The BIG List: 66 Most Important Hip-Hop Songs of 2011 (Pg. 8)
"That Way" - Wale Feat. Jeremih
Underrated crooner Jeremih helped kickstart Wale’s MMG rebirth with a smooth, lady-friendly record from the underrated Self Made, Vol. 1 compilation.
"The City" - The Game Feat. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar adds The Game to his body count, after completely stealing the show on this standout from The R.E.D. Album.
"The Motto" - Drake Feat. Lil Wayne
With a bounce that’s virtually made for the strip club, Drake’s digital bonus cut from Take Care wins with a clever Wayne guest verse and real talk acronym: Y.O.L.O. (You only live once).
"Tony Montana" - Future Feat. Drake
Future continues hip-hop’s longtime obsession with Scarface by mentioning the name of Al Pacino’s character a hypnotizing 52 times. The breakout single helped Future become a new mouth of the South and one of rap’s most exciting rookies.
"Tupac Back" - Meek Mill Feat. Rick Ross
Armed with some of year’s catchiest opening bars (“Tupac back/I’m two glocks strapped/Rolling down in Philly, this the new Iraq), Meek Mill’s national breakthrough stirred up ‘Pac stans who felt the MMG young’un was likening himself to Mr. Shakur. All eyes have been on Meek ever since.
"Words I Never Said" - Lupe Fiasco Feat. Skylar Grey
After nearly two years of sitting on the shelf, Lupe Fiasco decided to record a single raising 9/11 conspiracies, criticizing the Gaza strip bombings and calling the war on terror “a bunch of bullshit.” Well played, sir.
"Work Out" - J. Cole
J. Cole purists and rap blog snobs hated this first official single from Cole World: The Sideline Story. Yet cleverly flipping Kanye West’s “The New Workout Plan” and Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” the one-night-stand ode gave young Jermaine his first gold plaque—even after being relegated to his debut album’s “bonus track.”
"Worldwide Choppers" - Tech N9ne Feat. Busta Rhymes, Ceza, D-Loc, JL of B. Hood, Twista, Twisted Insane, U$O and Yelawolf)
Tech N9ne unites spitters of different nations—and tongues—for this multilingual cut from All 6’s and 7’s.
"Yonkers" - Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, the Creator and his Odd Future crew became the music industry’s new great hype when this shocking video hit the Internet. The visual—which depicted Tyler eating insects, hurling and ultimately, hanging himself over a grim, sparse backdrop —was crowned video of the year by @KanyeWest, less than two months into 2011.