Totally Biased Feature: The Essential Hip-Hop Mix CD of 2011

This year has been an incredible one for hip hop fans around the world. Unfortunately, it is coming to an end. Although Rick Ross recently pushed his album back to an unknown date, the year still ended on a high note.

Wiz Khalifa dropped his debut album to praise from critics everywhere, and single handedly revolutionized “weed rap”. Khalifa’s partner in crime Mac Miller also delivered with “Blue Slide Park”, one of the best albums in 2011. Then of course came the freshman of the year, J. Cole, who destroyed the rap game when he released “Sideline Story”, an album that will go down as a potential classic.

The mixtape game was A+ also, with Ludacris ending a long hiatus, Meek Mill dropped “Dreamchasers” and catapulted himself to the limelight. Bobby Ray returned to where he excells, and released “E.P.I.C.”, which had better features than most albums. Who could forget Frank Ocean, the crooner for OFWGKTA, as he released “Nostalgia”. There were simply too many to mention.

Of course, we can’t talk about 2011 without discussing the true big dogs. Weezy approached a million again, but fell just short as “The Carter IV” led all rap albums in the calendar year. Kanye West released “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, which is without a doubt the craziest album that found its way onto most iTunes playlists. Mr. West then teamed up with Rocafella boss Jay-Z to shock the world with “Watch The Throne”. Don’t even get me started on Drake’s new album, or the fire that little known rapper Childish Gambino brought on “Camp”.

With all these albums, mixtapes, singles, and radio rips, I decided it was time to create the ultimate playlist. I opted to follow some strict rules, to give the list as much variety as possible. Most discs you purchase to burn CD’s only hold 80 minutes of music, so I stuck to the same. I also wanted to mix it up with some solo performances, some remix’s, and some lesser known songs that deserved more attention. To truly round it all out, I tried to only have an artist appear one time, but with so many amazing tracks, some lucky artists appeared a handful of times. Everything from song order, song length, and even more went into making this the best mix CD possible.

The title of each song below links to a YouTube page where you can view the official music video, or simply listen to the track. Without further ado, pop on the Beats, and get ready to relive some of this years best records.

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1. I’m A Boss Remix (5:10), Meek Mill [Feat. Rick Ross, T.I., Lil Wayne, Birdman, Swizz Beats, and DJ Khaled]

Meek Mill is quickly becoming MMG's most promising young rapper

No doubt about it, this song takes home the remix of the year award, and by a mile. Meek Mill quickly became one of my favorite rappers to turn all the way up, and his lyrics are the perfect mix of street and insight. The remix is fire, with T.I. killing it at the opening, before Meek Mill drops an all new, and dynamite verse. Ricky kills it, like always, and Wayne bodied it as well. Thank God Birdman was the last one to deliver, because it makes for an easy exit after Weezy’s verse.

2. Man In The Hat (3:15), Mac Miller, “Blue Slide Park”

Not since his mixtape “K.I.D.S” has Mac Miller really grabbed me. Blue Slide Park changed all that, as it had better production than almost any album all year, with I.D. Labs, Ritz Reynolds, Mansions on The Moon all delivering behind the tables. Man in The Hat is probably not the first song you’ll hear off the album, and it may never even be released as a single, that’s where I come in. Do yourself a favor and give this one a chance.

3. Free Spirit (4:13), Drake [Feat. Rick Ross], Single Promotion

Although Drake dropped his sophomore album, “Take Care”, there simply wasn’t a track that I dug nearly as hard as Free Spirit, which feature the Bawse himself, Ricky Rozay. A mellow beat, but the verses are fire, and the chorus is catchy as hell. It’s rumored that these two might be working on a joint mixtape. Can you say fire?

4. Novacane (5:02), Frank Ocean, “Nostalgia”

Frank Ocean is poised to have a huge '12

Frank Ocean seemed to come out of nowhere when he dropped one of the best tapes of the year. There are some fantastic tracks on here for the ladies, and Ocean really flex’s his pipes on Nostalgia. Not necessarily my favorite track, but every great mix needs a slower jam. There simply wasn’t a better choice than Novacane.

5. Niggas In Paris (3:40), Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Watch The Throne”

Dat. Shit. Cray.

If you didn’t see this one coming, you must’ve been living under a rock the last few months. NIP is one of the catchiest songs that came out this year, and without a doubt, the single greatest banger that KanJay put onto “Watch The Throne”. They have a knack for playing the song as their finale while out on tour, and recently in Chicago, Kanye West’s hometown, they set a personal record by playing the song a full 8 times! Don’t laugh yet, click the link up there and you might find yourself doing the same.

6. President Carter (4:29), Lil Wayne, “The Carter IV”

Although many Wayne fans will cite Blunt Blowin, or Mega Man as his best songs in 2011, President Carter never seems to get the respect it deserves. The beat is a simple one, but the sample that Weezy used of President Carter’s inauguration is perfect. The verses are all on point, and like always, Wayne drops some hot punchlines.

7. The City (5:07), The Game [Feat. Kendrick Lamar], “The R.E.D. Album”

The Game and Kendrick Lamar proved to be a dangerous duo

The R.E.D album will never be worth the wait that fans endured. Why? Because it was a HELL of a long one! But seriously, the album was fantastic. The City is without a doubt it’s best track, with a perfect beat, chorus, and verses that are absolute fire. The Game proved he was still around, and should be taken seriously. Kendrick Lamar also had a fantastic debut album with “Section 80”, but The City was far too good to leave off this list.

8. Kids (Keep Up) (4:58), Childish Gambino, “Camp”

Childish Gambino is the best rapper you’ve probably never heard of. I’ve been on the Gambino bandwagon for a while, and if you wanna hop on, make it quick, cause we’re almost at capacity. Although he works as an actor, I like his future in rap much more than anything else. And that says something, because Donald Glover kills it on the NBC hit show, “Community”. “Camp” was an incredible album, and this song stuck out the very first time I heard it.

9. All of The Lights (5:01), Kanye West (Feat. Rihanna & KiD CuDi), “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Say what you want about Kanye West as a person. Call him arrogant, a jerk, a douchebag, an asshole, anything. It doesn’t matter. Most likely it’s true. If you call him a musical genius, however, you would hit the nail on the head. It was so hard to pick just one song from this album, but AoTL quickly became a cult favorite, with a ferocious beat, some great bass, and a fantastic feature by RiRi and G.O.O.D Music artist, KiD CuDi. Plus, when your music video comes with a warning that it may trigger seizures, you immediately earn a top spot.

10. Epic (4:18), B.o.B. [Feat. Meek Mill & Playboy Tre], “E.P.I.C.”

Many people will call me crazy for going with the opening track of B.o.B.’s E.P.I.C mixtape of the same name, instead of choosing Strange Clouds featuring the Fireman himself, Lil Wayne. Epic was a fantastic track in it’s own nature, with a great verse by Bobby Ray, and by now, you know that Meek Mill is going to bring it everytime. Playboy Tre even spit some fire with the second verse. An all around great track. Turn it up people.

11. Slight Work (3:40), Wale [Feat. Big Sean], “Ambition”

Even without the credit he deserves, Wale continues to make hit records

Wale, one of the more underrated rappers in the game teamed up with Rick Ross, Meek Mill and Pill to bring us the collective album “Self Made Vol. 1”. Later on in the year, the D.C. native dropped his best album to date, and this particular track has the best beat on our entire mix CD. Big Sean always brings the bars, and of course, some humor as well. The verses are awesome, and the background noise really drives this one home. if you haven’t checked out Big Sean’s debut album, also released in 2011, “Finally Famous”, then do so now. Some throwaway tracks, but a couple of those are bumpin’ tracks.

12. High For This (4:12), The Weeknd, “House of Balloons”

Every year, an artist comes out of nowhere, and within a few short weeks, everyone is bumping his stuff. The Weeknd is right on the cusp of being that rapper. The first artist that Drake has ever signed, this Canadian native is incredible. His druggy and lengthy songs are often trippy and almost always have incredible production behind them. High For This is the opening track on “House of Balloons”, which VIBE Magazine named the Mixtape of 2011. In a year with such great projects released, that’s the highest honor possible.

13. On Fire (Drug Dealer Girl, Pt. II) (3:35), Machine Gun Kelly [Feat. Mike Posner], “The Rage Pack”

Machine Gun Kelly, or MGK as his loyal Cleveland fan base knows him as, has been around for a while now, but finally getting the limelight he deserves. He dropped “The Rage Pack” in October, and it essentially was a free album, because the quality was just THAT good. The best track featured Mike Posner on the chorus with a string driven backdrop. MGK recently signed with Diddy and Bad Boy Records, so be on the lookout for an album in the near future.

14. Look At Me Now Freestyle (2:11), Los, “Worth The Wait”

Call it a bold prediction, but Los will be signed by July of '12

Los, hailing from the city of Baltimore, is one of the more lyrical rappers out there now. His remix of the Chris Breezy track absolutely displays his talents to a perfection. He is bursting at the seams, and as soon as this guy can get the deal he deserves, it’ll be a wrap. If you haven’t heard his Ice Cream Paint Job freestyle, then get on that shit.

15. Lost Ones (4:24), J. Cole, “Cole World: The Sideline Story”

The best rapper in the game right now. Yep, I said it. If you haven’t bumped “Sideline Story” at least once a week, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. The realest album released in years, “Lost Ones” is the most passion driven track you will hear in a long time. Never one to shy away from saying how he feels, Cole knows he’ll have enough radio smash’s to throw in a real, emotional track. Although “Lost Ones” leaked a while ago, Cole said he felt it HAD to be on his debut album. The next great star, with the next great track.

15. Echo (4:36), Eminem & Royce Da 5’9”, “Bad Meets Evil”

The second best collab album of the year, Em and Royce struck gold with BME, and Echo is probably one of my favorite songs on the record. The chorus is catchy as hell, a solid beat, and Royce absolutely slays his verse. A lot of people will hear Lighters, featuring the talented Bruno Mars, but Echo is a hard street track that goes much harder.

16. Moon Bounce (4:21), Hoodie Allen, “Leap Year”

I had to get y’all’s attention before I slipped this joint in there. Most likely you’ve never heard of Hoodie, which is a shame. There’s a pretty good shot however that you HAVE heard his track “You Are Not a Robot”, which features the lyrical talent of Marina and The Diamonds. Hoodie started off 2011 by dropping “Leap Year”, his second mixtape, and a perfect followup to “Pep Rally”. Moon Bounce is a slow, but great track. Hoodie’s tracks aren’t for everyone, but if you’re into his music, you’ll love this one.

17. Till I Get There (3:25), Lupe Fiasco, “LASERS”

Lupe remains one of the only rappers with a true devotion to what he believes

Lupe fans had to wait a long time to finally get their hands on “LASERS”. Fiasco proved that he, along with Dre of course, might be the only rapper worth waiting for. A fantastic album put Lupe back in the limelight, and the popular single “The Show Goes On” helped him stay there. TIGT is my favorite song on the album, and has it’s highs and low points. Encompasses the process of LASERS perfectly.

18. I’m On One (4:56), DJ Khaled, Drake, Lil Wayne & Rick Ross, “We The Best Forever”

Perhaps the best collab song of 2011, DJ Khaled brought in his brand new Young Money mates Drake and Weezy, along with Ricky Rozay to absolutely destroy the T-Minus produced beat. People rag on Khaled a lot, but God damn can the man get some features or what. There’s no better track to close out our mix CD.

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A whopping 29 artists, 18 tracks, and 31 seconds to spare.

There you have it people, the essential hip-hop mix CD of 2011. I’m sure there were plenty of great tracks that didn’t make the cut, so be sure to leave your favorites in the comment section. As always, rate the article if you enjoyed it. Hopefully for rap fans, 2012 will be another year filled with great collaborations, amazing tracks, and perfect albums. Happy Holidays everyone!

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