The 11 Best Mixtapes of 2011
The last 12 months were filled with more mixtapes than we can remember. There have literally been hundreds of MP3 collections mixed together and uploaded to the ‘Net. Did we listen to every single release? Um… well, we tried our best to give everyone a fair shot. In doing so, VIBE stumbled across a number of mixtapes worthy to be kept in steady rotation.
Standout projects from Jadakiss, Currensy, 2 Chainz and Waka Flocka were hard to forget about but there were 11 mixtapes that we had to name as the best tapes of 2011. It was a crazy and overwhelming year for hip-hop music. Who can forget the countless number of tapes released in October (we challenge you to name 10 right now!)? Or Wale crashing Hulkshare with his Eleven One Eleven release. As the year comes to end, we found it necessary to spotlight the 11 mixtapes that got the most play in the VIBE offices this year.
Harlem found its new prince in 2011. Leading a wild movement of rappers under his A$AP umbrella, A$AP Rocky took the Big Apple by storm with haunting visuals for “Purple Swag.” Rocky’s unconventional flow paired with slowed-down, Houston inspired production made his debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP more addictive than purple drank. Standout Track: “Purple Swag”
Dom Kennedy 'The Original Dom Kennedy' “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none,” Dom Kennedy knows this all too well. His free spirited bars and house party anthems drew even more listeners into his undeniably LA flow with The Original Dom Kennedy. Finding a way to touch listeners in from all coasts, Mr. Kennedy kept the West Coast party jammin’ from spring to the end of summer. Standout Track: “Designer Shit”
Weezy returned home from prison like a bat out of hell. Feeling the need to give his fans exactly what they wanted while he was locked away, Wayne released Sorry 4 The Wait in July. Riding over beats from everyone from Beyonce to Kreayshawn, Weezy proved he hadn’t lost a step. Standout Track: “Sorry 4 The Wait”
Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire – Lost In Translation Most rap critics didn’t know what to think of Brooklyn native Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire. His rough exterior and mean mug may push some to stereotype him off the bat. However, after a closer listen, Exquire’s depth exceeds the majority of the rap music being made today. Do yourself a favor and take a listen to the menacing sounds a hipster’s worst nightmare. Standout Track: "Huzzah"
Pusha T proved a lot this year. Not only was he able to cement himself as a solo rapper but he also caught the attention of Kanye West—who signed P to G.O.O.D. Music. All by his lonely, Push-a-ton released a critically acclaimed tape strong to enough to be released for sale in the same year. Once again, ½ of the Clipse showed how to turn cheap crack-rap into a high-end designer drug. Standout Track: “Feeling Myself”
Meek Mill - Dreamchasers Meek Mill made an enormous impact with his Maybach Music brethren over the last 12 months. He ruled the summer with his Rick Ross-assisted smash single “Imma Boss.” Bringing raw unadulterated street raps back to the Billboard charts, Meek continued to keep the wolves fed with his street cut “House Party,” ushering all eyes and ears to key in on his Dreamchasers mixtape. Standout Track: “House Party”
Rostrum Records earned a gang of respect with the success of Wiz Khalifa. Refusing to let fans think their talent was a fluke, fellow Pittsburgh native Mac Miller was the next to help solidify the Steel city as a driving force in hip-hop. Miller’s party loving tracks and no nonsense lyrical skills helped the kid become one of rap’s new MVPs. Standout Track: “Donald trump”
This New Orleans native broke the mold for young R&B singers in 2011. Without succumbing to bubblegum trends and refusing to do press, Frank remained an elusive and enigmatic figure for most the year. He created a soulful groove for himself for Internet music consumers but also touched radio with his hit “Novacane.” Frank’s Odd Future affiliation only added to the hype. Standout Track: “Novacane”
Fif is always up to something. Realizing the void in the mixtape market place, G-Unit’s bossman ended the year with a 10-year anniversary mixtape for, 50 Cent Is The Future, the release that launched his career. The Big 10 is ten tracks of classic 50 cent. Using all original beats, the Queens kingpin speaks nothing but street talk throughout the whole tape. Standout Track: “Off and On
Mississippi has a new prodigal son to claim. Big K.R.I.T burst onto the rap scene without much warning. His slick lyrics about life’s woes and hip-hop purist views made his Return of 4eva a staple of the two-double-one. He produces, raps and creates with the creativity of Outkast and the self confidence of Pimp C. Standout Track: "Country Shit (Remix)"
This Toronto native made one of the biggest mixtapes Canada’s seen since Drake shut it down a few years back. The Weeknd’s unique vocal range and hypnotizing lyrics transformed average music fans in to super-stans after House of Balloons dropped. Druggy and lengthy, the crooner’s sleepy songs were all the buzz in 2011. Standout Track: "High For This"