the weekend, I do this every night” (Listen | Buy)
61. Willie Evans Jr. – “Forced Grin” — Although the title implies coercion, Willie’s vamped out beat, Aloe Blacc sample and intricate lyrics will bring out a smile from anyone who’s a fan good Hip-Hop. (Listen)
62. T-Shirt – “Ode To Raekwon” — New York bravado rap at its full color finest. The best way to listen to T-Shirt’s “Ode” is close your eyes and allow his abilities with imagery to take you there. (Listen)
63. ScHoolBoy Q – “Options” — This would be the song equivalent to taking the wrong Matrix pill or making a right onto the wrong block. (Listen)
64. SL Jones – “Driveby Music” — Gang-life 101, updated for 2011 by SL. (Listen)
65. Stalley – “Hard” — Rider music soft enough for a young lady but hard enough for a blue collar man. (Listen)
66. Theophilus London Feat. Sarah Quinn – “Why Even Try” — The subtle 80s-ish jam makes forlorn love affairs sound so groovy that it’s hard to remember that the track is about a relationship turned bitter. (Listen | Buy)
67. Pac Div – “AntiFreeze” — Nothing displays the blatant dysfunction of the music industry like a track, provoking universal agreement on its merits as a radio jam, with no spins. If our local “Urban/Rap and R&B/Where Hip-Hop Lives” stations were programmed by actual humans, rather than robots attached to bank accounts, Pac Div’s anthem to just how awesome they are would get play hourly. (Listen | Buy)
68. Adele – “Someone Like You” — The moment of seeing what you once had living life just fine. Without you. (Listen | Buy)
69. Pharoahe Monch Feat. Phonte & Styles P – “Black Hand Side” — An incredible hook by Phontigallo makes up (but barely) for his not having a verse on this highly-anticipated collaboration off the underrated W.A.R. Fortunately, Styles and Pharoahe give us enough bars that we can forgive the absence of Tay’s 16, while the symphonic strings in the beat bring just the right amounts of sorrow and hope as they provide a glimpse into their universal hood realities of Queens and Yonkers. (Listen | Buy)
70. Crooked I – “How To Thug” — Tired of hearing Weezy’s original mess on the radio? The easy answer is to play Crooked’s version a few times and imagining it each time Clear Channel attempts to push Baby’s baby’s warbling. (Listen)
71. Boldy James – “I Sold Dope All My Life” — A part of us wants to get all Big Brother Hakeem and avoid making light of Detroit’s hard streets. However the track’s eerie beat bangs and Boldy slings some of the hardest rhymes within from his Trapper’s Alley project. It’s Concreatures! (Listen)
72. Elzhi Feat. Royce Da 5’9″ & Stokley Williams of Mint Condition – “Life’s a Bitch” — Two of the very best MCs from a city known for spitters join forces to tackle the only track on Illmatic with a guest appearance, filling the ample shoes of Nasir Jones and Anthony Cruz quite well. Using Stokley Williams’ vocal interpolation as a stand-in for Olu Dara’s trumpet solo was a slick maneuver that captures the feel of the original while adding a new twist. (Listen)
73. Tech N9ne – “Delusional” — The most retro song on his most mainstream album, Tecca Nina puts his several immensely versatile flows on public display, clashing his machine gun delivery with a harmonious hook on a record that runs all over the Richter scale. He drowns his sorrows in liquor and starts to hallucinate, netting in the darkest, finest song from All 6’s and 7’s. (Buy)
74. Killer Mike Feat. Big Boi – “Ready, Set, Go (Remix)” — One of Killa Kill’s biggest records got even better when Daddy Fat Saxxx hopped on board. The sample will pound in your head for hours on end and there’s still no set of headphones or speakers that can do the bassline justice. Big Boi’s silky smooth flow meshes well against Mike’s rougher, raw sound, leaving the end product a highlight of PL3DGE. (Listen | Buy)
75. Juicy J Feat. Don Trip – “Introduce” — The Original Juiceman is inciting starting riots after all these years. This time he acts as a bad influence towards Don Trip as they both escalate tensions over, who else but Lex Luger’s conspired backdrop. Smashing a bottle over someone’s head never sounded so appealing. (Listen)

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