TOP FIVE ‘TOP X HIP-HOP TRACKS OF 2011’…OF 2011 

Have you been obsessively trying to rank all hip-hop tracks you’ve heard this year as a part of curating your internet presence? OF COURSE YOU HAVE. But also, have you been waiting for other people to do it first so that you can make your list “edgier” or “more underground” or, crazily, “less pretentious”? I’m gonna do you one better. I read all the lists1 so you don’t have to. Who’s right about what to like? Who’s wrong? Who’s looking the farthest down their nose at your Weezy affinity? What blog should you reconsider taking stock in based on their inclusion of Kreayshawn in their Top Whatever list?

These answers and more in one of the more unnecessarily meta Top X Whatevers of 2011 lists you’ve read so far this year, from your resident amateur hip-hop enthusiast. It should be noted—and it will be demonstrated!—that I basically have terrible taste and have slept on almost all of the hip-hop releases of 2011. My criticism of real critics is based mostly in vague feelings about what hip-hop taste aggregation “should” look like and my more general tendency toward mouthing off. BUT YALL KNEW THAT.

5. XXL Magazine | Top 100 Songs2 of 2011
What Even: XXL is a hip-hop news/review/lifestyle magazine with the tagline “Hip-Hop on a Higher Level.”  I haven’t seen XXL’s website give any album less than a 3/5 (an “M” in their weird size-based ranking system) in recent memory, so I’m guessing the higher level doesn’t extend to expectations of rap artists (like, the Game and V-Nasty’s album got an M? Real?). But they do generally have the latest in rap news, and their list doesn’t purport any weird populism by being voter-based. (Although it’s attached to a poll where you can vote for your favorite song out of their top hundred? The whole thing is ill-conceived, basically.)
Unfamiliarity Quotient, Or, Percentage of Tracks I Hadn’t Heard Upon Reading: Maybe 25. This list is pretty poppy.
Where is Kreayshawn: at 21, just ahead of “Yonkers.” (File under: Why I’m Mad)
No One Else Included: A woman in their top ten; Big KRIT’s “Country Shit” (feat. Bun B and Ludacris), a personal anthem; Ye’s “All of the Lights” because that shit came out in 2010; Mac Miller.
Drake is in the Top 25: Six times. And elsewhere on the list seven times! (That’s counting feature credits and artist credits, BUT STILL.) That’s near twice as many as Jay-Z, but one less than Lil Wayne, although only five of his mentions are artist credits.
Notable Omission: Danny Brown. Damn, dudes, have you read blogs at all ever or?
Why I’m Mad: The way the list is laid out is obnoxious (who’s gonna click through 100 pages to read an inane sentence explaining a track they’ve already heard); no download links or Spotify playlist; the writing (upon closer inspection) about each track seems as unproofread as it is uninspired; 100 tracks is 50 too many for a top-whatever list; referring to corny tracks on the list as “for the ladies” (this is both inaccurate and lazy writing; that phrase is used like five times at least); “Can’t Get Enough” (#44) is a way better J. Cole track than “Workout” (#31); a jillion artist/track repeats.
At Number One: “N****s in Paris,” basically the one thing this list did right.
Altogether: Too many artist repeats, too long a list, sort of a narrow scope, and a bunch of stuff that made me mad. ON TO THE NEXT ONE.

4. LAST.FM | My Most Played Tracks of the Last Twelve Months (THRU NUMBER 19)
What Even: LISTEN, THERE WEREN’T ENOUGH LISTS FOR MY LIST SO I PUT MY LIST IN MY OTHER LIST SO I COULD CONTINUE MAKING LISTS. To the extent that I listened to these tracks in 2011 and they are all—except the Minutemen’s “Paranoid Chant,” which I listened to on repeat while writing an ekphrastic poem about the Minutemen and the Nerves’ “When You Find Out,” which is a perfect song—hip-hop tracks, this list is sort of valid. Also, what are you gonna do about it. Fight me?3
Were Any of Them Even Released in 2011: Nah. Couple of 2010s though. Big Boi’s “Shine Blockas” (feat. Gucci Mane, Bun B, and Project Pat) at #2, Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa’s “In the Middle” at #5 Miguel’s (technically R&B) “All I Want is You” tied at #6, and Big Boi’s “General Patton” tied at #11. I told yall I’ve been late to the game.
Unfamiliarity Quotient: Nonexistent.
Where is Kreayshawn: Nowhere, because while I may be late, I am not also the worst.4
No One Else Included: Fully 7 tracks from the nineties; as many women as my list features; any punk tracks (?).
Drake is in the Top 25: 0 times, despite my secret obsession with “Best I Ever Had”
Notable Omissions: Any contemporary releases.
Why I’m Mad:  Because I can’t get my head out of my ass which is apparently located squarely in 2010; the dearth of top hip-hop track lists elsewhere on the internet; no download links cause I am a dope at making mediafire mixes.
At Number One: Baby Boy Da Prince’s “The Way I Live,” which I think Colin may have turned me on to (?) during my major-chord-acoustic-hook obsession (cf. J. Cole’s “Problems,” Fatlip’s “What’s Up Fatlip?” [#4]) of early 2011. If we’re going to take my dumb last.fm as valid, this is as fine a top track as any, although once I was listening to it stoned and got really upset when the chords under the chorus switch?
Altogether: I only put this list above XXL’s because XXL’s failed so magnificently at doing what a top-track list ought to do and because I am more than a little self-obsessed (see: Why I’m Mad) and because you don’t have to click through a hundred times for commentary.

3. Rap Genius Blog | Top 100 Rap Songs of 2011
What Even: In the immortal words of Das Racist, Rap Genius dot com is white devil sophistry. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t take it as the authority on hip-hop lyrics and explanations of coded intertextual references in rap tracks. Also, they have a blog, and the blog has a top 100 list of “rap songs (Oh, I guess we are calling them songs now? My fault.) which purports to be #bythepeopleforthepeople, which is to say, poorly-put-together and only kind of worth your time.
Unfamiliarity Quotient: Like 40. This is a pretty poppy list with a ton of artist-repeats. I didn’t get on my contemporary pop-rap grind until like last month, so most of the lists read like this for me.
Where is Kreayshawn: at 77, just behind “A$$ Dance (Remix). An indefensible choice.
No One Else Included: Das Racist; Childish Gambino
Drake is in the Top 25: Four times. And elsewhere on the list twice. That’s as many mentions as Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar each get. Which is inappropriate.
Notable Omissions: Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire and Danny Brown, tourmates of Rap Genius darlings/haters Das Racist.
Why I’m Mad: Soulja Boy’s “Zan with that Lean” being ranked at 25 (apparently an inside joke on the site, which, ugh, shut up), “Peso” at 98 vs. “Purple Swag” at 41, and how weirdly backward the Kendrick Lamar and Watch the Throne tracks shook out on the list. (Though Biko disagrees, I think “Murder to Excellence” for example is like the second-worst track on Watch the Throne, and “Keisha’s Song” is my least favorite Kendrick Lamar joint, mostly because of its shitty politics re:sex work though, which is allegedly “not” what this list is “about”). Also, I am mad about Childish Gambino. Mostly, though, there’s too many tracks and too much repetition and 0 download links (instead, a link to a Spotify playlist, which is better than nothing…sort of?).
At Number One: “Nasty” by Nas. No qualms with that, maybe some arguments though.
Altogether: The problem here is that the list was poll-based, but like, RapGenius-reader-poll-based? RapGenius readers/commenters are helpful to the extent that they are dogged and obsessive about tracking and explaining references in rap tracks, but also, the gist of this list is “listen to Take Care and Watch the Throne” which, duh. If you’re gonna position yourself as hip-hop-heads or tastemakers or something, might as well say something interesting, no?

2. Cocaine Blunts | Best Rap, 2011
What Even: There are really only two critical contenders on this list of lists, and Noz’s obsessive, pretentious Cocaine Blunts list almost wins out. Cocaine Blunts is a (sort of prominent?) hip-hop blog that publishes a list of best rap tracks every year. They won my heart by topping 2007’s list with UGK’s immortal “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” which happens to rank at (a huge tie for) 14 on my personal list for this year, and which, I have claimed in the past “might be the best song.”
Unfamiliarity Quotient: Like 60. Maybe higher. I’m in way over my head here.
Where is Kreayshawn: at 50. While I disapprove, I wouldn’t call this placement unconscionable so much as disingenuous.
No One Else Included: G-Side, and most of these tracks, honestly. Noz’s explicit focus on mixtapes and singles, besides his refusal to include artist repeats within his list, skew the list toward rarer tracks.
Drake is in the Top 25: Not even as a feature. Noz is on the record about hating Drake.5
Notable Omissions: “6 Foot 7 Foot”; J. Cole; Curren$y; Nas; Eminem; Lupe Fiasco; Common (no arguments here); DJ Khaled. Noz basically doesn’t like anyone?6
Why I’m Mad: Youtube links instead of download links (rude); Kreayshawn; the sort of impenetrable hostility this list intimates. While the Cocaine Blunts media machine may have larger issues, I’m too much of an amateur to be able to discern them, and Noz’s sparse but vaguely condescending commentary makes that abundantly clear.
At Number One: “N****s in Paris,” natch.
Altogether: Mostly I’m not mad because this list espouses a critical point of view and sticks to it. Noz knows his shit, even if he’s kinda mean about knowing it. While I don’t necessarily understand his aversion to some pop acts and affinity for others, I respect meanness cause it’s honest and it reminds me of myself. And anyway I found a download link in the comments, alongside a bunch of arguments I couldn’t keep up with, and also there’s an interview with my boyfriend Mannie Fresh in the archives, so like, do you, Noz.


1. Passion of the Weiss | The 50 Best Hip-Hop Songs of 20117
What Even: Passion of the Weiss is not even a hip-hop blog, but Martin Douglas insists that some of the best hip-hop writing around happens here. A few of the blog’s regular contributors put this list together.
Unfamiliarity Quotient: Jesus, these are all drastically underestimated so as to not further embarrass myself. But here, like 75.
Where is Kreayshawn: Blissfully absent.
No One Else Included: Such convenient fucking download links; Killer Mike; Slick Rick; El-P; Raekwon; “Primetime”; the fucking Cool Kids; so many mismatched videos; Schoolboy Q; Freddie Gibbs; most of these tracks. Not sure what the intended scope of this list is, but it skews at least as obscure as Cocaine Blunts, maybe more.
Drake is in the Top 25: 0 times. Neither does the list spend any time Drake-baiting, though (except for a kinda dumb dig claiming that Drake “knows how to manipulate women” on the commentary for Da Vinci’s track. True fact, dudes: women like cool shit. Drake is corny; corny people of all genders like him. Get the fuck off it.).
Notable Omissions: “Dance (A$$) Remix”; “N****s in Paris”; Lil B; Meek Mill
Why I’m Mad: I’m basically not? (Duh, that’s why this list gets the top spot.) I’m mad that Common broke the top 50, I guess. Also mad about Chris Brown. That last one’s not the fault of this list, but I digress.
At Number One: The immortal “Yonkers.”
Altogether: The writing on each track is clear, meaningful, and not so damnably intimidating to hip-hop novices like myself. It may be a wider representation of the weird, fragmented, scene-centric year in hip-hop than Cocaine Blunts, but to that extent, it also speaks less to what nonbloggers listened to this year. It also doesn’t profess to have to do with popularity or accuracy or necessary authority, though, which the other lists, with their rampant polling and taste-related disclaimers sort of did. Its qualifications for “best” are left a secret writ large, instead explained track-by-track. Plus, the fucking download links! So many of them! So convenient! Far be it from me to claim authority on what these lists “ought” to do (even though lol that’s exactly what this list of lists does sorry?), but I know why I read them: to find more dope shit. And youtube-link-by-youtube-link is no kinda way to live your life. And so I bid Godspeed to Passion, for not talking down to me, for giving Martin Douglas work, and most importantly, for letting me hear the shit for myself.

AGGREGATES. (excluding my dumbass list)
The Only Women On Any List: Kreayshawn (3), Nicki Minaj (4), Gangsta Boo (1); Mello G Blanca (1).
On Every List: “Look at Me Now”; “Yonkers”; Wale; Lil Wayne; Wocka Flocka Flame (albeit in variegated spellings); Jay-Z and Kanye West.
On No Lists: “Motivation” by Kelly Rowland featuring Lil Wayne. I know this is not even a hip-hop track8 but I was so into this when it came out! I used it in a sext once! Honorable mention!?
Does Anyone Know: Of any prominent/good lady hip-hop bloggers? I didn’t see anyone with so much as a feminine-looking name (which, I know, how do I know, I don’t know, I’m gonna guess most of these contributors were dudes) credited as authors on any of these lists. Lady rap writers stand up plz?

SEE ALSO.
Start of the Line | Top 30 DMV Rap Songs of 2011
Start of the Line is DC/Maryland/Virginia-based; this list is only half-published right now but features decent commentary.

No Trivia | Mix: the Best Rap Songs of the Second Half of the Year
DQ’d because it’s a mix and only covers half the year, No Trivia’s Brandon Soderberg seems to be Noz’s adversary or something (rap critic beef is as boring as it is impenetrable, as it turns out!), but there’s a download link and that’s what really matters.

JS Online | Best of 2011: Top Hip-Hop Songs
A short llist of tracks presented without commentary by some Milwaukee-area news outlet.

DJs Helpline | Top New Hip Hop Songs
This website is weird and consists mostly of top whatever lists; this list is 20-deep and partly R&B, honestly.

Spin | Insanely Obsessive Infographic Tries in Vain to Diagram the Hip-Hop Galaxy
This is not a list; it is an infographic. You can still get mad about it, though.




____________
1. There weren’t that many top track lists! Mostly there were top album lists. Which, BORED ALREADY. Interested as I am in mixtapes/cohesive hip-hop works of more than four minutes’ length (lol wut), the pursuit of the perfect three-and-a-half minutes of production and lyricisim ultimately has a greater pull for my millennial attention span. (It’s not that I can’t pay attention to a whole album; it’s just that everything is so boring?) Also media that I can familiarize myself with in a matter of minutes tends to trump those countless hours I spend “enjoying” hip-hop “albums” so that I can “talk about them with my friends” on the “internet.”
2. Who calls anything a “rap song.”
3. I’ll fight anyone for any reason.
4. Okay, yes I am, but for different reasons???
5. Which, can I just say, is such hip-hop-head orthodoxy so can we just stop talking about it now? I am on the record as being more interested in Drake’s sweater game than his flow but I also don’t care enough to hate him? (cf. my terrible taste, I guess)
6. Noz mostly likes Lil B. Also clearly he likes some people. He made a whole list of them!
7. Full disclosure: my friend and yours Martin Douglas writes for this blog/list, and I was in conversation with him throughout compiling this list of lists. But also, what are these year-end lists if not favoritism and nods to your friends’ superior work?
8. A thing to think about is: what’s the deal with hip-hop’s resistance to melody? As though it threatens the authenticity of a track or? But then, authenticity and hip-hop is like a doctoral-thesis-level issue of its own, so like nevermind.
  12/30/11 at 07:52pm
  1. blindwilliam reblogged this from pussy-strut
  2. signifyingdrugs reblogged this from pussy-strut and added:
    Noz mostly likes Lil B.
  3. somanyshrimp reblogged this from douglasmartini and added:
    She keeps going on about how ‘obscure’ the cocaine blunts list is. there are some obscure random internet finds in the...
  4. douglasmartini reblogged this from pussy-strut and added:
    So Emily and I have pretty much been texting each other about rap for the past three weeks or so (rap blogs, rap...
  5. douglasmartini said: You are an American hero.
  6. lowendtheory said: you basically just made my life.
  7. haakev2 said: oh my god it’s so good so important
  8. shit-mummy said: holy shit
  9. pussy-strut posted this