Sorry this took so long to post. This was a tough decision for me. If anyone knows me personally, they know how much music I listen to on the regular. Seeing that internet has really embraced music with countless numbers of music blogs and music sharing sites, the amount of music that gets released on the daily is absurd. I was originally going to make this a true, numbered list, but seeing that I could not out choose my favorite project, I decided to just put together two separate lists with sub-lists within them. One list is for mixtapes and the other is for albums/EP’s. Both sections will feature FAVORITES and HONORABLE MENTIONS. They will not be numbered due to many factors. For example, genre may be different, subject matters, production, too many to list. So with all that being said, lets get into this….
MIXTAPE FAVORITES of 2012
Big Sean – Detroit
If I had to choose a favorite mixtape of the year, this would be it. This could have been an actual retail album. The production, the concepts, the features….everything on this project was worth actually paying money for. Its one of those projects that is listenable from start to finish. From Jhene Aiko to Royce Da 5’9″, Sean had it covered. He’s got his work cut out for him in 2013 when his sophomore album, Hall Of Fame, releases. Hopefully that can top this great project.
XV – Popular Culture.
Who knew that amazing lyricists existed in Wichita, Kansas? XV released one of the greatest concept projects of the year. Popular Culture proves that music can find inspiration from everywhere. Every song on this tape was a reference to TV or movies. From the Inception sampled “The Kick” to the Full House sampled “Mary-Kate and Ashley”, XV proves that his nerdy and Pop Culture interests can make for some really dope records. Hopefully in 2013 we will finally see him release his major label debut, Kid With the Green Backpack which has be delayed for the past 2 years.
Big K.R.I.T. – 4 Eva N A Day.
Big K.R.I.T. had a amazing 2012. He finally broke out of the underground, released his major label debut, Live From the Underground, and had rappers all over the nation asking for his beatmaking skills and a verse. But, before that happened, he put out arguably his best work to date, 4 Eva N A Day. To be honest, this mixtape was better than his album. It just worked a lot better. He even has admitted that himself. But like he said on the record “Boobie Miles”, “The only difference between a winner and loser is a winner plays until he wins.” Well said.
Joey Bada$$ – 1999
If you’re from the Tri-State, I’m pretty sure you heard this name or possibly saw MTV playing the video above. This youngster is only about 18 years old, but rhymes and has a sound of someone 20 years older. He definitely reminds listeners of the golden era of hip hop in the 90s and shows that he truly has a love for the music in general. His crew, Pro Era, all share the same outlooks and taste as the leader Joey, and even with the unfortunate passing of Pro Era’s Capital STEEZ at the end of 2012, Joey and Pro Era are looking to make the same real music from the soul in 2013.
Dom Kennedy – Yellow Album
West Coast native, Dom Kennedy, had yet another successful year in music. He’s definitely not a new name in music, and has been making great music since 2008. But, in 2012, Dom put out the Yellow Album which spawned a whole lot of new fans and he made a lot of noise in the mainstream with “My Type of Party” STILL getting radio play around the country. Lyrically, and even Dom said this, its was not his best, but, this mixtape is not about that. Its all about having a good time and vibing out with your homies to some dope sounds in the car or at your family’s house BBQ. And that is what this tape does the best.
Freddie Gibbs – Baby Face Killa
Freddie Gibbs, had some ups and downs in 2012. He got signed to Young Jeezy’s CTE label. But they never did anything with him and he just sat on the shelf. Freddie didnt stay still though. He kept working and continued to make a name for himself in music. And even though him and about 4 other CTE artists were dropped, Freddie’s talent his still in demand, and he is making it independently. With him dropping his highly anticipated Baby Face Killa, he proved that he is a beast no matter what happens to him in this industry. His lyricism is second to none and he continues to mix soulful records with straight up dirty, gangster sounds to make himself his own package. Definitely cant wait to see what other projects he has in store for 2013.
MIXTAPE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Smoke Dza – K.O.N.Y. – Michael Rocks – Lap of Lux – Sean Rose – Desert of Dreams – The Kickdrums – Follow the Leaders
Childish Gambino – Royalty – Action Bronson – Blue Chips – Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allderdice – Shawn Chrystopher – lovestory.
ALBUM/EP FAVORITES of 2012
Schoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions
Schoolboy Q aka Groovy, aka Puffy definitely had a wonderful 2012. He kicked off the beginning of the year dropping Habits & Contradictions which was originally released as a mixtape, but then wound up being re-released as a independent album because of its success. This album was exactly what hip hop needed. Schoolboy opens up about all the things he does right and wrong in a clever way especially for someone who is a apart of the Hoover Side Crips. He may be considered a “gangster” because of his pasts but, he shows that there is much more to him as a person. He may like to drink and smoke as shown on records like “Hands On the Wheel” with A$AP Rocky and “Druggys With Hoes Again”, but then talk about how hard he works to keep himself out of trouble for the sake of his daughter, and how blessed he is to be in his position on records like “Blessed”. If his efforts on this project is any indication on how his major label debut, Oxymoron, will be, then 2013 might truly be the year for TDE’s Mr. Puffy.
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.a.a.d. City
Lets face it. In 2012, you probably heard this name at least once. One of the most talked about names in this new school generation of true artists in hip hop. This man has been working hard over the past 3 years. He put out about 2 independent albums and an EP which all got him to his major label debut. He received high praise from everyone. Dr. Dre said he’s got the crown in West. We are going to have to agree. This album will definitely be a classic years from now. Kendrick showed that just because you may have mainstream recognition and exposure, but you don’t have to sacrifice lyricism and who you are when all eyes are on you. This album takes you on a journey of all the things he saw and did with his boys growing in a crazy city like Compton, all while trying to make it out for the ones you love. Its been a crazy year for this guy and this album will definitely carry him through 2013 with its content. Cant wait to see what he does next.
Ab-Soul – Control System
One of TDE’s most underrated dropped a independent jewel in 2012 that definitely had people talking. Ab-Soul definitely got people’s attention as one of the deeper thinkers in hip hop. He definitely does not come across as preachy with his message, but, he makes sure his messages are powerful in each one of his records. Soul definitely takes this craft seriously, with crazy wordplay and true lyricism in whatever his subject matter is. On Control System, he showcases this to his best ability, and makes it sound easy. Every record, makes you think and look within yourself to challenge who you are. In takes true talent to do something like that. Not many artists can do that. With a new project with JMSN to be released in 2013, Ab-Soul definitely makes sure that when you mention his TDE label mates, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock, make sure you don’t forget his name.
TNGHT – TNGHT EP
In terms of dance/house/electronic, one of the genres that proved its more than just an underground phase is Trap music. With its crazy blend of southern rap bass sounds, drums, and horns, with vocals and electronic sounds, it definitely makes people just want to a club and just wild the hell out with your peoples. One the newly formed groups that definitely does it the best is TNGHT. The group is made of two electronic stars Hudson Hawke and Lunice, and they want to take over the radio with there crazy take on the electronic genre of 2012. They dropped this EP and it soon took over BBC Radio 1 and the dance seen this year in 2012. Rappers are rhyming over their beats and now are turning to this duo for production more and more. This all from a 5 song EP. Imagine what they can do once a true album gets released…..
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
When it comes to R&B, this man was definitely the most talked about in 2012. The Odd Future member followed up the success of his Nostalgia, Ultra project with his debut album, Channel Orange. The album came with a lot of controversy though. He announced to the world that he was a gay man, which is a VERY touchy subject for many. Surprisingly, a lot of people looked pass the controversy and just embraced him for just great music. Frank is talented enough to bring people back to the real soulful yet modernized era of music. His subject matters and true story telling abilities is almost that of a well established rapper. Speaking of rappers he Frank also got his Odd Future crew member, Earl Sweatshirt to drop a memorable verse on “Super Rich Kids” and not only that, he got the one and only Andre 3000 to drop a CLASSIC verse on “Pink Matter“. I can only hope that Frank doesn’t let the emotions and pressure of serving a sophomore album go to waste. He’s way to talented for that.
Game – Jesus Piece
For me, this was album was one the biggest retail surprises of the year. I was not expecting much from him on this album. Lets face it, The Game has not had a classic album since his debut, The Documentary which was released in 2005. Not only that, The Game was calling this album the “The Chronic 2012” which is also quite ridiculous. I was reluctant to even purchase this album (yes I still do that), but let me just say, The Game definitely delivered. He put out an album that I play on a daily basis still. The production is top notch, and not only that, everyone and their grandmother is featured on this album. Jaime Foxx, Pusha T, J.Cole, 2 Chainz, Kanye West, Common, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar…..too many to list. Not only that, the album just flowed well. The album doesn’t seemed forced at all, song after song, it just flows naturally. He remixes some classics with a cool modern twist that doesn’t deface the original record. All and all he really did create an excellent album. Now is it a classic?? Time can only tell……
Nas – Life is Good
First things first, man it feels good to hear another Nas album. This man, gets a lot of recognition but, it does not seem like its enough. With that being said, lets get into his latest offering, Life Is Good. The album title is really appropriate for Mr. Nasir Jones. He truly sounded happy and focused while making this. The love and happiness definitely showed on this album. I absolutely adore this album. Definitely one of his greatest offerings in quite some time. From records that remind you of the flamboyant era of Nas like “The Don“, “Nasty“, records that make you party “Summer on Smash“, “Queens Story” to just powerful message records like “Daughters”, this album just delivers on all levels. Lyrically too, Nas did not seem distracted. He brought his A-game on this album and really showed. Lets home he keeps this focus on projects in the near future.
Curren$y – The Stoned Immaculate
This man is one of the most consistent people in music today. New Orleans own, Jet Life general, Curren$y has hustled to get to where he’s at now. Originally he was signed to Master P’s No Limit, then he was the first artist signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money. While those pass deals didnt workout he decided to everything on his own and has independently worked hard to the position he’s able to have now. He’s pretty much an independent with a major distributor, Sony WMG. For the past 4 years, this man has put out countless numbers of quality projects, and The Stoned Immaculate might be one of his best ones yet. Too many songs on this album to list, “Take You There”, “What It Look Like”, “Capitol”, “No Squares”, “Chandelier”…I could keep going. He brings and sense of straight classic hip hop techniques and blends it with some modern bass sounds when it comes to his beat selection. Basically great sampling with a little bit of southern bass. It doesnt sound cheesy at all. It sounds a lot more New York than Atlanta. That mainly due to his New Orleans upbringing. Definitely just a great project to listen no matter what time of day it is. In 2013 when he and his partner in crime Wiz Khalifa FINALLY release Live in Concert their follow to their mixtape classic, How Fly, New Jet City and Pilot Talk III, Curren$y will continue to put in the work that got him to where he is now. Cant wait to her everything he has in store.
ALBUM/EP HONORABLE MENTIONS
Murs & Fashawn – This Generation – Pac Div – GMB – Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes – Rapsody – The Idea of Beautiful
AraabMUZIK – Electronic Dream 2 – Murs & 9th Wonder – The Final Adventure – Azealia Banks – 1991
There you have it folks. Go out purchase, download, or whatever you do to get these incredible projects. 2012 was a great year for music and 2013 is shaping up to be yet another great one as well. Thanks for checking out this LONG post. Hope it was worth it. Thanks for the support y’all. Peace and Love.