Normally here on Fresh Mixtape Reviews we chronicle the success and failures in the mixtape world but we know that everyone listens to big budget studio albums now and again. Here’s my favorite albums to come out over the past year and a half.
Yelawolf – Radioactive
The Shady Records product Yelawolf brought out a classic southern hip hop album with Radioactive. Yelawolf’s distinct accent, and lightening quick flow draw the listener in initially but it’s his songwriting abilities that really shine. Yela is able to tackle serious subject with a ease and confidence that is missing in most of his contemporaries.
Young Jeezy – TM103
Young Jeezy’s fourth studio album came out after multiple delays to continue the story of the Snowman. Jeezy tells dramatic street redemption stories and the luxurious life he lives now. A bevy of big name guests (Wayne, Jay, Andre 3000) keep the momentum flowing throughout the 14 tracks.
J. Cole – Cole World
The first studio album from J. Cole had large expectations after a number of tremendously high quality of Cole’s mixtapes. The Jay-Z protege produced a very consistent well rounded debut that leans heavy on the brainy wordplay of Cole. Also of note, Cole produced almost the entirety of the album himself, big props for that.
The Roots – Undun
The first concept album from The Roots clan finds the artist playing to a more intimate crowd. Smooth keyboard lines and sweeping melodies drive this album of the year contender.
Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
Kendrick Lamar burst into the mainstream after the success of last years mixtape O(verly) D(edicated). Section.80 is the spiritual successor of Tupac’s last works, speaking to troubled youths facing problems with drugs and alcohol. Kendricks conviction and heart poured into every song that this one of the few albums that you can just set in and forget it, with every song being as listenable as the last.
Big Sean – Finally Famous
Big Sean’s first album on Kanye’s GOOD Music label proves to be a deep, rewarding listen even if it aims for a bit too much. Great guest spots from Lupe, Chris Brown, and Roscoe Dash help to drive this album. Big Sean has great talent but needs to step down from the pedestal he’s put himself on to truly reach his high potential.
Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
The OFWGKTA member, Tyler, the Creator, released the most polarizing album of 2011. This concept album, that dialogues the twisted voice of a disturbed teenager as he speaks to his therapist, will leave listeners uncomfortable to say the least. Tyler has an immediately distinct style that can be heard far above the river of the same that penetrates the genre.
Drake – Take Care
The sophomore effort from Drake proves to be no slump at all. Grandiose production provides the backdrop to lyrics about family, failed relationships, increasing stature, and becoming an adult.
Kanye & Jay Z – Watch the Throne
This monster collaboration between arguably the two biggest names in the game drew more hype than any album in recent memory. The duo wax poetic but you can not denie the single Otis, H*A*M, and Niggas in Paris.
This album returned Eminem back to prominence after after the disappointing Relapse. The deeply introspective and unfiltered vocal helped Em to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album of the year and sell over 5 million records.