Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My top 10 albums of 2011

I considered two things before compiling this top 10 list, whether I should write it in English and whether anybody would actually give a shit. Since you're reading this right now the answer to those questions is evident: I wrote it in english so more people might give a shit. I looked at the releases this year along with some other top ten lists and found quality output of music to be quite sparse. Then again, I almost exclusively listen to lo-fi indie music, electro and rap so my tastes aren't particularly wide. And I don't listen to everything that's released, even within the confines of the genres previously mentioned.

There are some comments next to my choices. These comments sort of (d)evolved into a rant about my views on the state of rap music today.

10. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhyme

9. Talib Kweli, ‘Gutter Rainbows’

(There's a killer track on here featuring Sean Price – who doesn't want to put his new album Mic Tyson out because he says rap has gotten soft – called Palookas. The song is essentially some hardcore two-extremely-good-rappers-spitting-rhymes-around rap. I miss those songs. “Shut the fuck up before you get hurt son/ you ain't got a verse better than my worst one”. As Chuck D said, rap has devolved from bragging about how good you are at rapping to bragging about how much cool stuff you have. That's because very few rappers are actually good enough to honestly say they're better than other rappers. Most of the other songs are good as well. Talib even makes a reference to Kurt Vonnegut.)

8. Noah and the Whale - Last Night on Earth

7. Gang Related – Stunts and rituals

6. Beirut - the Rip Tide

5. FM Belfast - I don't want to go to sleep either

4. Metronomy - The English Riviera

3. Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts

2. The roots – Undun

(There are two reasons this album is here. Firstly, it's a really good listen. Secondly, the Roots are actually trying to make something important in rap. They're telling a symbolic story – that, yes, is pretentious but it's made by two art school graduates, what can one expect? – that unfolds backwards like memento or something. The Roots are trying something new in a genre that never does anything new anymore. Rap has been consumed by pop or perhaps by itself. There are artists who make good, old school, hardcore rap but none of it is important. These artists seem to either make it big and change or become insane (I'm looking at you DOOM). The problem with rap is that it is intrinsically connected to “selling out”. In some ways, the point of making rap music is to “sell out”. For a select few, however, it's about expression and art. I hope I find more of those select few.)

1. Childish Gambino – Camp

(Gambino is probably the only new school rapper I genuinely like and listen to – probably for the reasons I listed above. I consume Kanye West and Jay-Z. I like some of Lil' Wayne's music – for his inventive rhymes and rhyme schemes – but I detest most of it. Drake I don't want to listen to, I'm completely unwilling to even give him a chance. Mac Miller has nothing interesting to say and he doesn't even say whatever the hell he's saying interestingly. Asher Roth's new stuff is intriguing though. The point is that Gambino is one of those select few I mentioned in the paragraph belonging to The Roots.)