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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.


  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


  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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  • Thomas

    I’ve seen Elmatic listed every which way so it’s a free release to me.  “Detroit State of Mind” gives me chills.  Will Sessions knocked the production out of the park. I “almost” copped the instrumental album. Stalley’s Lincoln Way Nights is top notch lyricism and production from top to bottom.  STS, RO Spit, Uptown XO, Blasion Maven, Schoolboy Q (was late on him), Louie P. Newton, Smoke DZA, Prodigy, Hollywood Floss, Soulful!, Immortal Technique, and Actual Proof dropped solid joints as well. I can’t wait until Diamond District drop their sophomore album later this year.

    Elzhil – Elmatic
    Stalley – Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music)
    Uptown XO – Monumental 2
    STS – The Illustrious
    Ro Spit – The Glass Ceiling Project
    Blasion Maven – The Stratosphere
    Schoolboy Q – Setbacks
    Louie P. Newton- Here For A Reason
    Soulful! – Mumbo Sauce & Drumbreaks
    Immortal Technique – The Martyr

    Smoke DZA – THC (The Hustlers Catalog)
    Prodigy – The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP
    Actual Proof – The Talented Tenth
    Hollywood Floss – One Fan At A Time

  • Kevin Holloway

    Good choice wit that Illogic & Rocktight Justin. Loved that album. Nice collections from both of you. I need to check the A$AP Rocky joints. i haven’t checked any of his material this year, but he seem to be on the can’t miss list. That A.Dd+ was a smash hit for me!

  • Justin Ivey

    So many dope projects from last year, don’t sleep on these!

  • Arasia Magnetic

    Elzhi: ELMatic. Hands down.

  • Arasia Magnetic

    A.Dd+ was ill ass hell too.

  • Anonymous

    A-Plus Pepper Spray is my fave.

  • DreDaDon18

    No Bitch Im danny brown and i got some weed up in my socks

  • TownBiznes510

    C-Villain’s Stereos, Dominoes & A Few Flows WAS FiRE!! Also Main Attrakionz 808z & Dark Grapes

  • Justin Ivey

    Been meaning to listen to that C-Villain project, definitely need to check it out.

  • Mugz101

    Donny Goines – Succes Served Cold

  • Hurst

    FREDDIE GIBBS: COLD DAY IN HELL …fools be trippin’ for not giving him any dap

  • Anonymous

    Cold Day in Hell is on the mixtape list.  Justin has it in his top ten and I placed it #1 on my comment section list.  >>>

  • Hiphopluvr83

    Why does Elmatic not make this list? This is mind boggling. Is the staff here hating? I’d like to hear your rationale how it doesn’t even get honorable mention. I wonder if I should even waste my time peeping a site that would partake in such foolery. Are you saying that because hard copies were sold, that it wasn’t free?

  • Kevin Nottingham

    This was so long ago, but I think because it was promoted as a mixtape, it was included in our Top Mixtapes of 2011 (which you’ll be happy to hear it made #1).

  • Thomas

    Someone didn’t read the comment section I see?

  • Justin Ivey

    Haha yeah please check the mixtape list before going off on us folks

  • Hiphopluvr83

    This hip hop fan thinks its all about the presentation. If its a dj yappin over it if it’s blended and cut up its a mixtape. If you collaborate with a live band and just make a whole new classic. To me that’s not a mixtape. But I suppose it’s all semantics. Kudos to y’all for listing it as #1 in the top mixtape section though. I apologize for my earlier skepticism.

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