1. ASAP Rocky - Peso
from LiveLoveA$AP (RCA Records)
With a flow so easy and a sound drawing from Texas as much as it does from NY, ASAP had listeners on lock this past year with the Deep Purple EP and the ace that was LiveLoveA$AP. As a testament to the quality of his work, there were actually a few other ASAP Rocky songs I was considering for this spot but upon re-listening to them, 'Peso' had to be it. A song so effortless in it's swagger, slick in it's execution, it seemingly came out of nowhere to style on the competition, both literally and figuratively, while ushering in
2. Jay-Z & Kanye West - Niggas in Paris
from Watch The Throne (It's the Roc)
My anthem for when I wear Céline, wear black, cuff my chinos, cuff everything, hijack an atelier, shoot for Pirelli, shoot digital medium format, smash models, tumbl, break in dat raw Dior 19cm, pose for Scotty Shu, brofist Woost, rub shoulders with Karl, trade numbers with Karlie, flick through Nomenus Quarterly, slum it at Mama Shelter and Iron Lotus like it's nothing.
3. Kendrick Lamar - A.D.H.D.
from Section.80 (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Step back from the anthemic hook and that engaging beat, composed of layers of haze and excess, and you'll see the qualities of why Kendrick has garnered so many repeated listens from me. Rifling off and switching flows with proficiency while painting a socially-aware picture of life as a member of the ADHD generation, this song is captivating on all fronts.
4. Drake - Dreams Money Can Buy
unreleased (Young Money / Cash Money)
Leaked in May and originally slated to be the introduction to Drake's stellar (STELLAR) Take Care, it unfortunately didn't make the final cut. However, this gem is probably one of the most "complete" songs Drake has recorded thus far and typifies his aesthetic to a tee. 40's ear for sparse, space-y compositions and Drake's juggling act of introspection and braggadocio have never sounded so at home.
5. Lil B - Motivation / Clams Casino - Motivation
from Angels Exodus (Amalgam Digital) / Instrumentals (via)
Putting aside all of Lil B's penchant for theatrics and borderline trolling of the rap industry and a majority of it's fans (which I happen to love), songs such as "Motivation" and releases like Angels Exodus serve as a reminder to why he has been bestowed a cult-like status with many doubters eventually coming around to utter the words "Thank you, Based God". However, strip 'Motivation' back to its core and the Clams Casino beat shines through like the truth. Honestly couldn't pick which one I preferred, so y'all get both of em.
6. The Weeknd - The Morning
from House of Balloons (XO)
Whilst at times coming across as the guy/girl at the party who just has to announce to the world how "wasted" he/she is, there's no denying the appeal of the stylized reality, the supporting cast and the protagonist The Weeknd portrays throughout House of Balloons. Hyper-realistic or not, House of Balloons was perhaps the most realised RnB album of 2011 with "The Morning" standing out to me with it's hazy and unashamedly lustful atmospherics.
7. Chromatics - Kill For Love
from Kill For Love (Italians Do It Better)
Progressing from the dark, sensual vibes found on 2007's Night Drive, the first taster of the group's upcoming album instead shimmered and basked in gorgeous vulnerability. Set for a January release, Kill For Love points to yet another banner year for Italians Do It Better. Can't Wait.
8. Main Attrakionz - Diamond of God
from 808s and Dark Grapes II (via Mishka NYC)
Main Attrakionz stayed well kushy in '11 and lifted their southern smoked-induced bay area game to next levels on 808s & Dark Grapes II. Listening to "Diamond of God" for the first time was like OD'ing on weed while donning homemade 3D glasses to watch Enya videos in HD.
9. Blood Orange - Dinner
from Blood Orange 7" (Terrible Records)
Dev Hynes eschews his jangly guitar leanings for an altogether streamlined and awkwardly sexual throwback jam evoking Prince, late 80s/early 90s transitional funk and rnb and maybe even...Tevin Campbell?
10. AraabMUZIK - Streetz Tonight
from Electronic Dream (via official site)
Having first become acquainted with AraabMUZIK's production through a bevy of Dipset tunes, Electronic Dream took me by surprise. Blending UK club vibes while displaying a hip hop backbone through dizzying MPC madness, Streetz Tonight stands out on an album full of cross-continental bangers. Choon.
Pac Div - Posted
from The Div (via official site)
The-Drum - OxBlood
(via bandcamp / soundcloud)
Kurt Vile - Peeping Tomboy
from Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
Chris Brown (feat. Busta Rhymes & Lil' Wayne) - Look At Me Now
from F.A.M.E. (iTunes)
Glass Candy - Warm in the Winter
from Warm in the Winter EP (Italians Do It Better)