Tis’ the season to sit in front of your computer and make year end lists. While Ryan may have given his to you DEHH addicts, I may as well chime in with an opinion or two, since I’m new around these parts as well.
Top 5 Songs
1. Kendrick Lamar – The Art Of Peer Pressure
Listening to good kid, m.A.A.d city itself was a trip but with a strong intro like this track, you can’t turn it down. It will never have radio play because of it’s deep message but it definitely deserves it. Listening to that line had me going and extremely hyped up…But then the beat darkens, as if I had been smacked with a rude awakening of reality and a small dose of adulthood. Even though I’m with the homies and doing whatever the fuck pleases me (Smoking, drinking) I forget that some activities are illegal, which leads to some altercations with the police. Long ass story short, I’ve never been arrested. It just so happens that this song relates to me because I’ve had a couple of scares in my lifetime, that could’ve fucked me up later on. That is why this song is the most powerful on my list…Unfortunately, it will never make my Singles list, due to the fact that it will never be a single.
“Smokin’ on the finest dope ay ya ya ya, drinkin’ till I can’t no mo’ ay ya ya ya, really I’m a sober soul, but I’m with the homies right now.”
2. Pusha T & Ma$e – Higher
I know the slander will come to me on this fine pick of mine but allow me to elaborate for a quick second. Even though the record has been called the shittiest piece of shit on God’s earth, I tend to find it’s originality and futuristic instrumental to be ballsy, different and extremely hot (I shouldn’t use those 3 words in the same sentence.) Moving on with my choice, Pusha Ton’s flow is ridiculous, with a smooth rhyme scheme like no other on that entire Cruel Summer album. Alongside that greatness, you have Ma$e gracing the microphone with his presence…Could you ask for more?
3. Frank Ocean – Bad Religion
Why is this not a single? The Lord will never give me an answer. Frank’s presence is like no other. Talking to his taxi driver, telling him to drive anywhere just to get away from his problems, going through all kinds of drugs and talking about religion’s dirty/disgusting/corrupted ways….I mean this track right here is just 2 minutes long and is breathtaking, if not mind blowing. The first time I heard it was live on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Show and I will never forget it…One hour later, the album was available as a surprise on iTunes..Truly a journey.
“Taxi driver….Be my shrink for the hour…Leave the meter runnin'”
4. Ab-Soul – Black Lip Bastard (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock & ScHoolboy Q)
There’s not much to say about this one. The last track on Ab-Soul’s album speaks for itself, they are Black Lip Bastards. They will spit their punchlines until their lips are raw and ready to submit to an ankle lock. I mean, the track is just immaculate. Can you really complain about a 5 minute track of pure spitting from the head honchos of TDE?
“And somebody tell Rihanna too……I need that vagina too!”
5. Slaughterhouse – Truth Or Truth (Part 1)
Man we need to add this track to the list, there is no questions. Referring to the boys’ Slaughterhouse review, I know damn well they weren’t fans of that new album. I do know however that most of them gave praise when it was due, to the super group’s first album and mixtape. Therefore I feel that they can agree with me when I say, that this track is pure dopeness. Over Cee-Lo and Rick Ross’s Tears Of Joy, they talk about their daily struggles…But not in just some boring old fashioned way. Considering that I’m here to give you all a list with some descriptions, let me just tell you that it is nearly impossible to write down each rapper’s emotion, throughout this track. They all delivered some amazing verses and not one line was sub-par. They really did a good job with making you think that you were with them in that waiting room, when they lost family members or with them when they grew up with Hip-Hop.
“Jay-Z is God to me! Nas is God to me! Eminem is like B.I.G. and Pac to me and if you disagree I hope you bleed hypocrisy!”
Top 10 Singles
1. G.O.O.D Music – Mercy
When this track dropped, I didn’t even know what I was going to do with myself. The moment I heard that thundering sample through my earphones, I had to stand the fuck up and back away from my laptop for a couple of seconds. 30 seconds later I take my earphones out, plug in my speakers and trust Kanye on the fact that he has coordinated a crazy banger. That bass drops and Big Sean Don’s voice thunders in on the track, with a smooth baseline.
“Drop it to the floor make that ass shake.”
With no issues the record went platinum. Everyone knew about this single. Every word, every phrase, every breath they took, everything, they knew everything. On the plus side, there are so many quotables that you can quote, it’s almost unfair.
“I’m drunk and high at the same time drinkin’ champagne on the airplane.”
With a monster line-up like Pusha T, Ye, 2 Chainz and Big Sean, how can you miss quotes? Lord, I can go all day. Point being, this should be #1 on everyone’s lists.
“I stepped in Def Jam building like I’m the shit…Tell em’ gimme’ 50 million or i’ma quit.”
2. Chief Keef – I Don’t Like (feat. Kanye West, Big Sean, Jadakiss & Pusha T)
First of all, if you listen to Hip-Hop and don’t know about this song, you need to come out from the rock that you live under. To give a quick simple breakdown, Chief Keef is a born and raised Chicago Trap rapper who has been making a big name for himself in the game. While he’s trying to promo his album and stay off the streets, Chief Keef dropped some visuals early on in the year to the song I listed above. The video would garner over millions of views and get attention from the masses and big wigs. The reason why I didn’t pick Chief Keef’s original version was not because I hated it, it was because without Kanye’s backing, Keef would have never reached commercial success and that’s a fact. Will Keef still be relevant in 2012 with all these anthems and singles? That’s up to him.
“The media crucify me like they did Christ…They wanna find me not breathing like they found Mike.”
3. Pusha T – Exodus 23:1
The controversy that this track started was just too fucking good to ignore. First of all, when is the last time we had a rapper spit some realness like this, in order to call another rapper out? Short answer: It’s been a while. Only issue is, he never said the other dude’s name. Either that was a smart way to get media attention or he was ducking in a sense. Nonetheless, Lil Wayne would fire back at Pusha because Pusha’s original intentions was to go after Drake. Overall, this left the Hip-Hop world with some nice fun to look forward to and led me to believe that Pusha really deserved this number 3 slot.
“You signed to one nigga that’s signed to another nigga that’s signed to three niggas now that’s bad luck. “
4. 2 Chainz – Birthday Song (feat. Kanye West)
Can you say anthem? Name me one person who had a birthday after this song dropped and didn’t say that they wanted a big booty hoe…..I was one of them.
“It’s my birthday I deserve to be greedy huh.”
5. 2 Chainz – No Lie (feat. Drake)
Lets be honest, 2012 hasn’t been a strong year for Drake. Sure, he’s had some great features on other albums/mixtapes but overall his momentum wasn’t as strong as last year. His album Take Care is still in rotation to this very day. Thanks to Drake, 2 Chainz was able to gain some mainstream attention and get people to listen to his music. Let’s hope Drake and Dos Chainz have a strong year in 2013.
6. Juicy J – Bandz A Make Her Dance (feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)
I don’t know if it’s just me, but aren’t you tired of seeing the same 5-6 people on this list..I feel like there’s only 5-6 people that dropped singles this year haha. Regardless of that terrible irony, Juicy J has had a great year in the game. His album Stay Trippy drops next year and he’s already dropped two hot singles to give it some hot momentum. Bandz even sold 500,000 units and went gold on the Billboards…You gotta give credit when it’s due. For an old soul, Juicy J has proven that you can still re-invent your sound and stay relevant.
7. Big Sean – Guap
It’s been quite a great year for Big Sean. His feature game has been on point, he dropped a dope mixtape and now he’s dropping off his album Hall Of Fame in the first quarter of 2013. The reason why I put Big Sean’s single on this list was because of how ambitious he is. Even though his album got bashed by the internet, Sean Don still kept his chin up and carried on with his music. Much like Juicy J, Sean re-invented his sound, thought of a new strategy and was successful at doing it. I respect both of them for that.
8. Kid Cudi – Just What I Am (feat. King Chip)
If this doesn’t get you excited for his album Indicud, I don’t know what will. Even though this is a single off of his next album, Cudi claims that there’s still bigger and better on the way. He even went as far as saying that this wasn’t the official single to his album. There’s not much to say here but I will say that Cudi was been very consistent as of late. I feel like with a hot creative single like this, his next album is bound to be something special.
9. Wiz Khalifa – Remember You (feat. The Weeknd)
The second single off of Wiz’s sophomore album (In my opinion) is ten times better than the first single, Work Hard Play Hard. Realistically if we judged this thing off of sales, then yes the first single wins the pick. To me, the storytelling to Remember You is rich in it’s own way, with Wiz talking about the industry and how it did him dirty, while Abel is talking about the same subject matter with a twist. It’s a beautiful tale that I think floats over a lot of people’s heads.
10. Frank Ocean – Pyramids
At first, I was gonna put Kendrick Lamar’s Poetic Justice into this slot but I needed to have this in here. This track is off of Frank’s channel ORANGE and is definitely one of the best of the year. If it weren’t for Mercy’s mainstream success, I’d make this my number one for sure. Frank’s structure and storytelling on this track is like no other, truly putting us on top of the Pyramid and letting us watch over him, as he struggles over his love interests and overall lust issues. When the track switches up in the middle and gets darker, this is when the track shines in it’s brightest light. I could play this track all day and never get tired of it. It truly is a masterpiece and makes me pray that Frank Ocean’s name stays around the game for a long time.
Top 10 Albums
1. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
Where do you start with an album like GKMC? If you don’t have this as your number one pick on your lists, I don’t know what to tell you. The most fascinating thing about this album is how different it is after every listen. Kendrick’s rhyme scheme, storytelling and lyrical ability makes you crave for more. Every time I’m done a track like Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst, I need to go back and listen to it. There is so much that KDot is saying, it just happens to float over your head so quickly. The skits on this album also compliment the entire story oh so nicely.
“Did somebody say dominoes? Where my fuckin’ dominoes at?”
Telling the story of Sherane, Kendrick’s shenanigans with his friends and the significance behind the van, KDot does a great job in these skits and places them in the best spots on the album. Without the skits, the album wouldn’t be as clean and flawless as it was. With tracks like Backseat Freestyle and Poetic Justice, the album’s virtual experience will do you absolutely no justice if you skip over the skits. It’s just not the same. With that being said, I can go all day about how great this album is. But to wrap matters up, even The Source has called this album a modern day Illmatic. I’ll leave it at that.
2. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
When people tuned into this album, they were all saying: “What if Frank flops? What if Frank can’t follow up to Nostalgia Ultra? What if Frank is a slave to Def Jam? Does he have creative control?” After the album dropped at 11pm EST (A week before it’s release date,) people on Twitter and other social networking websites were going absolutely nuts. Some were criticising Frank for being so open about being bisexual but that didn’t phase him. Tracks like Forrest Gump and Bad Religion really caught some attention but at the same time, people fail to realize that they are one of the best ones on the album. His soul and spirit is being completely poured out onto those tracks. If it so happens that he’s talking about a guy, so what?
The fact that he’s being honest about it and not giving a fuck is an accomplishment in it’s own right. Going back on topic, tracks like Pyramids also gets major praise. It is one of the longest tracks on the album but is definitely a keeper. Like I mentioned above regarding the single, it’s pure beauty is being able to tell two stories, from two different perspectives. When the beat switches up in the middle of the song, that is when the song is at it’s best. Much like Kendrick’s masterpiece, Frank’s skits, soulful rich voice and charisma makes you believe that you’re taking a journey with him.
3. Nas – Life Is Good
After a small hiatus, Nasir Jones is back and better than ever in this LP. While there’s some misses on this album, there’s a lot of hits. Ya sure, we can criticize and hate on tracks like Summer On Smash but the fact of the matter is, we all make mistakes. Overall, this album is everything you can expect, want and enjoy from a typical Nas album. This project truly showcases how Nas has evolved as an artist and how far he’s willing to go to change his sound. While Nas has his vintage sound, he has guest appearances from Amy Winehouse, Large Professor, Miguel and Swizz Beatz that helps him keep that sound, while adding a significant and tasty twist to it. In my honest opinion, Amy Winehouse really is the best feature on here. Cherry Wine is just one of those tracks that really hits you. Knowing that Amy isn’t even with us anymore, hits him home even more. On a lighter note, I think we can all agree that Nasir made a nice comeback to the game.
4. Ab-Soul – Control System
What a great fucking album this is. Let me tell you something, if you’ve never heard of TDE or Ab-Soul, now is the time to act accordingly and cop some greatness. With Jhene Aiko on the hook of Terrorist Threats, you will be hypnotized and lullabyed into a complete psychadelic experience. By that I mean, the tracks are so relaxing and soothing, you will feel like you are on drugs. On top of that, the production is out of this world. Mixed By Ali is on his “A” game on the boards and brings Ab’s imagination to life. Speaking about worldwide issues and American politics, Ab is not afraid to reveal some secret, dark and dirty truths about corruption with his clever, brilliantly executed wordplay. If you’re gonna buy anything before 2012 closes, this album is it.
5. Game – Jesus Piece
Game is one of the smartest guys in the game (Pun fully intended.) Many can call him out all they like on how he has too many features but the fact of the matter is, he’s smart with his choices. Trey Songz on the hook of Church is one of many great examples that I will use to back this up. The beat on that track alone is crazy and then Trey hops in and murders the hook. Whoever produced it deserves a gold medal because it’s a hit for that beat switch up towards the middle. On top of that, Game’s way of showing how fake religion can be is extremely clever.
Even though Kevin Hart is hilarious on the skits in the project, he’s the perfect example to show off the average Joe’s ignorance towards their own religion. One day they’re partying in strip clubs and blowing money, when the following day they’re in church praying to the Lord above. Game’s entire theme is great and suits him perfectly, with some guest features that compliment his execution even more. Names like Pusha T, Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, King Chip, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Common, Big Sean and Kanye really get the ball rolling on this album. Needless to say, don’t sleep.
6. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dreams
The RnB genre has been in quite a dud the past couple of years, leaving listeners to believe that the genre will never be creative and risky ever again. With a guy like Miguel announcing an album release, I honestly didn’t expect much. Judging off of his debut release back in ’08, I thought that Miguel really brought nothing special to the table. So finally the album dropped on iTunes and I had nothing better to do. The only reason why I gave the album a chance, was simply because of how much praise his hit single Adorn was getting.All in all, I’m happy I gave him a chance because he is one of the most creative RnB artists out there, next to Frank Ocean.
7. Pac Div – GMB
This album is one hell of a trip but nothing too crazy. Tracks like Debo are extremely hard hitting and experimental, with a nice dose of some vintage Hip-Hop in between. The production makes this album worth a listen.
8. T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head
Ever since Tip was thrown into the cellar back in ’10, controversy and rumors surrounded the rapper. He had so much momentum after dropping his album No Mercy and lost it all by going against the law. Fast forward to December 2012 and everything falls in place. First off, this album was originally entitled King Uncaged, which was a dope title. I don’t know why he changed it but I don’t really hate the Trouble Man title either. Much like Nas on his latest project, Tip is an old cat that is here to prove himself and show that he can last with the new cats. Features like A$AP Rocky, Pink and Meek Mill not only shows off the Kang’s diversity but also shows how open he is to promoting what’s hot in the Rap game. He even allows guys from the past to take a shot at some tracks, with names like Andre 3k, Akon and R. Kelly. In other words, this album is great and the features are on point.
9. ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions
I’m gonna be honest with all of you, ScHoolboy’s album wasn’t something I enjoyed straight off the first listen. It took time for me to truly grasp what it was, get used to his flows and his voice. It was the first project of his that I had ever listened to. Regardless of that, I didn’t regret it and I can say in full confidence that it’s a great album.
10. Wiz Khalifa – O.N.I.F.C.
When Wiz Khalifa dropped Rolling Papers, he pissed off a lot of his core fan base. Poppy instrumentals, average flows, cheesy rhymes. Even though I liked the album, a lot of people disagreed and said it was trash. I guess my ear wasn’t on point with this album because even Wiz himself hated the album. He claimed that the album’s track structure was all his label, he had no creative control. To be honest when you’re signed to Atlantic Records, that’s not a major surprise. While O.N.I.F.C. may be a much more well rounded Wiz album, it isn’t really something I’m checking for right now. I believe that much like Big K.R.I.T.’s album, this LP has cuts that are timeless and will be more enjoyable in the near future.
1. G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer
2. Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t
Top 10 Mixtapes
1. Big Sean – Detroit
Much like Ryan’s #1, I have to agree with him. Big Sean’s latest mixtape is probably one of, if not his best project he’s ever put out. The tracks Higher, 24k Of Gold, RWT & Mula will have you asking yourself: “Where the hell has this Big Sean been?” If you had to pick his debut album, this would have been it. His lyrical ability, his rhyming and overall storytelling is far more improved and polished on this project, leaving the listener extremely satisfied. He even has some surprise guests on the skits, telling their stories about their visits to Detroit. Rappers like Common, Snoop and Young Jeezy make this tape feel special, because it lives up to the tape’s name. The tape is there to solidify Detroit’s name in the music industry and show why it’s a beautiful city. All these skits make this project feel even more special and worth listening to, alongside the deep meaning behind most of the tracks. This is 100% album quality.
2. Joey Bada$$ – 1999
With a lot of buzz surrounding his name, Joey had a lot to prove. At a young age of 17, he’s getting all this buzz and it’s only his first mixtape. The whole project is just one smooth breeze of pure 1990’s sounding Hip-Hop. From names like Dilla and Doom on the boards, it’s almost crazy to think that this track was made in 2012. Chuck Strangers is also a producer who shines throughout this project, even if he’s on the microphone. One of the biggest standouts on here is Suspect, which features the entire Pro Era on one track. An 11 minute track with an addictive hook that will keep you wanting more….That’s right, 11 minutes will keep you wanting more. This project is just flames and definitely worth your time.
3. Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allderdice
Before the noteworthy O.N.I.F.C. dropped, Wiz had some explaining to do. On this project, he went back to his old ways and surprised fans with a flawless and great project. Never Been Part II with Amber Rose and Rick Ross is probably one of the best records of the year. Unlike the second Cabin Fever, Wiz put a lot of work into this one and it shows throughout the skits and the music.
4. Slaughterhouse – On The House
Now why wasn’t the album like this? The fact that you guys put this out a week before the album dropped is a slap in the face in it’s own right. It’s so fire…What is wrong with you?
5. Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2
With over 1 million downloads on Datpiff in just hours (Still makes no sense) Meek put out a good project. Many would argue that it’s better than his debut album but that’s up for discussion. The fact that this is a mixtape is an amusing factor itself. There are so many hot radio singles on here, it’s almost like an album is obsolete. Why even put out an album when you have so much material on here, that can push you through a nice world tour? If you missed this mixtape, you missed more than half of what 2012 had to offer.
6. Rick Ross – Rich Forever
Much like Meek’s situation, Ross has a mixtape that can almost be classified as a lowkey album. To some, Stay Schemin’ was one of the hottest records of the year and it doesn’t even stop there. There are bangers on here that will last your listening pleasure a lifetime. However, I’ve heard too much Ross this year and need a break, badly.
7. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva N A Day
Just like Ross and Meek Milli, Kritter could have easily made this an album. Hell, he could have made all three of his mixtapes albums. In my honest opinion, this mixtape is 10 times better than his album. Even though he had full creative control and produced his entire album, I feel like this is his baby and he wasn’t as rushed with this one. If K.R.I.T. put out his album a little bit later on in the year, he would have done much better.
8. B.o.B – Fuck Em’ We Ball
With a tape like this, Bobby Ray is here to prove that he’s not just a Pop Rapper. Even though he’s extremely popular on the radio with all of his hits, Bobby talks about all of that on this mixtape and calls out any doubters. I’m more of a fan of this kind of B.o.B over his albums any day.
9. Logic – Young Sinatra: Undeniable
If you’re looking for a raw mixtape that has nothing but clever wordplay, you’re in for a treat. Look no further because the Young Sinatra has garnered over millions of views on his Youtube and toured all over the world. This dude is legitimate and is here to stay. This is a mixtape that you can’t miss out on.
10. 50 Cent – 5: Murder By The Numbers
Finally we come down to our last pick in the year end list. It’s been proven that the last couple of years haven’t been noteworthy for Curtis Jackson. Over the past couple of months, he’s really rolled up his sleeves and worked his ass off. His single My Life with Adam Levine and Eminem is killing the charts and this mixtape reminds us that 50 still has a fighting chance. We can accuse him of falling off all we like but he’s here to stay. Hopefully SKI is a great album.
1. Lil Reese – Us (feat. Drake & Rick Ross)
2. Kendrick Lamar – Cartoons & Cereal (feat. Gunplay)
3. Slaughterhouse – Gone (feat. K-Young)
4. Wiz Khalifa – Never Been Part II (feat. Rick Ross & Amber Rose)
Top 5 Producers
2. Mike WiLL Made It
3. Young Chop
4. Harry Fraud
Honorable Mentions: KeY Wane & J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.