Dreams & Nightmares – Meek Mill
Meek dropped his debut album with the intention of stepping up from his highly successful mixtapes. The MMG artist stated that he knew there was going to be a big transition to an album, tracks would have to worthy, they would have to be different to what you’d put on a mixtape. Dreamchasers 2 is the most downloaded mixtape ever on DatPiff, Meek took pride in his mixtape ability, but many critics weren’t sure that he could step it up enough to produce a hot album. However, he did. Meek’s “Intro” to the album gives the listeners an insight to what the album stands for, and rightly so. The album resembles signs of Nas, as Meek is telling a story throughout the album. The art of story-telling throughout a song, let alone an album, is seen as a crafty, well-respected talent in the hip-hop industry. Meek blew fans away with this album, now they only expect more.
God Forgives, I Don’t – Rick Ross
Rick Ross is a well-renowned rapper, with many albums, much affiliation, a lot of beef, he’s a well-rounded artist. With this album, he came with a new styles, he switched between soft and hard, low and high, poor and rich. The switch from poor to rich was shown heavily in the visuals that Ross dropped for songs off the album, the transition from both visuals (the original and the Nigeria version) of “Hold Me Back” contrast massively with the video for “Diced Pineapples” or “3 Kings”, why? Ross wants to show his ‘hood’ nature, but then show off his wealth and class. There are a lot of collaborations on this album, notably coming from Jay-Z, Nas, Dr. Dre, Drake, Wale, Ne-Yo and a few others. Altogether, this album shows versatility after being assembled carefully; making it a well thought out project, one of Rozay’s finest.
Based On A T.R.U Story – 2 Chainz
2 Chainz came off the mark this year, he has had his come up a lot later than most rappers these days. The G.O.O.D Music artist showed a lot of potential on featured songs, with “Mercy” and “My Moment” being the best examples. The first single from the album featured Drake, it was named “No Lie”. 2 Chainz was on Drake’s Club Paradise tour earlier on in the year, so the collaboration was bound to be on the way. The song took off, fans started downloading it and it got increasingly popular, then came the visual and everyone knew that this new 2 Chainz project was going to be a success. With help from other collaborating artists, each song makes the album a classic. Fan favourite “Birthday Song”, featuring Kanye West has made Tity Boi (2 Chainz) famous for wanting “a big booty hoe”. Nonetheless, it is a great album.
good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s debut album was one of the most highly-anticipated projects of the year. The sales in the first week backed the hype, it was one of the most successful weeks ever for a Compton artist, K. Dot was named “King Kendrick Lamar”. After one critic tackled and slated the album, the world responded with praise, not abuse. The only way in which fans responded to the criticism was to counter-argue and show appreciation to Kendrick’s music. Notable tracks from the album include collaborations from MC Eiht, Dr. Dre, Jay Rock (from Top Dawg Entertainment) and Drake. The album makes you feel as if you’ve been to Compton, even if you haven’t, when listening to it, it gives you a real outlook on life. Kendrick Lamar is one of the best lyricists in the industry; he really shows it throughout the album.
Taylor Allderdice – Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa came through 2011 with a banging album and a huge amount of popularity. He then released Taylor Allderdice, one of the best mixtapes of the year, just behind Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2. The whole Taylor Gang sound was adapted, it was either slow, where Cardo usually came in and gave it a Jamaican feel, or it was a trippy beat, most notably, the track that SpaceghostPurrp produced. Many people said that this mixtape could’ve been an album, it had that feel to it. It felt as if everyone in the production had really stepped their game up, from the production, to the engineering, the Wiz’s flow and lyrics, it was all album-worthy. But it was all a warm-up for O.N.I.F.C, which is not featured in the Best Hip-Hop/Rap Mixtapes and Albums, because Wiz Khalifa didn’t make the same step up that Meek Mill did from Dreamchasers 2.
Dreamchasers 2 – Meek Mill
The best mixtape of the year and one of the best projects of the year. Near to every single song on this project could have been a single, from “Racked Up Shawty”, to “Flexing”, to “Lean Wit It” even to the “Outro”. This mixtape followed on from his first Dreamchasers, fans and listeners can see that Meek’s talent is growing constantly; his music is getting better and better. Two singles came from this mixtape, that’s how strong the production was. “Amen” featuring Drake and Jeremih was released as a single, as too was “Burn” with Big Sean. Meek Mill has many affiliations now, he is close to everybody in MMG (as he should be), he is increasingly close with Drake and other YMCMB artists, as well as Big Sean, T.I, Game, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and many others. He is the most improved artist this year and has shown the biggest transition, both talent-wise and money/success-wise.
Rich Forever – Rick Ross
Rozay was full of hard music on this mixtape, the beats are raw, they’re street, they’re where Rick Ross’ vocals and lyrics belong. There were many tracks appreciated from this tape, “Rich Forever” with John Legend being one. This track differed from all of the others as it had more of a chilled, but influential feel to it; John Legend’s vocals match the sample well, but, when the song flips, Rozay shows pure passion on the track and produces one of the best second halves to a hip-hop song this year. There were again many collaborations on this mixtape, coming from Drake (a familiar name of features this year), Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Nas, John Legend, Stalley, Wale and more. Both “Rich Forever” and “Triple Beam Dreams” featured on his album God Forgives, I Don’t. This shows how powerful some of the songs from the tape were. “Stay Schemin” was also released as a single, as it was ranked no.20 on the Top 50 Songs of 2012, Drake’s verse being rated the Best Hip-Hop Guest Verse of 2012.
Quality Street Music – DJ Drama
Drama came through with one of the most powerful, diverse albums of this year. His production and vision for tracks enables him to work with so many different artists. We know him from the radio, we know he produces mixtapes, but we didn’t know he was capable of producing an album like this. As a collaborative album, seeing as he is not a rapper himself, it is the best of it’s kind this year. There are a phenomenal amount of impressive features on the album, and all gel well together – which is hard to do. All in all, Drama has created an album that is self-explanatory, it shows Quality, Street and obviously, music.
Jesus Piece – Game
The Game has had many ups and downs in his career, from being dropped from G-Unit and the beef that occured with that, to not being in contact with Dr. Dre, he has had some pretty rough times. But, Game is back and he’s here to stay. In the early years we saw him as a hood rapper, he was a tough, raw spitter, shown on tracks such as “Big Dreams” and “It’s Okay (One Blood)”. This album is still street; he’s married, he has kids, he’s a family man – but he still shows his roots. His roots are the source of his music and the source of his hunger. The album itself is full of hard tracks and impressive collaborations that have either been previously made, or completely ones. Hit song “Celebration” is also featured on the album.
Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head – T.I
We haven’t heard much from TIP in a while, but the industry knows he’s a legend. From former albums and tracks, listeners have been able to appreciate his flow and style. In this album, he shows rare collaborations with such artists as A$AP Rocky and Meek Mill, but each song still has the individual T.I feel to it. “Ball” with Lil’ Wayne is a hot track from the album, it’s a new sound for T.I, it’s up-beat, it has a high tempo, but it suits him. It’s not his best album, but it definitely stands out to other albums from other artists this year.
Life Is Good – Nas
Nas is one of the most well-respected rappers ever to grace to hip-hop scene, he is the best story-teller ever to hit the hip-hop scene, he is one of the best hip-hop artists ever. This album gives a show of ability, the songs mimick his others, but with a small twist. Nas shows that he can adapt to new styles and be versatile. Is this a final send off for Nas though? After being in the game for a long time, many people have thought that this will be his send off album. But, Nas will definitely have something up his sleeve, he knows his ability and he knows the game.
Finally Rich – Chief Keef
Chief Keef got signed earlier this year and has now dropped his first album. The 17-year-old rapper from Chicago was signed to Interscope earlier on in the year and has been renowned for his group GBE, in which Lil Reese, Fredo, Durks and Lil Mouse are all apart of. Chief Keef’s famous “Don’t Like” features on the album; the song was so popular that the G.O.O.D Music crew took it for their album, they got Keef to be on the hook as he is in the original, have his verse on it, but then add Big Sean, Kanye West, etc to it. As said before, he hasn’t even been signed for a year and he has got both 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa on a song with him. He also has French Montana, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy on the album, so, not bad for his first try.
Lord$ Never Worry – A$AP Mob
The A$AP Mob have been given fame from their ‘leader’, A$AP Rocky. The whole mob came together to give a whole new sound to hip-hop. This is one of the most versatile mixtapes you will ever hear in your life. All artists in the Mob have a different style, but they all come together collectively and produce masterpieces. In hit “Bath Salt”, the Mob collaborate with Flatbush Zombies, it was bound to be a trippy track and it is, but the flows on the track are so different yet so similar, they fit together perfectly. Other hits are “Purple Kisses” by A$AP Rocky and “Y.N.R.E” by A$AP Twelvyy.