Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 - Year in Review (Albums and Music Thoughts)

So after reviewing my favorite songs of 2012, here's my favorite albums. I felt last year was a much better year for music. For one, I actually had top albums in my favorites instead of mixtapes. Some folks made challenging music and even though popular radio decided to keep going one way, folks didn't mind going against the grain.

My Top 5 albums
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (A hip hop masterpiece)
Nas - Life Is Good
Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
THEESatisfaction – awE naturalE (Funky Divas making soul out of Seattle)
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange (best male R&B album since BLACKsummersnight)

The Rest of the Best
Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
Ab-Soul – Control System
Jack White – Blunderbuss
Gary Clark Jr – Blak and Blu (please don't sleep on this goodness)
Big K.R.I.T. - Live From the Underground
Actual Proof – Black Boy Radio
Santigold – Master of my Make-Believe
El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
Dr. John – Locked Down (Fun and funk from a New Orleans legend)

Favorite Mixtapes
Gummy Soul – Bizarre Tribe (one of the best mashups I've heard in a long while)
BIG K.R.I.T. – 4Eva N a Day
Lecrae – Church Clothes
Jojo – Agape
Joey Bada** - 1999

The Black Hippy Crew of TDE dominated 2012 as Ab-Soul, Kendrick, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock made incredible music.
I know Odd Future has gotten a lot of attention the last two years but in that same time, Top Dawg Entertainment has made more impact where it counts. In the music and in your ears, not just your eyes. Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q showed TDE is more than just Kendrick as they released two well received albums that’ll set them up for greatness in 2013.

OFWGKTA barely made any noise in 2012 except for seeing the return of Earl Sweatshirt. It's a big reason why I don't really have time or patience for Tyler, the Creator's antics because I want to hear music, not off kilter rants. That said, here's hoping Earl, the best lyricist in the crew, drops a great album in 2013 and based on "Chum" and his verse on Frank's album, he will.

What more can I say about Kendrick Lamar in 2012? A gold-selling album that sold off word of mouth, quality music and an anti-binge drinking single that slowly became a pop hit without even trying. An album that brought the West Coast back. A feeling that California hip-hop isn’t just living off Dr. Dre/Snoop and the past.

For the second straight year, he made an album that people will be remembering for years to come and that's a win hip hop can celebrate.

As a Nas fan, this album ranks very high on my list. Since 2001, it's behind Stillmatic/Lost Tapes/Untitled
People might focus on how big 2 Chainz got - an old rapper who rebranded himself as well as anybody I've seen. But for all of his buzz, I'm saluting two older rappers who made a bigger impact this year - Nas and Killer Mike. Nas found peace in his life and made his most consistent album in 10 years. Killer Mike found inspiration with El-P and made a powerful piece of music.

2012 might be the year that I'm over Alicia Keys. A songbird that I loved from high school to now. But now, her music is getting safe and every time I see her, I feel disappointed. Yet you know who I find myself still enjoying? P!nk.

Y'all remember Gotye? Dude who dominated the first half of 2012 and then got forgotten in the 2nd half of the year thanks to Carly Rae Jepsen and Gangnam Style? Me either. By the way, whoever the music genius was that didn't release Carly Rae's album in the summer when her buzz was strong should be fired.

I also saw some nonsense in how Chief Keef was promoted this year. A kid who's troubled, deep in the gang life of Chicago and openly laughed over the death of another kid was rewarded with a rap deal and saw his album get praised. At a time when Chicago is in the news for wrong reasons, several publications (Pitchfork! RapGenius!) promoted this kid for his realism, gritty talks. That sickened me.

More than Trindad James' comedy (which Def Jam paid allegedly $2 Million for), Rick Ross' fake drug lord lifestyle or any other rapper talking big, Keef's praise offended me because it promotes this thug lifestyle without realizing what comes along with it. This guy is promoting things that are destroying a city and killing many Black youths daily.

We should be shunning him and saying that's not what we're about. But record labels and certain media folks elevating him? That's the stuff I don't like. Yet it's not surprising really - these are the same kind of folks that believed Kreayshawn would be a hit because of her YouTube fame. Oops.

My favorite video of the year? QueenS by THEESatisfaction. They made a video that not only showed off their confidence and groove, but beautiful Black women in all shades and tastes. They wanted to combat the images of what most music videos portray and aided by legendary dream Hampton behind the lens, it was beautiful, groovy soul. It’s also fun as heck.

2012 was also a year I was happy to dig into more music. I dug deeper in Prince’s catalogue and finally heard Appetite for Destruction and Joshua Tree for the first time. I finally listened to a Sly and the Family Stone album and after hearing 4 more, I fully understand why they are one of most influential groups ever. I listened to The Police’s catalogue and I’ve become an even bigger fan of how cool and original they are.

Spotify has made listening to music even more easy and I'm happy to see what holds in 2013. I already have Metallica albums to fully dig into via there and hopefully I'll finally get to dig into Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder.

Part 3 - Final Thoughts on 2013 (Favorite Articles, My Memories, My Best Blogs, etc....)


  1. Funny thing is I just started bumping that Nas and I loved it more than a lot of what I heard this year. We didn't get a "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy",you know an album that grabs you like THAT but "GKMC" was as close as it got. Channel Orange was really good as well. Those were the two most listened to albums this year for me.

    1) Good Kid, Madd City
    2)Channel Orange
    3) Life is Good
    4) Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors
    5) God Forgives and I Don't

    Cruel Summer was the most disappointing thing I heard all year.

  2. That Nas album is gonna be played for a while I think. I know there's typically a lot of praise for a Nas record and then it goes away but I feel like this one will go down smoother as I age.

    I dig that list. Still letting Big's album grow one me but I love the 2nd half of it. And man Cruel Summer.....Kanye needs to stop letting these wack dudes shine over these overproduced beats. Clique was cool but I didn't like Mercy. A blog I'm working on is how Kanye has changed since 2008 and 1 thing I've been iffy on is his production.