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Darcwonn’s Top 20 Albums of the Year


  1. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City: Kendrick is the man for this year (or in these streets—Ha!). His team (TDE) is equally undeniable, as the majority of them are on this list. This album tells a story about a young man in the hood that lets his influences get the best of him. Although things end on the up and up, they could have gone sour like day old lemons.


  1. El-P – Cancer 4 Cure: Ask Myke C-Town, this should be number one. To be honest, I can’t front: this album is pretty damn seamless. You won’t find another album that is both sonically or emotionally as strained or dark as this in hip hop. There is a reason El-P makes an album every few years: he wants greatness.


  1. Killer Mike – Rap Music: Southern angst, anger, and retrospective street lore over noisy, yet crunk El-P production sounded like either the work of a genius or an impending doom. As many had hoped, the former happened. If anybody can’t understand why this album is on the list, listen to it in its entirety. Killer Mike should be selling hundreds of thousands of copies. This mistake needs to change soon.


  1. Blu x Exile – Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them: People asked for it. People got it. People pretty much ignored it. The second installment of what could be considered a damn-near classic, although many would disagree. However, you get a Blu that is both mature and reflective from his past discretions (I hope). With songs like “Oh Heaven,” “Don’t Be Jelly,” and “A Man,” one shouldn’t keep fronting on this dynamic duo.


  1. Brother Ali – Mourning In America And Dreaming In Color: This is Brother Ali’s response to the economic madness that is going on in America. With changing topics, changing flows, and diverse emotional approaches, Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color is the soundtrack to bucking the system. While some have occupied Wall Street, Brother Ali should have occupied your ears.


  1. Ab- Soul – #ControlSystem: The Black Lip Bastard pushed himself into the consciousness of all the hip hop heads with great surprise. #ControlSystem was more than a rap album. It was a call to freedom from a society that has us bound to following rules and guidelines that we shouldn’t follow. Also, it made mention of all the foolery that urban neighborhoods take on. Plus, with a heart-wrenching song like “Book of Soul,” Ab-Soul put himself in the upper echelon of those that shall be the future.


  1. Skyzoo – A Dream Deferred: Skyzoo let go all of his experiences, influences, and the like into one album. Whatever motivates his hustle is mentioned throughout this album. Whether it was Chi Ali (“Jansport Strings”), fly SUV’s (“Range Rover Rhythm”), or even Spike Lee (“Spike Lee Was My Hero”), listeners got a glimpse of what kept Skyzoo moving. Plus, his references to movies and TV shows are still some of the best.


  1. Lushlife – Plateau Vision: I knew nothing of this guy before I heard this album. However, after the listen I must say I am a convert. As the combination of respect for classic hip hop and experimentation, Plateau Vision is one of those albums that got lost in the shuffle. I wish more people got to hear the greatness he put together.


  1. Rapsody – The Idea of Beautiful: While the major labels touted female artists that wanted to be Lady Gaga drunk off crayon-infested absinthe, Rapsody worked to be a bare-bones rap artist. She brought nothing but dope beats, great rhymes, and true feelings. If you don’t understand, listen to cuts like “Believe Me.” They will understand after that.


  1. OC x Apollo Brown – Trophies: I have no clue as to how this came to be. I do know that I am glad OC came from hiding to drop heat. If you think that hip hop’s “old men” can’t rhyme anymore, please think again. You will know that there is still greatness to be made.


  1. Aesop Rock – Skelethon: Read like a group of stories with a central theme, Skelethon enticed the ears as Aesop ran through the English language with his loquacious style. Jams like “Zero Dark Thirty,” “ZZZ Top,” and the heroic “Ruby ‘81” let us into some bombastic production and nimble word play. Plus, it’s Aesop Rock. He’s just great like that.


  1. Nas – Life is Good: Life Is Good is Nas on his grown man game. Realizing that life goes on after divorce, IRS consultations, and losing some of his luster, Nas did just that: kept it moving. With strongly sentimental songs like “Daughters,” “Bye Baby,” and “Stay,” Nasir Jones got listeners to understand his feelings about his present life. For once, you got to see Nasir Jones the man, and not Nas the rapper.


  1. Clear Soul Forces – Detroit Revolutions:  The four-man crew known as Clear Soul Forces caused a lot of hullabaloo over their soothingly impressive “Gets No Better” video. It was nothing but four brothers spitting gems. The album is filled with the same. Their live show is a reflection of their album and their style: rhymes meant to be listened to and rewound for clarity. I am proud of these guys.


  1. Roc Marciano – Reloaded: If this album came out in 1995, it would have been declared a classic. If you ask anyone that is a fan of Roc Marci, they would probably say it’s a classic. I don’t hate their opinion. Beautifully created with lyrics that paint pictures of criminal folklore, the listen is worth the experience. People need to buy the album. The man is reloaded and ready to shoot.


  1. Sean Price – Mic Tyson: Ebro labeled him a “minor league rapper.” Sean Price knows that Ebro is an idiot. You can tell by Mic Tyson that there is nothing minor league about this veteran, who’s been in the game the better part of 15 years. With songs like “STFU Pt. 2” and the hilariously chorused “BBQ Sauce,” Sean Price is part rapper, part comedian, and all the way disrespectful. Please realize that he doesn’t like most of you anyways.


  1. Guilty Simpson x Apollo Brown – Dice Game: Seeking all types of influential samples and production for Guilty Simpson to get busy to, Apollo Brown does not disappoint. Detractors either say that some of the production is either rehashed classics or stuff off of his instrumental albums. However, with a listen you can’t deny that this was put together to inspire understanding of the hood.


  1. Gangrene – Vodka & Ayahuasca: When hearing this album, this is what I get: microphone insanity over deranged beats. That is pretty much what one should expect from this album. This is one of those albums that go down as an underground/cult classic. If you know about it, you probably love it. If you don’t like it, it just isn’t your type of music.


  1. Act Proof – Black Boy Radio: This album makes the list because it was shockingly great. I expected a “solid” album from the duo. What I didn’t expect was an album that incorporated Black love, Black plight, and honest emotion into one package. Sad part is that people still hit the snooze button on both Act Proof and Jamla as a whole. 2013 will change all of this.


  1. Big Krit – Live From the Underground: Let us keep it real: his major label album isn’t as good as his mixtapes. However, it was still a great listen. Much more entailed for the trunks and traps, Live From The Underground may have threw many off. However, it was still conceptually sound and sonically attractive.


  1. The Alchemist – Russian Roulette: With the use of an insane amount of Russian samples with an insane roster of rhymers, Russian Roulette was more than an album. It was a sonic experience that couldn’t be matched by the mind’s eye. Both funky and trippy, The Alchemist did what he was best at: construct instrumentals that shifted moods and the world around them. Plus, it is always fun to hear Danny Brown pop E pills that taste like oil sheen.


Bonus Stuff


  1. Schoolboy Q – Habits and Contradictions: Schoolboy Q came with an album that was both maddening and earnest. You gotta love that.


  1. Macklemore x Ryan Lewis – The Heist: I can sum their efforts up in one phrase: pop styled music with heart. This is the stuff The Black Eyed Peas should have made.

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7 replies on “Darcwonn’s Top 20 Albums of the Year”

Thank you so much for including Blu & Exile’s album in here., though the smoothest album of the year it’s one of the most underrated ones. The instrumentals with Blu’s voice over them just sound beautiful.

Surprised Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ album wasn’t in you’re top 20 lol. It was top 5 if not 3 for me this year. I’d say El P and TDE had a great 2012 though.

I feel like the only reason why you feel like “the heist” is pop sounding is because macklemore is white… the only kinda “pop” sounding song to me is thrift shop…

What does him being white have to do with anything I am talking about? He used a lot of singing hooks and soft beats. A LOT of alternative sounding singing hooks. His brand could easily cross over without a fuss. Trust me, man. If you think race is a factor why would I have El-P or Lushlife on my list? Case closed.

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