Sunday, January 27

Top Hip-Hop Albums of 2012

Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2012

Willie Evans Jr. – Introducin’ (2011)

I missed Willie Evans Jr.’s album last year but I wanted to give it a mention considering it would have been in the top 5 if it were a 2012 release. It’s an accomplished album that boasts good production and a great delivery from Evans Jr.


18. Talib Kweli & Z-Trip – 
Attack The Block

Talib sounds renewed with Z-Trip in the mix.

“They don't want you at your best/That means they're at their worst/They wanna hear struggle bars/You wanna kick a classic verse” (Attack The Block)

17. Nas – Life is Good

It’s interesting to see what age does to our hip-hop heroes. Nas can still slang a street story better than most current rappers, but he’s also more reflective and satisfied on his 10th full-length album.

“So much to write and say, yo I don't know where to start/So I'll begin with the basics and flow from the heart/I know you think my life is good cause my diamond piece/But my life been good since I started finding peace” (Loco-Motive)

16. Chino XL – 
RICANstruction: The Black Rosary

The metaphor matador is still writing punch rhymes on a hefty 35 track double album. Chino, still boasting his microphone prowess as the “lyrical Jesus”, but also taking a turn for some introspective storytelling.

“I'm dangerous, when I communicate what I'm thinkin'/Brain dead I'll spit in Morse code, write down what I'm blinking”(Nahh!!)

“You should change your name to Nas/Cause when you ask, can you out spit Chino all you're gonna hear is a lot of nahh's/Nas” (Nahh!!)

15. Schoolboy Q –
 Habits & Contradictions

Q had one of my favorite cuts this year with “Hands on the Wheel”. A promising introduction for Q.

“Didn't get a coma nor a cent for the karma/Just an imaginary stripe so he can hold his head in honor” (Raymond 1969)

14. El-P – Cancer For Cure

Besides being the man behind the best-produced album this year (which wasn’t his own), Cancer For Cure is a tight mix of traditional Company Flow and El-P styling’s.

Either, etherlicious or rebel yelling the theme of/Son of forgotten freedom, rebel ¡Arriba 'riba!” (The Full Retard)

13. Death Grips – No Love Deep Web

One day in the future music fans will wonder why hip-hop didn’t sound more like Death Grips distinctive commotion. This is a group well ahead of their time.

“I'm the man who press that button/Sweaty palm get caught bluffin’/Fold a man into nothin’ for nothin’” (Black Dice)

12. Himanshu – Nehru Jackets

Rest in piece Das Racist. Welcome to solo prominence Heems.

“I'm living single, it's a nineties world/Catch me in a bar with like ninety girls/40 Sinclair’s, 20 Latifah Khadijah types/30 Maxines that'll probably probably freak tonight” (Swate)

11. Mike Mictlan – Snaxxx

This Doomtree member could be the most overlooked, shadowed by P.O.S., Sims, and Dessa. But take a listen to his album and see him cast a looming shadow of his own.

“Chop a rhymer down to context filler/Feel affirmative that I’m the next-getter-champ-splitter-shrimp-dinner-butcherboy-beefcake-barber Jimmy Snuffa chest-splitter/And what the hell does that even mean?/Means I’m just ill at rhyming and everything in between” (Creeper Status)

10. Roc Marciano – Reloaded

Busta Rhymes once said “keep it gutter, keep it grimy”. Marciano took that to heart and made an album composed of stories seemingly authored from a violent street corner.

“You shed a tear, I just shed hatred/But to get here more than skill takes patience/Ill nature, golden age reels feels ancient/Motion picture rap we like film-makers.” (Nine Spray)

9. Lupe Fiasco – Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album pt. 1

Fiasco is only getting better with each album. With Food & Liquor II he’s getting closer to his classic.

“First off say peace to Pine Ridge/Shame at all the damage that the white man wine did/Ghost Dance, Trail of Tears, 5 million beers a year.” (Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free))

8. Lecrae – Gravity

Faith based hip-hop makes it’s first appearance on my list. Lecrae is inspiring on Gravity; speaking truth and love for the man upstairs with an impressive flow and exceptional production.

“Everything is fallin’ all around me, put yo’ arms around me/Sinkin’ in my sorrows got me drowning/Tempted to empty bottles and throw ‘em off in wind/Devils lurkin’ ‘round the corner, just waitin’ for me to sin” (Walk With Me)

7. Brother Ali – Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

Brother Ali speaks his mind, regardless of how much it might offend your politics or religion. And I for one hope he continues the unrelenting attacks…someone has to say it.

“Overseas we can mutilate and mangle/Let me give you an example what our troops are coming back to/Cold cities where the youth are getting strangled/The community in peril and our future looking narrow” (Mourning in America)

6. Kendrick Lamar – 
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

Kendrick made the best mainstream hip-hop album of the year, and that’s impressive for someone whose last album was basically a mixtape. “Backseat Freestyle” could have the best beat of 2012. It will be interesting to see where Kendrick goes from here.

“I'm never living life confined/It's a failure even if I'm blind/I can tell ya who what when where how/To sell ya game right on time” (Backseat Freestyle)

5. Ab-Soul – Control System

Ab-Soul touches on so many different topics over the course of the hour-plus Control System. Nothing is off limits both socially and personal. This is a meet and greet album with the most interesting guy in the room. With so much to say, Ab-Soul seems to just be warming up.

Flow like the Nile river, yo it's now or never/You had a release date, but now it's never” (Track 2)

4. Action Bronson – Blue Chips

With an undeniably entrancing flow, Action Bronson will take you on a head-nodding voyage of lust, lies, and laughter. The best mixtape of the year.

Take the money, cop 5 dimes, 2 chicken sandwiches, 9 limes/For the Canada Dry/pose for the cameras by the banister, high/In the summer, rock the vest set: Salmon Kani.” (Steve Wynn)

3. Big Boi – 
Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

Who needs Andre 3000? Big Boi doesn’t as he crafts an impressive album filled with diversified hip-hop exploring realms only an Outcast member could get away with. The addition of Wavves and Phantogram offers ingenious collaboration.

“Leaving us all stuck in elections/With no progressions, just recessions” (Shoes For Running)

2. P.O.S. – We Don’t Even Live Here

P.O.S. is an examiner who is often reluctant to offer any kind of answer in his rhymes. Still, what he brings to the hip-hop table is an outlook of his world that is both a blend of realism and fantasy.

“Didn't get in to win 'cause I don't respect the game/ I got up with all my friends and picked a repellent name/I constantly recommend what little bit of disdain/A little bit of resistance, they can hang.” (Lock-Picks, Knives, Bricks, and Bats)

1. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

Killer Mike poses frustration, anger, solitude, and relief amidst every difficult question he solicits. Lyrically, Mike is on top of his game from start to finish. El-P produces, tailoring the album towards Mike’s strengths but also challenging his execution. I still find new things to love about this album.

“I don’t trust the church or the government/Democrat, Republican, Pope, or a Bishop or them other men/And I believe God has sustained me with rap/So I pick a burning bush, put it in a Swisher wrap” (Untitled)

*Warning: Strong language and mature subject matter are displayed in the following video. 
View with caution.

Top Hip-Hop Albums of 2012

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