Friday, December 28, 2012

2012's Top Fives

No intro; you know what it is. The ones with links are the ones I've blogged about in depth already, so clicky to read more.

Top Five New Albums:

Young Zee - One Crazy Weekend is easily the album of the year for me.  I feel like I'm one of only a handful of people who even know this actually came out, which is a real shame, because it's delightful.

Low Budget - Poolside I wasn't expecting to like this album nearly as much as I did. It's pretty great and I urge you to check that out.

Freddie Foxxx - The Kolexxxion I didn't blog about this one during the year, but it's pretty obvious combining Freddie Foxxx with DJ Premier is going to be a rewarding endeavor; and they came through like we knew they would.

Mad Child - Dope Sick There was a period where Mad Child turned into a Christian rapper and Swollen Members were a mess, but that period is long gone and their stuff is worth checking for again.

Rime Force Most Illin' Perhaps the only release more slept on than Young Zee's; but it's a must have little EP.

(Also Noteworthy New Music:)

MA Doom - Son of Yvonne I saw an interview where Ace said this was meant to be a mixtape and that explains everything. Ace is a top MC... the beats are old, previously released Doom tracks (his Special Herbs and Spices stuff), which are still good, but it all feels undercooked. A solid mixtape-level venture, but don't expect it to stand alongside Ace's other albums. Kane's appearance is a let-down, though.

Nas - Life Is Good People seem to get amped for every Nas album, shouting "next Illmatic," and then a few months later, everyone looks back on it like, "okay, not really."  But like his last album, there was some nice stuff on here, like "Loco Motive." Leaving off "Nasty" was just stupid, though.

Large Professor - Professor @ Large
I'd put his single as a best of for sure (it's not here, though, because it was 2011). The full-length is not so mind-blowing, but still a very respectable outing, with some highlights like a posse cut with Grandy Daddy IU and Cormega.

Craig G - Ramblings Of An Angry Old Man Not a masterpiece to hold up next to his Atlantic stuff, but a pleasant surprise for sure. Even if you've been bored with Craig in the last, oh, decade or so; I recommend giving this a try.

Kendrick Lamar - good Kid, m.A.A.d city He deserves all the attention he's getting for lyric writing, but his production (and sometimes his voice/flow, depending on the song) are keeping me from putting this on regular rotation. But you should at least listen to it once.

Sole - A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing Kind of a mixed bag, but an interesting, compelling one. Unless you're a hardcore, dedicated Sole fan, you can skip a bunch of Sole projects without missing out on anything important. But for the rest of you, this is probably the one it's worth checking in on. A little (lot?) too preachy this time around, but the production makes up for it.

Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch the Throne Didn't expect to see this here? Hey, I dug the "Otis" beat as much as everybody else. The album would be a million times better without Kanye rapping on it, but you still can't really sleep on this.

The Top Five New Releases of Previously Unreleased Music:

Phase N Rhythm - The Force Of the Matrix I'm still doing the happy dance over this.

Craig G - I Can't Stop This one got a lot of flack, and I'm probably surprising a lot of people by including it in the Top 5 above other possible titles. Well, I do agree that 7"s are a disappointment; but regarding the questions about this song's authenticity? This track's great, and it's a nice little presentation. Even if it's a "Top Shelf"-style phony (which I'm not convinced about), it's still great. Just like Top Shelf 8/8/88 was.

Natural Elements - Lost Demos & Instrumentals Not as amazing as the previous release; as this is more instrumentals, promos and solo stuff than the classics on the last EP. But this is still some brilliant, vintage NE material we've never heard before.

Jorun Bombay - Instrumentals DWG totally sneaked this one under the radar... hip-hop's all-time most important, unreleased instrumentals perfectly recreated, and it was just a bonus record in a set. Wow.

JVC Force - The 1992-1993 Unreleased EP Chopped Herring was winning in 2012, no doubt. Seriously fantastic material finally sees the light of day.

The Top Five New Releases of Previously Released Music:

Def Rhythm Productions - Back To the Lab The defining assets of records on this list is the rarity and, of course, the quality of the music. Well, Back To the Lab was on everybody's wishlists for a reason, and this reissue did it right.

Payroll Records - Rare Tracks Just like Chopped Herring was winning in previously unreleased vinyl this year, Dope Folks definitely owned the category of previously released reissues. A terrific compilation of very desirable material.

Lord Finesse - Signature Sevens Series It's frustrating when releases you really want are stuck out on 7" rather than 12", but Slice of Spice did the best 7" job possible with their collection of super rare Finesse tracks that had previously been cassette only, or otherwise in dire need of a vinyl release.

Wizard of Rap - Escape from East New York Seriously, Dope Folks cleans up in this category; this is an amazing record that, let's face it, we were never going to find an OG copy of.

Danger Zone Mobb Sqwad - TL Back To Yell I feel like I should put something other than another Dope Folks release here; but who amongst us hasn't been on the edge of their seat for a reissue of this material since it was first hinted at years ago?

I'm not gonna do a noteworthy list for the unreleased and reissue stuff, because it's pretty much everything... certainly, if you somehow missed DWG's Latee release, or the nice little 7"s from The Legion, you'll want to catch yourself up. The Fat Boys in a pizza box looked pretty cool.

All in all, I'd say not a bad year. New music seems to be experiencing a bit of an upswing, and the issuing of "lost" hip-hop still seems to be growing, when years before I would've assumed we'd plateau by now. All in all, I'm optimistic for what we'll see in 2013.  :)


  1. Watch The Throne came out in 2011...

    1. Not sure if it just got leaked or if it's one of those releases where they put out the mp3s and CD before the wax, but UGHH has the vinyl dropping in Jan 2012...

    2. Must have been that the CD/MP3 came out before the vinyl because those cae out in 2011.

      P.S. While Otis is cool, I vastly prefer the production job Mathematics did on Masta Killa's No Said Date (the track is called DTD). And having 1/3 of Wu Tang rock over it only makes it stronger.

  2. That Masta Ace album is very awesome props...