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03.18.11 Bulldog's Top 5 Hip-hop Albums Of 2011,02.12.11 Bulldog's To-do List
01.05.11 Dryden's Top 25 Of 201001.01.11 Bulldog's Top 40 Songs Of The Year
12.24.10 Ten Worst Albums Of '1009.19.10 Blogdog?
09.18.10 Rap Artists Tournament - Western Region09.13.10 Rap Artists Tournament - Eastern Region
09.13.10 Rap Artists Tournament - Southern Regio09.12.10 Hip Hop Essentials - Fourth Power
09.10.10 Hip Hop Essentials - Deep Cuts09.09.10 Hip Hop Essentials - Next Steps
09.08.10 Hip Hop Essentials - The Basics 09.06.10 The Abc's Of Hip Hop #3 - Artists
09.05.10 The Abc's Of Hip Hop #2 - Songs 09.05.10 The Abc's Of Hip Hop #1 - Albums
09.01.10 Non-Hippityhopz Bulldog08.29.10 Sea-riously The Best Albums Ever
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Bulldog's Top 5 Hip-hop Albums Of 2011, 1st Edition

My five favorite hip-hop albums from what has been a strong 2011 thus far. (As of March 18th, 2011.) Honorable mentions include Gunplay's high-octane, post-Lex Luger mixtape "Inglorious Bastard (The Prelude To Valkyrie)" [3.5/5], Squadda B's hazy, nihilistic debut "I Smoke Because I Don't Care About Death" [3.5/5] and Stalley's equally smooth and slamming "Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music) [3.5/5]. Disclaimer: I have not listened to the following notable releases: G-Side's "The One...Cohesive", Childish Gambino's "EP", IMAKEMADBEAT's self-titled, or Onry Ozzborn's "Hold On For Dear Life".
5Lupe Fiasco

Released to relatively scathing critical acclaim and autophobic interview statements, Lupe Fiasco?s [i]Lasers[/i] is, contrary to popular belief, his best album. In almost every sense, Lupe improved with his third release. First and foremost, the beats here didn?t suck. A noticeably Top 40 sound was staked out on this, and the labels should be thanked for that. [i]Lasers[/i] lays claim to the best beats Lupe?s ever had, and even Lupe himself improved on this one. His flow was once a verbose entanglement of trite, over-extended metaphor; a maximalist clusterfuck of literary devices that only muddled his message. [i]Lasers[/i] features a certain deconstructionalism that bolsters Lupe?s ?L.A.S.E.R.S Manifesto,? a lyrical memorandum that undertakes a perplexingly positive disposition on issues political and social, domestic and international. I think this gets a bad rep because of the Trey Songz feature (fuck that song, by the way) but the production here is, considering the slipshod beatwork on [i]The Cool[/i] and [i]Food & Liquor[/i], spectacular. Save a few hit and misses, this is easily excellent. (3.5/5)

A more lush, better produced expansion on Kno?s [i]Death Is Silent[/i], the CunninLynguist?s latest is a hazy, hypnotic, and haunting affair sure to induce a euphoric state of somnolence. The southern stalwarts have always been more forward thinking than a good majority their regional peers, who have always been more concerned with 24?s and their candy paint than anything else. If you think about it, though, in a way, CunninLynguists is the southern counterpart of Atmosphere; opting to eschew the archetypal materialism the rest of the rap landscape is contingent on in favor of a deeper ethos. As the title [i]Oneirology[/i] may suggest to the terminological savvy, the album is contingent on the surrealistic exploration of dreams and sleep. Reliant on an atmospheric beauty, [i]Oneirology[/i] sees cloudy, murky soul beats juxtaposed against a dream aesthetic and this spectacular vein of pervasive poeticism. I?ve said it once and I?ll say it again: ?Enemies With Benefits? featuring Tonedeff is gonna be the track of the year. Is it [i]A Piece of Strange[/i]? That?s a tough one; maybe, maybe not. But it?s definitely one of the best releases of 2011 thus far. (4/5)
3Mouse On Tha Track
Swagga Fresh Freddie

Acting as Trill Fam?s in-house producer, Mouse has been supplying the Baton Rouge, Louisiana collective?s with some of the hottest beats west of the Mississippi River. In 2010, he supplied the best beat on Pimp C?s last posthumous release and he helped make Lil Boosie?s [i]Super Bad: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz[/i] one of 2009?s great sleeper releases with two show-stealing verses, one superb chorus, and four beats (two of them [?Levis? and ?Top Notch?] being the album?s best, an accomplishment considering the high standard Boosie holds his production to.) If it hadn?t occurred to yet: Mouse is a one-man-band, man, something Mouse himself notes on ?Buckin Hard,? where he raps, ?[i]Yea I drop a track, and I sell a beat, and I?ll lace a hook for a package feature.[/i]? As Pitchfork writer Tom Breihan pointed out, if Trill Fam were to dissimilate tomorrow, Mouse would be the only one able to stand on his own. An incredible producer, Mouse whips up these slinky, grinding electrofunk cuts like it?s fucking nothing and, considering his penchant for infectious choruses, I wouldn?t be surprised if he supplanted the late, great Nate Dogg as rap?s next go-to-guy for choruses. But he?s not a pimp-cum-singer, he?s a ruggish, thuggish rapper from the dirty, dirty and his playful Louisiana patois allows him more space for his wordplay that just kind of sneaks up on you. He doesn?t need his Trill Fam brethren here, but it makes everything a lot better, because the collective is chockfull of great vocalists. (4/5)
2Main Attrakionz
The Shady Bambino Project

The Shady Bambino Project sees Shady Blaze and Squadda B playing the odd couple. Blaze's cocky, triple-time delivery and wry swagger meets Squadda's atmospheric, minimalist haze and the pairing goes up in a cloud of THC smoke. A lo-fi effort, [i]SBP[/i] is brimming with both playful style and dark grit. The record is a far cry from syncretism and there's this sort of Yin-Yang chemistry here. I guess it's true that opposites do really attract and if "Danger Zone" wasn't indication enough, the duo could best be pegged as the next Lord Infamous and DJ Paul, (however, think, less gothic thump and more eerie minimalism,) but don't be too quick to pigeonhole them as a modern, west coast knock off of the legendary Memphis collective in their heyday. Their influence is there, but it's by no means a replication; these two have a style all their own and I only expect them to expound on it in future releases. 4/5
1Lil B
Angels Exodus

As a blogosphere juggernaut, Lil B had no problem transferring his cultish momentum of 2010 into 2011. In mid January, he hit the ground running with his first studio album, [i]Angels Exodus[/i], and what is the best rap release of the first trimester. Implementing an unparalleled (and uncanny) thoughtfulness, B has almost ushered in a new wave of what has been coined ?emo rap.? Soulful ambience (or ambient soulfulness, if you prefer) is what backs the Based God for the duration of the record. With lines like, ?I?m by myself eating fast food on Thanksgiving,? it?s hard not to notice the soft side of Lil B. Not much needs to be said for this album; it stands on its own. (4.5/5)
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