2012 was a pretty good year as far as Hip-Hop releases were concerned. There were a great amount of excellent slept on albums that were completely overshadowed by mainstream projects this year that deserve some shine. I went back through the hundreds of albums I’ve heard over the past calendar year and picked my top 50 albums and 10 honorable mentions.
RELATED: Top Hip-Hop Songs of 2013 … So Far
The following 60 selections are all purely my personal opinion, please keep in mind that I heard hundreds of albums this year and this list only represents about 1/6th of what’s currently in my iPhone from these past 350+ days of 2012. If your album isn’t on this list that doesn’t mean I didn’t hear it and enjoy it. Don’t trip. Or do. It’s a free country. For now, at least….
Aesop Rock – Skelethon
Ab-Soul – Control System
Action Bronson x The Alchemist – Rare Chandeliers
Action Bronson x Party Supplies – Blue Chips
The Alchemist – Russian Roulette
Apollo Brown x Guilty Simpson – Dice Game
AWAR – The Laws Of Nature
Bambu – One Rifle Per Family
The Black Opera – Overture
The Black Opera – Libretto: Of King Legend
Blu x Exile – Give Me My Flowers While I Can Smell Them
Brother Ali x Jake One – Mourning In America & Dreaming In Color
Rhymesayers Entertainment is notorious for making albums that end up in the discussion for album of the year and 2012 is no exception. Brother Ali and superproducer Jake One (it applies here) made an album that music journalists will point to that preserved the essence of 2012 in amber forever for future generations.
Casual x J.Rawls – Respect Game Or Expect Flames
Chino XL – The Ricanstruction: The Black Rosary
Clear Soul Forces – Detroit Revolution(s)
Domo Genesis x The Alchemist – No Idols
El P- Cancer 4 Cure
El-P came off of making “R.A.P. Music” with Killer Mike and went right back into making another solo album that sounds like what Rick Deckard from “Blade Runner” would make if he grew up a B-Boy & was exposed to Hip-Hop from the Golden Eras. We should expect nothing less from El-Producto.
Gangrene – Vodka & Ayahuasca
Gensu Dean – Lo-Fi Fingahz
Homeboy Sandman – First Of A Living Breed
Honors English – State Of The Art
RELATED: Top 12 Mixtapes Of 2012
House Shoes – Let It Go
House Shoes has been an ambassador of Detroit Hip-Hop since the mid 90’s and he’s broken numerous acts that are considered legends worldwide over the years. In 2012 he released his debut album “Let It Go” and it was easily one of the best releases of this and last year
JJ DOOM – Key To The Kuffs
KA – Grief Pedigree
Brownsville, Brooklyn product KA not only self produced & self distributed “Grief Pedigree” but he self directed videos for each song on the album. Years from now, Hip-Hop writers will universally regard “Grief Pedigree” as a classic. I have zero trepidation of saying so NOW…
RELATED: Top R&B Songs Of 2013
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
While Kendrick Lamar’s last release “Section.80” deserved as much attention as “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is getting now, there’s no way you can front and say that it doesn’t warrant the rave reviews it’s getting. Well, unless you’re Shyne Po. What’s the last Shyne song you liked? I’ll wait…
Kev Brown – Random Joints
Killer Mike x El-P – R.A.P. Music
Killer Mike teamed up with underground Hip-Hop icon El-P to craft a hard, futuristic but still throwback album full of authentic rebel music, hence the acronym Rebellious African People. If you claim that there weren’t too many good Rap albums this year and you didn’t hear this then your opinion is invalid.
La Coka Nostra – Masters Of The Dark Arts
Large Professor – Professor @ Large
Lil’ Fame x Termanology – Fizzyology
Masta Ace x DOOM – MA_DOOM: Son Of Yvonne
1982 (Termanology x Statik Selektah) – 2012
Nas – Life Is Good
Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones returned to the scene with an album chock full of Grown Man Rap they showed off more of his personal life and his vulnerable side. The fans loved it and critical response was overwhelming. Now if only his numbers reflected both of those facts as 2 Chainz has outsold him. Unacceptable…
OC x Apollo Brown – Trophies
Apollo Brown would be my choice for producer of the year if it weren’t for the fact that The Alchemist went ham as well. OC hasn’t sounded this good on a full project since 1997’s “Jewelz” and D.I.T.C’s “Worldwide” LP. If you haven’t heard “Trophies” yet and you decided to make a “Best Of 2012 Rap Albums” without doing so, you’re an idiot. Point blank.
Oddisee – People Hear What They See
I have been a fan of Oddisee’s production going on a decade now and I am constantly amazed at how he finds a way to reach a seemingly unattainable height with his music then find a way to top himself with his next release. “People Hear What They See” is a grand opus, sonically, lyrically and thematically. Seek it out.
Oh No – Ohnomite
Planet Asia – Black Belt Theatre
Quakers – Quakers
Rapsody – The Idea Of Beautiful
REKS x Statik Selektah – Straight No Chaser
REKS x Numonics – REBELutionary
Roc Marciano – Reloaded
Roc Marciano makes the listener block out an hour of their day and immerse themselves in his world. Marc presented “Reloaded” like it was a film with an elaborate score and a companion soundtrack that added to the overall experience. There’s no skipping. No blinking. “Reloaded” requires your full attention in a microwave era where people have short attention spans and keeps the listener’s full focus effortlessly.
Sean Born – Behind The Scale
Sean Price – Mic Tyson
Sean Price’s “Mic Tyson” has an appropriate title. It’s fast, compact, extremely powerful, dangerous, iconic and isn’t to be taken lightly. I waited years to finally hear the finished product and it met and exceeded my lofty expectations. Shawn Carter is nice but Sean Price is the best…
Sene – Brooklyknight
Schoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions
Skyzoo has done it yet again. Following his excellent debut project “The Salvation” and his collaborative LP with !llmind “Live From The Tape Deck”, Sky crafted what can be considered a damn near perfect album with “A Dream Deferred”. If you run through all of the attributes that make a classic album and test “A Dream Deferred” in every category it’ll test as nearly airtight. Unless you were in a coma for the majority of the past year then you get no pass for sleeping on it.
Stu Bangas x Vanderslice – Diggaz With Attitude
Theory Hazit x Dert – THR3E
Torae – Of The Record EP
7even Thirty – Heaven’s Computer
9th Wonder x Buckshot – The Solution
Game – Jesus Piece
Journalist 103 – Reporting Live
MURS x 9th Wonder – The Final Adventure
MURS x Fashawn – This Generation
MHz – MHz Legacy
Quartermaine – Quarter Life Crisis
Substantial – Home Is Where The Art Is
T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head
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