By William E. Ketchum III
The top five rap songs of 2011 came from stars like Lil Wayne, as he reestablished his chart dominance, new artists like Meek Mill as he staked claim to the throne, and legends like Kanye West and Jay-Z who ventured out of their soul-sampled comfort zone for a club banger that was vastly different from their previous work. Check out RapFix’s picks for the five best rap songs of 2011, listed in no particular order.
Jay-Z and Kanye West: “Ni–as In Paris”
In what many will describe as rap’s song of the year, Kanye West and Jay-Z perform some tag team action over a club-ready Hit-Boy beat, trading bars about excess, braggadocio, women and struggle (“if you escaped what I escaped, you’d be in Paris getting f–ked up too!”). Performing the song up to 11 times in a row while on tour, and keeping listeners engaged for every play? That sh– cray.
Meek Mill (featuring Rick Ross): “Ima Boss”
A synthy backdrop by Jahlil Beats and Rick Ross’ throaty chorus gave this song much of its mainstream traction, but more than anything, this was a coming out party for Meek Mil. The Philly rapper’s boastful bars and unmistakable mic presence were on full display on this selection from Maybach Music Group’s Self Made Vol. 1 compilation, and his star is shining brighter than ever as a result.
Chris Brown (featuring Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes): “Look At Me Now”
On “Look At Me Now,” Lil Wayne, a quick-tongued Busta Rhymes, and a rapping Chris Brown bob-and-weaved their way around a knocking, minimalist backdrop by Philadelphia-based producer and DJ, Diplo. The song captured all of their flows flawlessly, and the result was one of the most inescapable club songs of the year.
DJ Khaled (featuring Drake): “I’m On One”
DJ Khaled has had a knack for putting together all of the right elements for hit singles for years now, and 2011 was no different. With its ethereal backdrop, boastful rhymes and a Drake chorus dedicated to alcohol, weed or whatever vice fits the listener’s preference, “I’m On One” had all the ingredients for a smash.
Lil Wayne (featuring Drake): “She Will”
For another example of Drake and Lil Wayne’s undeniable chemistry: hit play on “She Will.” The duo teamed up for this hit single on Weezy’s platinum-selling album Tha Carter IV. Over an infectious beat from T-Minus, the Young Money head honcho drops some of his best verses of the year while Drizzy sings about a shorty losing her inhibitions.