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The Ten Best (Non-Houston) Rap Albums of 2011

A deal, then: Let's pretend like this was some really clever, insightful preamble; ideally, when you finished reading it, you would've immediately said, "Dang. That was a really clever, insightful preamble."

Let's pretend it had some sort of neat underlying agenda, something that directly discussed the year's biggest stories (probably would've had jokes about Skrillex and Mac Miller, maybe even a chart that compared Drake's eyebrows to J. Cole's eyebrows) while side-stroking the cumbersome collective ego of Houston rappers (CAN YOU BELIEVE A$AP ROCKY!!!?? ANGERANGERANGER).

Let's pretend it was cool and hip and interesting.

And we'll pretend like you read it with care, instead of just clicking through to the list with a titanium-heavy index finger, ready to bludgeon it in the forehead with Thor's hammer (which, for the Internet, translates to birthing some borderline belligerent tweets).

The list, then:

So here's how this works this time: Rather than write an unending epistle for each album, we've assigned a hard word count. Each album will be allowed the number of words that correspond with its ranking (example: the second best rap album of the year will have to be surmised in two words, the third in three).

Entiendes?

Then let's motherfuck it up.

10. Killer Mike's Pl3dge

Still here. Still under-appreciated. Still smarter than you are. Still.

9. Juicy J and Lex Luger's Rubba Band Business 2

Squishy, trippy, booming, confrontational muddy rap; 28 fuckin' songs.

8. Shabazz Palace's Black Up/Frank Ocean's nostalgia, Ultra

These count as rap? I mean, Drake's here, so...

7. Danny Brown's XXX

Extension of Brown; ethereal, existential Internet weirdo.

6. Raekwon's Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang

"You misunderstand how kung-fu works."

5. Tyler, the Creator's Goblin

Won't really rape you. Relax.

4. The Throne's Watch The Throne

Good. Not a classic.

3. Big K.R.I.T.'s Return of 4eva

Southern rap aesthete.

2. Kendrick Lamar's Section 80

Holy fuck.

1. Drake's Take Care

Drakeisthemostinterestingrapperontheplanet-rightnowHeistheInternetandhisexistentialdrea-disanunstoppablememeItmightonlyberapbeca-usethatisthesectionwheretheyplaceitBestBuy-ButstillTakeCareisathoroughlyinte-llectualalbumEvenifyoudontlikehimyouprobabl-ytookthetimetolistentoitandthatssortofthewholepointofmusic.

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