So a new year is right around the corner, which means that the next couple days is all about inebriation and indigestion. But before we ring in 2013 with drunken madness, let’s celebrate the past 12 months with the best rap albums of 2012.
Honorable Mentions: Rich Forever, Rick Ross; Pluto, Future; Dreams & Nightmares, Meek Mill
10. Meyhem Lauren – ‘Respect the Fly Sh*t’
A throwback emcee, Lauren nods to New York’s sewage-raw hip-hop alongside hometown favorits Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Sean Price, and more.
9. Schoolboy Q – ‘Habits & Contradictions’
Simultaneously menacing and unassuming, Habits & Contradictions is a thoroughly enjoyable theme song to the underdog lifestyle.
8. Action Bronson & Party Supplies – ‘Blue Chips’
Bronson spews forth his trademark gourmet rhymes, incorporating just about any reference that pops into his melon, while Party Supplies supplies the soundtrack.
7. Freddie Gibbs – ‘Baby Face Killa’
Gibbs nails familiar tropes with unmatched execution, showing he’s capable of making accessible music without losing his identity.
6. Ab-Soul – ‘Control System’
Gives you plenty to chew on after the music has ended.
5. EL-P – ‘Cancer 4 Cure’
Bears an overwhelming sense of chaos and paranoia. It works in part because El-P doesn’t preach to the forsaken; he simply offers them a place of worship.
4. Roc Marciano – ‘Reloaded’
Roc Marciano follows up Marcberg with the same stroke of genius we’ve come to expect from him. Even with the likes of Q-Tip and Alchemist behind the boards, it still feels like they’re executing Marci’s ideas to the letter.
3. Nas – ‘Life Is Good’
Eleven albums and twenty years later, Nas shows he hasn’t lost his knack for 3D storytelling. The production ain’t bad, either.
2. Killer Mike – ‘R.A.P. Music’
A well orchestrated tour de force driven by politics, soul, blues, drums, and the potential to put heads in a neck brace. Mike and P were truly meant for each other.
1. Kendrick Lamar – ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’
A pistol-grip account of a good kid undone by a mad city. The characters aren’t in Compton alone — they’re in every hood. Twenty years from now, kids will erroneously credit good kid, m.A.A.d city as an independent release because no one will believe that an album this quality dropped on a major label. Hip-hop won.