Black Up
Great rap music came from all walks of life in 2011. Mixtape phenoms J. Cole, Das Racist, and Tyler, the Creator came into their own with excellent major label debuts. The Roots, DJ Quik, Pharoahe Monch, and the Beastie Boys showed that golden-age veterans still have significance, even in a young person's game, and TV stars Drake and Childish Gambino proved that on-screen entertainers often have just as much charisma on the microphone. As expansive as rap was this year, two of the biggest releases were by the usual MVPs. Lil Wayne released the eagerly anticipated Carter IV, another classic in the series, and chart-toppers Jay-Z and Kanye West put aside their creative differences to team up for a surefire blockbuster with Watch the Throne.

Ace Hood - Blood Sweat & Tears
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2
Danny Brown - XXX
Childish Gambino - Camp
The Cool Kids - When Fish Ride Bicycles
Das Racist - Relax
DJ Quik - The Book of David
Drake - Take Care
J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story
Killer Mike - PL3DGE
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV
Pharoahe Monch - W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)
9th Wonder - The Wonder Years
Phonte - Charity Starts at Home
Pusha T - Fear of God II: Let Us Pray
Random Axe - Random Axe
The Roots - Undun
Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told
ScHoolboy Q - Setbacks
Shabazz Palaces - Black Up
Tech N9ne - All 6's and 7's
Tyler, the Creator - Goblin
Wale - Ambition
Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne
Wiz Khalifa - Rolling Papers