Hello Blogosphere! Wisdom is back to surmise on expectations for the First Quarter of 2011. Are those expectations GREAT or LUKEWARM? From a musical standpoint, there are projects that I'm hearing about that are going to drop this first portion of the year.
Talib Kweli is slated to drop Gutter Rainbows tomorrow, January 25th, and from what I've listened to thus far, Talib is still a force to be reckoned with in the hip hop world. He is definitely one of my favorite lyricists, because he comes from a poetic aesthetic when it comes to his construction of rhymes. Over the years, Talib Kweli has fine-tuned his delivery, once a jumbled collection of dope rhymes that took a little deciphering in order to understand, to a cohesive and smooth lyricist that should be on everyone's list as one of the best emcees.
W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) by the incomparable Pharoahe Monch is slated for February, 2011, and I know, know, KNOW this is going to be dope. Monch is one of those emcees who I NEVER question when it comes to material, because he has been an avant-garde lyricist since his early 90's Organized Konfusion days with another equally slept-on talent Prince Po. This album should satisfy the tastebuds of those salivating over dope lyricism and brash, underground beats. If his last release, Desire, is any indication of the direction for this album, then be on the lookout for an epic release.
Chicago-based emcee and also a lyricist supreme Lupe Fiasco is finally releasing Lasers, after much delay due to label issues. I've heard a couple of cuts, so I am pretty sure we are going to be treated to top-notch lyricism and eclectic production. I'm just hoping that the direction of Lasers doesn't venture into TOO much pop territory. I don't want to witness Lupe falling into that proverbial trap of trying to satisfy the masses and sacrificing his ultimate artistic vision.
February, 2011 is also the expected timeline for the release of Arms & Hammers from Left Coast artists Strong Arm Steady. Strong Arm Steady is a dope collective of like-minded emcees Krondon, Mitchy Slick, and Phil Da Agony. Very underrated, but highly talented, Strong Arm Steady should be a crew to watch in 2011 and beyond due to their lyrical talents and dope beat selections. I'm looking forward to this release!
The two largest entities in hip hop are destined to join forces on an epic album: Jay-Z and Kanye West. I'm hearing that March, 2011 is the anticipated release of Watch The Throne. I have no words for this as of yet, because I'm salivating at the prospect of upper echelon talent such as Shawn Corey Carter and Kanye Omari West on an album together. Truthfully, I was a little underwhelmed by "H.A.M.", the just-released joint from these two powerhouses. I guess the stakes are so high with these two together that anything less that a five-star production is a total disappointment. I'm not going to bet against Jay and Kanye, because I'm sure these two are going to pick up where their collaborative efforts on The Blueprint 3 left off.
Jean Grae is poised to release Cake Or Death, a creative title for newest release in March, 2011. Not only one of the dopest female emcees, but one of the dopest emcees PERIOD. If you haven't witnessed the cleverness and delivery from Ms. Grae, just pick up Cake Or Death when it is released. You will be a believer at that point, trust me! To get a taste of just how off the wall Jean Grae is from an intellectual standpoint, just follow her on Twitter under @JeanGreasy. I'm hoping her free-thinking ways will translate to an album that will garner critical and monetary attention.
Raekwon is set to follow-up his 2009 release Only Built For Cuban Links...Part II and 2010 trio album Wu-Massacre (along with Meth and Ghost) with Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang, an album entirely devoid of production from RZA, the mythical head of the Wu-Tang empire. I'm hoping that the musical backdrop for this album serves Raekwon well. The album is slated to have lyrical contributions from Ghost, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Black Thought from The Legendary Roots Crew! Sounds like a potent concoction indeed. This album should see release March 8, 2011.
The return of Goodie Mob is something that hip hop fans have been clamoring for over the course of the past decade or so. With Cee-Lo experiencing much success outside the realm of the Goodie Mob umbrella, it's only fitting that he join forces with his Dungeon Family brethren to give the Dirty South and everyone else what is needed in today's lukewarm musical climate. I believe that the album is mostly completed, with a March/April 2011 release scheduled. If it isn't released this quarter, I'm not upset, because I want this as yet untitled project to be worth every dime invested. I'm sure that it will be a dope release.
Blu is a slept-on, and relatively unknown entity from the Left Coast. Along with producer Exile, among others, Blu has been crafting very unique and dope music, reaching a pinnacle with Below The Heavens in 2007. His 2011 release will be entitled HerFavoriteColo(u)r/The Godlee Barnes LP, with Godlee Barnes serving as the production alter-ego for Blu. The album is a fourteen-song collection of the inner thoughts of an emcee. Look for the double LP/CD release March, 2011.
Will we EVER see the release of the Saigon album The Greatest Story Never Told? February 15, 2011 is the timeline for the oft-delayed album to finally see the light of day. I'm hoping that the delay hasn't spoiled interest in this album, which created so much buzz in the industry a few years ago. Under the guidance and production of Just Blaze, I'm hoping that The Greatest Story Never Told holds up to its advanced billing. We shall see.
Smif-n-Wessun AND Pete Rock together for an entire album? Monumental is the aptly-named project featuring sole production from Soul Brother Number One himself, Pete Rock. This album has been in the making for the past few years, and will see its culmination with a February, 2011 release. "Prevail" is the first single released, featuring Raekwon, and it is indeed a banger. The rest of this album should follow suit, so cop this joint when it is released next month!
Along with these albums, there are countless other releases slated between January-March of this year. This should make for a pretty interesting 2011 in hip hop. Let's hope for the best!