The Year of The Indie Award: St. Vincent - This was tough. Plenty of indie artists came out with wonderful music this year, thanks to the GRAMMY's focus beyond album sales. The Weeknd, tUnE-yArDs, Washed Out, Toro Y Moi and The Roots (as usual, though) all had records that had everyone thinking outside the box, mainly to think they are indie music aficionados, but what really matters is how much the artist can shake these jokers up. St. Vincent has been doing that for years, and seems to only get better when looking at her album Strange Mercy. It was the best at showing what indie musicians are all about - being able to create some mainstream pop ish but excelling just as well in their own lane.
The Best 2011 Hiphop Beat: Lil' B "Motivation" (produced by Clams Casino) - This year had a colossal of dope beats, from 9th Wonder's entire Jamla crew to the Watch The Throne production. One producer that stuck out the most was Clams Casino, and it all started with this Lil' B jawn. The mixture of noise with the classic hiphop break and the extra tribal percussion snuffed a new punch to the hiphop scene, one that is highly untechnical and carefree, especially steering clear from in-your-face boom-bap rap.
Clams Casino - 01 Motivation [FLAC] by ClamsCasino
Nostalgia Done Right in 2011: Com Truise - Pick a record, any record, from this guy and you'll hear both originality and a Miami Vice soundtrack. Com Truise has the 80's new wave synthpop sound down to a nostalgic pat where the music sets people in a world stocked with postmodern industrial, futuristic-looking furniture and neon stop lights for the Jetsons flying saucer. Cyanide Sisters and Galactic Melt respectively embodied Com Truise's ability to own his own retro sound that matches what seemed to be dude's interpretation of what he grew up with.
Flightwave by JONEZ
The Sappiest Artist of 2011: Wiz Khalifa - Honestly, this award could've been given to him a long time ago. Don't let Kush and OJ and all his other slightly more machismo, smoker-crazed mixtapes fool you, Wiz is one sappy cat. Recalling "Say Yeah," let alone his extremely thin body, that dude is nowhere near capable of holding down a hardcore mantra. And that's ok - it's just when he wonders off into a "I Roll Up" stupor that pulls his chump card. Does Amber Rose really bring that out of guys?!
Best Flow of 2011: Dream Hampton "Denouement" - Although I speak a lot on music-type music, it doesn't hurt to highlight highlight-worthy spoken word. On one of the best albums of 2011, TiRon and Ayomari A Sucker For Pumps, journalist (and poet too, I guess) Dream drops the deepest piece any woman with a heart will understand. She opens up with:
Romantic love is always inconveniently self-announcing
Despite its unwilling participants. Wounded healers,
Unavailable men in need of constant companionship.
Women whose haunted havens are unsafe.
And throughout the poem, pieces of structured stream-of-consciousnesses that each illustrate a revelation of some love-and-relationship-sort, she places this toosie "though counter intuitive, when you hit a curve in love you should accelerate, not brake," reminding everyone that love is rough but fight through that shit.
The Best Tribute to an Icon in 2011: Bob Dylan at The GRAMMYs - Although all the award shows have become complete snoozefests, this performance/tribute set to "Maggie's Farm" was unforgettable. The two acts, Mumford & Sons and Avett Brothers, pave a folk-like river toward the sea that is Bob Dylan. They come together and perform in this magical fashion, especially hearing all those instruments (specifically Bob Dylan's raspy water-deprived vocals) play under the warm, intimate light - the way folk should always be enjoyed!
The Quickest and Tastiest Flavor of 2011: KING - How can you have the shortest EP that draws the biggest buzz only to never follow up? Though folks can stare at Jay Electronica for his once-a-year single releases, this L.A. trio falls guilty to that same strategy. KING released one of the best EPs this year titled The Story, and in three songs charmed their way into the R&B elite. Folks still talk about The Story, but shift the focus on what's next for KING. No one knows the answer though!
KING-The Story EP by weareKINGworldwide