In an effort to further explore the myriad and "Komplicated" musical tastes of the modern "post-Black" denizens of the world, we present Spin City, which will feature recommendations from some of the world’s finest DJs, headlined by the selections of our own "resident DJ," comic book fan, Star Wars and wrestling aficionado and all around swell guy, the world famous DJ Jedi [Facebook, Twitter and podcast]. He's graciously agreed to drop the science on musicology for you …
Happy 2012, everybody! We made it!
For this week's Spin City, I'm taking a nostalgic look back at my favorite albums of the past year. I have to say: 2011 wasn't a particularly great year for albums, as far as I'm concerned. To be clear: there was no shortage of good SONGS that were released last year. But full, all-out, actually quality ALBUMS? Album: As in, a well-thought-out body of songs operating under a cohesive conceptual arc, with a definite beginning, middle, and end? And actually GOOD? Yeah, those were few and far between in 2011.
With that in mind: here's my obligatory year end list of the best albums from 2011. Notice how I didn't bother to distinguish between EPs, compilations, mixtapes vs. official releases, etc. No time for all that. Good music is good music. These are the records that got repeated spins from me this past year.
In no particular order:
- Little Dragon, Ritual Union
Sweden's greatest export since the Volvo delivers one of the most solid releases of the year. Little Dragon's pop/dance/soul/electronic sensibilities continue to fill the musical void I feel in the absence of new and relevant material from groups like the Sneaker Pimps, Morcheeba, Portishead, and Zero 7. Oh, and this sh** BUMPS in the whip.
Standout Tracks: “Precious,” “Ritual Union,” “Nightlight”
- Bibio, Mind Bokeh
Bibio's second release on Warped records, and probably his best one yet, makes the attempt to be all things to all people, and mostly succeeds. What I love about Mind Bokei is how diverse and eclectic it is. Some songs are Dilla-inspired instrumental hip hop beats. Some have a bossa nova/world music kind of feel to them. Some songs are acoustic. Some are housey. But they ALL sound like credible representations within their respective genres.
Standout Tracks: “K Is For Kelson,” “Anything New,” “Light Sleep”
- Zo! …just visiting three EP
The third release from Zo!'s series of soulful reinterpretations of yesteryear's classics. This edition is probably the best one of the lot, as it features tastful and highly creative re-imaginings of everyone from Wham! to Steely Dan to Barry White to Anita Baker. This one's short and sweet, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. Released as a free download earlier this past summer, this may be some of the best free music to come out in 2011.
Standout Tracks: “Everything She Wants” (feat. Phonte), “Black Cow” (feat. Phonte & Sy Smith), “Playing Your Game Baby” (feat. Anthony David)
- Blu, No York
I haven't f***ed with a Blu album this tough since his cult classic Below The Heavens. Dude pulled out all the stops on this one, with production from some of the best beatmakers in the game (including a brief reunion with his BTH cohort, Exile) and guest appearances from some of the best up and coming emcees on the west coast. Word on the street is, No York was slated to be Blu's major label debut. Evidently Blu got sick of waiting for said label to get its sh** together, and took the proactive stance by literally handing out free copies of the cd at last year's Rock The Bells, asking only that fans provide the appropriate monetary support when the official release finally comes. Done and done.
Standout Tracks: “SpringWinterSummerFall” (feat. Jimetta Rose), “My Sunshine” (feat. Nia Andrews), “Doin Something” (feat. everybody & they mama)
- Thundercat, Golden Age Of Apocalypse
Session bassist to the stars (Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, Suicidal Tendencies, and Flying Lotus, to name a few …) finally got around to releasing his long-awaited solo debut on Brainfeeder recordings in summer of 2011, and it was well worth the wait. Golden Age Of Apocolypse is probably my Album Of The Year, if number of spins is any indication. I don't think a day has gone by since I bought the album that I haven't listened to it at least in part. It's one of those records that rewards repeated listening, with new layers and odd sounds beneath the surface that become more apparent with each subsequent spin. The quirky, syncopated rhythms, and unorthodox time signatures do a great job of keeping things exciting throughout. There's an incredible cover of one of my favorite George Duke songs (and MF Doom samples for you diggers out there) in "For Love I Come Your Friend." There are songs that range from Low End Theory type beats to downtempo chillout joints to yacht rock. But my favorite moment on the genre bending album has to be Thundercat's experimental use of string samples "Boat Cruise." Consider me a loyal fan from here on out. I'll be looking forward to future releases from this dude.
Standout Tracks: “Boat Cruise,” “Walkin,” “Is It Love?” “Jamboree”
- Elzhi, Elmatic
This album is a miracle. Elzhi (with a LOT of help from producers/band Will Sessions) somehow pulled off a credible remake of Nas' '94 hip hop masterpiece, Illmatic. On at least three occasions on Elmatic, they may have actually surpassed the original source material they drew from. Interestingly enough, upon its initial release, Elmatic was hailed by the parties responsible as a "mixtape." The rich live instrumentation, impeccable lyricism, and meticulous attention to detail make this probably more ambitious than 90% of most OFFICIAL hip hop releases. If this is still regarded as a mere mixtape, then Elzhi and company just singlehandedly raised the bar for what constitutes a mixtape going forward into 2012.
Standout Tracks: “Life's A Bitch” (feat. Royce da 5'9" & Stokley Williams from Mint Condition), “The World Is Yours,” “Represent”
- J1 aka The Deer presents: Starship 27, Vol. 2: Take Off
This epic compilation features contributions from damn near everybody who's anybody in the LA Beat scene right now. Top notch contributions from the likes of Dam Funk, KONE, Black Spade, Dibia$e, Wajeed, Houseshoes, Computer Jay, Ras G, and so many more, kept this in constant rotation for me for most of 2011. Sadly, we lost the mastermind responsible for this incredible musical contribution, J1 aka The Deer, in December of 2011. If this most excellent comp is any indication, we were on the verge of great things from that guy. R.I.P.
Standout Tracks: KONE, “Funk 3481,” Houseshoes, “Castles,” Black Spade & Coultrain, “B Wit U”
Barring unforeseen challenges, Spin City should be waiting for you, right here on Komplicated.com, every Monday afternoon.
[Source: DJ Jedi]