Saturday, 22 December 2012

Top 5 Best Albums of 2012

So 2012 is almost over and since the world didn't end, I feel it is necessary to talk about the five album I consider to be the best of the year. This was a great year in Hip-Hop with new acts dropping very raw and exceptional music and older ones coming back to show us they still got it. This list won't only feature rap albums, but considering Hip-Hop is my favorite genre, you might see most of them are Hip-Hop albums! So without further ado, I bring to you my favorite albums of 2012: 

5- Life Is Good - Nas
Nas's rapping career has been bumpy ever since his debut Illmatic believe it or not. Ever since Illmatic dropped, every album he has dropped has been compared to it and ripped apart. That's not to say he hasn't dropped great albums ever since, but he will always be put in a position were nothing is better than Illmatic. With Life is Good, Nas proves that for the first time in a while, he can put out a cohesive and consistent album. I haven't seen Nas rap this good since God's Son or even Stillmatic. Nas raps with introspective lyrics as well as putting out songs with great punchlines and beautiful hooks. Nas also shows that his storytelling abilities are still intact with songs like "No Introduction" which is one of my favorite songs of the year. This album has it all, from great lyrics to grand production. Nas only had one guest rapper on this album, with Rick Ross on Accident Murderers, and even though Rozay didn't stay on topic as much as he should've, he still dropped a great verse. If you're a Hip-Hop fan and haven't checked Life is Good yet, then I highly recommend it! It didn't get four Grammy nominations (Including Best Rap Album) for nothing!

Best Tracks on the Album: No Introduction, Daughters, A Queens Story & Loco-Motive

4- channel ORANGE - Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean has already left his mark on the R&B genre with his 2011 mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA. Frank Ocean may not have the strongest voice in the music industry right now, but damn it he can sing! Frank Ocean has got to be one of the best songwriters in the business. He ghostwrote for artists like Usher, John Legend, Justin Bieber and Beyonce but left his best songs for his own album. With channel ORANGE, Frank Ocean shows how he improved from his debut. Frank Ocean's songwriting got more mature. With this album, Frank Ocean still had the creative control but you can see his originality increased incredibly. His usage of metaphors and imagery in his songs help portray the atmosphere of a troubled man he's singing about. He also uses these techniques to tell stories, especially Pyramids, the 10 minute R&B epic. The production on this album is phenomenal, with the strings on songs like Thinkin' Bout You and Bad Religion giving a classical feeling to the album. Pharrel's production on Sweet Life is the best on the album, creating a classic 80s atmosphere to the song which sounds like a Michael Jackson or Prince song. The guest appearances on this album are also great, with Andre 3000 dropping a great verse on Pink Matter. So if you haven't checked the "Album of the Year" nominated album yet, then I highly recommend it!

Best Tracks on the Album: Sweet Life, Bad Religion, Lost, Pink Matter & Crack Rock

3- Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 - Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco proves that he hasn't lost his rapping ability in this triumphant come-back. Lupe showcases how he's able to rap over many political and social issues such as war, the usage of the N-word, the perception of females in our society and many other topics. The lead single (and personal favorite) Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free) combines many different problems we have in our world in one 4 minute song with a Pete Rock sample beat. In Form Follows Function, Lupe shows his lyrical abilities dropping many metaphors, double entendres, and word play illustrating why you shouldn't really question his rapping ability. While the middle songs (tracks 9-11) are forgettable, this album remains one of favorites of the year and I highly recommend it. For my full review, click here.

Best Tracks on the Album: Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free), Form Follows Function, Strange Fruition & Bitch Bad.

2- Control System - Ab-Soul
Black Hippy member Ab-Soul returns with his sophomore album Control System with more fire and ambition than ever! Ab-Soul's lyricism has improved by far from his debut Longterm Mentality. With this album, you can see multiple sides of Ab-Soul, from his violent and angered side to his sad and sympathetic side. You can see how he reacts to certain situations and how he judges himself in songs like Track Two. His flow simply merges with the beat behind the song and you can enjoy the crazy lyrics he spits. All members of Black Hippy are on this album, with a collaborative bonus track that goes hard! One of my favorite songs on this album is one of the most touching songs I ever heard called The Book of Soul, in which Ab-Soul raps about the loss of his long love Alori Joh and how her passing away affected his life. The jazzy production on this song just puts you in his sorrow and his lyrics make you want to cry. So in the end I highly recommend you listen to this album. Its a fresh way to look at Hip-Hop and you can be absorbed by Ab-Soul's multiple personalities. 

Best Tracks on the Album: The Book of Soul, ILLuminate, Beautiful Death, Track Two & Pineal Gland

1- good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
There is no doubt in my mind that 10 to 15 years from now, Hip-Hop fans will look back and say "Damn, Kendrick Lamar's debut was a classic". Hell, people have already been calling it a classic ever since it dropped and it deserves all the praise its getting. It ended up on virtually all of music critic's top ten lists of the year and even topping some. With his debut, Kendrick puts you in the violent streets of Compton filling his own shoes. You walk in Kendrick's footsteps, experience his happy moments, dangers and tragedies and mourn with him. His flow is so perfect that he is able to ride any beat thrown at him. The guest features on this album are carefully placed in perfect spots to avoid wrecking the flow and cohesiveness of the album. The production on this album are some of the best of the year and Dr. Dre's credibility of the artists he signs has gotten even stronger. For my full review, click here. I highly recommend you check this album out, even if you aren't a Hip-Hop fan. 

Best Tracks on the Album: Sing About Me, The Art of Peer Pressure, good kid, m.A.A.d city & Compton.

Honorable Mentions:
Skelethon - Aesop Rock
4eva N A Day - Big K.R.I.T.
Cure 4 Cancer - EL-P
R.A.P. Music - Killer Mike
The Heist - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 
Live From the Underground - Big K.R.I.T.

So those are my favorite albums of 2012. What were yours? Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite albums of the year were and what you thought of my list!

*Update: After much consideration and revisits, I have formed a new list of my favorite albums of 2012. However, instead of a top 5, I have formed a top 10. I felt after revisiting many of this year's great albums, some of them stood out more as time passed. So here is my updated list:

1- good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
2- R.A.P. Music - Killer Mike
3- Control System - Ab-Soul
4- Plateau Vision - Lushlife
5- Cancer 4 Cure - El-P
6- Skelethon - Aesop Rock
7- Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color
8- We Don't Even Live Here - P.O.S.
9- PEEP: The APROcalypse - Pro Era
10- 4eva N A Day - Big K.R.I.T.

1 comment: