Hip-hop was bursting at the seams with quality songs in 2011. Here's the Top 50.
50. Gilbere Forte - "Born in '87"
Gilbere Forte (pronounced Djilbere Forté) introduces himself in just under four minutes. He's 23; he's from Flint, Michigan; and he doesn't wear socks with his Timbalands. And by the way, he can rhyme his butt off.
49. Shady Records - "2.0 Boys"
Any doubts about Eminem's ability to fit so many egos on one table? Fret not. "2.0 Boys" finds enough elbow room for six great MCs in the time it would take for Kanye to soliloquize about fame.
48. Random Axe - "Chewbacca"
They sound so confident that you almost believe everything they're saying.
47. A$AP Rocky - "Peso"
A$Ap in a nutshell: charismatic, fresh, carefree, ill. Tybeats supplies the staggeringly impressive soundtrack.
46. Pusha T Feat. Tyler, the Creator - "Trouble on My Mind"
Pusha T and Tyler trade bars atop a gritty Neptunes beat. What separates this from every other Tyler collaboration is that Pusha sticks to his own lane and leaves the shock-rap to the Odd Future leader.
45. Immortal Technique Feat. Chuck D, Brother Ali - "Civil War"
What happens when three of the most politically charged emcees team up on a track? Planets collide. Earth spins off its axis. Cheetahs scuttle to their hideouts.
44. Elzhi - "Life's a B---"
Elzhi doesn't shuffle under the burden of a bonafide masterpiece. Instead, he throws away the crutches and takes on the cut head on, while Nickle Nine does AZ better than AZ.
43. Phonte Feat. Elzhi - "Not Here Anymore"
This 9th Wonder and Phonte reunion was the first single from Tay's Charity Starts At Home. "Yes, Phonte spits Amazon flame. Watch 9th rekindle it," Tay boasts on the beautifully nostalgic gem. Never underestimate the power of indelible friendship and good music.
42. CunninLynguists Feat. Freddie Gibbs – "Hard as They Come"
One of the more surprising pairings of 2011. Gibbs is better when spitting over grimy beats but he sounds right at home here, softening his breathy flow to suit Kno's daisy-age warm groove.