2012 in Review

There are a few events through hip-hop history that serve as a pivot point for the genre, and Kendrick Lamar releasing good Kid, m.A.A.d city is one of those moments. Everything prior to 2012 could be labeled as BK – Before Kendrick – we didn’t know what we were missing because what he did had never been done before. And everything since 2012 is After Kendrick, because we can’t help compare it to what Kendrick is capable of.  Kendrick set the standard for lyrics, songwriting, personal storytelling and flow variety. The album set the standard for how beats, production, features and skits could help paint a picture of the world an artist was living in. 

Take a look at the hip-hop landscape in 2012. Some of the titans of the genre like Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Rick Ross, had started to fade, and Kanye West’s Cruel Summer had hits, but was a small step back compared to his previous efforts. Cruel Summer and other collaborations by groups like Young Money also pushed a lot of new voices into the mix, some more memorable and long standing – Future, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Meek Mill – than others like Chief Keef and Macklemore, who had hits at the time but never really took off long term.

Having that many artists pop up at once making similar tracks – hype club bangers, sad-robot autotune, and Mike Will Made It beats – mixed with the growing number of underground artists getting exposure really muddied the waters. While everyone had their favorite songs or emcees that they would Stan for, it didn’t actually matter, because we all knew Kendrick was whipping the floor with them. It wasn’t even a contest. 

There were other notable releases, namely Frank Ocean’s highly transformative Channel Orange, which  kind of reset the expectations of successful, critically acclaimed R&B records.

On radio, as mentioned in the 2011 write up, indie-pop songs from acts like Fun, Imagine Dragons and The Lumineers had their moments, as did EDM tracks. Katy Perry while newcomers that ended up having some long lasting impacts, Carly Rae Jepsen and One Direction, made waves. 

Songs of the year

2012 Albums

good Kid, m.A.A.d cityKendrick Lamar★★★★★98Hip-HopWest Coast Hip-Hop
channel ORANGEFrank Ocean★★★★½91Hip-HopR&B
Swing Lo MagellanDirty Projectors★★★★82RockArt PopIndie Folk
LonerismTame Impala★★★★81RockPsychadelic RockIndie Rock
ROYALTYChildish Gambino★★★★80Hip-Hop
1999Joey Bada$$★★★★79Hip-Hop
Attack on MemoryCloud Nothings★★★★76RockAlternative RockPost-Hardcore
The Haunted ManBat For Lashes★★★½74PopArt Pop
SyntheticaMetric★★★½72RockAlternative RockIndie Rock
BloomBeach House★★★½71PopIndie PopDream Pop
An Awesome Wavealt-J★★★½70RockIndie Pop
Light Up GoldParquet Courts★★★½68RockPunk RockIndie Rock
Life Is GoodNas★★★½68Hip-Hop
Boys & GirlsAlabama Shakes★★★½67RockAlternative RockBlues Rock
Django DjangoDjango Django★★★½66RockIndie PopIndietronica
BabelMumford & Sons★★★½66RockIndie PopIndie Folk
DevotionJessie Ware★★★½65PopR&B
SunCat Power★★★64RockIndie Pop
VisionsGrimes★★★63PopArt Pop
Cruel SummerGood Music★★★63Hip-Hop
TrampSharon Van Etten★★★62RockSinger-SongwriterIndie Folk
RedTaylor Swift★★★62PopCountry Pop
CoexistThe xx★★★61RockIndie PopDream Pop
Pop CultureXV★★★60Hip-Hop
Celebration RockJapandroids★★★59RockPunk RockIndie Rock
Until The Quiet ComesFlying Lotus★★★57ElectronicInstrumental Hip-Hop
In Our HeadsHot Chip★★★56ElectronicIndie PopAlternative Dance
Kaleidoscope DreamMiguel★★★55Hip-HopR&B
Cancer 4 CureEl-P★★★55Hip-HopAlternative Hip-Hop
ShrinesPurity Ring★★½52ElectronicIndie PopElectronic Rock
BlunderbussJack White★★½51RockAlternative RockBlues Rock
Habits & ContradictionsScHoolboy Q★★½50Hip-Hop
ShieldsGrizzly Bear★★½49RockArt RockIndie Rock
Unorthodox JukeboxBruno Mars★★½49PopR&B
Finally RichChief Keef★★½48Hip-hop
Luxury ProblemsAndy Stott★★½47ElectronicAmbient
The Money StoreDeath Grips★★½46Hip-HopAlternative Hip-HopExperimental
Control SystemAb-Soul★★½46Hip-Hop
The OF Tape Vol. 2Odd Future★★½45Hip-Hop
Kill For LoveChromatics★★44RockAlternative RockDream Pop
2Mac Demarco★★43RockPsychadelic RockIndie Rock
The Idler WheelFiona Apple★★43PopArt Pop
R.A.P. MusicKiller Mike★★43Hip-Hop
Food and Liquer IILupe Fiasco★★42Hip-Hop
Sweet Heart Sweet LightSpiritualized★★41RockArt Rock
My Head Is an AnimalOf Monsters and Men★★41PopIndie PopIndie Folk
The 2nd LawMuse★★40RockArt Rock
Living ThingsLinkin Park★★40RockAlternative RockRap Rock
The LumineersThe Lumineers★★40PopIndie PopIndie Folk
Dreamchasers 2Meek Mill★★39Hip-Hop
Based on a T.R.U Story2 Chainz★★37Hip-Hop
God Forgives, I Don’tRick Ross★½33Hip-Hop
Some NightsFun★½31PopIndie Pop

50 Best Songs

  1. Pyramids – Frank Ocean
  2. Money Trees – Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock
  3. Myth – Beach House
  4. Everything Is Embarrassing – Sky Ferreira
  5. Swing Lo Magellan – Dirty Projectors
  6. Losing You – Solange
  7. Laura – Bat For Lashes
  8. Swimming Pools – Kendrick Lamar
  9. Thinkin Bout You – Frank Ocean
  10. The House That Heaven Built – Japandroids
  11. Five Seconds – Twin Shadows
  12. Genesis – Grimes
  13. Inspector Norse – Todd Terje
  14. Adorn – Miguel
  15. Stay Schemin – Rick Ross, Drake, French Montana
  16. Mercy – Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz
  17. m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar, MC Eiht
  18. Fuckin’ Problems – A$AP Rocky, Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar
  19. Dissolve Me – alt-J
  20. Fells Like We Only Go Backwards – Tame Impala
  21. Speed The Collapse – Metric
  22. Disparate Youth – Santigold
  23. Serpents – Sharon Van Etten
  24. Sam (Is Dead) – Odd Future, Domo Genesis, Tyler, The Creator
  25. Latch – Disclosure, Sam Smith
  26. Wasted Days – Cloud Nothings
  27. Skyfall – Adele
  28. Where Are You Now – Mumford & Sons
  29. Angels – The xx
  30. Make It Go Right – Childish Gambino
  31. Waves – Joey Bada$$
  32. Terrorist Threats – Ab-Soul, Danny Brown, Jhene Aiko
  33. Sing About Me – Kendrick Lamar
  34. Inhaler – Foals
  35. Default – Atoms For Peace
  36. Elephant – Tame Impala
  37. Unnecessary – Childish Gambino
  38. Oblivion – Grimes
  39. Strange Fruition – Lupe Fiasco
  40. Clique – Kanye West, JAY-Z, Big Sean
  41. Treasure – Bruno Mars
  42. Loco-Motive – Nas, Large Professor
  43. Sleeping Ute – Grizzly Bear
  44. Endors Toi – Tame Impala
  45. Apocalypse Dreams – Tame Impala
  46. My Number – Foals
  47. Wildest Moments – Jessie Ware
  48. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
  49. Chained – The xx
  50. Hands On The Wheel – ScHoolboy Q, A$AP Rocky

Genre Highlights




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