Best Mixtape/Street Album of 2011
When it comes to Big K.R.I.T.'s ReturnOf4Eva, what isn't there is almost as notable as what is: the Meridian, Mississippi rapper/producer's breakout mixtape contained no ill-advised stabs at commercial appeal, no gimmicky viral hits, and only a smattering of big-name guest features (Luda and Bun B are among the most notable). In fact, you can go over the album with a fine-toothed comb, and all you'll find is dope, thoughtful lyricism over soulful beats that hark back to the Southern greats. Hip-hop fans choosing substance over empty hype, in today's day and age? Believe it.
There might have been some small band of stragglers convinced that Big K.R.I.T.'s breakthrough project, KRIT Wuz Here, was an anomaly, a fluke, but his 2011 album ReturnOf4Eva settled any doubts from even the most hardcore pessimists. Displaying a cohesiveness rare even in full project form, stellar beats and evidence that Krizza hasn't come close to reaching his peak as a rapper, 4Eva is one of the few albums that was almost universally praised and still didn't get its full due. Recognize.
Best New Artist (Signed) of 2011
Best Hip Hop Album (Unsigned/Independent) of 2011
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