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We're at the halfway mark. You know what that means? It's time to examine some of the year's best hip-hop albums thus far. Please keep in mind that none of these is a classic. I'm only saying that because the word "best" is synonymous with "classic" in the minds of many hip-hop heads. None of these albums is perfect. None is 5-star-worthy. Nosir. These are simply the best hip-hop albums (in my opinion, of course) the year has to offer. Ladies and Gents *drumroll* I give you the 10 Best Rap Albums of 2011.


June 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm
(1) Mitch says:

How is an album you gave 3.5/5 to the top album of 2011?

June 7, 2011 at 1:05 am
(2) Henry says:

Think of it as a 4-star album. I deducted half of the fourth star because of the lousy disclaimer.

- Henry

June 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm
(3) for real? says:

Not sure if any of these cought your fancy?

Madlib Medicine Show no. 11?
Covert Coup?
Krit’s new joint?
Hot Sauce Comittee 2?

June 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm
(4) Hector says:

The Curren$y and Krit joints you mentioned are mixtapes not albums but they were incredible. Did Henry cover the Self Made album yet?

June 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm
(5) Maccaveli says:

LOL are you serious? The Maybach album above Pharoahe and Saigon? What a joke.

Also Goblin’s looking to be that album, like MBDTF was last year, that every blog puts at number one no matter what cos its just ‘the thing to do.’ Only difference is, Kanye’s album was actually above average

June 6, 2011 at 8:50 pm
(6) Maccaveli says:

And what’s the deal with that anyway? You gave GSNT and WAR higher ratings than Goblin… Don’t tell me all those identical Lex Luger imitating songs are gonna get a 4 and a 1/2 from you…

June 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm
(7) Ramon says:

Here are my top ten albums of 2011 so far

10. Killer Mike-PL3DGE
9. Atmosphere- The Family Sign
8. Joell Ortiz- Free Agent
7. Serge Severe- Back On My Rhymes
6. Raekwon- Shaolin VS. Wu Tang
5. Reks- Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme
4. Saigon- Greatest Story Never Told
3. CunninLynguists- Oneirology
2. Pharoahe Monch- WAR(We Are Renegades)
1. Big KRIT- Return of 4eva(I know it’s a mixtape, but it more of an album)
Honorable Mention: Classified-HandShakes and Middle Fingers, Tyler the Creator- GOBLIN, Beastie Boys- Hot Sauce Committee 2

Respond if you like mines more than the one posted

June 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm
(8) Mitch says:

Definitely like your list better than Henry’s..

June 7, 2011 at 9:15 am
(9) Henry says:

So, your list = half my list + a mixtape + the most boring album out now (Family Sign) + a couple purists favorites (Reks, CunningLynguists). Yeah, you’re winning, Charlie.

June 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm
(10) DanGunz says:

I agree with your list…I really liked that Serge Severe -Back On My Rhymes album you referenced at the #7 spot. There is something really dope about that cd man…It’s like the old production classic bbom bap sound mixed with fresh rhymes! That is a cd people need to find out about man. More people need to know about him.

of course Pharoah too..he could be the #1 IMO

June 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm
(11) jon says:

Dont forget Revenge of the barracuda

July 4, 2011 at 7:34 am
(12) DIXON eastlondon says:

on your List Ramon i totally agree.
do u sleep hip hop

July 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm
(13) Derek Clem says:

yea thats a decent list. you left out hopsin and swizZz. two of the best lyricists ive heard in a long time.

September 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm
(14) shawn barbat says:

yours is better wat bout j cole friday night lights tho come on…..

June 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm
(15) jacob says:

weak list – poor output thus far in 2011 from hip hop

June 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm
(16) Mitch says:

A weak list yes, but I’ve managed to keep my iPod full of great hip-hop all year, minus the last few weeks..

June 7, 2011 at 12:47 am
(17) H3RO says:

CunninLynguists at least diserves to be mentioned on this list. I was sure it was be top 3, let alone not even make the cut. If you ask me, its album of the year so far. Straight through, magic. Goblin is a good album, but it has some stale moments. Oneirology is the way to go.

June 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm
(18) Kris says:

Yea, I have to agree on the Cunninlynguists, but I always seem to like their records more than critics do (admittedly I’m a KY native). I prefer it to most things that have come out this year including critical favorites The Greatest Story Never Told and W.A.R. The PM album wasn’t bad, but didn’t stand out enough, and I thought Saigon’s was pretty flat out boring. Anyway, Oneirology would be my #1 or #2 so far this year, with Goblin being in the other spot. I agree that Goblin has some stale points though. Covert Coup would probably be in the mix too, if it counts.

June 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm
(19) Kris says:

I should mention that I haven’t heard any of 6-10, Self Made or the atmosphere album (they are boring). As far as the rest of the list that I have heard, I don’t have any problems with the list really. I see minor discrepancies, but nothing completely wack.

June 7, 2011 at 1:19 am
(20) OriginalFake says:

Really weak list sorry Henry. No beastie boys? No
Atmosphere? Rick Ross over Pharo? what’s happening

June 7, 2011 at 4:15 am
(21) Harry says:

this is the worst list you’ve made imo sorry. No krit, cunninlynguists? Saigon’s album is better than Self Made and Goblin. The top 2 are very average and weaker than every other album in the list.

June 7, 2011 at 9:18 am
(22) Henry says:

K.R.I.T. has not dropped an album.

June 8, 2011 at 3:47 am
(23) Maccaveli says:

I seem to remember it was advertised as a free album…

What’s hip hop come to when a release of entirely new and cohesive material comes out but it can’t get recognition cos the artist that released it is generous? Same goes for Covert Coup.

June 7, 2011 at 4:31 am
(24) Adsy says:

Henry always seems 2 put out a list to stir up debate, if you rate w.a.r. half a star more than goblin why havent u put it ahead of goblin? also R.E.K.S is an amazing album and seems 2 have been overlooked!!!

June 7, 2011 at 9:17 am
(25) Henry says:

Ha! Rap fans are so predictable. They see Rick Ross and suddenly assume that the album sucks. You’d be surprised what an open mind can do for you.

June 7, 2011 at 11:06 am
(26) Adsy says:

was that aimed at me Henry? because I downloaded that album based on ur reccomendation and admittedly its not bad after my first listening but some of the Rick Ross verses tho, who taught that man how to rhyme? really dont know how u can place that above albums like W.A.R. or R.E.K.S which are both musically and lyrically superior. Also I really dont understand all the hype over this Tyler the Creator dude, his songs are weird emo tripouts, do i need to be on ket or acid 2 understand it? someone please explain???

June 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm
(27) Jon says:

I’ll be honest and admit that I did see that it was Rick Ross and suddenly assumed that the album sucked hahaha. I have an open mind, but I don’t like his voice or the way he flows, so I’m not interested.

About the disclaimer on Goblin, I hardly think its an issue. Eminem basically said he doesn’t do any of the stuff he raps about at the beginning of Criminal and in a line in the last verse of Stan, and everybody seems to enjoy the Marshall Mathers LP. Regardless, I don’t think it takes anything away from his music. You will like it or dislike it all the same.

Hip hop must be in trouble this year if a 3.5 star album is the best of the year. Two singles and Dre still hasn’t dropped Detox. One week til the Bad Meets Evil EP!

June 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm
(28) nichobert says:

I loved the disclaimer, and it’s strange that it’s off-putting to rap fans. People have this weird tendency to think that rappers need to be “real” or at least pretend to be. I’m not saying “real” as in “gangster”, I mean as in “Presented as Non-Fiction” – I just feel as if this ‘requirement’ can really limit the genre.

Why can’t a 13 year old white kid from the suburbs talk about hanging with his homeys, pimping girls, selling crack and shooting people in the projects? If I write a book there isn’t an expectation that I’m a part of the story, if I paint a picture of a spaceship people can criticize it but if they criticize it based on the fact that I’ve never been on a spaceship before than they’re awful critics.

June 8, 2011 at 3:45 am
(29) Maccaveli says:

I listened to it with a completely open mind and found about 4 songs that stood out (Play Your Part, 600 Benz, Self Made and Rise) and a whole bunch of songs that followed the BMF formula to a tee. Whole thing was just extremely formulaic an flat. Don’t assume that anyone who doesn’t like it didn’t listen.

June 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm
(30) ctr130 says:

henry forgive me if im wrong, but im pretty sure you put krits mixtape last year in the top ALBUMS of 2010. so why not put his 2011 mixtape in this list?

June 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm
(31) dedxsad says:

It was re-released as an album

June 9, 2011 at 2:44 am
(32) Kamo says:


You talking about having an open mind BUT I need to know where do you draw the line?

June 7, 2011 at 11:16 am
(33) Hector says:

I actually enjoyed Self Made, the beats ( some of them) were outstanding and Meek, Wale and Pill did their thing. I know Rick Ross is the most hated thing out right now and his rhymes are elementary, but give him some cred for the album. The list is fine with me, but I would have put the Saigon album as the best of 2011. Besides we through the beginning of the year, now we got a whole bunch of projects coming out such as Bad Meets Evil, Watch The Throne, the damm J. Cole album, C4 and Take Care.

June 8, 2011 at 7:19 am
(34) Arel says:

Lets be honest. It been a pretty weak year so far. Detox will be disappointing if it even come out, and having listened to Bad Meets Evil album it isn’t as good as it should be. It is just em (with his terrible shouting – why would I want to be shouted at) and royce rapping very fast about nothing. Yes it is a good display of rhyming and technique but I look for a bit more in an album – for example some soul! Is that two much to ask for???

June 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm
(35) Jon says:

I get what you’re saying and respect that, but for me personally, Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ are my two favorite rappers behind Lupe Fiasco. So that’s why I’m excited for it. I’m prepared for Detox to be disappointing, but I’m not gonna judge it before it even comes out. I like the two singles so far.

June 8, 2011 at 8:51 pm
(36) dedxsad says:

have you heard “Lighters” or “I’m on Everything”? Bad songs to be nice. Don’t get me wrong I love both Royce and Em, and I think the album will be alright-good, but it won’t make this list

June 8, 2011 at 9:07 am
(37) Cadda says:

Oneirology >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Everything else on the list.

June 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm
(38) Mitch says:

I would definitely have to give album of the year so far to Oneirology.

Also Saigon’s album was pretty good, loved the production but it wasn’t anything special IMO.

June 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm
(39) Jay says:

After reading this list, and seeing that Oneirology was left off of it, I went back and re-listened to Oneirology, and I gotta say, it’s the best album of 2011 so far, and blows away most of your list Henry.

June 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm
(40) dedxsad says:

I thought Free Agent by Joell Ortiz should be this. Oneirology is being way over hyped on here. It was good, but not up to par with CunninLynguist albums. I loved R.E.K.S album, but I figured on this list. Albums this year in general have been a disappointedas my five favorite listens this year are Mixtapes (1. Elmatic (I’m a hardcore Illmatic fan) 2. Returnof4eva 3. Zero Heroes by XV 4. Sleepwalking by Co$$ 5. Covert Coup by Curren$y). My favorite albums so far goes like this
1. WAR
3. Free Agent
4. Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2
5. R.E.K.S
6.Self Made
7. Goblin
8. Shaolin vs Wu Tang
9. Gutter Rainbows
10. Ox 2012: A Street Odyssey

To be completely honest though, I haven’t listened to 9,8,7, or 6 on your list. I think at the end of the year if Jay Elect makes his album it will be #1. Section.80 will be amazing if there are more songs like Hiiipower. I don’t know if “Life is Good” by Nas is coming out this year, but that too. Curren$y’s Weekend at the Burnies is sounding great too. Gangsta Gibbs has been on fire, and if he drops an album it will be dope. Also, I can’t forget Monumental by smif n wessun. I know I’m forgetting 50+ albums as well.

June 9, 2011 at 12:00 am
(41) Kris says:

I’m glad someone mentioned Elmatic, because I have been killin that also. The only track from Free Agent I really like is the Just Blaze joint though. The others weren’t bad but didn’t impress me either.

June 9, 2011 at 2:33 am
(42) Rap Fan says:

Hey, Henry. Unlike some others, I think that your list is quite accurate, however I would just make a couple of changes, mostly just the order of the albums.

1. The Greatest Story Never Told- On your evaluation, you stated that it sounds a bit dated. I was honestly dumbfounded. Since when did anyone complain when someone put out an old-school album? His sound is so reminiscent of some of the classics of the old ages.
2. Goblin- I agree that it’s fantastic, however the disclaimer is not as big an issue for me.
3. Oneirology- How was this left off your list??!! It was fantastic, in my opinion.
4. All 6′s and 7′s- Tech in top form, and finally receiving some much needed mainstream attention. I thought he might sell out, but he is amazing.
5. Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang- Not the greatest Wu solo effort, obviously, but still a solid album, showing that despite a collaboration with *shudder* Justin Bieber, he is still in top form.
6. W.A.R.- Just an all round solid album, in my opininon. Strong beats and lyrics.
7. Riches, Royalty, Respect- I’m a big fan of Kool, and although this isn’t his greatest album, it was brilliant to hear some new stuff from him, and he hasn’t quite lost his touch, unlike some other old-school cats making a comeback (Rakim).
8. R.E.K.S.- Another good, old-school sounding album, with anthemic production from DJ Premier among others.
9. Gutter Rainbows- I agree that this isn’t Talib’s greatest album, but it was a bit unfairly maligned, I believe, and had some strong tracks.
10. Revenue Retrievin: Graveyard Shift- This was a surprise pick for me, but I found myself agreeing with you.

June 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm
(43) Pratik says:

where is LASERS?

June 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm
(44) Lupe Fan says:

I don’t know if you actually listened to all of it, but it was kinda weak. Plus, if it was good enough for the list, there’s no way Henry would overlook it. Lupe’s too good to overlook. I’m sure his next album will be much better though.

June 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm
(45) J says:

I bet anything that the second half of this year is gonna drop some much hotter albums than the first half. U got bad meets evil next week, Hov and ‘Ye droppin on the 4th of July, Detox (if it ever drops), and ‘Ye may be droppin another solo album this year

June 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm
(46) kd says:

any early thoughts on hell the sequel?

June 10, 2011 at 4:48 am
(47) Arel says:

not good, disappointing

June 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm
(48) Adrian says:

This list, just like most of Henry’s lists from the last two years is weak. Oneirology should be #1 on that list, W.A.R. should be #2 and Hot Sauce Committee should be top 5 at least. SMH.

June 9, 2011 at 6:49 pm
(49) Koi_Pond says:

guys stop being so close minded, Henry has the right to his own opinion, he has proved time and time again that he knows hiphop well and just because you dont like his list all of a sudden doesnt mean he is clueless

June 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm
(50) Henry says:

Actually, I don’t know much about hip-hop. I was hoping you guys wouldn’t find out that I’m a fraud. I’m going to run away and hide my face now, I think my sheet is showing.

June 10, 2011 at 4:49 am
(51) Arel says:

^ :D

June 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(52) Vic says:

I actually think this list is pretty solid though I’d have put the Ross album 9th or 10th and moved Kweli up. I think the problem you guys are having is that very few if any great albums have dropped this so far this year. I think by the end of the year this list will be radically different. Hopefully it will include Watch The Throne, J. Coles debut and if we’re really lucky Detox :P

June 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm
(53) Kris says:

And if we’re REALLY lucky, we might even get another Kanye solo album, Jay Electronica’s joint, and a couple of Curren$y albums…

June 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm
(54) Pratik says:

Lasers was a joke, of course.

June 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm
(55) Pratik says:

and blueprint should be on the list (this time NO irony)

June 12, 2011 at 3:25 am
(56) Dart_Adams says:

The complete exclusions of REKS “R.E.K.S.”, Clan Destined “Self Titled”, Kaimbr x Kev Brown “Alexander Green”, CunninLynguists “Oneirology”, Dela “Translation Lost”, DJ Quik “Book Of David”, eLZhi “ELmatic”, Fortilive “I vs. I”, Self Scientific “Trials Of The Blackhearted “, Has-Lo “in Case I Don’t Make It” & Madlib x Frank Nitt “Medicine Show No. 9″ make this list extremely hard to take serious.

Also, “Goblin” SUCKED.


June 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm
(57) Kris says:

Ok so because this list of 10 doesn’t include your exact 11 albums it is hard to take serious? At least one of your choices is a mixtape (Elmatic). We’ve already established that we fans think Oneirology and R.E.K.S. deserve mention, and the rest are ridiculously obscure “head” albums that stick to tradition. Sorry, but I like my albums innovative/creative. Goblin is more creative than any hip hop album I’ve heard this year (oh yea and I’m not one who enjoys creativity for creativity’s sake). Heads need to open their minds to more unique topics than how dope hip hop used to be and what superior emcees they are. That’s that close-minded GOP style thinking…

June 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm
(58) Henry says:

I love this guy.

June 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm
(59) Henry says:

Dart, I thought we were cool man. *sobs*

June 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm
(60) nichobert says:

Whats with the *shudder& justin bieber? Kid plays like a dozen instruments doesn’t he?

I keep thinking everyone is going to be happy that the industry’s current golden child is actually capable of playing instruments & singing. Plus he’s crazy young. I feel weird defending the kid, but i can’t WAIT for him to start doing drugs and make everyone eat their words lol

July 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm
(61) dedxsad says:

I think its safe to say Section.80 tops anything on this list. Also Black Up by Shabazz Palaces is also incredible

July 5, 2011 at 9:49 am
(62) Xeno says:

I think Brotha Lynch Hung’s album should be mentioned too. So having listened to all important albums which appeared in January-April this would be my Top 10:

10. Raekwon – Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang (didn’t like it that much because of some really bad hooks)
9. MMG – Self Made Vol. 1 (not that great but should be mentioned; i agree with henry)
8. Doap Nixon – Gray Poupon (nobody cared about that one yet)
7. Travis Barker – Give the Drummer Some (lyrically bad but ill production)
6. Brotha Lynch Hung – Coathanga Strangla
5. Joell Ortiz – Free Agent (needs some time until you feel it)
4. Pharaohe Monch – W.A.R.
3. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva
2. Saigon – The Greatest Story Never Told
1. Cunninlynguists – Oneirology

Now I need to listen to Tech N9ne and BmE…think that will be dope too.

September 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm
(63) somebodysomewhere says:

Do EPs count for Best Albums lists? Because if so I would probably include Hell: The Sequel. I mean you could call me a purist or whatever but I LOVED Goblin and it probably should keep the number 1 spot but Hell: The Sequel was better than Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang and I’m a huge Rae fan.

September 22, 2011 at 9:49 am
(64) ACID says:

“1. Big KRIT- Return of 4eva” the best rap album of 2011

A guy who hides his voice behind a boring vocoder effet… and always the same effet…lol Is he ashamed of his voice ???
At the end of 20 songs, that becoming really boring…
No one production striked me…

Really very disappointing

But where is the real hiphop ?
HIPHOP IS IT REALLY DEAD ? listening this, I think so…

(PS: sorry for my english)

September 23, 2011 at 8:39 am
(65) ACID says:

Pete Rock made a really good album this year :
Monumental – Pete Rock & Smif N Wessun

it should be on the list… instead of “Big KRIT” ;)


October 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm
(66) DJ says:

I agree with Henry’s list because Goblin takes a while to get into it. Ya’ll need to listen to that album with an open mind. And for the Maybach Music Album, Who cares if it’s Rick Ross. That was a good album because if you pay attention, almost every one rap their asses off while the beats was appealing. The reason why Goblin is on #1 because all the other albums that got higher rating sounds like the same stuff. So, I recommend to get Goblin, Self Made & even Black Up because those are like the best albums of the year so far for me.

January 6, 2012 at 9:57 am
(67) illtechnichian says:

cant agree that all 6′s and 7′s is not on that list

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