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Top 10 Albums Of 2011


As fitting for the end of 2011, I have compiled a list of my top 10 albums of the year. Some were widely successful throughout the Christian hip-hop community, while others were personal favorites of mine. Either way, they all had a great impact on me this year for one reason or another. (note: after digging around I realized I had way more than 10 albums that I wanted to use, so I have provided numerous links at the bottom of this post that you should check out.)

I have (to the best of my ability) provided a quote of lyrics that stuck out to me the most as well as why I chose the album. So without further ado (and in no particular order), here are my top 10 albums of 2011.


Braille - Native Lungs - cover artBraille
Native Lungs

Favorite Songs:
Native Lungs, Feel It, Death In Me, We Will Remember, Nightmare Walking, Too Many Tomorrows, Step Up, 48 Prisons, DeepRest, Finally Arrive

Favorite Lyrics:
“It’s just me and my yo Gabby gabba, sippy cup sipper, tippy toe tapper and her daddy is a rapper”, “When peace is a luxury, how can I live comfortably, when all I see is in chaos in front of me.”, “I can’t make it back to God without Jesus; honest confession”

Why this album?
This was an excellent album on all levels. Rhyming, production, videos, cover art, promotion. I really enjoyed how much more Braille focused on clear presentations of biblical/Christian themes than he had on earlier albums. Also, I really dug his transparency about his life in the year previous and how much he loves his daughter. This seems to be rare topics even in Christian hip-hop.

Links:
Facebook, Twitter, Website


Sean Demars - Chaos & Pain - cover artSean Demars
Chaos and Pain

Favorite Songs:
Slavery and Pain, Pain for Profit, Orphan, Prosperity and Pain, Phill’s Pain, Chaos and Pain, Death Bed, Growing Pains, Everyday Pain, Eternal Pain

Favorite Lyrics:
“I say this cause I love you, I hope that you’re afraid. You know that I love you, the evidence is plain. I mean hey, I could have killed you today and every second that you’re not in hell is a sign of my grace….but I hope that you know that I love men, no Brokeback.”, “Now every time I meet an older man, I want to hold his hand, I want to know him and I’m lonely with no fam. I wish he would have stuck around, now I look like a clown when I reach out to older men and I get shut down, you don’t know what it’s like not to have you around. Desperate for heaven, there will beno more beggin for the bread of the reverend, it will just be Him.”, “My God is a strong tower; Eiffel”

Why this album?
This is quite possibly my favorite album of this year. Sean covers numerous topics from child slavery in the sex trade, to suffering under the knowledge that he didn’t share the gospel with his mother as he should have and knowing she died without Christ, to the daily struggle of work and family, to the joyful expectation of his daughters birth. Orphan especially hit home, although Sean’s story is much different than my own, I relate to the pain he experienced/experiences from not having a father around growing up and the struggles that has caused in my life. The beats on this album are just amazing. Sean released the albums instrumentals and they are good enough to listen to as an instrumental album.

Links:
iTunes, Google+, Chaos and Pain Instrumentals


JGivens - Run - cover artJGivens
Run

Favorite Songs:
Run, Woe To, Lamb Slain, King of the Jews, Wake Up, Freedom, Street Gospel

Favorite Lyrics:
“Givens, give me liberty or give me death. Or change the or to an and, and give me the text. Now that of course when the Lamb was under arrest. Death to the first man and then He resurrects. Freedom is an attribute of the kingdom and we gon keep spitting this liberty until the king comes.”, “Ay yo, these people say his flows is nice. I blame it on the Father or the one who rose to life, the holy poltergeist, the Ghost who rights the wrongs, who wrote the psalms, the three yoked in one. A three fold chord is not easily broken, so braids go harder than fades. Nah, just jokin, but waves crash just to praise Him in the ocean.”, “AK hits the door, they hit the floor, clutchin the very book that they’re searchin em for and even though these refugees aint seen church, they memorized every verse. This is for the eight year old who goes home to the favela, singin psalms under his breath acapella.”

Why this album?
I don’t know what else to say about this album except I love it. JGivens wordplay and rhyme schemes kill and the beats he pulled together were eclectic, but somehow all fit together. I’ve probably listened to this album a couple hundred times since it was released. For weeks this album stayed on repeat. My favorite track is Street Gospel. I love how he presents the topics on this album and his strong focus on God and the gospel. Definitely an unique artist, I can’t wait to see how his music and talents develop in the future.

Links:
Facebook, Twitter, Website, Bandcamp


Michael Manasseh
Gradient Skies

Favorite Songs:
Gradient Skies, Release, You Today, Flawed and Beautiful, Crummy, Dedication, Life Moves, Daytime Come

Favorite Lyrics:
“Daily I wake and rise to these gradient skies, hazy at times, grey and white, making shades of this life. Alive, I feel the decide in me, this time I’m free, just let my mind release.”, “Around three in the AM, I jot in my journal about the fights that I fought to keep my thought life eternal”, “Ya, I give it all I got and give it all away until I end and I am not. Blend it with the win and then I mix it with the mineral, did I mention the minimal, yes probably subliminal. Givin you all I have, ya, givin you all I am. All I am’s small, intangible, animal like an ant. Ran just like a cannibal, man handle the manual, tearin it into pieces, see Jesus be uncomparable.”

Why this album?
Early this summer I went through a really difficult time, my mom wound up in the hospital, her kidneys were shutting down and the doctors didn’t know what was wrong or what to do. It was a really low point for me and this album (as well as another I will mention later) really helped strengthen me and speak to the brokenness of my soul during that period. Both the beats and the lyrics helped pull me out of a deep depression.

Links:
FacebookTwitterWebsite, Bandcamp


muzeONE - Cold War -- cover artmuzeONE
Cold War

Favorite Songs:
A Grief Observed, First Blood, Cold War, Keep Listening, Father Time, Love, Literary Lyricism, Home Is…, News, More 2 Say, Understand

Favorite Lyrics:
“It was like He’s saying goobye, so long, farewell, peace. I’ll see you when I see you, I’m up out this piece. Yo, without His peace, I would drown in grief…so I placed her on my lap and say to her, “Baby girl, I know this needle’s painful, but I’m saving you from greater hurt. I would never harm you without knowing that it’s worth it for your growth, that your a stronger person than you ever were before. I will always keep you safe, I will never leave you or forsake you. Even when I have to spank you, you will see my grace. Trust that I love you more then you will ever comprehend. As your father I will guard you til the day I meet my end. But wait, the very thing I’m sayin to my seed, the God from whom I walked away is sayin it to me. It broke me, knowin that the whole time he held me. It floored me, pressed as a vessel of glory. I know now somethin that  most only know in theory. My God is good. Even in His silence He hears me.”

Why this album?
This single track had the power and words to remind me that no matter what I was going through, my God loves me. Even now this track regularly breaks my heart and at times brings me to tears. The fact that God loves me even in my failures and struggles is infinitely more than I can comprehend. God is good and gracious. This single track was impactful enough to make the entire album count.

Links:
FacebookTwitterWebsiteBandcamp


Matthew Ronan & Wonder Brown
As Is

Favorite Songs:
For HIS Sake, Speechless, Giddy Up, Mt. Healthy, So Much To Say I/II, Traffic Jam, Can You, This ‘Ol Road, Nine To Five, Under The Overpass, Used To Be Together, Audi 550′s

Favorite Lyrics:
“Even with the breath from my lungs and the sound of my voice. The heavens will sing a song through my mouth and rejoice…He is speakin, even when speechless, He is speakin and leavin me speechless.”, “Ohhhh, this ol road, it goes away and when the levy breaks they see ya say goodbye, they see you say goodbye. Oh but we all know that the only way we make way too stay is if we’re changin lives. You make me change my life.”

Why this album?
I love how this album sounds. This is an underground, boom-bap, masterpiece (beats by Theory Hazit). I dig the unique feel of Wonder Brown with Matthew Ronan, it’s a little odd at times, but it works, well. This album (at least to me) sounds like Ohio and for me that is a good thing. I spent about 2 years living in Ohio and this is a nice audio throwback to the more positive aspects of that time. Not only that, but I listened to this album for the first time while reading an incredible letter/story from a friend in my old city Hesperia and I think that experience may forever be linked together.

Links:
Matthew Ronan Facebook, Wonder Brown Facebook, Matthew Ronan Twitter, Wonder Brown TwitterBandcamp


Thrice
Major/Minor

Favorite Songs:
Promises, Blinded, Cataracts, Treading Paper, Words In The Water, Anthology, Disarmed

Favorite Lyrics:
“Then with water in my eyes, the words began to rise from their place, they were beautiful and dread, I reached for them and fed on each phrase. They were honey on my lips, then a bitter twist in my side, I knew they’d lay me in my grave, “Is there no one who could save me?” I cried. And when I lost all hope to look, someone took that heavy book from my hands, all it’s weight they set aside, after they had satisfied it’s demands. I felt white and black reverse and the lifting of a curse from my heart. Then like one receiving sight, I beheld a brilliant light in the dark”

Why this album?
A friend of mine (Jason Kisner) introduced me too Thrice about 4 years ago. Initially, Thrice held little more than cursory interest for me. They were talented, but I wasn’t really feeling it, the he played Artist in the Ambulance; woah. That song blew me away and since then my interest for Thrice has grown exponentially with each album I have listened to. By far, my favorite album so far is Beggars, but this is a close second. Since that is one of my favorite albums ever released, that is saying something for me. Thrice incorporated more of their harder rock sound in this album, without losing some of their softer tracks and at the same time, Dustin maintained his deep doctrinal lyrics. See this post on Dustin I wrote awhile back on how much scripture can be found in his lyrics.

Links:
Facebook, Twitter, Amazon MP3


S.O.
So It Begins

Favorite Songs:
So It Begins, Lows and Highs, I’m Ready, The Rally, Sure Thing, All Honor, All Glory, Love Is, The Essence

Favorite Lyrics:
“Here goes an odd moment when my heart bleeds, pen cries, tears rest on my eyes, procede to accept signs…over months I was strugglin tryin to love Him. Payin a high price, but thinkin that I could budget…who would’ve thought that depression would keep comin and suicide. Mother didn’t know either. That other side seen, but just let me go deeper.”

Why this album?
S.O. created a beautiful laid back album with So It Begins. Lows and Highs really speaks to me whenever I hear it as well as many other tracks. I’m a huge fan of the Lampmode family and their deep commitment to glorifying the Lord with ALL of their music. This is one of those albums that grows on me the more I listen to it.

Links:
FacebookTwitter, Website


Ali Rozet
The Irene Niau Project

Favorite Songs:
I Remember, Let Ya Light Shine, Welcome To My Funeral, Legacy, Blindfolded, I Wonder Where You Are, Imperfect Type

Favorite Lyrics:
“I said “Only God can judge me, that’s just how I feel”. He said “That’s true, so why you live as though He never will?”", “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of Gomorrah, the aura is often ordered to disperse and perverse morals. It’s reversed the church, flirts, thirsts, whorin’ it’s flesh, with it’s chest exposed…”

Why this album?
The Irene Niau Project gets it’s name from and is dedicated to Ali’s Grandmother. The album covers topics from having a faithful witness, to false conversions, to dying to ourselves, and more. Ali definitely aims this project towards edifying and exhorting the church, although it does have a couple of tracks that could speak to unbelievers (I Remember, I wonder Where You Are). A number of tracks stuck out on first listen and as I listened over time, Irene Niau really grew on me. I’m not a huge fan of southern rap, but Ali Rozet did an excellent job on this album.

Links:
FacebookTwitterWebsite, Bandcamp


Die-Rek
The Die-Version Project

Favorite Songs:
Grown Man Biz, The Good Samaritan, Feelings, Last But Not Least, Remember, Superific, Crush, Treasure Chest, Droppin’ On The 1, Dooms Day

Favorite Lyrics:
“Some say it’s business, some say it’s ministry. I call it juvenile yo, these brothers kiddin me.”, “All Jordy was sayin when he hit the ground was “If I did this, do you think that I would hang around?” they proceded to disregard what he said. After all it’s his word against all of them…”, “Look here what I’m about. Don’t gimme white supreme. Only colors on my team is black and Ice-T”

Why this album?
Die-Rek put out this album free of charge; that blows me away considering the quality of the album. When I think of this album, I think of an east coast mid 90′s hip-hop album. In other words, golden. This is some true hip-hop. Boom bap, turntablism, emceeing, story telling, rapping, spiritual concepts. This album has it all. If you don’t already have this album, you need to get right. Another talented emcee repping alongside Canadian artists like Relic and Shad.

Links:
FacebookTwitterBandcamp


 

Runners Up
(a.k.a. albums I wanted to include, but kept the list to 10):

Art Ambidextrous (Propaganda & Odd Thomas)
Cas Metah – 9 from ’09
Citizen Aim – A Music Manifesto
The City Lights Mixtape
Customary Alliance – Take Me Away (2010)
Page CXVI – Hymns III
Reach Records – Man Up
Raging Moses – The Blue Sweats Red Dirt Mixtape
Shames Worthy – The Album
Soulfficial – Unexpected Arrival

  • http://www.alirozet.com Ali Rozet

    wow bro! I am honored to be on that list. I’m loving how u put this together too. it’s time u put up a review site!!!

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