Location: NYC and Virginia
Website: Shade Magazine
Adele – 21
This is single handedly the one album I have listened to fully and constantly all year. Maybe that’s because I’m a singer and I love soul/pop music…perhaps. But, I have heard so many different versions of Rolling In The Deep at several different venues and brought up in conversation by individuals of such eclectic taste that it arguably is one of the top songs of the year. And I still get teary-eyed listening to Someone Like You. I don’t know anyone who can’t connect to that song in some way.
Beyonce – 4
Yes I am huge fan of hers. But that’s cause, hate or love her voice..she is undoubtedly one of the best entertainers out right now. She has that old school training (a la Jackson Five and many other Motown folks). Her last few albums were great and fun but since Dangerously In Love…this is the 1st album of hers of I have thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. I think she finally took different risks aesthetically and “1+1” alone shows exactly how much her voice has grown and strengthened since she first came out with DC3.
Jay-Z and Kanye West – Gotta Have It
This was tough. I couldn’t decide between this song, “N— in Paris” and “Murder By Excellence”. All 3 are my absolute favorites from that album. And the only reason I didn’t put the entire album is because I feel it’s a bit overpopulated and disconnected at times.But this song is serious. It’s too short! I can’t even count number times I have screwed up my face yelling out “RACKS ON RACKS ON RAAAAACKS.” lol. ..even in public! *shrugs*
J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story
Although I didn’t like every single song on this album, it was definitely tough to decide which song I liked the most. I definitely believe he had one of my favorite albums of the year. Motivational, honest and relatable. He’s young trying to be great out here just like most of us. Although it may start to get old he keeps recounting how he got signed in his songs, it’s inspiring and genuine. Many upcoming artists could and should take a cue from him and take their time with their debuts, because I think that was the best thing he did and it’s reflected in the final output.
Kanye West – MBDTF
I wanted to put this as #2. But then I had to double check and sure enough it was released in late ’10. But damn, this album really took over my winter and spring of 2011. Every song was honest and relatable. He really did bring us into his dark and contradictory mind..or maybe we just saw an even more human side to him. He gave us visceral with “Hell of a Life”, poignant with “Runaway” , thematic with “All of The Lights”, and even anguish in “The Blame Game”…I could go on. The production alone was bananas! I could listen to the instrumental alone. I feel like he really understands how to create a vision and a scene in your mind with his songs…similar to what a Director or Composer does. I am such a huge fan of his work and each album he has released has been solid in different ways but I remember saying once that if he was ever to have his Thriller moment this may have been it…or if anything it’s coming up very very close. And damn the Grammy’s for not including him this year.