Jay-Z and Beyonce are preparing for their daughter’s first-ever Christmas. Lil Wayne is slipping some eggnog into his purple drink. And of course, record label executives are scheming on last-minute ways to profit off the holiday season. That means it is December, and The Rap Up is serving its third annual Naughty or Nice List. Read on to find out who in hip-hop is in St. Nick’s good graces, and who will wake up feeling as empty as their stocking.
Game’s off-the-mic rants and unstable interview persona have always been irksome, but not enough to overshadow his dope music. In 2012, however, we got a chance to see what Game would be viewed as if his music was anything less than good. With the incredibly tacky Jesus Piece, Game had no saving grace for his ridiculous rants and claims. Oh, and he flip-flopped on issues more times than Mitt Romney.
The promise that was shown on Lecrae’s features and BET cypher from 2011 was fully realized on two projects this year. Lecrae repped Christ without gimmicks, and also managed to sound authentically hip hop while doing so. Church Clothes is one of the year’s best mixtapes, and even though his subsequent album, Gravity, didn’t quite match up to Church Clothes, it was still solid in its own right. I can’t wait to see what this guy does in 2013.
This kid embodies much of what is wrong with hip hop. Mindless violence (his music), cheesy sexploits (his Instagram fiasco) and a horrible attitude (taunting the death of a rival gang member of Twitter) were all linked with Chief Keef this year. Rap’s heavyweights need sit the kid down for a chat. Either that, or give him a Jordan-in-’84-type freeze-out.
Keef’s buddy Lil Reese was also outrageous this year. After a video of Reese assaulting a women surfaced on the internet, Reese shrugged off the footage on Twitter as haters trying to keep him down. It must be so hard to be a woman-beater.
Earl Simmons stayed out of jail this year. For anyone who has followed his string of past legal troubles, that is no small feat. He also seems to have conquered his drug addiction, and released the worthy Undisputed which proved he still has it. That rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was the whipped topping. I’m happy for you, X.
Tip defied the odds yet again. On the heels of legal trouble, the mediocre No Mercy and lukewarm promotional singles, people started to look at T.I. as more of a reality TV star than rapper. Tip rendered those whispers moot when he dropped Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head on Dec. 18. No, it’s not Trap Muzik or even Urban Legend, but it’s still a good album. He also released his F*ck Da City Up mixtape on New Year’s Day, which was a hella good time.
We get it, Shyne. Puffy did you wrong. But that incident at the now-defunct Kit Kat Club was 12 years ago. It’s over. Dwelling on it is tired and pointless. And calling Kendrick’s album trash? You were the only one who said that publicly. Literally, the only one. Either start recording good music, or move on.
Kendrick deserves being on this list because good kid, m.A.A.d city is a masterpiece. But that’s not the only reason. He also handled himself like a 5-year veteran in interviews and tore up a number of featured verses in 2012. Crown him.
Young Money’s first lady tried to sell the same album, albeit with several bonus songs, for the third time. No, that’s not a typo. Then, when stores like Target refused to stock the re-re-packaging because it wasn’t good business sense, she blasted them in an interview. Go home, Nicki. And leave your microphone here.
In 2012, El-P released Cancer 4 Cure, which Rizoh called “bleak,” but “also beautiful,” and was well-received by hip hop heads and critics alike. He also produced Killer Mike’s critically-acclaimed R.A.P. Music in its entirety, which featured the politically-charged and powerful “Reagan.” Yeah, that’s what you call a double-double in hip-hop.
Liar, liar, mic on fire, your life was nothing like The Wire. Tyga joined a long list of rappers who have lied about their past and/or street cred, and was exposed for it when footage of himself on the game show “Bustas” showed him claiming to be from the Valley, not Compton. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t lie about it.
Last year, I put Dre on the Naughty List for failing to come through with Detox. No, the mythical album was not released this year. However, Dre was the one who gave Kendrick Lamar complete creative control over his major label debut, and we all know how that turned out. His Beats by Dre headphones also continued to grow in popularity. So no, Santa will not be skipping Dre’s house this year.
Ugh. This dude is devolving into a twerpy, braided slug. He’s as bad as he’s ever been as a rapper, and even worse as a public figure. He lost his lawsuit against Quincy Jones III for Jones’ documentary on the Wayne, and was actually court-ordered to pay Jones in a countersuit. How did Wayne lose? After he suffered a seizure that caused him to miss his court date, Wayne’s attorney was forced to show the videotape of Wayne’s deposition. The tape showed Wayne refusing to answer questions and mocking the whole process. No, Wayne, you didn’t look like a “G.” That is, unless “G” stands for goof or goon.
Big K.R.I.T.’s long-awaited debut album was finally released in 2012. Live From the Underground featured dope production and tight lyrics from K.R.I.T., who should be lauded for successfully making it to his first album. In today’s age of flooding and overhyping, that’s no joke.
I don’t even need to spend that much time on Doom, whose name now reads like a self-fulfilling prophecy. How are you going to send an imposter to one of your shows again? Do you even care about your fans?
I hope y’all enjoyed the list. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everybody!