The Ten Albums From 2012 I Listened To The MostBy Skinny Friedman
Aside from the lack of health insurance, the downside to being a professional DJ and rap writer is that listening to music is work. There are a lot of albums and tapes and tracks that you need to check out and process because you need to be up on as much as possible. So rather than give you a list of my irrelevant and arbitrary opinions on what was better than what, I'm giving you a list of the shit that got heavy rotation long after it needed to.
10: King L - Showtime
Lil Durk's Still A Hitta is probably my favorite Chiraq tape of the year on some "Complex And Diverse Piece Of Art" shit, but on the real Louie's "Po Up" and "Pack So Loud" were part of my morning routine for like two weeks.
9: Juicy J - Blue Dream And Lean
Not as revolutionary as Rubba Band Bizness 2 but still exactly what I wanted it to be, although I really missed the Trap-A-Holics drops. Bet you didn't realize the "Snapbacks and Tattoos" guy was on this!
8: A$AP Mob - Lord$ Never Worry
The A$AP aesthetic works even as we hope against hope that "The Industry" can make Rocky sustainably bankable. Ferg is still Ferg and both the Raekwon and Jim Jones features are perfectly situated. Still can't tell Nast and Twelvy apart but that's on me.
7: Young Dro - Ralph Lauren Reefer
There's a potential "Ten Best Young Dro Lines" here as there is with everything Dro does. It's not perfect front to back but it's easy, fun listening with great production and a classic Young Thug hook. Shout out to Dro's unabashed Asian fetish.
6: Bentley - Bootlegs And B-Sides
Very faithful retakes on Rap-A-Lot-flavored mid-90's rap classics from the fertile rap grounds of Huntsvegas. It's not just the beats, Bentley's flow and hooks even sound like Houston, 1994. (Rappers, if you want rap writers on to jock you, remake some shit from a great but overlooked chapter in hip-hop history.) The tape also features a few extra new jams, including a scorching verse from S.L.A.S.H. in which she defiantly defends her rap career.
5: Meyhem Lauren - Respect The Fly Shit
This somehow ended up being the soundtrack to my Hurricane Sandy relief efforts; I bumped this shit hard in the Zipcar. Lauren raps like he's been standing on a corner in Queens since 1995, possibly down the block from the dice game in the intro to Kool G Rap's "4, 5, 6." Features the surprising return of Thirstin Howl III and a great Riff Raff verse.
4: Nacho Picasso and Blue Sky Black Death - Exalted
I guess you could call this "gothic" or "horrorcore" or something but it's really just snappy antisocial raps over spooky ethereal synthscapes. I've only been to Seattle once but there's something really Seattle about Exalted, and it's not just the song with the Meat Puppets hook.
3: Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
My brother and I both went back to the homestead a couple months ago for a family event and spent a lot of time in the car singing along while "Sweet Life" played off my phone like we weren't two total cranks who hate everything. Hashtag poignant.
2: Future - Pluto
I've knocked drinks out of people's hands to at least six songs on Pluto. There's not a single bad track and the worst one still has Kellz saying "Apple Phone." And it's got a Big Rube intro. Space!
1: Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
An unlikely collab between two dudes whose continued careers give me faith in the indie rap game. Killa Kill's plainspoken approach to big issues and emotional topics makes El-P's apocalyptic soundscapes seem manageable and somewhat less grim. Reminds me of Mr. Lif's I, Phantom if it were ten times less ambitious (if that means anything to anyone in 2012). Features a much-needed excoriation of Ronald Reagan and a love note to rap music that won't make you gag.
Bonus: The Five Albums Not From 2012 That I Listened To The Most In 2012
5: Spice 1 - Spice 1
4: Project Pat - Ghetty Green
3: UGK - Dirty Money
2: De La Soul - Stakes Is High
1: Paul Wall and Chamillionaire - Get Ya Mind Correct
See Skinny Friedman's Top 32,133 Thoughts over on Twitter - @skinny412
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