Sunday, January 1, 2012
Ian's 10 Favorite Tracks of 2011
Hey, Hype Floats readers. My name's Ian Stonebrook and I write for NiceKicks.com. My good friend FrankTHEVegan asked me to give my top ten picks of the year. Here they are:
Andre 3000 reminiscent metaphors and lack of need for label driven records shine on the now 25-year-old wine connoisseur’s Take Care. Still, his honesty and openness are his greatest strengths. Such is displayed on “Cameras”. The empty verses and ominous undertones are magnified by the emotional, yearning need for affection on the sample-sounding hook. Personally, this portion takes me back to golden era Aaliyah, Ginuwine, and Missy Elliot work.
The Weeknd: Glass Table Girls
Is House of Balloons the album Justin Timberlake was supposed to make? Sonically I think so. I’m not suggesting a JT album constructed off coke talk and a love of BJs, just that the Weeknd’s work gave me the same rush when first listening to FS/LS. “Glass Table Girls” was my favorite track with “The Party After the Party”, “High for This”, and “Coming Down” making a three-way tie for second.
Jay-Z & Kanye West: N*ggas in Paris
Fans wanting the more introspective, complicated, rap oriented Iceberg Slim got the simple type Jay-Z with Kanye at his sauciest and most accessible. The result? That shit tight, what I’mma say…cray? Not only are multiple lines memes, but the song itself is a moment as it transforms any overheard office earphones or solo car ride into the club.
Heems: I Want it Bad
“I Want it Bad”. That’s the title ya, but more the action I’d love to see. Heems is really good. Like, really, really good. His stage presence is often that of a star, his arsenal of flows rival “Lyrical Exercise” statistics, and he might be too clever and funny for his own good. This solo track doesn’t show much of his skill set but it is an enjoyable repeat listen, unlike much of his DR catalog that’s deeply dynamic but doesn’t quite jam.
A$AP Rocky: Bass
The first time I saw A$AP Rocky was when my friend Brandon posted a screenshot of him on Complex’s Spotted in the Jeremy Scott x adidas Bones, an ill sneaker but sorta representative of the kiddish colors that dress every upstart MC. This wouldn’t be the first, second, or last time, I’d misjudge an artist by their apparel. Anyways I wasn’t on the A$AP bandwagon despite countless high respect co-signs and the very dope “Trilla”. Then “Bass” happened. Sometimes I wonder if the Rocky success is more the Polow Da Don-esque blossoming of the incredible Clams Casino. The countless interviews and incredible spot with Selector silence that. Every other rapper is set on metaphors and punch lines. Rocky really is just that confident and that cool. Watch him swing the pendulum the opposite way Lupe pushed it ’05 and Wayne rocketed it in ’07. Swag up, bars down.
Theophilus London: Why Even Try
In all honesty Theophilus London should have about five spots on my top ten. He’s my favorite artist (which says a lot considering my Kanye-stan stature, perhaps best documented by my shag sporting circa 808s and Heartbreak-era), Lovers Holiday is my favorite musical body of work from the whole year (and a strong case for the strength of the EP format), and having met him and the love he shows to NK means a lot to me. While all of that can lead to some bias, and growing up I can see that it has, I really believe in the work that he’s put out. His versatility makes seeing what’s next as exciting and sometimes scary as any artist out since Kanye. “Century Girl” is the top played song on my iTunes, “Strange Love” is the conversion record for most, “I Stand Alone” is his biggest, but “Why Even Try” is my favorite. I hope his star continues to grow and I hope the world can discover how good “Humdrum Town” is.
Frank Ocean: Songs For Women
Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia/Ultra dropped right around the same time Andrew Noz made a brilliant statement in Billboard about how the Odd Future-aesthetic had a chance to wipe out the Drake sound the same way grunge rock destroyed hair metal. At the time, Ocean was being hailed as OF Drizzy, coming with literally the most unexpected sound from the Golf Wang. While Drake even posted the eventual favorite “Novocane” on his blog (further showing the strength of his collective ear and lack of fear but rather embrace for possible competition) it’s “Song For Women” that I rock with.
The lyrics are dopey, the opening kick commands DJ Drama level playback, and the result is perfect pop. This could have killed on radio, almost like “Best I Ever Had”. Ten months later Drake is on top and Frank is a force to be reckoned with. Still, I don’t think this makes Noz’s statement any less important or impactful even if it didn’t exactly play out that way. “Yonkers” scared everybody.
J Cole: Lost Ones
This is the most gripping multi-person narrative hip-hop’s seen since “Stan”. Anytime a ‘sad song’ is moving enough to make you almost wish you knew the pain just so you could feel it even more is bizarre and breath taking at the same time. And this song is 3-4 years old? If he had the patience to hold on to this for that long it’s clear how much he believes in his potential and staying power.
Travis Barker ft. Kid Cudi: Cool Head
Raise your hand if you’re a little nervous about the WZRD album. Me too, but “Cool Head” calms much of my doubt. This Travis Barker thumper finds mixtape Mescudi transforming into Cudi Vedder (or Eddie Cudder if you prefer), getting dark and determined. This track doesn’t bring the feel good energy of “Up, Up, and Away” or the fire of “Heart of a Lion”, but that fact that it’s completely different and still good says a lot.
I'm no techno* fan, but this song might have opened the door. Perhaps it’s me attaching it good memories, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s an undeniable record, probably it’s both. No need for anyone to rap on this, the Etta James vocals are perfect and just enough for an instrumental that can carry itself. Thanks to the Blurr Man for introducing me to a new sound. Look for a country song to appear in next years list, likely by Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, or possibly even Theophilus London.
*"he called the house techno!"
That’s my joke to close out this year’s top ten list. Originally it was gonna be all funnies, but honestly, Frank (or Evan as I know him), is better at that than anyone in the business and one of the best examples of voice that I love and am inspired by. Between that, the Blogman’s picks (which are sure to make your party fun and get the girls moving), and the return of Car in a Park, I hope that you continue to come to Hype Floats for your music fix.