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’11 Best R&B Albums: #1 Frank Ocean Nostalgia, Ultra

It almost feels wrong that we didn’t pay for Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra. Released for free at the top of the year, Frank turned the tables on traditional R&B and hipster cool. He clipped the Eagles’ wings on “American Wedding” and challenged the status quo on “We All Try”. “Swim Good” was excellent, but then there was “Novacane”. An easy bass and a melodic hook caught everyone’s attention and helped give Def Jam’s red-shirted rookie the push he needed. Ultra […]

’11 Best Mixtapes: #1 Meek Mill Dream Chasers

When Meek signed to Maybach Music Group early last year, he proclaimed his goal to be the rap game’s undisputed rookie of the year. With two hits “Tupac Back” and “Ima Boss” locking the streets down, Meek proved he can hang with the best of them on his latest street collection. On this DJ Drama-hosted mixtape, Meek dropped numerous dope freestyles including his version of Future’s “Tony Montana” and probably the best “Niggas In Paris” take to date. Meek even displayed his art of […]

’11 Best R&B Albums: #2 Terius Nash 1977

After his very public break-up with Ms. Milian, The-Dream had a change of heart. Dropping the stage name and going with the government instead, Terius decided to release an album independently for free 99 and it was beyond well-received. Def Jam mad? With his swag back, Mr. Nash finally shed his last tear and got back to doing what he does best—make hits. The emotional roller coaster ride begins on his melancholy opener “Wake Me When It’s Over”. He later […]

’11 Best Mixtapes: #2 2 Chainz T.R.U. REALigion

2 Chainz’s buzz got a new lease on life in 2011. After dropping his Tity Boi alias, he rebuilt his fanbase and released last year’s most entertaining recording, T.R.U. REALigion. Much of Chainz’s popularity can be traced to his infectious remix with T.I. for his local ATL sensation, “Spend It”. What he lacks for in skill set, he makes up for in charisma. In fact, it’s his presence that anchors cuts like, “Letter To The Rap Game”and “Viagra”. Elsewhere, he […]

’11 Best R&B Albums: #3 The Weeknd House Of Balloons

The Weeknd gives new meaning to the term, “northern exposure”. There wasn’t any pomp nor circumstance when the reclusive Canadian dropped his debut, House Of Balloons. In its place, was nine wonderful tracks. He made emergency contraceptive a viable option on the sinful, “What You Need” and equally seductive, “The Morning”.  But what’s sex without drugs and rock n’ roll? He shakes things up with “The Party & The After Party” then on “Wicked Games” requests, “Bring the drugs baby, I […]

’11 Best Mixtapes: #3 Big K.R.I.T. Return Of 4Eva

K.R.I.T.’s reliance paid off last year with his self-produced mixtape, Return Of 4Eva. When necessary, the Mississippi native curtailed his sound from ’90s boom bap (“Rise & Shine”) to contemporary bounce (“Return Of 4eva”).  He kept trunks rattling with”Sub” and “Country Shit (Remix),” but moved listeners on cuts like “Dreamin” and “Lions and Lambs.” With his debut, Live From The Underground on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time until the mainstream takes notice.

’11 Best R&B Albums: #4 Beyoncé 4

After a brief hiatus from the game, Queen B made her return to reclaim her throne and released her fourth solo album. Yup, she’s still the hottest chick in the game and the chain’s been replaced with a wedding ring. Baby Blue Ivy’s momma experimented with different sounds on this go ’round, especially on the titillating “End Of Time”. She ran the female revolution on the lead single “Run The World (Girls)”, kicked up the funk a notch on “Countdown” but slowed […]