Good production speaks volumes and 2011 rang in a number of subwoofing decibel raisers. Whether they were constantly being swiped by other MCs sprinkling their own lyrical flavor on them as freestyles or stood as irresistible smashes, it’s no easy task deciding just which beats were the hottest. Taking a look at releases from last December up until this month, XXL dug deep to find the year’s hottest instrumentals. As the year reaches a close, XXL ranks the 10 hottest beats of 2011. —XXL Staff
Look At Me Now
Say what you want, but this certainly was no R&B record when everyone—including C. Breezy—was rapping. Diplo’s hypnotic sound paved the way for one of the year’s standout smashes.
Of the many gems tucked in Drake’s sophomore album, Just Blaze’s fiery “Lord Knows” shines bright. One of the things that made this cut refreshing was Just’s decision to use a live choir instead of a gospel sample. The end results made for an amazing record.
Self Made, Vol. 1’s thunderous opener was one of the best intro productions of the year. With Just Blaze on the boards, it was no surprise.
The plodding yet dark Lex Luger production was a problem once it hit the streets and airwaves as it left proper placement for many (Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and more) besides Ace Hood, to polish their hustle.
Mike Will’s ferocious Self Made, Vol. 1 cut had everyone and their mothers reincarnating their favorite lionized figures.
Simply a beat fit for “luxury rap,” The Throne’s proper first single—following the DOA “H.A.M.”—offered one of the year’s main attractions. Verses to the side, Kanye’s dexterous decision of chopping up Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness”—shouts and all—created a spry track that found just about everyone—including Jaz-O— taking a stab at it.
6 Foot 7 Foot
With a “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” sample included, Bangladesh spazzed on the boards for Wayne’s first Carter IV offering. The titillating production properly ignited the Young Money megastar’s 2011 takeover.
I'm On One
It’s almost impossible to overlook T-Minus’ entrancing groove off DJ Khaled’s We the Best Forever. From the moment the opener rings in to when the bass drops with its jittering synths, it’s hard not to believe why “I’m On One” won’t become a modern day classic.
It’s pretty clear when this song dominated airwaves throughout the year. As soon as the horns bellow—seemingly announcing Meek Mill's arrival as rap's next star—the production commands attention. Jahlil Beats’ hammering backdrop anchored in a scorching summer filled with repeated listens and freestyles.
Jay-Z and Kanye West
The top spot is reserved for ‘one song and one song only,’ and track three off Hov and ’Ye’s critically-praised Watch the Throne is just what gets the people going. What made Hit-Boy’s sleek seeping production one of the best was its unconventional, yet bombastic sound that offered a little more than popular brooding rifts. It’s popularity skyrocketed within such a short time frame while garnering many passport stamps by MCs attempting to make their own mark on the instrumental. Time will tell whether or not it’s timeless, but for now, in the words of Kanye, this shit Cray.