After a few relatively wayward years, Atlanta hip-hop returned with a vengeance in 2011. Killer Mike dropped an album so good it made the storied I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind sound meek by comparison; T.I. and Andre 3000 flashed glimpses of their former selves; even Soulja Boy showed some imagination with his Pac-inspired Juice mixtape. A few talented neighborhood cats went unexplainably M.I.A. (where are Homebwoi and Grip Plyaz?), and Shawty Redd’s legal troubles threatened to derail his brilliant career. But all told, local hip-hop enjoyed a productive calendar year.
While the gilded glare of the spotlight shone brightest on mainstream firebrands like Cee-Lo, most of the year’s best local releases caught traction in the underground. Here are ten of the most impactful mixtapes this city had to offer in 2011.
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1) Rittz, White Jesus
This shit reps North Georgia so hard, there should be a “Made in Gwinnett County” imprint stamped on the cover. A stocky, redheaded MC who talks about the hardships and unique spoils of country living, Rittz will bring back nostalgic memories for anyone who grew up on Bubba Sparxxx’s Deliverance. Throw in a few pinches of Ghetto Mafia for healthy measure.
2) DJ Burn One, The Ashtray
DJ Burn One’s latest coup d'état was clearly informed by years and years spent listening to neo-Southern jam bands. Spurred by his preference for creepy church hymns and haunted roots-rock, it’s like the best My Morning Jacket record Jim James never wrote. Editor's note: Besides being CL's Producer of the Year, DJ Burn One also produced the top three mixtapes on this list.
3) Scotty, Summer Dreams
Scotty takes it back to ’95 with this serving of endlessly chewable comfort food. It can be easy to overlook the ATLien’s troubled rhymes, wherein he wrestles with the twin terrors of having to win bread for his family and risk his life in the trap.
4) Tity Boi, Codeine Cowboy: A 2 Chainz Collective
In a year when Pill’s The Diagnosis fell largely on deaf ears, there was a void for stealthy ATL street-rap. Tity Boy, who was half of the self-effacing duo Playaz Circle in his previous life, mercifully came to the rescue.
5) The Jet Age of Tomorrow, Journey to the 5th Echelon
One can only guess which substances the Jet Age of Tomorrow enjoyed (2C-I? X? Some combination of the aforementioned?) during the coordination of this instrumental freakout.
6) Trouble, December 17th
Leave it to a guy named Trouble to dish on the ins and outs of prison life. At his best, which is often, Trouble recalls the late Soulja Slim in style and worldview.
7) Alley Boy, Definition of Fuck Shit 2
Alley Boy’s truly disturbing verse on Freddie Gibbs’ “Rob Me a Nigga” wasn’t an accident. The individual tracks on this monolithic tape tend to blur together, but that’s the point: Definition of Fuck Shit 2 is an immersive experience.
8) P. Dukes, Easy Money 3: Celebration and Tribulation
“I’m only a Christian when it’s convenient,” laments P. Dukes on the chilling “Save Me a Prayer.” His bluff, flat-footed honesty is the main draw of Easy Money 3.
9) Roscoe Dash, Dash Effect
Buoyed by Roscoe Dash's affinity for syrup soaked club-rap, Dash Effect gets impressive mileage out of tunes like "Swish" and "Moscato." His exuberant temperament, captured at its frothiest on older tracks like 2009's immortal "All the Way Turnt Up," never relents over the course of this 34-track tape.
10) Waka Flocka Flame & French Montana, Lock Out
Waka might lack Gucci Mane’s sporty, freewheeling charisma, but the Riverdale-bred provocateur turns in an epic performance on this lethally catchy tape (which gets an assist from Bronx’s no-holds-barred French Montana).
11) Future, True Story
The lethally catchy True Story is a powerful testament to the influence of producers Lex Luger and Zaytoven; their fingerprints are all over this tape. Future, meanwhile, inches ever closer to matching the sporty, freewheeling charisma of frequent collaborator Gucci Mane.
Nashville has more dive bars than ATL now that sucks. tbh i think that new…
*Christ, Lord sorry
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.