There was some real good indie rock this year. But, surprisingly, there was a ton of good hip hop as well. Usually there’s a few rap records on my list, and the rest are rock. But 2011 was a good year for rap. Truly. Every year, folks complain about how there’s not good hip hop anymore, and usually they’re right. But this year is an exception.

Even the major labels managed to get a few things right. Eminem and Royce knocked it out of the park. Kanye and Jay-Z’s album didn’t suck as hard as it could have. Granted, it avoided creative, deft lyricism in favor of slick production, and generally wasn’t about anything, but it was fun to listen to. It was like potato chips: Temporarily filling and fun to eat. The Beastie Boys’ record was better–not the best they’ve done, but better than you’d expect. Couple that with strong releases from Pusha T and Royce Da 5’9″, and that’s about as good as it gets for releases on the major labels–albums that have to make money also have to avoid surprises, so it wasn’t that bad.

But we’re not really about that, are we? This site is all about independence from the RIAA; freedom from commercial bondage; and getting the name of the little guy out there. So what was good on the indie front this year? Lots. So many, I can’t keep it to a top 10 list.

And soon I’ll be posting the runner-ups, too, so if you’ve already got these but you want to get some new tunes, make sure you don’t miss it. Now, hit the break for my list.

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