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Top 10 Free Albums: 2011

Justin Ivey: Another year, another #1 free album for Big K.R.I.T. The Mississippi emcee/producer stole the show once again with Return Of 4Eva, the follow-up to his breakthrough K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. After releasing the very dope Digital Dan LP in the spring, Nemo Achida showed he was holding onto some even better material on his album Nemotional. THURZ broke away from his U-N-I roots to show a politically-driven side which resulted in easily the best work to date from the West Coast emcee. Supreme INK caught my attention with “DeepSeaGumpShrimpin” and proved they were well worth that hype with their project Sell It To Me Free. Illogic dug into the vaults to present the world with a previously unreleased collaboration with producer Walter Rocktight that was originally intended to be distributed on Rhymesayers back in 2006. The line between mixtapes and “free albums” is blurry of course, but we look at it simply as the way the artist presents the project. If the artist identifies their project as an album and there’s no DJ or jacked instrumentals involved, then it’s not a mixtape to us.

Michael Kaminsky: In an age where music lovers do most of their listening for free; be it through illegal downloading, Spotify, or artists releasing their music for free, or practically nothing (also known as, “pay what you can”)—these days the top free albums category can easily stand up next to album of the year list. Danny Brown’s XXX was by far one of my top albums of the year, with nothing else comparably dropping for just the cost of a click. Blu’s Jesus, originally released as a free, lower-quality download, comes in second for me. Then the ranking got a bit difficult. Releases from native New Yorkers A$AP Rocky and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, both members of U-N-I (THURZ and Yonas Michael), and a Wu-Tang mashup fill out the rest of my top ten free albums of 2011.

Justin

  1. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva
  2. THURZ – L.A. Riot
  3. Nemo Achida – Nemotional
  4. Supreme INK – Sell It To Me Free
  5. Illogic & Walter Rocktight – Year 8076
  6. Jon Mercure – Surrender To Win
  7. Stalley – Lincoln Way Nights
  8. Zero Star – Maybe I’m Joking, Maybe I’m Not
  9. Hollywood FLOSS – One Fan At A Time
  10. Danny Brown – XXX

Honorable Mentions

  • Roosh Williams – Common Struggles Of A Modern Man
  • Young Scolla – Seconds Away
  • VURN – Elevation
  • Zumo Kollie – The Last Standing
  • Nemo Achida – The Digital Dan LP
  • A.Dd+ – When Pigs Fly
  • Rittz – White Jesus
  • D.Julien – Ready For Tomorrow
  • STS – The Illustrious

Michael

  1. Danny Brown – XXX
  2. Blu – Jesus LP
  3. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva
  4. Wugazi (Cecil Otter & Swiss Andy) – 13 Chambers
  5. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – Lost In Translation
  6. THURZ – L.A. Riot
  7. A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP
  8. Yonas Michael – Lost In Hollywood
  9. Death Grips – Exmilitary
  10. Hannibal King – Flowers For Pamela

Honorable Mentions

  • L.E.P. Bogus Boys – Now or Neva
  • STS – The Illustrious
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