A$AP Rocky – After success from LOVELIVEA$AP and both singles “Peso” and “Purple Swag”, and co-signing from Drake, A$AP Rocky dropped “Goldie”, his third single. “Goldie” itself is a banger, no doubt about it, Rocky brings a whole new sound to hip-hop, his Harlem sound mixed with Southern influence makes him an individual, unique artist. Rocky featured in a few tracks this year, at the beginning of the year, he featured on ScHoolboy Q’s “Hands On The Wheel”, where he exposed his potential and skill. Since then, he has had collaborations with such artists as Rihanna and Fat Joe. A$AP Rocky was chosen for the “Cockiness (Remix)”, Rihanna picked him out because he’s dope; he is the future of hip-hop. Also, who can forget the amazing moment when he gave Rihanna a little squeeze at the VMA’s? A$AP Rocky has been more than an artist to some, he’s a role model and a fashion icon too. One lyric that sums up Rocky is from a track off his upcoming album: “My mouth is full of gold, I’m a city boy and my outfit was in Vogue, I’m a pretty boy”. Rocky is humble, he’s a nice guy, that’s what fans like to see. Now, the whole hip-hop world awaits the official release of LONG.LIVE.A$AP.
Kendrick Lamar – After touring with Drake on the Club Paradise Tour and featuring on “Buried Alive” from Take Care, people started to follow K.Dot and the whole Black Hippy group, it wasn’t just music, it was a lifestyle, it was a movement. When fans saw Kendrick feature on songs with the likes of J.Cole, Ace Hood, Meek Mill, Game and Birdman, it clicked that he was going to be the next big thing. Then came good kid, m.A.A.d city, one of the albums of the year. Kendrick Lamar is one of the artists of the year for producing one of the best albums of the year. Even more recently, we’ve seen him feature on songs with A$AP Rocky, a connection fans hope to see more frequently.
Drake – Drizzy didn’t release an album this year, he was all about features. A big chunk of his year was spent touring around the year, on the Club Paradise tour, which was rated The Best Hip-Hop Tour of 2012 by HipHopDX. From working with Waka Flocka, Rick Ross, French Montana, Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, DJ Drama, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj, A$AP Rocky and more, Drake has proven that he is the feature king. Drake’s verse in “Stay Schemin” with Rick Ross and French Montana from Rozay’s Rich Forever mixtape was voted the best hip-hop feature verse of 2012, with his verse in “Pop That” not far behind. Drake also released a song from his Aaliyah project, named “Enough Said” which sees Drake rap as we’ve seen him before, but improved. The reoccurring theme with Drake is improvement, he is constantly learning, constantly changing, which is what you need to stay on top; that’s exactly what C. Papi is doing. Drake has also had an input into some producing this year, as himself and 40 produced A$AP Rocky’s “F**ckin Problem”, which he features on. Drake also signed the papers and finalized his own label, OVO Sound. The label is signed with Atlantic, and last week, Drake made his first signing to the label, Mike Zombie. A new album should be on the way this coming year, let’s hope.
Meek Mill – The MMG artist has made a huge impact to the game this year, from big features on the second volume of the Self Made series, to singles, features and his own album, Meek has shown that he is one of the best and hardest rappers in the game. From his hit “Ima Boss” came the remix, Meek goes ham in his verse – “bad b**ches callin’, ‘cos I’m ballin’, and these n***as hating on me ‘cos they starving and I’m parking Aston Martin’s where they walking”. The Philly rapper is not shy of putting out a hard verse, he’s that sort of rapper, he raps raw verses each and every song or feature. Meek Mill also dropped the most downloaded mixtape ever on DatPiff, with nearly 4 million downloads, Meek has set a new record. The mixtape is the best, hardest, most well-produced mixtape heard in a very long while. Every single song is a banger, special recognition should go to “Intro”, “Ready Or Not”, “Amen”, “Burn”, “A1 Everything”, “Flexing”, “Everyday”, “Racked Up Shawty”, “Lean Wit It”, “Big Dreams”, “Str8 Like That” and “Outro”, near to every single track from the mixtape has the potential to be a single.
Wiz Khalifa – “With a bangin’ new album, his own label, Amber Rose and a baby on the way… Nobody beats the Wiz” – XXL. Earlier on in the year, Wiz Khalifa dropped the Taylor Allderdice mixtape, which could well have been an album. The whole Taylor Gang sound changed for the better, it has more innovation and more creativity than it did before, Slegren and Cardo stepped their game up. Taylor Allderdice is one of the most downloaded mixtapes to ever hit DatPiff, his wealth and fame is at its peak. From selling out small venues to now selling up arenas, Wiz is still escalating. His new album O.N.I.F.C was highly-anticipated and for a good reason, a lot was expected after Taylor Allderdice; he didn’t let any fans down, the sound is different, but it’s more hip-hop compared to the last project, which is good. Altogether, Wiz has had a good year, he’s been nominated for Grammy’s, he’s won awards, he’s been selling out arenas, he’s been releasing music and he’s been pleasing his fans.
French Montana – Frenchie has been a come-up artist this year, fans first saw signs of potential when they first heard Rozay’s “Stay Schemin”, dismissing his slightly monotone vocals, his flow and lyrics compete with some of the best; he’s a real New York rapper. The few singles that French Montana has released this year have been successful; “Pop That” is an anthem, a true banger. The track features Rick Ross, Drake and Lil’ Wayne – nearly the same collaborating artists as “Stay Schemin’”, fans started to see a pattern of collaborations between MMG and YMCMB. Then Frenchie released “Coke Boy” with Chinx Drugz. He featured on a good selection from MMG Presents: Self Made Vol. 2 and also built a close connection to DJ Khaled, as he features on “I Did It For My Dawgz” from Kiss The Ring with all of his MMG brothers. His recent mixtape was a hit on DatPiff, being in the top 15 mixtapes of the year. On the mixtape came some strong tracks and collaborations, notably: Diddy, MGK, J. Cole and Rick Ross; Frenchie also worked with a wide variety of producers on the mixtape, who are all highly-regarded, Harry Fraud and Young Chop being examples.