10. Rick Ross - Rich Forever
9. BJ the Chicago Kid - Pineapple Now-Laters
8. fun. - Some Nights
7. ZZ Ward - Til The Casket Drops
6. St. Lucia - St. Lucia
Hit the click for the Top 5 and my reasoning.
5. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city
Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut was a definite shot in the arm of the rap industry. GKMC is a lengthy album full of skits, dense rhyme schemes, smooth beats and unexpected guest spots, all of which work tremendously well. The only downside to the album is its heftiness, as the concept behind it makes repeat listening of individual tracks more difficult. It’s meant to be experienced, not casually listened to.
4. The Royal Concept - The Royal Concept
The Royal Concept’s debut EP is a beautiful exercise in catchy indie pop. Consisting of five songs (4 uptempo tunes and a ballad), this project got me hooked from the first listen. The upbeat songs make you happy regardless of what’s going on, the downtempo songs pluck your heartstrings, and the composition of each song, from the tempo shifts to the airy instrumentals, satisfies the music nerd in me. I am very much looking forward to their full debut.
3. Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
No band hit me in 2012 like Of Monsters and Men did. If you had told me I would like Icelandic folk rock last year, I probably would have laughed at you. But the group’s debut LP is phenomenal. Singles like “Mountain Sound” and “Little Talks” are sonically expansive yet intimate, the acoustic tracks pairing the two lead singers are beautiful, and each song builds to its crescendo with care and patience. This is highly recommended for fans of any genre.
2. Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE
Put aside all hype machines and “what does it mean?” blog posts about his professed love for a man: this album is one of the finest R&B projects in years. From front to back, not a single track is worth skipping. Frank’s lyricism is the focus of the album, and it shines like a beacon. It’s one of the few albums put out this year that, despite difficult subject matter, can be listened to all the way through even now. Longevity is rare, channel ORANGE has it.
1. Future - Pluto
I’ve heard Pluto dismissed as out-of-auto-tune, pointless, robotic, formulaic and mindless. To me, Pluto is an expression of raw emotion unlike any other project put out this year. Front to back, Future’s raspy voice slaps you across the face with whatever material he chooses to expound on. Yes, he raps about women, weed and money, but songs like “Truth Gone Hurt You” and “Permanent Scar” lay bare his soul and the landscape of his life. When he croons “turn on the lights, I’m looking for her”, you feel that desperate search for someone to hold onto. All of this comes on top of the best beat selections of the year, making for a can’t-miss project.
My top 20 tracks of the year, coming soon.