Top 5 Releases of 2011 – So Far

Believe it or not kiddies, the year is half over. Over the course of six months, we’ve been treated to some pretty good music – excluding the BET Awards, of course.

The best news is that there’s more goodness to come: new material from Jay-Z and Kayne West, Nas, Common, Monica and Mary J. Blige are all sure to please. And even Kelly Rowland, Drake and Lil Wayne have the potential to turn heads, but let’s just say I’m “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to that lot.

But instead of daydreaming about the future, let’s celebrate the present. Here are the top five releases of 2011 – so far. It’ll be interesting to see how these albums hold up by the time our annual Georgia Mae Top 10 Album Review rolls around in December.

Without further ado:

Honorable mention:
Kendrick Lamar, Section 80

At the behest of a few of my friends, I just tracked this album down a little over a week ago. Since I haven’t had a chance to totally absorb it I didn’t think it was fair to rank it just yet. Still, it would be a great disservice to exclude it from the bunch. K. Dot has the manic flow of Lil Wayne, the sensibilities of Common and the wordplay of Nas. Did I mention that he’s 24 years old? If more young artists were this talented I wouldn’t complain so much.

5. Pusha T, Fear of God (mixtape – download it free here)

I’m a huge fan of the rap duo Clipse, and when Pusha decided to link up with Kanye and go solo I was ecstatic. If this mixtape is a precursor of things to come, Pusha’s future is mighty bright. To the untrained ear, Push seems to dwell too much on drug tales, but listen closely and you’ll learn that slangin’ isn’t as glamorous as the Rick Rosses of the world tell you. Pusha’s witty wordplay makes me hungry for a real album – hopefully this year.

4. Kelly Price, Kelly
Read our review here

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kelly, both the artist and the album. Her (very) long-awaited fifth album injects soul back in to cold, hollow husk that is R&B. It’s like when the Tin Man got his heart from the Wizard of Oz – the feeling was always there, it was just overlooked. Thanks to Kelly’s robust, powerful voice and soul-searching lyrics, we won’t soon overlook R&B again.

3. Big K.R.I.T., Return of 4Eva (mixtape – download it free here)

Some foolish people have christened that whiny B.o.b. the second coming of OutKast. Playa please, that crown belongs to Big K.R.I.T. Return of 4Eva is a portrait of Southern living – the highs and lows of family and fame and the struggles of a racially charged environment. And for the brainless, there is plenty of talk about rims and strippers too. It’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik for a new generation.

2. Bad Meets Evil, Hell: The Sequel

Read our review here

The album I thought we’d never see didn’t quite live up to our impossibly huge expectations but it was far from a disappointment. Eminem and Royce da 5’9 spit with such speed and ferocity you’d think their lives were at stake. For Royce, that might be true – he took the opportunity to emerge from rap’s underground and prove to the world just how good he is, often leaving Em in the dust. But even when Eminem is on cruise control he’s one of rap’s elite. When it comes to hip hop releases, Hell: The Sequel is leading the pack.

1. Marsha Ambrosius, Late Nights, Early Mornings

Read our review here

I said back in March that Marsha had already blessed us with the year’s best album. And thus far, no one has proved me wrong. Marsha found the one thing that had been missing in today’s R&B – pure, unadulterated emotion – and piled it onto every track on the set. Joy, pain, sadness and sexuality smolder from each song, making her music authentic and relatable. And it’s doesn’t hurt that her vocals are nearly flawless. Yep, still album of the year.

What are you favorite albums this year? And what are you looking forward to?



  1. I don’t listen to much rap, but given the Outkast reference, I will download Big KRIT. I am most excited for Eric Roberson’s next record.

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE Eric Roberson..been rockin his tunes for the last 7 or so years. Question: How did Ms. Bey’s 4 cd not make this list? SMH. LOL :0) Marsha? Haha…her voice is nice, but borderline annoying. Come on…I see Mr. Sweat didn’t release anything this year…LMBO.

  3. Tamika, you aren’t the first person to say Marsha’s warbling is annoying. I actually kinda like it.

    Bey might make my Top 10 list later this year, but nah, she couldn’t crack the Top 5.

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