Kanye West and Jay-Z perform during VEVO Presents: G.O.O.D. Music at VEVO Power Station on March 19, 2011 in Austin, Texas. (Getty Images)more pics »As the year comes to its end, now is the time to look back on everything 2011 brought us. And having already given you our Top 10 Electronica Songs of the year, now we've turned our attention to hip-hop.
From newcomers like J. Cole to rap veterans Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, here's our list of the greatest hip-hop tracks of 2011.
"Work Out" - J. Cole
Just when you thought you'd never again hear a mainstream rap song that hadn't been adultured by Auto Tune and/or an uninspired techno beat, out comes J. Cole with some serious old school goodness. The track -- which samples Paula Adbdul's 1988 hit "Straight Up" -- has rightfully attracted loads of attention since it was first released on June 27. The 90s-inspired music video currently has over 19 million views on YouTube.
2. "Novacane" - Frank Ocean
While his name may make you think of an early 60s crooner, Frank Ocean's barely old enough to remember life without the Internet. But despite his young age, the 24-year-old rapper sounds like a seasoned vet on this soothing debut single. While every track on his mixtape, nostalgia, Ultra, warrants a listen, it's the radio-friendly "Novacane" that stands out as his most mature and enjoyable song to date.
3. "All of the Lights" - Kanye West
Yes, we realize My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was released over Thanksgiving weekend in 2010. But while nearly 500,000 units were sold in its first week, the album's final single, "All of the Lights" didn't technically get released until January 18, 2011. And following the cliché, Kanye saved his best for last. Featuring the likes of John Legend, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, and of course, Rihanna, you'd think the rapper was trying to recreate his own version of "We Are the World." But no, he just wanted to make one hell of a Grammy-nominated, highly addictive, brass-backed, song.
4. "Otis" - Jay Z and Kanye West
When the world first learned Jay Z and Kanye West had teamed up to work on an album, expectations were understandably high. And despite the supposed bickering that went down between the two during production, their creative abilities allowed them to create an instant hit. It also landed them a Grammy nomination. No, it's not the greatest work either artist has released, and yes, we wish the song didn't end so abruptly. But, yet, we still find ourselves wanting to listen again.
5. "I Need a Doctor" - Dr. Dre (ft. Eminem and Skylar Grey)
Peaking at the No. 4 spot on Billboard's Hot 100, "I Need a Doctor" became Dr. Dre's second highest-selling record of all time. Teaming up with his good friend and protege Eminem, the 46-year-old rap legend proved with this pop heavy single that he could still tear up the charts, despite the fact that he hasn't released a full-length album in well over a decade. But if you're still bitter about that fact, just let Skylar Grey's soothing vocals calm you down.
6. "Moment 4 Life" - Nicki Minaj (ft. Drake)
While her lyrics may not always make the most sense, there's something about Nicki Minaj's unique voice that leaves us wanting to hear more. Throw in some sweet flowing rhymes by Drake, and you've got yourself a strangely hypnotic and completely enjoyable track. And seeing as Minaj hails from Trinidad, and Drake speaks Canadian, we can confidently name this the greatest international rap song of the year.
7. "Sorry 4 the Wait" - Lil Wayne
While it's far from his best lyrical effort to date, this incredibly infectious track -- wileaves no doubt that Lil Wayne still has plenty left to give. If you're wondering why you haven't heard the song on the radio, it's because a) Weezy never released it as a single, and b) the track wasn't included on his recently released LP, Tha Carter IV. If you can manage not to get carpel tunnel hitting the replay button on this acoustic guitar backed, Adele-inspired jam, then you should have no problem staying happy through the holidays.
8. "Till I Get There" - Lupe Fiasco
Despite all the delays and politics surrounding the release of Lupe's third studio album, Lasers, the LP somehow didn't turn out a complete disaster. In fact, taken as a whole, it holds up just fine against his previous work. Though his record label forced the Chicago native to write some dumbed down, radio-friendly tracks, it's songs like "Till I Get There" that remind us why the 29-year-old remains one of the most talented men in the game. As the man explains himself: "Yeah I got flaws, I know I'm not perfect. But all ups and downs, will soon be worth it." And worth it, it was.
9. "Headlines" - Drake
We're 45 percent sure if you watch the music video enough times, you will most definitely have a seizure. Thankfully, that won't happen if you simply close your eyes and listen to this song a few times on loop. The first single off his sophomore album Take Care, the track exposes the young rapper's sense of loneliness at the top. But even if he's "overdosed on confident," he's still got plenty of talent in the tank. And while he's a long ways from becoming the next king of rap, "Headlines" certainly has him pointed in the right direction.
10. "Look at Me Now" - Chris Brown (ft. Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne)
While we were hesitant to hand out any sort of accolade to Chris Brown, our love of Weezy and Busta Rhymes helped "Look at Me Now" land the final spot on our list. Besides, the music video has nearly 140 YouTube views, so we're going to go out on a limb and say you've heard the track once or twice. Showing off his signature rapid-fire flow, it's Busta that really makes the track so memorable. But you know what? Lil Wayne holds his own too.