As opposed to my Rhythm & Blues post, the best rap/hip-hop albums of 2012 was a much easier list for me to compile. Did you know that in 2012 according to Nielson and Soundscan digital album sales of rap music was up 14.7%? My hope is that the music and lyrics matures and move away from the decidedly offensive. But then again what is considered by some as offensive can be considered acceptable and commonplace by others. All of them are available on iTunes and Amazon. As I post my various lists some artists and/or the song to sample may be well-known while others may not be. Post your favorite rap albums or songs in comments. Enjoy! Without further adieu, my top five rap albums of 2012.
- Rick Ross – God Forgives I Don’t – I was torn between this and Maybach Music Group’s Self-Made Volume 2 release a few weeks before. This is not Rozay’s (government name: William Leonard Roberts II) best by far but it is among his best. Tight production, good hooks, banging bass lines are the hallmark of good rap music and this one has it in spades. The only thing is for as long as Rick has been on the scene, I would like to see some development lyrically. He never was in “the life” and I feel he could write and rap about his own life better than others.
- T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head – Dropping just weeks before the end of the year, T.I. (government name: Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) kicks in the door and gives all of us salivating fans a nice, fat, juicy steak of rhymes to feast on. Paper Trail is still his best in my opinion but this is a solid effort. It’s a little harder than his earlier discs and a little more personal too.
- 2 Chainz – Based on a T.R.U. Story – This is my personal favorite of 2012. 2 Chainz (government name: Tauheed Epps) gives us dance club favorites, house party favorites, and strip club favorites all in one package. While just a tad uneven when listened to completely, Based on a T.R.U. Story gives us solid beats and rhymes and hooks that are unforgettable. His hooks invade your mind and you may find yourself accidentally humming or nodding your head to an imaginary beat just thinking of them. An absolutely solid début.
- Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday:Roman Reloaded – On Nicki’s (government name: Onika Tanya Maraj) sophomore effort, this is an enjoyable fusion of pop and hip-hop. She’s the BEST commercially viable female MC out today. She is the first to successfully cross and merge both genre’s to commercial success. There are lyrically stronger female MC’s out there Jean Grey comes to mind, but the magic Nicki has is that her entire persona is consistent and you know exactly what you are getting. In this day being REAL is valued.
- NAS – Life Is Good – The most intellectually stimulating and one of the most influential MC’s rap history, Nas (government name: Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones) brings us conscious and thought provoking rhymes. After a four-year absence, Life Is Good is a ‘welcome back” to all of us who remember him and a “Hello, you don’t know me but you do now” to those who were too young to remember him. This album tells a story, is real with no autotune, and is a CLASSIC!
Ultimately, those were my slam dunks. My runner ups were:
Slaughterhouse – Welcome To Our House
Kanye West – G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer
Wiz Khalifa – O.N.I.F.C.
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
The Weeknd – Trilogy- I know, I know. The Weeknd is R&B. However this is too damn HOT of a album to completely ignore. Trilogy, like Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head came out at the end of 2012. This dude definitely has a bright future! Trilogy gives up neo-soul and to some degree neo-rap for the new millennium. Triology is actually a compilation of three previously released mixtapes. Each of the three discs has a different vibe, its like three separate personalities. Triology takes you on a smoky sullen journey of love and love lost. The Weeknd is a great lyricist. He is relatable. You feel and know exactly where he is coming from with each song. He even does a cover/reinterpretation of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. This is a gem of 2012!