So this was originally supposed to be a video that I was going to upload to my personal YouTube Channel. I thought about it and decided there was kind of no point since we’d already released a video of my top 5 hip hop releases. It sounded like this video would have just been a bit redundant, so I decided to just release it in writing. The main reason of doing this was to be able to give my opinion on the albums that I didn’t get to talk about in the top 5 video.
I still plan to do a video on my top 10 non-hip hop releases as I have stated a few times on Twitter, so keep an eye out for that. Until then, here’s my top 10 hip hop releases:
10. Amir Sulaiman – The Median Openings. This album, I’m sure, went relatively unknown to the hip hop world. And that’s a serious shame. In my opinion, Amir Sulaiman dropped was the dopest releases of 2011 with The Meccan Openings. That album, start to finish, was just insanely powerful. His newer release, The Median Openings picks up right where the last record left off. Amir Sulaiman is , in my opinion, one of the best spoken word artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. His way with words is nothing short of astounding. He has a voice that seriously commands your absolute attention. The Median Openings flows through a plethora of different types of beats from mellow piano laden ones to more upbeat head bangers to absolutely epic orchestra-sounding beats. Be forewarned, though…Amir Sulaiman doesn’t sound like your average rapper and doesn’t create songs in a typical way. But if you’re willing to check out something that may take you out of your comfort zone (and you have no issue with hearing songs about Islam and/or God) then definitely pick this up. It’s free!
9. MHz – MHz Legacy. Listening to this album totally brings back memories for me. Memories of when I first discovered the underground hip hop crew, The Weathermen. I was already familiar with El-P through Company Flow, but I’d never heard of Copywrite, Camu Tao, Tame One, Yak Ballz or Cage. I ran upon a copy of Movies For The Blind and from there I became obsessed with these guys. I scooped up every release I could find by all of the members. The last Weathermen-affiliated release to make my collection was Table Scraps by MHz. For those not in the know, MHz is the crew featuring Copywrite, Camu Tao and Jakki The Motormouth (all original WM members) as well as Tage Future and RJD2. That release blew me away, so when I found out they were dropping a new album, I was instantly hyped. This record absolutely did not disappoint. None of these MCs have lost a step. They’re still as beastly as they were back in 2001. The only difference between their music then and their music now is they’re rhyming over better beats and they’ve developed their ability to craft songs.
8. Lushlife – Plateau Vision. This is a criminally slept-on album. Lushlife came into my life out of nowhere and totally kicked my ass. This dude puts together some of the dopest beats. They’re not super abstract or off-kilter; they’re just mad creative. The instrumentation on them is really layered and the fact that he crafts these beats by playing the majority of the instruments himself is very impressive. Best thing is the album is super diverse. You don’t put it on and vibe out too much because a lot of the songs mesh together. It flows perfectly while giving you something different with each track.
7. Billy Woods – History Will Absolve Me. I said quite a bit about this album in the review. This album was a complete shocker with its dopeness. Billy Woods has been a favorite of mine for a long time now with his unorthodox flow and the depth of his lyrics. In this album, I think he’s going over some of the best beats he’s ever used. I’m shocked that this album wasn’t on more people’s top 10 lists. Not sure if maybe people didn’t hear it or if it just didn’t move them the way it did me. If you’re a fan of Cannibal Ox, if you really dug Cancer For Cure or if you’re just into esoteric, creative hip hop in general, this is right up your alley. “Crocodile Tears” and “Duck Hunt” were easily two of my favorite hip hop tracks this year.
6. Brother Ali – Mourning In America, Dreaming In Color. What can I say about this album? Brother Ali is totally on his game with this one. US was fresh, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. I thought Ali brought his standard dope rhymes to the table, but I thought the record was a little too samey. I didn’t get that feeling with this album. The songs were a bit more varied to me, and Brother Ali is, as usual, dropping some serious jewels on you. One of my favorite things about an Ali album is, while you definitely feel like you’re being taught something on the album, you also feel like he’s talking himself through some issues. He’s an MC who’s always putting himself out there, showing you how he’s learned from his mistakes and letting you, maybe, learn the same lessons… but, at the same time, he’s teaching you to learn from your own mistakes.
5. P.O.S. – We Don’t Even Live Here. I said a bit about this album on the review, but maybe not as much as I would have liked. The reason this record made my top 5 over Brother Ali was in no way a slight to Ali. I just loved the fact that P.O.S. made a record that was serious content-wise over semi-party beats. It’s like he wrote the record that gets played at your local DIY anarchist party. And a lot of the lyrics just speak to the punk rock kid in me more than any modern punk record does.
4. Killer Mike – RAP Music. The combination of El-P’s futuristic, off-kilter, spacey beats with Killer Mike’s poignant but relatable rhyme style made this album another semi-flawless release. Killer Mike has some of his best lyrics on this album with tracks like “Untitled” and “Willie Burke Sherwood.” He’s smart, he’s conscious, but at the same time he’s pure Zone-3 Atlanta. Putting this album in your list of top releases this year is a no-brainer.
3. Aesop Rock – Skelethon. Some of Aesop’s deepest lyrics to date and he still comes with that totally flawless flow. The fact that he produced this thing with some incredibly dope beats propelled this album way over most releases this year. Just for the track “Gopher Guts,” this record is one of my favorite Aesop records to date.
2. Death Grips – No Love Deep Web. I said enough about this album on the review I did. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can do so here. In a nutshell, the noisy beats were killer as was the insanity in Ride’s vocals.
1. El-P – Cancer For Cure . From the beats to the rhymes, it was damn near flawless album. El is deep, he’s funny, and he’s got social commentary. I strongly feel that he crafted an amazingly solid album that blows I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead away. The beats are more futuristic, but, at the same time, he has some nice head bangers. It’s not too out there to scare away new fans, but he still gives you enough weirdness to please old fans. And the lyrics are still classic, complex El-P work.
I’m sure some of you guys are already stewing over how your favorite album (*cough* Kendrick *cough*) didn’t make MY personal list, but too fucking bad. These are the albums that I enjoyed the most out of 2012. Others, specifically Kendrick’s, were dope albums, but they just didn’t move me the way these did. Like it or hate it…just deal with it.