I spent a lot of my free time downloading music this year. My laptop’s hard drive is almost filled to capacity, plus my 20GB iPod (Old School Brick Edition) has no more room for new tunes. Those two problems are huge problems in my eyes because I might not have any space for some of the mixtapes I might have missed, plus I can’t take my recently downloaded music out of the crib. There was just too much good music this year…
The current generation of rappers has taken full advantage of this digital age. The mixtape game has changed completely. The days of 50 Cent and other rappers mobbing over other people’s beats hasn’t entirely disappeared, but most of today’s veteran and up and coming rappers are putting out original bodies of work…FOR FREE!
2012 played host to a long list of memorable mixtapes. My list is certainly just as long, so I’ll have to split this baby up into three segments. Let’s all show some love to 2012’s dopest rap/hip-hop mixtapes:
9. Fabolous, The Soul Tape 2 – This project caught me completely off guard. I’m not a huge fan of Fabolous nowadays. The brother can certainly put together a dope set of 16’s, but most of them are wasted on lame R&B remixes. Regardless, I checked out The Soul Tape 2 since I heard the first one was such a triumph. After repeated listens, I’m glad I took the plunge. Fabolous crafted each song with care, and his constant delivery of ill similes/metaphors was backed by soulful production and cool soundbites. Each song’s focus was different, and the messages were clear. Fab paid great homage to his BK roots on this one, too. I’d pay good money for this if it were released in stores.
Mixtape Standout – Transformation
8. Wale, Folarin – I’m glad Wale took his sweet time making this one. I felt like the long wait for new Wale material would yield great results. I was right. MMG’s own D.C. representative is a poetic genius that can’t be stopped. He can ride over live instrumentation and make smooth moves over your usual bass booming beats. His bars need to be dissected after one listen because their lines might fly over your head. I’m so sincere when it comes to good lyrics, so you know I appreciate a complete MC like Wale. Folarin is full of inspiring lines, intricate rhymes, live production, and major features. Wale, though? He’s nice as hell.
Mixtape Standout – Change Up
New York rap has a new savior: Joey Bada$$. And his crew of compatible spitters might just be New York’s rap group saving grace. This crew project highlighted the whole PRO ERA clique perfectly. Joey can rhyme like no other, but I’m happy to say that his crew is just as nasty on the mic. The beats/rhymes on this tape take me back to the days of A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, InI, and Boot Camp Clik. Boom bap rap is alive and well, thanks to this crew of young rap gods. For an old school head like me, this mixtape gave me hope for the future of rap/hip-hop. The rest of you music heads need to pay attention to this new PRO ERA. R.I.P. Capital STEEZ.
Mixtape Standout – Run Or Fly (Joey Bada$$, Dirty Sanchez, CJ Fly, and Capital STEEZ)