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Beathearts top selections 2011

First and formost, we very much appreciate all the amazing feedback and input we've got from you all year. Followers, artists, labels, journalists, DJs, partners. If you want to get in touch with new music, ideas, feedback and questions don't hesistate to hit us up on Twitter or via


Thestrom & Antwan


In my mind 2011 was the year of the artist. Never before have I bought so much music directly from the artists rather than a (major) label. Yes, Bandcamp has been around for a while but 2011 was the year where the majority of my purchases came (almost) directly from the artist. And very often from artists I never heard about before.

Looking back, in my mind, 2011 was a not so great year in terms of major album releases but an absolutely amazing year looking back at all the independent, up-and-coming artist that popped up.

These are Thestrom's top selections from 2011 in chronological order:

Elzhi - Elmatic (10 May 2011) Download

"The first initial idea to create the Elmatic project was to actually just rap to the instrumentals. And then what changed that was people coming out with their own tributes to Illmatic. So I was thinking we could twist it. So the next idea I had was to take certain producers that I respected and have them flip the beats to the samples that were on the original Illmatic, and flip them in a way where they were different. The next idea I had was to do it live, so I hooked up with Will Sessions and Will Sessions liked the idea and we just went into the studio and knocked it out. " (Elzhi)

The result is absolutely stunning. The live versions of the Illmatic beats are out of this world and up to standard with modern classics such as Robert Glasper's Dillaludes and El Michels Affair's work with Wu-Tang. Even the lyrics are flipped and updated engeniously: "base heads selling broken amps" converted to "crack heads slanging HDTV’s" on Detroit State of Mind is just one example. I rest my case.

Jesse Futerman - Super basement EP (20 Jun 2011) Download

Canadian beatmaker Jesse Futerman was one of our finest discoveries of the year. Super basement EP is a beautiful collection of songs. Torontobased Futerman is a jazz influenced musician who started of putting our remixes a couple of years ago. Has had a few releases on the Soulection compilations and also released an album entitled, Light of day, via Jus Like music. A pure quality release and we especially appreciate him putting in the effort to use such beautiful cover art.

Chris Dave & Stimulus - 3rd 1st impression (12 Sep 2011) Download

Drummer and producer extraordinaire, Chris Dave, teamed up with New York DJ/MC Stimulus. The beats and production are of the hook and the featurings are top notch. Among others Bilal, Renee Neufville (Zhané), Stokley (Mind Condition), Casey Benjamin (Robert Glasper Experiment). Just check their dope rework of the Maxwell track Bad Habitz. This was one of best releases of the year. No doubt. And if this is the taster we can't wait for the album to drop.

Chris/Stimulus: If you read this we would love an instrumental version :) beatheartsblog(@)

Badbadnotgood - BBNG (17 Sep 2011) Download

Yet another Toronto crew putting out shockwaves via Bandcamp. With their dirty jazzinfluenced reworks of Mass Appeal, Fall in love and Broolyn Zoo (among others) they blew away all our defences and strolled into my top selections of 2011. Ace!

Karizma/Exist - Looking at Blue (19 sep 2011) Listen/Buy

Soulful beat veteran Karizma (Kris Klayton) has had an excellent year with a pile of quality releases. If I have to pick one it would be Exist Looking at blue which has been on high rotation. For this EP Karizma hooked up with Atjazz and it's a special treat. Inspired by Dilla's Walkinonit (off Donuts 2006) they cut the same sample but use it in a completely different context. The original tune is Walk on by from The undisputed truth (Motown 1973). We can't be certain but the minute plus intro just looping the naked sample feels like a nod to the late Jay Dee. Some of the best late night headphone music of the year.

Will Sessions - Real sessions (22 Sep 2011) Download

Will sessions is a group from Detroit with core members Sam Beaubien (trumpet/keys), Bryan Arnold (drums) and Tim Shellabarger (bass). Just like El Michels Affair and The Robert Glasper Experiment, they are another great example of new live group that can pull of a great live hiphop experience. Apart from the Elzhi project, Will Sessions has already gained quite a reputation with their live show as well as working with the likes of Black Milk, 14KT and Mayer Hawthorne. Another crew that deserves more attention. Don't sleep!

Still Pee & Ru - The mood is write (17 okt 2011) Soundcloud

Thomas Rusiak and PeeWee (André Möllerfors) from legendary Swedish rap crew Sherlock teamed up for a project entitled Still Pee & Ru. For us, the stand-out track is The mood is write which is a tribute of the Cherno track from his 1992 EP How is it being U. The whole album is dark, analogue and dirty just the way we like it. With productions like this we have high hopes for more to come from the duo.

Opolopo presents Mutants (5 Dec 2011) Listen

Peter 'Opolopo' Major has been on our radar ever since he started dropping mindblowing bootleg remakes on the Bugz In The Attic forum at the start of the millenium. Now the almighty Tokyo Dawn Records have put together a goodie bag of some of best official remakes from the last couple of years. We loved his epic Gregory Porter rerub of 1960 What? The album as a whole is great and we especially like the fact that they decided to highlight a track by the greatly underexposed Rogièrs. In 2012 we're especially looking forward to his upcoming EP with French rapper Rems as well as a new album.

Mecca:83 - Life sketches part 1 & 2 (5 Dec 2011) Listen/buy

Top of the year Manchester beat surgeon Mecca:83 a.k.a. Evan Jones finally dropped his album entitled Life Sketches Vol 1 & 2. With his album, Mecca:83 continues from where the EP:s left off.

The album features among others another Beathearts favourite that has been bumping in our headphones all year, Buscrates 16 bit ensemble. Expect to hear soulful instrumental beats fused with a analog sound drawing influence from the golden era sounds of Pete Rock as much as the current instrumental beat scene.

The Roots - Undun (Dec 6 2011)

What can I say. Over the last 15+ years, the Roots crew has no doubt been one of the most consistent rap groups out there. Like everyone else they've had their ups and downs but I would have to admit that even my least favourite Roots releases are quality pieces of work and have for the most part grown on me. In 2011 we again witnessed the double nature of the crew: from the very entertaining History of Rap-medleys with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake to their dark and thoughtful album Undun. It's the exception that confirms the rule, Undun is without a doubt one of the best albums of the year from a major label (Def Jam).

My prediction for 2012...

I have no doubt that the biggest musical event of 2012 will be the return of Michael Eugene D'angelo Archer! It's impossible not to have very high expectations of what's to come with an upcoming album and tour. Let's keep all our fingers crossed it will happen!



It's that time of the year again! Best of 2011! Same as last year the list is quite made last minute, next year I should write down everything through the year! But this is what I felt made the strongest impressions over 2011. And as thestrom mentioned, no heavy release, except for in my opinion Pharoahe Monch's!

1. Pharoahe Monch - W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)

Number one on my list, mostly because I think together with Black Thought are the illest MC's alive! The production is solid as well, and the features are not to complain about neither.

2. The Roots - undun

Just released, but deserves a top spot on the list, greatly executed concept album, sticks immediatly and will for sure be ranked among the classic Roots albums in the future. The Roots continues too evolve with album after album, constantly keeping high standard solid hiphop. 

3. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia/Ultra

More mixtape than album, but still on the list. Frank Ocean blew up in 2011. And by right! The RnB/Soul singer makes hit after hit, and should have a great album comin next year!

4. Jamie XX & Gil Scott-Heron - We're New Here

Fantastic cover album by Jamie XX from the great britain group The XX. The young, brilliant, and ’til now, not very talkative–UK producer been makin lot of sound lately with this album and recently the title track on Drake's new album 'Take Care'. Apparently inspired to pick up an MPC after hearing RJD2's 'Dead Ringer'. 

5.1 Bon Iver 
Bon Iver and James Blake share the number 5 spot, both of them released self-titled albums 2011. Extremely well produced albums. Justin Vernon from Bon Iver got massive hype from the features on Kanye's album but the group been releasing quality music for quite a while.

5.2 James Blake
James Blake released two projects in 2011, the self-titled LP and an EP titled 'Enough Thunder', where he and Bon Iver made an collaboration track. This was a new discovery for me in 2011, he came from nowhere with his own style and blew me away!

 Honorable Mentions:

Apollo Brown - Clouds
(marvelous beat-tape from one of my favorite beatmakers, twentyseven two minute tracks that just melts together beautifully) 
Cunninlinguists - Oneirology
(another great album of 2011, dreamy production from Kno and tight verses from Deacon the Villain and Natti)
Skyzoo - The Great Debater
(Skyzoo released a good album in 2011, stand-out tracks: 'Written in the Drums' and 'Test Drive')
Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch The Throne 
(this was probably the most anticipated album of 2011, some tracks were good, while others were less good, though it's still on my list)
Andres aka DJ Dez - III
(heavy detroit music at it's best)
Veronica Maggio - Satan i Gatan
(fabulous swedish pop, I really enjoyed the album this summer)
Ayomari & TiRon - A Sucker for Pumps/En Kärlekshistoria
(the duo released two banger projects 2011, one unofficial EP with swedish connections, and one official debut LP, both really good efforts) 

Top tracks 2011:

Still Pee And Ru - Frustrating Beautiful feat. Chapee & Chess
(mint quality swedish hiphop, this is my favorite track on the album) 
M.E.D. - Classic feat. Talib Kweli
(fantastic beat from Karriem Riggins)
Immortal Technique - Toast To The Dead
(mostly for a heavy beat from Dilla)
Timbuktu  - Dansa feat. Jan Lundgren & Duo Pannacotta
(spoken word and classic music, makes you feel like your on a cloud watchin over the world)
Wildcookie - Heroine
(great album as well, but this track is a standout)
The Weekend - High For This
(smooth up'n'comer, cool track)
Onra - Change of Heart
(fabulous Jam & Lewis remake)
yU - If U Down
(yU just released his new album 'The Earn', it would probably be on the list if it was released sooner, haven't really had the time to listen through it, yU release quality hiphop and this track is a killer!)
Opolopo - Opolopo's Run
(quoting Swedish funk bandit Opolopo is back with a track that fell off the 'Voltage Controlled Feelings' star cruiser somewhere in the Delta Sector of the Omega Quadrant..)

Predictions 2012:

No doubt the album I'm looking forward too the most is Dillas new posthumous album 'The Rebirth of Detroit', the snippet of the track 'Detroit Madness' feat. Phat Kat that leaked a while ago made my head noddin'! Led by the unifying efforts of the Yancey Music Group. Announced by Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, the mother of the great J Dilla.

And of course as thestrom wrote, should be fun to see what D'Angelo can come up with concert-wise and album-wise, just the fact that you are about too see how he looks like nowadays is exciting!

Also I'm quite curious about french duo Union's upcoming project. The two singles 'Time Leak' feat. Talib Kweli & Sly Johnson and 'Wings' feat. Elzhi has been off the hook!

Psst... The good swedes Newtimers debut 'Ego' is something that should light 2012 up!!

1 reactions:

DjM said...

really looking forward to the return of D'Angelo... may he pick up right where 'Voodoo' left off! as for the rebirth of detroit album, i'm not getting my hopes up too much until i see concrete evidence of new, undiscovered Dilla beats. Yancey Boys blew my mind.