10. Fiend – Life Behind Limo Glass
Linking up with Curren$y and his JETS crew for his Life Behind Limo Glass mixtape, former No Limit refugee, Fiend, reinvents himself as the velvet smooth crooner, International Jones. This cool-as-a-cucumber offering from one of New Orleans’ finest is a perfect example that you can age gracefully in hip hop.
9. Domo Genesis – Under The Influence
With the release of Under The Influence, Domo Genesis accomplished to important things. One, he shows that he has a great ear for beats as he rips over classic joints like “Rise” from Busta Rhymes, and Mobb Deep’s “Hell On Earth.” Secondly, Domo shows us that he can flat-out rap. This is certainly one of the more accessible releases from the Odd Future camp.
8. Curren$y – Verde Terrace
The Kush & OJ of 2011, Curren$y’s Verde Terrace mixtape for the most part is a warm, hazy affair that highlights Spitta’s slippery baroque weed talk. While stoner rap popularity seems to be at an all-time high, Curren$y is in a class by himself. Just another reason why he’s considered one of the hardest working and most consistent emcees in the game.
7. Frank Ocean – nostalgia, ULTRA
While patiently waiting for Def Jam to get its act together, Odd Future’s Frank Ocean released this amazing left-field gem. Surprisingly, without any outside help from the Wolf Gang, not only is nostaligia, ULTRA one of the best mixtapes of the year, it is also one of the best R&B albums of the year.
6. Fashawn – Higher Learning 2
Central California’s Fashawn dropped his Higher Learning 2 mixtape with XXL backing him up. Featuring several quality appearances both lyrically and production-wise from kindred spirit, J. Cole, HL2 is very strong offering from one of hip hop’s most talented yet under-rated lyricists. He’s probably the closest thing there is to a golden era Nas.
5. Curren$y + Alchemist – Covert Coup
A much briefer offering compared to his other 2011 mixtape, Verde Terrace. Covert Coup is a 10-track, 28-minute mini-masterpiece done in a similar fashion to Madlib and MF DOOM’s brilliant Madvillainy. Alc’s brooding cinematic productions find Spitta’ spewing his marble-mouth rhymes in some refreshing new territory. It’s unlike anything else in Curren$y’s catalogue.
4. Fabolous – The Soul Tape
Dripping in late-night soul and jazz, Fab’s Soul Tape is (in my opinion) his greatest body of work to date. Never been much of fan of Mr. Monotone, but when he’s not gunning for top-40 hits or ringtone money, Fabolous can be one of the coldest emcees in the game.
3. Freddie Gibbs – Cold Day In Hell
Over the past couple years Indiana’s Freddie Gibbs has gained a rock solid following with a slew of impressive mixtapes. However, after signing with Young Jeezy’s CTE label, many wondered about the direction Gibbs’ music was going to take. Heavy synths and R&B hooks are quite prevalent on Cold Day In Hell. But despite the experimental and lush productions found on this mixtape, Gibbs still keeps it 100% gangster.
2. Big K.R.I.T. – Returnof4eva
How this effort didn’t get an official release from a label is completely beyond me. Entirely composed of original music, this is some of the best rap to come out of the South since the glory days of the Outkast, Goodie Mob and 8-Ball & MJG. Completely self-produced, Returnof4eva is an impressive showcase of K.R.I.T.’s double-threat talents as an emcee/producer. Conscious, streetwise hip hop deep fried in funk and soul.
1. A$AP Rocky – live.love.A$AP
The mixtape that took the internet by storm and completely flipped Harlem’s sound on its head. With the help of a couple music videos in addition to this mixtape, A$AP Rocky paints his hometown as a purple-tinted underworld fueled by codeine and kush. More akin to Houston’s syrup-sippin’ chopped and screwed scene, live.love.A$AP is a remarkable effort in which you can’t help but reminisce of the days when UGK and Bone dominated your walkman. There’s a ferocious guest appearance from Schoolboy Q and some nice cameos by Chace Infinite, Spaceghost Purp, and Oakland’s Main Attrakionz. Producer du jour Clams Casino is also responsible for quite a few beats. Much like Big K.R.I.T.’s Returnof4eva tape, why live.love.A$AP didn’t get the retail treatment is anyone’s guess. A$AP has stated that the album will get a physical release, but it remains to be seen if that will actually happen.
Main Attrakionz – 808s & Dark Grapes II
Pusha T – Fear Of God
Ludacris – 1.21 Gigawatts: Back To The First Time
So there it is folks, Boxcarflow’s Top 10 Mixtapes for 2011. All of these are definitely worth the free download from Datpiff.com or any other file-sharing site you might use. Considering these days there is a mixtape released every 5 minutes, it’s literally impossible to sift through and listen to every damn tape that drops. There will no doubt be some snubs. Any mixtapes which you feel we overlooked, holler at us. We would love to hear your picks. Until then….
Peace and Happy Holidayz, from BCF.