Now before you start comparing and whining about what sold more:
THIS LIST IS NOT ABOUT SALES. I couldn’t care less about sales. This list is a compilation of projects that moved me this year. It’s based on their completeness, their ability to make ME feel, the value of the body of work and its replay value. It’s not JUST albums. As far as I’m concerned EPs, mixtapes and albums can compete with each other. ESPECIALLY because sales mean nothing to me. Without further ado….
If I could just say “in no particular order” I would. This was extremely difficult to compile and rank since I love each project very much.
25. Stevie Crooks – VLNS NVR DIE
California’s Stevie Crooks showed up randomly for me. I had no idea who he was. I’m blown away. He’s gonna be great. Just watch. Click the album cover to download his album VLNS NVR DIE. Check out my review here.
Favorite Track: Newyorkafornia
24. Dom Kennedy – From The WestSide With Love II
I waited months for this album. Also from Cali, Dom Kennedy is growing and progressing. His cadence is improving and his persona is consistent. What I love about that is he’s either a really good actor or he’s staying true to himself. I’d like to believe it’s the latter. Click the album cover to download.
Favorite Track: Platinum Chanel
23. Danny Brown – XXX
Detroit is legendary for turning out amazing musicians, singers, rappers, DJs and producers. Add Danny Brown to the ranks. XXX is EASILY one of the best projects this year. Production is flawless and Danny is one of the most honest rappers I’ve ever heard. Love him or hate him…he’s himself all the time. Click the album cover to download XXX.
Favorite Track: Pac Blood
22. SigNif – Significant Wizdom
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and now a NYC resident, SigNif The Gift is handing out a refreshing dose of lyrical wins. She doesn’t have that “femcee” gimmick thing goin on. I love her. Get into her bandcamp page if you haven’t already.
Favorite Track: S.I.G.T.R.O
21. Bad Meets Evil – Hell: The Sequel
Royce and Em have always been a good match lyrically. Seeing them reunite and be great was touching. Click the image to download the album.
Favorite Track: Loud Noises
20. Curren$y & The Alchemist – Covert Coup
Curren$y is one of the hardest working rappers out here. He’s released more free material in his career than most indie artists with a notable buzz. He’s worked hard, stayed true to himself and watched it pay off. This album, produced entirely by Alchemist, is SO dope. If you don’t have it, click the cover to download it.
Favorite Track: Scottie Pippens
19. Su Bviley – The Saturns
Someone sent me his project and I was wary. He’s quickly become a new favorite of mine. Check out my review of The Saturns here. Click the image to download The Saturns.
Favorite Track: Friends With Benefits
18. Raekwon – Shaolin VS. Wu-Tang
Do I really have to say a lot about this? No.
Favorite Track: I couldn’t choose. I’m serious.
17. Pharoahe Monch – We Are Renegades (W.A.R.)
People always wanna count the underdog out. Monch had a winner with this album. Even the features were heavy. Don’t sleep.
Favorite Track: Tie between Assassins and Black Hand Side
16. The Roots – undun
Some of the finest storytelling I’ve heard in awhile. They went back to their beginnings to tell tales of pain, anguish, poverty and life choices.
Favorite Track: Tie – Make My and The OtherSide
15. Dom Kennedy – The Original Dom Kennedy
OGDK is dope to me for two reasons: The production is solid and the content is dope. The beats are good for ridin,smokin,chillin…whatever. And his storytelling skills are underrated. Don’t let your girlfriend kick it wit no rappers…
Favorite Track: Bet You Want Me Now
14. Drake – Take Care
I loved Mixtape Drake. He was hungry,skilled and thoughtful. “Thank Me Later” Drake was sweaty fat asscheeks, to be frank. I liked 2 or 3 tracks from that album. And then…later came and I thanked him. Take Care has everything. It contains music to twerk to, fuck to,ride to,think to and relax to. Although he could have kept “Practice”, the rest of the project is solid as a rock.
Favorite Track: The Ride
13. Pac Div – The Div
Pac Div has never disappointed me. Never. And people often disagree when I say everything they put out is flawless. Production, lyrical content, subject matter, hooks, etc…flawless. I don’t think they’ve put out a “classic” but got damn if they don’t put out some real life feel good music. And they’re very autobiographical which is something I feel hip hop lacks. Everyone is afraid to say what scares them or what bothers them internally. The West is definitely making a big comeback on my iPod. Click the image to download “The Div”.
12. Freddie Gibbs – Cold Day In Hell
I wasn’t real keen on Gangsta Gibbs when I first heard him but this shit HERE? Oh God. Yes. He’s shown incredible growth.
Favorite Track: Anything to Survive
11. Frank Ocean – nostalgia,ULTRA.
OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) came out of NOWHERE.Frank Ocean joined them in 2009.
In February he released nostalgia, ULTRA. on Tumblr to rave reviews. There was literally NO promotion for it whatsoever. It’s nostalgic, beautifully composed and written and really doesn’t fit in any particular genre in my opinion. Ever since Novacane, the mixtapes single, pulled attention from every angle he’s been awfully busy. This project shows his old soul and his natural talent. SWAG HIM OUT.
Favorite Track: We All Try
10. Evidence – Cats & Dogs
Evidence has always been wildly underrated. Cats & Dogs is moody and thought-provoking. It’s easily one of the best projects out right now. He doesn’t see much mainstream attention but I prefer that. When an artist goes mainstream they lose the essence of what made original fans love them.
Favorite Track: You
9. Phonte – Charity Starts At Home
From Little Brother to The Foreign Exchange, Phonte Coleman has proved himself worthy to be in everyone’s top 5. He’s not though. He’s too regular. Not enough bling, too much honesty, too much feeling. Phonte is the ONLY hip hop artist I really Stan for. I’ve never had an artist evoke as much emotion in me.
Favorite Track: Everything Is Falling Down
8. Blu – j e s u s
I waited MONTHS for No York! but before it dropped Blu randomly released j e s u s. I was thoroughly pleased. The sound quality wasn’t the best but I felt that it added to the nostalgic feel of the lyrics and production. I actually liked this project much more than No York!.
Favorite Track: b u r g a n d y
7. The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence
The final installment of The Weeknd’s mixtape trilogy, EOS is the story of the feelings Abel Tesfaye feels after coming down. The angst-ridden tales of lust,pain and disappointment swirl through the air as he croons (and moans,yells and cries lol) about what being on his current cloud feels like.
Favorite Track: Next and Montreal
6. Pac Div – Mania
As stated previously, Pac Div is flawless. The End
Favorite Track: I really couldn’t choose. There isn’t one track on this project that I don’t love.
5. Joe Budden – Mood Muzik 4.5
Joe catches a lot of heat but enough people aren’t listening. Mood Muzik 4.5 is comprised of raw lyrical skill, amazing storytelling skills and Joe’s pure truth. He gets extremely personal on all of his projects but 4.5 was written during an odd time in his life. There was a lot of growing,progressing and healing of the soul.
Favorite Track: Dreamerz
4. Big K.R.I.T – Return Of 4Eva
Slated to be an album, Krit decided to release R4 as a free mixtape. Krit lets his beautiful southern accent drip all over the stellar production. He tells tales of his dreams, his desires, his worries, his convictions. It’s an amazing body of work.
Favorite Track: Free My Soul
3. The Weeknd – Thursday
If you’ve never gotten high on anything stronger than marijuana, Thursday is a good representation of how it feels. It’s floaty, zoned out, alluring, sexy and swagged out.
Favorite Track: Life Of The Party
2. Common – The Dreamer/The Believer
Produced entirely by No I.D., Common’s latest effort is already being stamped a classic by many listeners. I think it’s almost better than “Be”. James Faunterloy floats effortlessly on the hooks and Common opens his heart lyrically. And with tracks like “Sweet” and “Raw” he proves he’s not above putting anybody back in their place in this rap shit. COMMON MIGHT ACT BUT HE AIN’T NO BITCH. No shade at Ice Cube (cough cough).
Of course it’s #1.
I can’t choose a favorite.
It’s just THAT dope.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy 2012. Prosper. Be healthy. Be well. Be happy
If you’re mad at someone, let it go. It’s probably not that serious. If you love someone, let them know. They deserve to get flowers while they can still smell them. Please stop listening to Lil Boosie. It’s killing your brain cells.
Note: If you want to argue about my list, feel free to tweet me on Twitter —> @MochaLRX