Everywhere I go people (usually those in their 30s or 40s) are always bellyaching about the current state of rap music. Granted, things have changed tremendously since the days of televised music videos and singles pressed on vinyl, but the fact of the matter is, rap is stronger than ever with more people than ever puttin’ it down on
The latest census data taken in 2010 shows that 1in 15 Americans self-identifies as a rapper.
Okay, I just totally that made up.
But what’s true is that the freewheeling mixtape format along with digital technology has made it easier than ever for rappers everywhere to record and distribute their work. This summer, Lil B released an 855 track mixtape. Without listening to it, I think we can safely assume that there was plenty of filler in there.
And that’s the rub. With some many artists putting out so much material, it’s nearly impossible to figure out what’s worth your time and hard drive space.
I thought I’d do a public service and present to you the 10 best rap mixtapes released in 2012 (in my humble opinion). And since you’re probably spending your way into some debt this month, you’ll be happy to note that they’re all FREE! Legally!!! (Note: if you can’t handle bad language, don’t bother checking out these mixtapes.)
1. Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2
Since it’s release in May, Dreamchasers 2 has been downloaded nearly 4 million times on datpiff. This was hands-down, my favorite mixtape of the year and one of my favorite releases of the year, period.
2. Joey Bada$$ – 1999
For those of you yearning for the late 90’s Fondle ‘Em/Rawkus sound, this one is for you. Joey Bada$$ is only 17 years old, but you’d swear he was 17 fifteen years ago.
3. Azealia Banks – Fantasea
Azealia made as much new for her twitter beefs as her music in 2012, but Fantasea proved that she was worthy of all the hype. With production help by the likes of Diplo, Machinedrum and Hudson Mohawke, Fantasea was one of the finest dance-rap releases of the year.
4. Ca$h Out – It’s My Time
I’m gonna be totally honest: I haven’t heard this entire mixtape yet because I can’t stop listening to “Cashin’ Out” — along with “Mercy”, probably the best rap single of the year. You simply CANNOT listen to “Cashin’ Out” without feeling good. People went nuts whenever I saw this played out this summer.
5. Jeremih – Late Nights With Jeremih
I’m bending the title of the post a bit on this one because this isn’t rap, it’s R&B. But it’s a free mixtape and it’s good, so I’m counting it. Think Frank Ocean with more of a club-friendly bent.
6. Chief Keef – Back From The Dead
Hailing from the white hot Chicago scene, 17 year old Chief Keef was the breakout star of the mixtape world in 2012. When the biggest rapper in the game is covering/remixing you, it’s probably safe to say you’re on the right track.
7. Pill – The Epidemic
Pill was briefly a part of the the Bawse’s Maybach Music juggernaut. He’s definitely one of the most slept on dudes in the game, IMO. “Dreamin'” is one of my favorite tracks of the year.
8. Kendrick Lamar – The New West
The New West basically collects a bunch of KL’s guest appearances, so it’s really less of a proper mixtape than it is a companion to good kid, M.A.A.D. City, which isn’t a bad thing.
9. Honey Cocaine – Fuck Yo Feelings Vol. 1
Honey Cocaine is a lot like Nicki Minaj without the cartoonish edge. Like Nicki, she’s also very divisive. Count me in the pro Honey Cocaine camp.
10. A$AP Mob – Lord$ Never Worry
A$AP Rocky‘s crew holds their own on this one. It’s not quite as thrilling as last year’s best mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, but if you’re in the mood for more of that kind of codeine-soaked flavor, it’s definitely worth your time.
Capital Steez – AmeriKKKan Korruption Reloaded
Big K.R.I.T. – 4 Eva N A Day
Future – Astronaut Status
Big Sean – Detroit
Action Bronson – Blue Chips
Waka Flocka – Salute Me Or Shoot Me 4: Banned In America
Various Artists – The New Chicago Vol. 1