Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2012

While 2012 already ended over a week ago, I've been meaning to talk about my top ten favorite songs of that year. 2012 featured a lot of great rappers releasing excellent albums that I still listen to and will continue to listen to for some time. This list will feature my top ten picks of 2012 but will not feature more than one song by the same artist because I don't think that would be fair. So without further adieu, I give you my top ten favorite songs of 2012!

10- Hip Hop (Feat. Scarface, Nas & DJ Premier) - DJ Khaled:
First of all, I am not a big fan of DJ Khaled. I don't really know what his contributions to his albums are; he doesn't rap  on his songs, he doesn't do the hooks and he doesn't even produce his tracks half the time! But if its one thing DJ Khaled can do right is unite rappers that would fit perfectly together in one song. With Hip Hop, DJ Khaled releases, in my opinion, his best song yet. Scarface and Nas spit verses about a female and how they hate her now but in the end it turns out they're talking about Hip-Hop. While this has been done before (Common's I Used to Love H.E.R.), they spit great verses. Scarfaces' voice adds to his aggression and Nas' flow is as perfect as always. With DJ Premiere's great production, this song is a very memorable one that I will continue to listen to for a while.

Other Memorable DJ Khaled song(s): They Ready (Feat. J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T. & Kendrick Lamar)

9- New God Flow (Feat. Pusha T & Ghostface Killah) - Kanye West:
To me, Cruel Summer was a big disappointed because I expected a great album with great verses from all of the G.O.O.D. Music members and some MBDTF production from Kanye West. What I got was an album that sounded like a free compilation give-away. However, one song on this album I gotta say I absolutely loved. New God Flow is the best produced song on the album and has some of the best verses as well. Pusha T drops two great verses throwing more jabs at YMCMB members Lil Wayne, Birdman and Drake. Then, Kanye West drops one of the best verses of the year. Even though Kanye isn't as good as he used to be, he can still go in! When he starts stomping his feet, there's no denying that Kanye is going full HAM. Finally, Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah comes in and drops a breathtaking verse filled with great rhymes and wordplay. This is a great track and I highly recommend that you hear the album version with Ghostface Killah than the radio version (which to be honest I never heard on the radio!).

Other Memorable Kanye West song(s): White Dress & Cold 

8- The Book of Soul - Ab-Soul:
Ab-Soul's sophomore album was my second favorite album of 2012 so there's no way a song from it cannot be on this list! On this song, Ab-Soul pours his heart and soul giving us one of the most personal songs I've heard in a while. Ab-Soul talks about the death of his long love that passed away recently (R.I.P.) and how she influenced his life as well as how her death affected him now. On the song, Ab-Soul drops one of the best lines this year "I guess the Mayans wasn't lying/2012 my world ended". Damn! If you haven't heard this song yet, I highly recommend you check it out as soon as possible. This one will leave you in tears and giving you more respect for the ones you hold close.

Other Memorable Ab-Soul song(s): Terrorist Threats (Feat. Danny Brown), Double Standards & Track Two.

7-Zero Dark Thirty (Feat. Rob Sonic) - Aesop Rock:
To be honest, I almost don't want to recommend this song because Aesop Rock isn't your ordinary rapper. De-cyphering his lyrics is a hard task because most of what he spits is based on things that float in his own mind, which is a very strange mind if you ask me! Listening to Aesop Rock will have you grabbing a dictionary trying to understand the words he's saying and his metaphors run on for so long you find yourself going back just to see what you missed on the first listen. That's not to say that you need complicated words to make a good conceptual song, but Aesop Rock lives in his own world and if you're daring to enter, you might experience some of the best music in modern Hip-Hop. His voice and flow just ride the self produced beat with absolute ease. The lyrics melt in the beat and what you get is a fantastic energetic song to one of the best albums of the year; Skelethon . So check it out, maybe you'll like his strangeness.

Other Memorable Aesop Rock song(s): Leisureforce, Cycles to Gehenna, Gopher Guts & Saturn Missiles.

6- Reagan - Killer Mike:
Controversial Hip-Hop relating to government conspiracy has always been around, with Immortal Technique and Lowkey coming first to mind. With Reagan however, Killer Mike just goes in with his dark deep flow over a monstrous EL-P produced beat. He raps about former US president Ronald Reagan and all of the conspiracy surrounding his presidency and involvement with "The New World Order". Now I'm not the biggest fan of these types of songs, but Killer Mike and EL-P pull it off perfectly giving us one of the best songs of year. If you like conspiracy based Hip-Hop, you'll love this one.

Other Memorable Killer Mike song(s): Big Beast (Feat. Bun B, T.I. & Trouble), R.A.P. Music & Don't Die .

5- Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Big K.R.I.T.:
Big K.R.I.T. is one of my favorite new rappers because of his consistency, having released three fantastic mixtapes and a great major lable debut, Live From The Underground, which features this song. Big K.R.I.T. isn't afraid of getting personal and for that I greatly admire him not just as a rapper but as a person as well. With Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Big K.R.I.T. pays respect to his father who may not have been the wealthiest financially, but the wealthiest spiritually and intellectually, hence the title. He talks about how his father raised him and was his main guide, telling him what to do and how to act. For example, he talks about how his father giving him a condom at the age of fourteen prevented him from becoming a father at such a young age. Big K.R.I.T. really brings it all in with this song, and I highly recommend you check it out!

Other Memorable Big K.R.I.T. song(s): Live From the Underground & Cool 2 Be Southern, Boobie Miles. 

4- For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums the Word) - EL-P:
El-P's Cancer 4 Cure was one of my favorite albums of 2012. After 5 years of absence, this album was very much anticipated amongst Hip-Hop fans. I personally loved Fantastic Damage and I'll Sleep When Your Dead so I had high expectations for this one. However when it came out, it blew me away! Not only was the production fantastic but EL-P really showcased his skills as a lyricist. I don't know why many people only like him for his production, he's a fantastic Lyrical rapper. With this song, EL-P raps from from two different time periods, the first from when he's being interrogated by the police for a murder they think he's witnessed and the other when he sees his shaky upstairs neighbor. From the first verse, you could see that EL-P doesn't really have anything to tell the police as he claims he didn't see anything. However on the second verse, he raps about his experience of seeing his shaky neighbor right before she commits the murder (I'm assuming its her husband or boyfriend who has been abusing her). In the end, EL-P tells her "Do the thing you have to and I'll swear I'll tell them nothing". That gave me chills! But what makes this song so great is not only the mysterious story but how he relates his experience to what happens in New York. No one ever interacts with the other people in their buildings; everyone minds their own business. That is what EL-P does in this song but when he sees her struggles, he supports her decision and tells her he won't rat her out. Its an excellent song and I highly recommend you listen to it!

Other Memorable EL-P song(s): Drones Over BKLYN, Tougher Colder Killer (Feat. Killer Mike & Despot) & $4 Vic/Nothing But You+Me (FTL)

3- No Introduction - Nas:
No Introduction has got to be one of the best opening songs for a Hip-Hop album in a long time. Life is Good was a great come-back for Nas and with this song, Nas shows us what he really is made of. For me, this song surpasses The Don and Nasty because of its production and Nas' rapping. Produced by Justice L.E.A.G.U.E., this song contains great drums, piano and violin instrumentals at a grand scale. The intro and outro to the song are beautifully played and the production is hands down the best on the album. Nas however escalates the quality of the song to a higher level, spitting rhymes about his life before and after his fame. He raps about how he became in charge of his family because of his frail mother and how he had to resort to committing crimes to make money and put food on the table. He then proceeds to rap about how Hip-Hop has changed his life and has a very memorable line in his second verse that says "Remember talking to Biggie inside his Lex truck/Said stay fly when you bummy keep your pajamas Armani". I loved this line and I thought it was a little funny at first. So in conclusion, I highly recommend you listen to this song because it showcases who Nasty Nas really is.

Other Memorable Nas song(s): Daughters, Nasty & The Don.

2- Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free) - Lupe Fiasco:
While I don't love the album he put out this year as much as I did earlier, this song is still a standout track from Food & Liquor II: TGARA Pt. 1. I remember when the song first came out, I had about eighty plays in a matter of days. I couldn't stop listening to it! The production is excellent, sampling Pete Rock & CL Smooth's classic They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) which sparked unnecessary controversy. Lupe's flow is absolutely perfect, rapping continuously over topics that The United States seems to ignore or cover up to avoid exposure to the outside world. He uses the metaphor of a supermodel to show the corruption of the modern youth and the simile to The Simpson's Mr. Burns to show how the oppressor controls the slave (Mr. Smithers). With the smooth saxophone instrumental and Lupe's great flow and lyricism, this song lands on the number two spot on my list. But what other song could possible top this one? (And no, its not a Lil B song...)

Other Memorable Lupe Fiasco song(s): Bitch Bad, Form Follows Function & Strange Fruition. 

1- Sing About Me/I'm Dying of Thirst - Kendrick Lamar: 
Where do I begin? There's no doubt that this year was Kendrick's. His album good kid, m.A.A.d city topped my favorites of this year and probablt gave him eternal respect in the Rap game (If Section.80 didn't already do that). While many people favor Money Trees or m.A.A.d city, this song really clicked with me emotionally. In the first part of the song, Sing About Me, Kendrick raps from three different perspectives. His friend Dave, Keisha's sister, and himself. His friend calls him up in fear of dying and has no one else to talk to so he tells him how much he loves him for supporting his brother but throughout the verse, you forshadow Dave's death. As the verse builds up to the ending, it truly is a jaw dropping story. In the second verse, Kendrick raps from the perspective of Keisha's sister from Keisha's Song and how she's furious with Kendrick for rapping about her tragedy in his previous album. She calls Kendrick ignorant and how being a prostitute isn't as bad as Kendrick described, as she is one herself. The ending of the verse can be interpreted in two ways, but I'll leave that to you. In the third verse, Kendrick raps as himself reflecting on how his music has affected his listeners and how the idea of death has always floated in his mind. Out of all the rappers out there, I gotta say Kendrick is the best at finishing a verse off powerfully. The hook on this song is perfect, with Kendrick singing about how he wants his characters and himself to be remembered after their deaths.  I'm Dying of Thirst follows up in a new beat but talks about the struggles people in Compton suffer and how religion has always been the key to them. At twelve minutes long, this song never drags and I listen to it all the time. I highly recommend you listen to it because you'd be really missing out if you didn't.

Other Memorable Kendrick Lamar song(s): good kid, m.A.A.d city (Feat. MC Eiht) & Compton (Feat. Dr. Dre) 

So that's my top ten of 2012! What were your favorite songs of 2012? Please post a comment and let me know! I would really love to see what songs left an impact on you!

*Update: My best albums of 2012 list has been updated to a new top 10, check it out below!* 

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 - Brother Ali
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.

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