2011 was a busy year for hip-hop in the city of Columbus. Tons of big names breezed through the city like Lil Wayne, Big K.R.I.T., Lupe Fiasco, Devin the Dude, Wiz Khalifa, Too Short, Raekwon, Slick Rick, Eightball & MJG and a cast of others. Drake was due to perform in November but that show has since been moved to February of next year.
However, while it’s nice to have nationally recognized stars coming through the city on a regular basis, most will agree that it’s the local artists that give Columbus its real flavor and appeal. Several Columbus-based artists dropped projects in 2011 that were on par with or in some cases even surpassed the efforts of their perhaps better known counterparts.
This year, the Ohio Hip Hop Awards & Music Conference was held in the city and while some will still try to argue that there is a bias towards Cleveland-based artists, several of Columbus’ finest walked away with Ohio-shaped plaques.
There are also events in the city that do an excellent job of showcasing talent in the city including Buggin’ Out, Black Tuesday, Clash of the Titans, 614 Summer Jam and the platform that pays tribute to the ever-important deejay, The ReDO.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the preeminent releases from artists in the area and only represents a small percentage of the talent in and around the City of Columbus.
Blueprint – Adventures in Counter Culture
Tracks like “Radio-Inactive” and “Keep Bouncing” were the warm up but the alternative “So Alive” found its way to MTV and other media outlets as the Rhymesayers emcee and Weightless Recordings head honcho proved that he hadn’t lost his touch during the time between this and his last solo album.
Dominique Larue – The Sam Jackson Project
On the heels of her From Ohio With Love album and End of Regulation mixtape, Ms. Larue came through with The Sam Jackson Project. Littered with audio samples from Jackson’s various fims and featuring DJ Bern on the cuts, the short but effective mixtape is as hilarious as it is dope.
Exec Gang – CMH
Although primary lyrical duties are handled by SupaNatra, Snow and Trek Manifest, one glance into the liner notes of CMH lets the listener know that Exec Gang is much more of a movement than they were even aware of. Tracks like “Whatcha Life Like,” “Dead Presidents” and “CMH (Columbus Is My Home)” help to solidify such claims.
Fly.Union – The Greater Than Club
Later for the Value Packs that Fly Dot U is prone to drop. This year the fellas went for the gusto and dropped The Greater Than Club or TGTC for short. The trio reached out to their West Coast brothers Dom Kennedy and Pac Div and the move pays off well on tracks like “Friends.Women.Money” and “Do It For You.”
JG The Jugganaut – Jugganautical: The Experience
While he isn’t technically a rapper, the self proclaimed rapper’s favorite poet certainly has a certain affinity about himself that lends itself to hip-hop. In 2011, JG released his live album Jugganautical: The Experience, showing his ability to rock a mic live in the flesh and build that ever-important rapport with the audience. Songs like “Run N*gga Run” and “Rhythmic American Poetry” are essential listens.
J. Rawls – The Hip Hop Affect
J. Rawls has been on the scene in Columbus and abroad for quite sometime now and has worked with many of your favorite artists. This time around, Rawls came with The Hip Hop Affect, a testament to how hip hop has affected his life and the lives of others as well. The album won Album of the Year at this year’s aforementioned Ohio Hip Hop Awards and features appearances from the likes of Sadat X, John Robinson and a slew of Ohio based emcees.
P. Blackk – Friday, A Prelude & Blackk Friday
P. Negro let his gun bust twice this year, first releasing Friday, A Prelude with DJ Giovanny and then Blackk Friday on the day after Thanksgiving of the same name. Friday was a collection of older and newer material and had a mixtape feel to it. Blackk Friday feels much more coherent and focused. Tracks like “Spilled Milk” and “Brainz” make a statement that the young emcee may be around for quite a time to come.
Stalley – Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music)
No, Stalley isn’t from Columbus, but the production on this mixtape was handled by Rashad Thomas of The 3rd. The sound that has become known as the “Elevator Pound” is all over this project and it complements the Massillon native’s flow quite well. If you haven’t heard by now, after Lincoln Way Nights was released, Stalley was recruited to join Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.
Themidas Touch & Royal T – Repeat It Again
In 2010, Themidas Touch “Beat Up The Beat” and hit us with his Midas Madlib series. The following year, he teamed up with his buddy Royal T and created Repeat It Again. The lead single was “Do U Feel It?” The project includes production from Cliff Lefevre, DJ Bombay and Themidas himself.
Young Eagle – #thEgrEEnroom $10/25
Young Eagle is as versatile as it gets. On one song, he takes your girl and promises to have her back in the morning, then on another track he’s putting “Haters” in their place. He brings his IVC crew along for the ride, which is comprised of Tango, Bobby Trill & Drizzy Dre and collectively they make #thEgrEEnroom $10/25 an interesting listen. The Reverend Dr. Get D. Money is an added bonus.
Zero Star – Don’t Look Now & Maybe I’m Joking, Maybe I’m Not
Zero Star is another one of those artists that somehow found the time to drop two projects. Earlier in the year, Zero released Don’t Look Now which featured production from Maggz and earlier this month, we were blessed with Maybe I’m Joking, Maybe I’m Not, which was produced by Chozin. Don’t Look Now was supported by the first single, “72 Dolphins” while Maybe I’m Joking‘s lead single was “Gmail”. Both projects are outstanding.
View the slideshow for many more images of hip hop in Columbus in 2011.