2011 was a fantastic year for free Soul Music. If you’re a regular follower of the blog, you know we’ve featured hundreds of albums, EPs, mixtapes and singles. The following are my picks for the best free EPs or LPs of the year. There were a couple of selections that made it to this list that are no longer free. Hopefully I’ll be able to include them in my “Best For Sale” list.
In no particular order…
Combining De La Soul with Fela Kuti, this was easily my favorite Hip Hop project of the year. A serious must-download.
Chris Rouse has an excellent voice and a talent for seriously soulful hooks. Why this isn’t mainstream radio R&B is really beyond me.
A passion project of Martin and DJ Devi Dev, this project is something you can easily put on at the end of a romantic date. Break out the bubbly and groove to this one.
Shakka has a very interesting syle that mixes Ragga with R&B and Pop. This concept album follows Shakka on a soulful heist.
Admittedly, I’m not a big Mayer Hawthorne fan, but this respectful batch of covers was well executed and catchy.
Returning for his third installment of free covers, Zo! delights us with some great renditions of tracks we’ve all come to call favorites. Not to mention the greatest Wham cover ever.
Probably one of the grooviest offerings of the year, this one came as a total surprise. Excellent beat production, substantial lyrics and solid rap delivery. Great alternative Hip Hop.
Make sure you scroll down for the free link. Very insightful R&B by a rock-solid vocalist.
J. Mitchell made quite a splash with this Future Soul offering, featuring production by Exile.
Daley’s debut mixtape gave us not only some fantastic original R&B tracks, but also some nifty covers and appearances from special guests.
This mixtape has a great blend of smooth soul and guitar driven grooves. Coupled with Anduze’s voice, which harkens to me of performers like Chico DeBarge, Van Hunt and Robin Thicke.
Did someone order a heaping helping of funky white soul? Daniel de Bourg follows up his critically acclaimed “The Prelude” with this collection of further vocal goodness.
This band is definitely vying for “ones to watch in 2012.” Bolstered by their fantastic cover of Daft Punk’s “Something About Us,” this EP features one of the best new bands of the year.
Giving Balance and the Traveling Sounds a run for their money, Brooklyn crew Green Street are also offering up fantastic live jazzy Soul Hop. This also features Free Soul Music Saturday favorite Ken Ross.
Fans of Van Hunt and Amp Fiddler will appreciate Martin Luther’s solid free EP. “The Facebook Song” alone makes this a must-download.
Make no mistake, Tre Williams can SANG. This 9-track offering is just retro enough to be cool yet not too derivative.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (Google these!)
Jae Fresh – Pictures of Inﬂuence
BamaLoveSoul Presents Anthony Hamilton: The Hamilton Project
Kero One – The Catch UP
DJ Jazzy Jeff & Ayah – Back For More
Gil Scott Heron – Live At The Bottom Line ’77
Raheem DeVaughn – Heemy Taught Me