Let’s continue shall we.
10. Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2
Mixtape Rank: 5
Such a bittersweet year for Philly’s finest. It was sweet because he had one of the hottest mixtapes of the year, one of the biggest records with Drake on “Amen” and held his own on MMG’s Self Made 2. However, with a shaky single (“Young & Getting It” with Kirko Bangz), an album pushback, then the album to be released one week after Kendrick Lamar’s amazing Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, Mill’s debut album, Dreams & Nightmares was a huge disappointment.
However, DC2 gave me nearly the same feeling as its predecessor, Dreamchasers, did.
While getting help from Big Sean, French Montana, Rick Ross and more, Meek Mill proved himself again. Yes, Meek loves his money, women, cars and guns but what rapper doesn’t? DC2 could’ve been higher on the list but Meek decided to save “Tony’s Story Pt. 2”, his more introspective storytelling track, for his debut album. In my opinion, if Meek creates more of a balance in his music between the club bangers and thought provoking records, he can regain the spark and buzz he once had. Sidenote: Don’t duck Cass, bro.
9. Dom Kennedy’s Yellow Album
Mixtape Rank: 4
Was it an album or a mixtape? Did he really have a deal with Rick Ross and passed on it? Can Dom Kennedy even really rap? I can’t give you a legit yes or no to any of those questions, but what I do know is that Yellow Album is incredible from start to finish. Following 2011’s successful From the West$ide With Love II and Original Dom Kennedy, the California representer tells you everything from how he likes to party (“My Type of Party”), what he likes to wear (“Gold Alpinas”) and even his favorite type of female (“PG Click”). Sure, Yellow Album doesn’t give you a grim look at like on the streets of Leimert Park, but that’s not what Dom Kennedy is here for. Equipped with some of the smoothest lines (and very tweetable as well) and perfect beats for your car, Yellow Album shows improvement and maturation from Dom. W$GT$.
8. Schoolboy Q’s Habits & Contradictions
Album Rank: 5
I’ll be completely honest with you. When I first heard Habits & Contradictions, I hated it. Every feature I felt like Q got murdered on, people only like him because he was on TDE and played Kendrick’s “Scottie Pippen” and there was really nothing else to listen to at the time it was released. Go figure. Nearly a year later I can say this is one of the most complete records to drop in all of 2012. Q takes us on a journey as he shows us his life with the influence of drugs (“Druggys With Hoes Again”), women (“My Hatin’ Joint”) and his perspective on life itself (“Blessed”). Pretty incredible followup for a guy who last year released, Setbacks, which wasn’t as critically acclaimed but now is getting more love since H&C. Funny how music works. I feel like Schoolboy Q is going in the same path as Kendrick Lamar. So, if Setbacks is his Overly Dedicated, H&C is his Section 80, does that mean Oxymoron will be his Good Kid, m.A.A.d City? I can’t wait to see and tell you about it next year.
7. Ab-Soul’s Control System
Album Rank: 4
Another album that surfaced through the TDE camp this past year was Ab-Soul’s Control System. Being the “Dennis Rodman” of the crew, Soul takes aim at socially conscious issues like the government’s reign over the free world on “”. Also featured on Control System is Ab-Soul’s love for drugs (Marijuana and Promethazine-Codeine mostly) on “Mixed Emotions”. Soul shows a softer side on the screwed up “Empathy” and the love story of him and passed away lover/friend Alori Joh on “The Book of Soul”. At the end of the day, this was the second best project to come out of the TDE camp. I wonder what was #1? Ha.
6. Nas’ Life Is Good
Album Rank: 3
The buzz for Nas’ eleventh studio album was there. “The Don”, “Nasty” and “Daughters” were released before the album and had hip-hop listeners on edge to hear what he had to offer, but skeptical to claim it as “good” ’til they heard it. If you’re familiar with Nas’ career and catalog, he is famous for releasing strong street records and singles then only to give us an album that’s composed of filler, terrible beat selection and just plain ol “that’s a wack track, man” tracks. However, Life Is Good is the total opposite. From “A Queen’s Story” where Nas calls out a various amount of street legends to the Ross-fueled “Accident Murderers” to “Cherry Wine” featuring the late great Amy Winehouse, Nas wins. Calling on the genius of Drake’s in house producer, Noah “40” Sheibb on “Bye Baby”, 40 samples Guy (specifically Aaron Hall) for Nas to spit lyrics about his tumultuous relationship with ex-wife and R&B diva Kelis. The album overall impacted the hip-hop community drastically and showed that rappers over 40 (aside from Jay-Z) can make quality hip hop albums. Also Life is Good is on the better half of Nas’ discography. Better than Hip Hop is Dead and Street’s Disciple. Not better than I Am or Stillmatic. Salute Nas.
The Penthouse is next!
Follow the writer: @commenturry on Twitter
Follow the graphic designer @Mars_green on Twitter