As I sit in front of my home computer eating an oversized bag of popcorn, I can’t help but look through my iTunes playlist. It’s packed with 2012’s most outstanding rap/hip-hop albums. Is that the only genre of music I listen to? Not at all–but it seems like the only genre I get the most enjoyment out of nowadays.
This year has been really kind to my ears. This year has also caused my ears to bleed profusely (thanks in part to Chief Keef’s embarrassing excuse for an “album”). But I’ve listened to a way healthier offering of good rap/hip-hop than bad. I’m sure every major website and blogger on the planet is gonna compile their own list of 2012’s finest music. I’m going to be one of those writers.
These five albums are top of the line material. If I were on the train heading into Manhattan, chances are I’d be banging to the songs featured on them. If I were stuck in the doctor’s office while horrible daytime TV played on the big screen, I’d tune it out with these joints. These projects could all make a good case for best-of-the-year material.
These are my top five picks for 2012’s best rap/hip-hop album:
5. Jesus Piece (The Game) – I’m glad I was fully awake for this album. People tend to sleep on Game for a bunch of reasons, but once Game’s doubters look past his constant beefs and name dropping, they’ll grow to appreciate his powerful flow and hard-edged delivery. This album immediately entered my physical music space due to its awesome production. The Game took great lengths to ensure that his featured guests put in the work, and that’s exactly what they did. I prayed for another classic from The Game. I got it this year. Name him King.
4. The Idea of Beautiful (Rapsody) – I wasn’t surprised by the high quality of this LP. These days, the most talented bunch of MCs seem to emanate from good ol’ North Carolina. Rapsody is another case of a super lyrical rapper who calls NC home, and her album deserves more accolades and attention than it has received. The production plays host to those instantly familiar 9th Wonder and Khrysis beats, which Rapsody performs over so well. This joint right here, B? A bonafide classic.
3. The Solution (9th Wonder and Buckshot) – Let’s take a sec to think back (shout out to Buckshot). A couple of months ago, there seemed to be a flood of projects that featured 9th Wonder’s brand of dope beats. That’s the only flood I welcomed in 2012 (my city hates you, Sandy). 9th teamed up once again with the legendary Buckshot for another dose of musical experimentation. This album caters to me the most since I’m a sucker for gritty rhymes and boom bap claps and snares. They did it again, y’all.
2. Control System (Ab-Soul) – TDE ran 2012. Kendrick Lamar made a bigger splash this year than his rhyme partners, of course. But their work was by no means lacking; another TDE affiliate made noise. Ab-Soul’s independent album sparked my thoughts and opened my eyes to what’s really going on. My man Ab is a critical thinker who’s capable of putting together his knowledge through song. The cover of this album grabbed me and the excellent tracks kept me. I’m glad I stayed along for this trippy ride through the real.
1. Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (Kendrick Lamar) – This album undoubtedly stands as one of the best rap/hip-hop albums to come out in years. Kendrick crafted a conceptual album that took us through the life a kid surviving in a harsh environment. I listened in as he freestyled in the back of a car and committed crimes with the homies. I laughed when his father constantly asked for his damn Domino’s. And I cried when his boy took a bullet and hoped no one forgot about him. Kendrick Lamar met his full potential in 2012.
Honorable Mentions – Life is Good (Nas), Live from the Underground (Big K.R.I.T.), Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head (T.I.), and R.A.P. Music (Killer Mike)