One year comes to an end, another starts. There's just no let up; it's always one year or another. Last year saw my return to listening to Christian Hip Hop after relinquishing my duties writing for my own secular Hip Hop site.
In terms of music it's been a year I've enjoyed greatly. For the couple of years previous I'd been listening to way too much music, some good, some bad (for different reasons) because I committed to providing a very comprehensive coverage of the UK Hip Hop scene. This meant I no longer listened to music for pleasure. This year, picking up albums at my own pace, and listening to them for my own enjoyment has been great. Having said this, some of the albums I've listened to and enjoyed this year are ones I've had the priviledge of reviewing for SphereOfHipHop.com - an opportunity I've been very thankful for.
Now, in no particular order, and in no way definitive (because I've not listened to everything that's been released this year!), a list of my favourite Christian Hip Hop albums:
shai linne's 'The Attributes of God', was one which I was looking forward to. I love everything he'd done previously and he's been my most-played artist of 2011. The production on 'TAOG' didn't really do it for me but the lyrical and theological content is just so powerful that this is an album I'll be listening to for a lot longer. It also inspired me to finally read A.W. Pink's book of the same name, which is most excellent, although I do need to get on finish it now - it's only a short book! Get the download for $10 at the Lampmode site.
Braille's 'Native Lungs' was probably my most favourite CD this year. The beats are heavy, the rhymes are open and honest and Braille brings the gospel message clearer than most have ever done. This was a free download but I bought a CD because I loved it so much.
JGivens' 'Run' just popped up from nowhere for me. I'd never heard of him, or his music before but it blew my socks off. Creative and humourous whilst delivering messages of utmost importance JGiven's became my favourite new rapper. Fact. 'Run' is also now a free download on the JGivens Bandcamp page.
Earlier on in the year, right at the point of my return to CHH, two albums were released by Illect Recordings. The first one was muzeONE's 'Cold War', an album which reminded me of how credible the CHH scene can be - it's full of hard beats and clever, insightful, well-written rhymes. Solid stuff. You can get it for the ridiculous sum of $5 at the Illect bandcamp site.
The other Illect release was Sintax the Terrific's 'Prince With A Thousand Enemies' which was another release that got me inspired to read a book: Richard Adams' 'Watership Down' (another one that I've not finished because I had to take it back to the library - really want to finish it though!). The album takes concepts from the book and applies them to the life of a human, particularly to the life of a Christian. It's one of the most poetic releases I've heard this year and despite being based on a (so-called) children's book, it's also one of the deepest and most thought-provoking. This one can also be had for $5.
Another free download, and again from the Humble Beast stable: Theory Hazit's 'The Rock Is Steady' E.P./mixtape. It's a quick blast (15 minutes - perfect!) of bonafide Hip Hop music with a heavy nod to its predecessors. It gets no realer. Click here to get it!
Mr. J. Medeiros was an artist I'd known of for ages, primarily for his 'of gods and girls' album on Rawkus a few years back. In 2011 he dropped the genre-defying (although it's still Hip Hop to me) 'Saudade'. I loved the name, because I loved the word previously and I loved the album - tons of musically-excellent Rap music with lyrics to really get you thinking. This one's also $5 on Bandcamp - mental.
Paradox and DJ Sean P's 'Mending' was a release I reviewed for SOHH.com - another solid Hip Hop album full of some of the best beats and the best rhymes of the year. It's got a great list of guest appearances too - your favourites are bound to be there. Get this for $7.77, well why not?
Sneaking in at the last minute are theBREAX with their album 'Never Arrive'. It comes in on the back of a slew of excellent mixtapes and a building buzz that left me with no choice but to check this release out. I'll be reviewing it very soon for SOHH.com so look out for my thoughts on that one - suffice to say it'll be positive. This can be gotten here for an amount of dollars (which I can't see because I'm in the UK).
That's only a top 9, but it's only alliteration that dictates there should be 10. If you've not heard any of these, it's only going to set you back around 40 dollars to pick up all these quality projects - not bad eh? Here's to a new year and more fresh, God-glorifying, Kingdom-furthering, Christ-praising Hip Hop music.