In 2011, music fans witnessed the reign of Nicki Minaj, the rule of hip-hop kings Jay-Z and Kanye West, and the rise of rap’s wildest crew, Odd Future. With 11 months to go in the new year, Rap-Up.com shines a spotlight on this year’s most anticipated hip-hop and R&B releases.
Chris Brown is ready to reignite the clubs with Fortune, T.I. is cooking up more Trouble on his first album since prison, Nicki Minaj is unleashing her feisty alter ego Roman Zolanski on her sophomore set, and Kanye West has everyone on the edge of their seat waiting for the G.O.O.D. Music album.
From the return of veterans Nas, 50 Cent, and Missy Elliott to the great expectations of freshman Frank Ocean, here are 10 albums that are bound to make noise this year.
The first month of the new year is a time to start fresh. From wardrobe to music, it’s out with the old, in with the new. Of course there’s room on iPods and car stereos for veteran MCs to mingle with newbie soul singers, but there’s a certain thrill when a good ear catches the sound of an undeniable new talent. Hip-hop and R&B has birthed some mesmerizing artists in the past, and this year will continue the tradition, adding a slew of groundbreaking entertainers.
Rap-Up.com has an eye on 10 buzzworthy crooners and rhymers, who earned a spot on our list of Artists to Watch. There’s a stellar songwriter who’s written for Trey Songz and worked his way into the spotlight, a singing Brit with a penchant for headdresses, a Harlem rap star rocking Margiela threads, and two unsigned femcees who can go bar for bar with the boys.
It’s one thing to put out a great single, but it’s even harder to compose an album that will stand the test of time. 2011 was a strong year for duos (The Throne, Bad Meets Evil), emerging talents (Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and The Weeknd), and superstar acts (Beyoncé, Chris Brown, and Rihanna).
Drake took a gamble with the emotive Take Care and it paid off, J. Cole lived up to the hype with his celebrated debut Cole World: The Sideline Story, Frank Ocean turned his free album Nostalgia, Ultra into one of the year’s best, and Adele outsold everyone while earning praise from critics.
Find out which 10 albums rocked our world in 2011.
Familiar faces, breakout stars, and Young Money dominated the charts in 2011. We scoured our playlists and Spotify when looking back on the past year in hip-hop and R&B, and finally narrowed it down to 10 songs that had us pushing play over and over again.
Drake ignited a plethora of remixes with “Marvin’s Room,” including a standout version from JoJo that rivaled the original. Nicki Minaj had everyone from Taylor Swift to eight-year-old British girls singing along to her Pink Friday hit “Super Bass.” Rihanna found love in a hopeless place and at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, Chris Brown made a triumphant return with “Look at Me Now,” and Jay-Z and Kanye West gave Paris a new anthem.
We count down our 10 favorite songs of the past year.
Although most music videos are viewed online these days, that hasn’t killed the creativity behind the camera. 2011 was full of visual marvels—from the silly (Chromeo and Solange’s “When the Night Falls”) to the scary (Kanye West’s “Monster”) to the star-studded (Beastie Boys’ “Make Some Noise”).
Dr. Dre came back to life in “I Need a Doctor,” Lil Wayne showed us a softer side with “How to Love,” Nicki Minaj and Drake made fairytales come true in “Moment 4 Life,” and Jay-Z and Kanye West chopped up a Maybach in “Otis.” And who can forget about Odd Future leader Tyler, the Creator’s chilling, self-directed video for “Yonkers,” which landed him an MTV Video Music Award.
Starting this week, we’re sharing our favorite music videos, songs, and albums of 2011. Find out which 10 videos of the past year won a special place in our hearts and share your faves.
Chris Brown gets photo shoot fresh in these never-before-seen Polaroids from his Rap-Up shoot from December 2009. The images, photographed by Gavin Thomas, were taken the same day the “Look at Me Now” singer released his third album Graffiti. Breezy modeled high-end wintery fashions and thick-rimmed glasses as he posed in a penthouse suite overlooking New York City’s Lower East Side. Swag!
It’s one thing to produce a hot single, but some artists expanded their horizons and funneled creativity into their full-length albums more than others. In 2010, listeners were given Kanye West’s mesmerizing and imaginative masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as well as Eminem’s most self-realized album in years, Recovery. Rihanna returned to making upbeat dance hits with her fifth LP Loud, while her “What’s My Name?” collaborator Drake backed up his hype with his sonically pleasing debut Thank Me Later. Find out which 10 albums had us hitting play time and time again in 2010.
From the explicit to the sensitive, artists brought their A-game in 2010. Cee Lo Green, who struck Grammy gold with Gnarls Barkley, saw a resurgence this year after his kiss-off tune “Fuck You” went viral. Meanwhile, the song’s co-writer Bruno Mars found success on his own and with B.o.B (“Nothin’ on You”). Kanye West unleashed a “Monster” with Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and a song-stealing verse from Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown bounced back with “Deuces,” and Eminem and Rihanna turned heartache into a Hot 100 hit. Check below to see which 10 songs of 2010 Rap-Up.com fancied most.