Global Hip Hop: The Best of 2011

by Greg Schick (for World Hip Hop Market)

I’ve said it before, that every year is a good year for global hip hop. Thousands of albums are released every year and from those you can always find outstanding music. 2011 was no exception with competition for the top ten spots as fierce as ever.

We polled some of the most knowldgable people about global hip hop for their selections and reviewed those as well as our own large collection of new hip hop albums to come up with what we thought were the best of the year. I will admit to an English language bias since those are the lyrics I understand best, but as you will see three other languages represented in the top 10. (In order I received them this year…)

Sweatshop Union – The Bill Murray EP (Canada) – “Bring Back the Music” says the group from Vancouver on the 2011 release, and boy do they! For over a decade this Canadian hip hop collective has been known for their positive and socially conscious music. They are a Juno nominated group and this album was nominated for a Western Canada Music Award. The beats definitely appeal to the backpacker/underground crowd as does their quirkiness (at times reminding me of Beastie Boys or Dilated People). The Bill Murray metaphor, they told me at SXSW 2011, essentially means controlling your own destiny. These guys certainly do that, consistently performing and also doing solo projects.
Web site: http://thesweatshoponion.blogspot.com/
Video for “Makeshift Kingdom”: http://youtu.be/cclQ3tlcqps

 

Profetas  – Baila (Columbia) – Bogota’s Profetas are unique mix: male and female performers; he is Columbian, she is West African; their music is as much cumbia as hip hop (although each of their previous albums has had a different vibe – reggae, straight hip hop). Regardless, they get the mix right with infectious songs that make you want to move and smile.
Web site: http://www.reverbnation.com/profetas
Video for “Baila”: http://youtu.be/RYzYAnA8vrg

 

Los Rakas  – Chancletas Y Camisetas Bordada (Panama) – Take the best of Latin American style mixed with the best of Bay Area funky hip hop and you have Los Rakas. These cousins grew up in Panama, but fell in love with hip hop when they moved to the west coast as teens. After two successful mixtapes, they released Chancletas Y Camisetas Bordada in 2011, bringing their unique Latin twist to hip hop.  Web site: www.losrakas.com
Video for “Ta Lista”: http://youtu.be/rglS-aTRnYE

 

La batunoza – Xica da silva (Belgium) – I can’t even recall where I heard about this project, but so glad I found it! Belgian producer Noza records a five song EP with Brazilian-born MC Le Tagarel a.k.a. La Batucada and vocalist Ismael. The music fuses AfroBrazilian sounds and samba with hip hop and the emcees spit in French and Portuguese, including standout Belgian guest emcee Kasbar. Basically, this album is perfect, an example of seamlessly fusing world music styles with hip hop.
Web site: http://labatunoza.bandcamp.com
Video for “La Macumba”: http://youtu.be/dDwITO9akwQ

 

Outspoken – Uncool and Overrated (Zimbabwe) – Outspoken is one of the finest worksmiths Africa has produced. Incredibly versatile, Outspoken can rap, sing and deliver powerful spoken word pieces, sometimes in the same song. He explained to me, “I made this album as an indulgence to myself.” You would have thought that meant an ego trip, but far from it, Uncool and Overrated casts ego aside and speaks from the depth of Outspoken’s soul. His live band The Essence back him up perfectly with a mix of Reggae and Afro-pop tunes, catchy, accessible and uplifting. Standing out among many brilliant tracks is “Miss Home Grown”, a song that preaches to women’s inner beauty, confidence and avoiding the material world’s diction of beauty. He often performs this song as spoken word and  its equally as powerful.
Web site: www.outspokenthahumbleneophyte.com
Video for “Freedom Train”: http://youtu.be/zEGshiNX4Jk

 

Lowkey – Soundtrack to the Struggle (Iraq/UK) – The long awaited album from UK’s highly political and outspoken Arab emcee finally arrived in 2011. Long an ally of Palestine, Lowkey harshly criticizes the US and British governments for failure to help the Palestinians and policies that harm Arabs. You might call Lowkey an Arab Chuck D – no target is too big, no thought unspeakable. His stories are compelling. He is perhaps the world’s most infamous MC.
Web site: www.myspace.com/lowkeyuk
Video for “Obama Nation pt 2 (feat. Lupe Fiasco, M1 & Black the Ripper)”: http://youtu.be/bB-vYuYhdSE

 

Vents  – Marked for Death (Australia) – Vents is Australia’s guy with the big, grimy voice, screaming his lyrics like Milk D. His music evokes that cool underground vibe with sick instrumentals and a bevy of vocal samples from the same era. Australia is in the midst of its own golden age of hip hop and a number of releases could have made this list (check the lists of our Aussie friends below). Marked for Death is engaging, not groundbreaking but performed by an artist at his apex.
Web site: http://www.myspace.com/ventz
Video for “Marked for Death”: http://youtu.be/Pt64cmV4NpY


Emicida – Doozicabraba e a Revolução Silenciosa (Brazil)
– Emicida has been a revelation in Brazilian hip hop in the last two years. In 2011, the 26-year old released his second full length album working with American beatmakers Beatnik & K-Salaam, who spent a considerable amount of time in Brazil for the project. The result is a polished, thoughtful and moving album scored by top shelf beats and samples. He is a hero of the underground, of sorts, with millions of Youtube views.
Web site: www.emicida.com
Video for “Rua Agusta”: http://youtu.be/PwjuVJcayQ8

 

M3nsa – No. 1 Mango Street (Ghana) – What is it about Ghana that so many great hip hop artists are emerging from there? (Check DJ 4th Wurld’s list below for a load of great 2011 releases.) In No. 1 Mango Street, M3Nsa presents the soul of Afro funk music with the snap and hipness of hip hop. From the phenomenal message and catchy hook of “No One Knows” to the pidgin version of “Brkn Lngwjz (feat. Wanlov The Kubolor)” M3nsa innovates and touches your soul.
Web site: www.myspace.com/mensa
Video for “No One Knows”: http://youtu.be/SC2Ra2_3do0

 

Hache ST – Cognición (Dominican Republic/USA) – Hache ST is part of the Quilimboarte collective, from New York to the Bay, that consistently turns out the highest quality hip hop with a message. Positive, unifying and straight dope describes Hache ST and his album. Often jazzy and with great use of horn samples, Quilimboarte’s music is like a Spanish speaking Native Tongues crew.
Web site: www.myspace.com/hachest
Video for “Idioma Universal/Universal Language” ft. Cambio & Luz Divina http://youtu.be/3K9U9jJHq8E

Special Mention:

Nneka – Soul is Heavy (Nigeria)
Akua Naru – A Journey Aflame  (USA)
Drapht – The Life of Riley (Australia)
Zero Plastica – Basta! (Italy)
Logic & Last Resort – True Talk (UK)

World Hip Hop Market’s friends’ picks:

Magee McIlvaine
(Washington, DC – Nomadic Wax Creative Director, www.nomadicwax.com)

Ian Kamau – One Day Soon (Canada)
Zero Plastica – Basta! (Italy)
Cornel West Theory – The Shape of Hip Hop to Come (USA)
Yao Bobby – Histoires d’un continent (Togo)
Oddisee – Rock Creek Park (USA/Sudan)

Emcees to watch out for:
Hemel Besem (South Africa)
Horus (South Africa)
Alesh (DRC)
Synik (Zimbabwe)
Munetsi (Zimbabwe)
Priss K (Cote D’Ivoire)
Sweatshop Union (Canada)
Trajik (Haiti)
Native Sun (UK)
JMNI (Ghana/USA, Togo/Canada)
Art Melody (Burkina Faso)
Godobori (Zimbabwe)
Kokayi (USA)
Eyezon (SA/USA)
MC Diamond Dog (Angola/Brazil/Germany)
Waraba (Mauritania)
Monza (Mauritania)

 

DJ 4th Wurld (Atlanta – United States of Rhythm/The Shrine radio, rhythmunited.podomatic.com)

Paper Plane Project – Miles Apart (Australia)
SAN, the Instru-Monumentalist & Phil, the KRITIK – Classic Dirt (South Africa)
Wanlov The Kubolor – Brown Card (Ghana)
M.anifest – Immigrant Chronicles (Ghana)
M3NSA – No. 1 Mango St. (Ghana)
Chachi Carvalho – In Dust Real Evolution (Cape Verde/USA)
Blitz The Ambassador – Native Sun (Ghana/USA)
Lowkey – “Soundtrack To The Struggle (Iraq/UK)
Immortal Technique – The Martyr (Peru/USA)
Outspoken – Uncool And Overrated (Zimbabwe)

 

Jackson Allers (Beirut-USA – Creator of the Blog Beats and Breath and Managing Editor of World Hip Hop Market) – in no specific order…

Lowkey – Soundtrack To The Struggle (Iraq/UK)
Wanlov The Kubolor – Brown Card (Ghana)
Profetas – Baila (Columbia)
Ramcess L’Hamorabi – L’Hamorabi (Lebanon)
M.anifest – Immigrant Chronicles (Ghana)
M3NSA – No. 1 Mango St. (Ghana)
Oddisee – Rock Creek Park (USA/Sudan)
Yao Bobby – Histoires d’un continent (Togo)
Outspoken – Uncool and Overrated (Zimbabwe)
Emicida – Doozicabraba e a Revolução Silenciosa (Brazil)

 

DJ Nio (Italy – Zero Plastica, www.zero-plastica.com)

Kubus & Rico – DMT (Netherlands)
Various Artists – Diaspora Mixtape Vol.2 (worldwide)
Ap2p (Bonnot – M1) – All power to the people (Italy/USA)
D-Mars – 20 ANOS “os singles” (Portugal)
Las Krudas – Hip-Hop Underground mujerista (Cuba)
Metric Man – I am Free the Mixtape (Trinidad/Tobado)
Various Artists – Democracy in Haiti (Haiti)
X-Conseil – Baraka (Morocco)
The Narcicyst – Live At Transmusicales Rennes (Iraq/Canada)
Alex Antonov – Frei (Italy)

 

Esh (UK – IBMCs, www.facebook.com/IBMCs)

Cappo & Stylee Cee – Fall Out (UK)
Rockin Squat – US Alien Chapter 1 (France)
Sons Phonetic – Twelve Labours (Ireland)
Chemo – The Stomach of the Mountain (UK)
Logic & Last Resort – True Talk (UK)
IBMCs Worldwide Remixes EP vol 2 (US, UK, Norway, France, Spain, Germany, Canada, New Zealand)
Manqoba – The Winner (South Africa)
Trem One – For The Term Of His Natural Life… (Australia)
Soulkast – Honoris Causa (France)
Concept – Envision (New Zealand)

 

Jorgito (Germany – Global Astro Liner, globalastroliner.podmatic.com)

1. Heavy Soundz – Tumba Parlantes (Canada)
2. Mokobé – Africa Forever (Mali/France)
3. Afrikan Boy – What Took You So Long (Nigeria/UK)
4. Robot Koch & John Robinson – Robot Robinson (Germany/USA)
5. ICBM & Trainspotters – Nord Sale/Dirty North (France/Sweden)
6. Chinese Man – Racing With The Sun (France)
7. @Peace – @Peace (New Zealand)
8. DJ Cosm – Time And Spce (Canada)
9. DJ Vadim pres. The Eclectric – Life Is Moving (UK)
10. Ancient Astronauts – Into Bass and Time (Germany)

most outstanding track:
Lagartijeando & Boogat – El Alto De La Paz (Argentina/Canada)

 

Drainos Lobadansaloonie (Australia – Therapcella.com) Best of 2011 in Australian hip-hop

1. Bias B – Biaslife (Australia)
2. Pegz – Drama (Australia)
3. Eloquor – Human Condition (Australia)
4. Drapht – The Life Of Riley (Australia)
5. Trem – For The Term Of His Natural Life (Australia)
6. Funkoars – The Quickening (Australia)
7. Vents – Marked For Death (Australia)
8. Simplex – Audio Biography (Australia)
9. Fluent Form – Word Merchant (Australia)
10. Ciecmate – Game Over (Australia)

 

Nicky Schaefer (Switzerland – linguist, founder GlobalRap Yahoo! Group)

1. QUARTIER DU BON SON: HORS DU TEMPS (CH – SWITZERLAND)
2. PRAGO UNION: DEZORIENT EXPRESS (CZECH REPUBLIC)
3. AJS NIGRUTIN: STROKAVI PAZUH (SERBIA)
4. EDO MAAJKA: STIG’O CUMUR (BOSNIA/CROATIA)
5. DJ ENZO: IL GRANDE BLUFF (ITALY)
6. V.A.: VORSICHT BALKAN (EUROPE)
7. ZAKO: SU DI ME (CH – SWITZERLAND)
8. V.A.: AMOR AZTECA VOL. 3 (USA)
9. V.A.: GAZA MEETS GENEVA (CH – SWITZERLAND/PALESTINE)
10. ZORO MC: VERLORE (CH – SWITZERLAND)

 

Anna Oravkova (Czech Republic – journalist/radio host SPIN radio 96.2, www.radiospin.cz)

1. Prago Union – V barvách (Czech Republic)
2. MC Gey & DJ Fatte – Imaginárium naprosto bežných podivností (Czech Republic)
3. AMO: Positive (Slovakia)
4. Notes from Prague – Inconsistent Frames (Czech Republic)
5. S.C.U.R – Periferie (Czech Republic)
6. SWD – Bereš to vážne? (Czech Republic)
7. Khomator – Terapie (Czech Republic)
8. IdeaFatte – Docasne nedostupní (Czech Republic)
9. DeFuckTo – Triumf (Czech Republic)
10. Moja rec – Dobrí chlapci Vol. 3 (Slovakia)

 

Andrew “Hazard” Hickey (Australia – Planet Urban Music Director, www.planeturban.com.au)

1. Jehst – Dragon Of An Ordinary Family (UK)
2. Onra – Chinoiseries Pt. 2 (France)
3. Vents – Marked For Death (Australia)
4. Nujabes – Spiritual State (Japan)
5. Fluent Form – Word Merchant (Australia)
6. Dela – Translation Lost (France)
7. Mantra – Speaking Volumes (Australia)
8. Fame Nickles – War Chronicles II: Battle Plans (Canada)
9. Hunter & Mortar – Fear And Loathing (Australia)
10. Funkoars – The Quickening (Australia)

 

Christian Teisnes (Norway – Radio host Xo Hip Hop on radio Nova 99.3, radionova.no/programmer/xohiphop) the Best of 2011 in Norwegian hip-hop

1. Vaagsbygd Handy – Undervannsmusikk
2. Jonas V – 21 Gram
3. Degos El Mixtape 2003
4. Bad Spit – Arkana
5. Lars Vaular – Du Betyr Meg
6. Pats One – DFSFS Vol. 1
7. DRM – ÆØÅ
8. Son Of Light – War Of The Words
9. Palabras – Spanglish For Dummies
10. Definite, Conurbia & Evig Poesi – Verdens Ende

 


Comments

  1. Dweez says:

    Gotta throw up some download links for the music/samples of some of these artists.

    谢谢!

    1. jackson says:

      We’ll be putting up more links in the next week or so. Continue to peep the site for those. And do spread the word about our new site redesign/relaunch! Big things in store for WHHM in 2012!

      Salaam,
      Jackson Allers
      Managing Editor

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