Top 15 Hip-Hop Mixtapes of 2012

What classifies as a mixtape?

With the exception of EP’s or remix tapes, I am classifying any free release (i.e. not a studio album) from a hip hop artist as a mixtape. Some releases may be classified as ‘albums’ but by underground artists who choose to give their music away for free. 2012 was a very exciting year for hip hop in my opinion. I’ve listed the 15 best mixtapes released this year, plus 5 honourable mentions and 5 ‘best of the worst’ picks (i.e. mixtapes which I don’t really think are so good, but are important releases in mainstream hip hop). I’m from the UK, and I’ve not listed any releases from UK artists, and this is mainly because I don’t think there were really any worthy of such praise (though I have investigated little), and a lot of the people who will enjoy the mixtapes I have listed might not like the UK Grime style that most mixtapes from the UK will conform to, so I might prefer to discuss UK Hip Hop/Grime separately. Let me know what you think of my picks, feedback is much appreciated, I’d particularly like to hear whether there are any glaring omissions.

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The Best

15. Childish Gambino – Royalty

I wasn’t really sure what I thought of this mixtape by rapper/actor Childish Gambino. He’s made a number of mixtapes and albums but this is the first i’ve heard of him apart from watching his verse on the BET Cypher freestyles (the lineup on that video is pretty impressive, check it out), which was good, though it left me unsure whether he was meant to be a partially comedic act. He claims that ‘rap isn’t serious anymore’ and I think he tries to reflect that in his style. Exciting collaborations are what make this mixtape worth a look, without them i’m not sure whether Gambino would be able to hold it down. His lively microphone persona brings together this stack of features that includes 30 Rock’s Tina Fey (Gambino, or Donald Glover, wrote for this show, and he also stars in american sitcom ‘Community’), Beck, Danny Brown and many more. I don’t know too much about Gambino but his style is quite decisively ‘new-school’, but he is sharp enough as a writer and lyricist so that it doesn’t become quickly tiring. ‘Royalty’ features few standout songs, and when it comes down to it, while its not a bland mixtape, it does get tiring by the time you get to the later tracks. That said, I enjoyed it, and if you’re a fan of his work then definitely give it a listen. It has high production values, good beats, and Gambino is a good storyteller. Don’t think any of the songs from the mixtape have videos, so check out “Bonfire” and “Freaks and Geeks

Features Include: Ghostface Killah, RZA, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Danny Brown, Tina Fey (who is hilarious), Bun B, Beck, Alley Boy + quite a few others (who I hadn’t heard of)

Top Tracks: “We Ain’t Them”

“Toxic feat. Danny Brown” (pretty much because of Danny Brown and the Britney sample)

“Bronchitis”

“American Royalty feat. RZA”

“Real Estate feat. Alley Boy, Swank and Tina Fey”

14. XV – Popular Culture

A very original mixtape from a rapper whos made a lot of them. This is the first of his that I’ve listened to, and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. Lovers of popular TV, film and video games will find his constant references entertaining (he raps about Breaking Bad, Inception, Andy Warhol and more, linking them back somehow to his personal experiences). The beats aren’t uninspiring, but they’re not refreshing either, plus some of the choruses tend to annoy, but XV’s lyrics are full of vivid imagery, which will be heightened and all the more fun if you’re aware of a lot of the pop culture name-drops. ‘Popular Culture’ includes a number of well known features, and I think without them it would be a much weaker tape, as like the whole project, its about a variety of cultural themes, which means different people and different sounds. There could have been more though. This mixtape did leave me wondering what XV’s other stuff is like, so this is perhaps a mixtape that I will reconsider my opinion of when I know more about the Kansas-born rapper and his style. He has a lot of mixtapes, so knowing where to start is perhaps difficult, and he has only yet released one studio album (back in 2006). Perhaps this mixtape, which has received good reviews, will throw more limelight upon him.

Features: Slim the Mobster, Schoolboy Q, Raja, B.o.B, Freddy High, Sez Batters, Emilio Rojas, Irv Da Phenom

Top Tracks:The Kick” (not really the best song)

“Be There, Be Square”

“Andy Warhol feat. Slim the Mobster”

“Mary Kate & Ashley feat. Freddy High and Sez Batters”

“One of One feat. Raja”

13. Mac Miller – Macadelic

At the moment I’m on the fence about Mac Miller. He’s one of the many rappers who shows individual artistic potential, yet is clearly in the process of becoming part of the mainstream rap/pop genre, and it’s quite a disconcerting and often upsetting process. ‘Macadelic’ is Mac Miller’s 7th mixtape I think, and he’s received a large amount of praise for it, as well as for his work in general. A white rapper from Pittsburgh, his lyricism and talent as an MC cannot be faulted as much as his style in general, and some of the rappers he associates with (Wiz Khalifa, for example) can be. It’s an odd contrast that ‘Macadelic’ features the likes of Joey Bada$$ and Kendrick Lamar while also featuring Lil Wayne. I’d hope I wouldn’t ever see those names on the same release. Some of Mac Miller’s songs are clearly modern, trap style, while others are much more toned down and reflective. The producing on this mixtape is of very high quality, featuring production credits from DJ Black Diamond and ID Labs among many others (I’m not too clued up on producers if I’m honest) and the tape has a very psychedelic feel to it, an interesting style, also sampling The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and The xx. This is definitely Mac Miller’s most creative mixtape yet it is also one of his most mainstream (in terms of his popularity and the features on it), but my overall verdict is that he is a very talented rapper with high potential. he just needs to make more songs with the likes of Joey Bada$$ and less with the likes of Lil Wayne (who has Mac Miller as well as 2Chainz backing him up on his 2013 tour).

Features: Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Cam’ron, Lil Wayne, Casey Veggies, Iman Omari, Sir Michael Rocks

Top Tracks: America feat. Joey Bada$$ and Casey Veggies”

“The Question feat. Lil Wayne”

Thoughts From a Balcony

“Vitamins”

“1 Threw 8”

“Sunlight feat. Iman Omari”

12. Pro ERA – PEEP: The aPROcalypse

I won’t say a huge amount about Pro Era, but this mixtape showcases their incredible talent as a collective and of the individual members, both as rappers and as producers. Joey Bada$$ and the late Capital STEEZ shine in particular, and while I will say that the quality of every track is high, without their presence on the tape it would be a far less eye-catching release, mainly because it’ll take me a while to familiarize myself with the individual members (there are around 20, though I don’t think they all rap. There are 12 MC’s rapping on this tape at least. Definitely check out their group freestyles). Most of them have styles similar to the two frontrunners, and the group as a whole clearly take influence from 90s rappers like Nas, AZ and Cormega. There’s little slurring of words, and no autotune or excessive 808s. The samples used and the various homages to the golden age of hip hop will satisfy nostalgic appreciators of the genre – Pro Era’s respect for the pioneers (rappers like Rakim, Jay-Z, Nas etc) as well as lesser known acts such as The Pharcyde, Big L or Talib Kweli, is symbiotic with their love for the underground scene that has kept the genre alive through the ‘dark ages’ that saw hip hop ‘sell out’ to pop music (mid-to-late 2000s). I’m talking J Dilla, the Roots, MF DOOM etc. The talent and innovation of these incredibly talented individuals is still in its early stage. They have astounding potential, and at the end of the day, this mixtape is less incredible than the minds that created it, though it is still far better than most stuff out there at the moment. Pro Era restored my faith in modern hip-hop. Without them, I don’t think I would have started writing this blog.

Features (I’ll just list everyone): Joey Bada$$, Capital STEEZ, CJ Fly, Chuck Strangers, Dirty Sanchez, Ala $ole, Dessy Hinds, NYCk Caution, Kirk Knight, Dyemond Lewis, Rokamouth, Super Helpful  – I’d like to hear more stuff from the individual members, as I don’t really know who I would rate highly in comparison with the other members.

Top Tracks: “Like Water – Capital STEEZ, Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly”

“Resurrection of Real – Ala $ole, NYCk Caution”

“School High – Joey Bada$$, Dyemond Lewis, Kirk Knight, NYCk Caution”

“Natural – Dessy Hinds, NYCk Caution”

“Start to Finish – Joey Bada$$, Rokamouth”

11. The Foodchain – Summer Series

Not exactly a mixtape, but I thought I’d include The Foodchain’s 11 ‘Summer Series’ releases, which you could treat like an 11 track mixtape if you wanted. I think these songs are a bit overproduced, but I’m a big fan of everything else about this collection and this group. It’s pretty timeless rap, but nothing special. A lot of the songs are relaxed, summery jams about drink, girls, weed, clubs and all of that. ‘Young Amsterdam’ will have you in a trance (a serious and atmospheric song to bun a zoot to), and “Prescription Cocktails” is a futuristic and meditiative drinking tune. There are seven members in the group and I haven’t really worked out who’s who, and some rap better than others, but they all have nice flow, although none stand out above the rest as impeccable lyricists. The strange thing about the group is that, as they are still quite underground, its quite hard to find one single source to go for videos, music and pictures. Their Facebook is one place you should check out and also their soundcloud page

Features: B.More, Trev Rich, Von Pea

Top Tracks:BBQ Bitches

“Bad Credit”

“Young Amsterdam”

“See Light”

“Burn”

10. Blue Sky Black Death and Nacho Picasso – Exalted

Nacho Picasso is a hilarious, slow rapping (or droning), gritty seattle rhymer with a huge amounts of hardcore charisma. He raps about pretty much anything from Greek Gods and his favourite comic book characters, to guns and women (like most rappers). Blue Sky and Black Death are a production duo, also from Seattle, who’ve been around for a while and have quite an inventive style. The slow and droning beats fit perfectly with Nacho’s flow and mic persona. It’s quite a dark, hypnotic sound. Nacho throws down intelligent rhymes, constantly comparing himself and his actions to literally anything (Andre Agassi, Kumquats etc). I love his laid back, slightly menacing, slightly hilarious lyrical style. He’s definitely a character, and this mixtape showcases his talent and is very well produced. There are few irritating hooks or choruses, its just stripped down, eccentric, greazy rap. Also check out his other stuff here (justifiably, they’ve started charging for their stuff now. With some investigation I’m sure you’ll find download links, although I had trouble finding the link for ‘Exalted’).

Features: Jeremy Cross

Top Tracks:The Gods Don’t Favor You

“Surf Nazis Must Die”

“Bloody Murder”

Public Enemy

Villains in My Circle

9. Domo Genesis & The Alchemist – No Idols

Odd Future are the subject of a lot of debate among underground rap appreciators. They’ve clearly attracted a huge amount of attention, and in many ways helped to bring ‘rap crews’ or collectives back into fashion, now we’re seeing groups like Pro Era, really just groups of teens expressing themselves through rap. This is what I think rap is all about, and its important that we don’t forget that, especially in modern times. Personally I think Odd Future are far from incredible, though they are innovative and exciting to have on the scene. We need many more groups like them, so that we have more variety and character to the genre, groups who come up by being themselves rather than conforming to mainstream rap. Rap groups lead to individual talent flourishing as well, as they have the support of the group to get recognition. ‘No Idols’ sees Domo Genesis, (who is one of my favourite members of Odd Future) teaming up with The Alchemist to produce a very high quality tape.  Earl Sweatshirt, who is by far the most talented member of the group in my opinion, features on 3 tracks, and Tyler the Creator also shows up along with Vince Staples, but also a variety of other rappers who make up a very impressive feature list, but Domo Genesis still holds it down and makes it his own. The best thing to come from any member of Odd Future since ‘Earl’. The instrumentals are colourful and Domo is a talented lyricist, even though the features mostly outshine him in terms of rapping ability.

Features: Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson, Prodigy, Freddie Gibbs, SpaceGhostPurrp, Smoke DZA, Vince Staples

Top Tracks: “Elimination Chamber feat. Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples and Action Bronson”

“Me and My Bitch”

“Prophecy”

“The Daily News feat. SpaceGhostPurrp, Earl Sweatshirt and Action Bronson”

“Gamebreaker feat. Earl Sweatshirt”

8. Meyhem Lauren – Respect the Fly Shit

Meyhem has been in the game for a while (since around 2004), but he has gained little notoriety so far in his career. He’s featured on a number of mixtapes and worked with J-Love on numerous projects, but this is the first I’ve heard of him, and I was extremely impressed. A feature-heavy mixtape, ‘Respect the Fly Shit’ (produced by Tommy Mas and Harry Fraud) is an extremely dynamic production from a very talented rapper. The style is pretty much ‘old school’ or ‘golden age’ hip hop, reminiscent of 90s Wu-Tang with a little bit more shine and a little bit less grime, as you’d expect of a mixtape being released in 2012. It’s ‘gangsta’ rap, but not modern ‘trap’ style, chain swinging, excessive gangsta rap. It has the quality of an album, if it wasn’t for the occasional DJ sound tag, I’d think of it as such (‘La Musica de Harry Fraud’ gets a bit annoying if like me, you prefer a less inhibited listening experience). To be fair this isn’t really a particularly spectacular feat – the nature of the modern music industry means that most underground mixtapes have the quality of an album anyway.

If you hate most modern rap, but love 90s gangsta rap, then you will probably enjoy this mixtape. Action Bronson features heavily, and though you may associate him with an altogether different type of rap to what I’ve described so far, he fits in perfectly with Meyhem’s style. They’ve done a lot of work together, including a lot of stuff not on this tape (hit up youtube for that). Go and download this now, and it might be worth checking out his latest release as well.

Features: Action Bronson, AG Da Coroner, Hologram, Sean Price, Smoke DZA, J-Love, Roc Marciano, Despot, Heems, Thirstin Howl the 3rd, Riff Raff

Top Tracks:Special Effects feat. Heems and Action Bronson”

Fingerless Driving Gloves

“Lets Hold Hands”

“Peruvian Deserts feat. Action Bronson and Ron Marciano”

“Drug Lords feat. AG Da Coroner and Action Bronson”

7. Action Bronson – Blue Chips

There is something very familiar about Action Bronson, even though he actually offers something quite new in his style. I guess it’s just white rappers, who have to work hard not to get put in the category of ‘somebody’-clone. Bronson has been compared to Ghostface Killah, so I guess thats something he should feel happy about. He rhymes about pretty much anything, but its hard to figure out what he’s truly ‘about’. I guess it doesn’t matter. Blue Chips sees him collaborating with ‘Party Supplies’, and the beats are interesting and varied, like Bronson’s lyrics. I have a hard time telling if he’s meant to be a boss or not. He is certainly an entertaining storyteller. Plus he puts work in. (In two years he’s released 4 mixtapes and two albums, plus done a ton of features) Blue Chips is definitely worth a listen.

(I haven’t yet checked out his newest mixtape ‘Rare Chandeliers‘ produced by Alchemist, but if it’s anything like this I would definitely have considered it for the list)

Features: Roc Marciano, Meyhem Lauren, Kool AD

Top Tracks:Hookers at the Point

“9-24-11”

“103 and Roosy”

Steve Wynn

“Expensive Pens feat. Meyhem Lauren”

6. Big K.R.I.T. – 4Eva N A Day

I’m still undecided on this clearly talented rapper from Mississippi. I love the jazzy and saxophonic sounds on this mixtape, which many consider a better overall product than his first album release, ‘Live from the Underground’, released only a few months after ‘4Eva N A Day’. Big K.R.I.T. is a talented rapper, but if it wasn’t for the impeccable producing, and live/acoustic instrumentals on this tape it might be a relatively unremarkable release. K.R.I.T. produced, arranged and mixed it all himself, and I think his talents as a producer perhaps surpass his abilities as a rapper. He needs to stop rapping with the pimp persona and realise his potential as a concsious, soulful rapper, rapping about real life. His collaboration with Yelawolf is an exciting prospect, but i’d rather see him with the likes of Mos Def or Common, and I think he has the potential to be more suited to that style, which he’s shown in his collaboration with The Roots among other songs I’ve heard from him. There are no features on ‘4Eva N a Day (at least none of them are rappers, or none are credited) and this is unusual for a mixtape, but that said, it makes the mixtape all the more personal. This is a very polished, introspective tape with a relatively unique sound. K.R.I.T’s flow is forgettable, but the lyrical energy in the tape as a whole will have you hooked, and the instrumentals are thrillingly dark and atmospheric.

Top Songs:Boobie Miles

“Package Store”

“Wake Up (with Willie B)”

4EvaNaDay (Theme)” (personally I don’t think its one of the best songs, but it has a video)

“Red Eye”

5. Supreme Cuts & Haleek Maul – Chrome Lips

The chicago production duo ‘Supreme Cuts’ team up with Barbados rapper Haleek Maul to bring you ‘Chrome Lips’, a nightmarishly dark mixtape that is as original as it is bangersome. The intense sounds conjure up ghostly apparitions and images of haunted houses, while Haleek Maul delivers lyrics that dynamically filter through the warped beats. He is an extremely talented rapper, and he kills it on this tape, which features a handful of  lesser-known rappers plus a few well known names (e.g. Kool AD of ‘Das Rasict’, plus members of ‘Main Attrakionz’). ‘Chrome Lips’ is a relentless decent into unchartered territory, using ‘shock and awe’ rap tactics to keep listeners paralysed. I sat down and took it all in at once, but it was too much, I had to go back and have another listen. It’s one of those sounds that it takes a while to fully appreciate, superficially it is easy to enjoy, but still a relatively hardcore pick. I wouldn’t call it horrorcore, its not over the top or full of spiders and scary clowns (if anything this sub-genre is too full of half-comedic acts like Geto Boys, Grave Diggaz and ICP), this is a much deeper, more thematic sound (so deep that often the lyrics are lost in the soundscape). Also check out ‘M00N‘ (not sure why this isn’t included on the download link I’ve provided for the tape. You can download it as an extra track here).

Features: Kool AD, MondreM.A.N, Squadda B, Showyousuck, Tree, plus many more

Top Tracks:The Dummy feat. Deniro Farrar”

“Simon Sayz feat. Showyousuck”

“Gully”

“Nitemare Kush feat. MondreM.A.N. and Yen Tech”

“Hoverboard feat. Squadda B”

 4. Angel Haze – Reservation

Most people have little respect for female MC’s, and I can understand why this is, as there are few and far between. Acts like Nicki Minaj have overshadowed better artists, and the line between pop/R&B and ‘hip hop’ is more often blurred with female rappers, so you get acts like Ke$ha or Azealia Banks. Angel Haze is not just an Azelia Banks clone, far from it (although they are supposedly planning a collaboration), and she is by far the best female lyricist I’ve come across this year. She is by all means a modern artist, but her lyrics deal with timeless issues. Check out ‘Classick’, especially for her hard-hitting take on Shady’s ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’, and ‘Voice EP’. However, ‘Reservation’ is the best of the bunch, as it best showcases her array of talents. You’d be forgiven for listening to “Werkin Girls” and thinking she was no different from any other new-school female like Azealia Banks or Iggy Azalea. While this is one of her strongest tracks, it is far from ‘her style’. She is much more raw than both of them, and is not afraid to show emotion or vulnerability (check out “Castle on a Cloud”), but she still outshines these other artists with her dynamic personality that isn’t just superficial bravado.

Features: Kool AD, Nicole Wray

Top tracks:New York

“Wicked Moon feat. Nicole Wray”,

“Realest”,

“Castle on a Cloud”

“Smile n Hearts”

3. Capital STEEZ – AmeriKKKan Korruption

It’s still unconfirmed whether or not the Brooklyn rapper took his own life, but his death on christmas eve 2012 was undeniably tragic. Capital STEEZ left behind an impeccable mixtape, overlooked even after his death. His ability as a lyricist is beyond the majority of the underground competition, let alone mainstream competition. His intelligent, sometimes analytical and sometimes reflective lyrics,  and features from his Pro Era collaborators Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly and Chuck Strangers make this a must-hear, especially in light of his death. Plus, STEEZ raps a lot about hip hop, and you can tell from how he talks about the game that he has an incredible passion for the genre, and laments how it has changed. On ‘Dead Prez’, my favourite song from the tape, STEEZ raps, “I got a plan to restore the game”. We shouldn’t romanticize his death in such a way, but could he have killed himself at least partially to make some sort of statement? He is clearly aware of the potential connotations, when he spits, “Is there a heaven for these hip hop heathens? Big Pop and Pac, Even Easy had ’em leanin/ We all children lookin for a reason…” On the same track he claims he’s “out for dead presidency”, perhaps more than just a homage to Jay-Z’s ‘Dead Presidents’. Amerikkkan Korruption uses classic hip hop samples from the 90s mixed with modern cuts from MF DOOM and Madlib which highlight STEEZ’s extensive appreciation of the genre. As an overall product, it can be faulted, as I think it gets weaker nearer the end, and not all the beats are as polished as they could have been. Depending on how successful Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era become, this could become a hugely important landmark in modern hip hop. Either way, this tape showcases the incredible potential he had, and it will have you mourning his death as you listen, even if you don’t rate him highly as a rapper.

(I have only listened to the original 14 track version, and not the 21 track re-release ‘Amerikkkan Korruption Reloaded, which i have provided a link to)

Features: Joey Bada$$, Uno Hype, CJ Fly, Chuck Strangers

Top Tracks:Free the Robots

“Dead Prez”

“Doggybag”

“Cab Fare feat. CJ Fly and Chuck Strangers”

“HYPE/Beast feat. Uno Hype”

2. Uno Hype x DJ Black Diamond – Fxck The Hype

While compiling this list I decided to check out Uno Hype, as he featured on Capital STEEZ’s mixtape. I downloaded this tape, as it featured Joey Bada$$ and CJ Fly, and I liked the cover. Now it’s gone straight in at number two as a late entry. It just goes to show how much good stuff is out there if you really look hard enough. This is an incredible 9 track production from a very talented MC. Uno Hype came like another breath of fresh air to me. The beats by DJ Black Diamond are perfect for his reflective style of rapping, easily one of the best collection of beats I’ve heard this year. The first song, ‘Train of Thought’ will hit the spot and have you sitting back, surprised but impressed, and entirely absorbed, and the tape hardly wavers in quality before the end. It’ll leave you wanting more from this still relatively underground artist, so also check out his other songs.

Features: Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly, Hassani Kwess, Tayyib Ali, Smoke DZA, Mansions on the Moon, Vaunfe

Top Tracks:We Were Kings feat. Hassani Kwess” (I love this video)

Train of Thought

“Sense of Fufillment”

“Smooth Flows feat. Tayyib Ali and Vaunfe”

Olde English feat. Hassani Kwess”

1. Joey Bada$$ – 1999

What can I say about Joey Bada$$’ debut mixtape? When I heard this it was like a breath of fresh air. It is a love song to the hip hop of the nineties yet Joey doesn’t just fruitlessly reminisce, and it is far from a purely nostalgic tape. The way I’d describe the feel of listening to the tape is taking a relaxed, guiltless trip through all that was good about hip hop in the nineties, without compromising modern themes and modern rap trends. He has true lovers of hip hop like myself listening, and he has the young people listening. His potential is astounding. Even if he doesn’t fly high enough to have a large impact on the modern rap mainstream scene (He’s already landed a feature on A$AP Rocky’s ‘1 Train’ from the upcoming ‘LONG.LIVE.A$AP’), he will certainly have an incredible impact on the underground scene. STEEZ’s death, however tragic it will have been for him, will certainly throw even more light on himself and the rest of the Progressive Era crew. His lyrics are insightful, his flow remarkably refreshing, and listening to the samples he uses, the references he makes in his songs and just ‘what he’s about’, you can tell he knows his hip hop. Think Jay-Z, Gang Starr, Nas, even early Eminem, but also the underexposed J Dilla and Madlib, who a lot of his style and inspiration has clearly come from. I wasn’t expecting what I heard when I first listened to this tape. Joey Bada$$ has helped to give me the faith that hip hop is not simply continuing along the same downhill slope that it has been since the early/mid 2000s. I just hope he doesn’t lose any of what has made him so exciting to watch and listen to. He has a job to do and that is to help revive hip hop.

Features: Pro Era

Top Tracks:Survival Tactics feat. Capital STEEZ”

Hardknock feat. CJ Fly”

“Pennyroyal”

“Daily Routine”

Fromdatomb$ feat. Chuck Strangers”

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The Rest:

Honourable Mentions

Freddie Gibbs – Baby Face Killa

I’m particularly excited about Freddie Gibbs’ collaboration with Madlib. Perhaps working with such a good producer will bring out a better side of him, as I’m not a huge fan of his music. That said, ‘Baby Face Killa’ is worth a listen. He’s not simply another modern hip hop artist churned out by the mainstream, but you could confuse him as such. Listen to ‘BFK‘ and also check out ‘Thuggin‘ (with Madlib)

YP – No Doz

The first song I heard from YP was ‘Who I Be‘ which I really liked. After listening to the rest of the tracks on ‘No Doz’ I felt like the best way to describe him was ‘meh’. Co-signed by Raekwon, YP has a lot of talent, but he’s no innovative superstar, my opinion of him is similar to my opinion of Freddie Gibbs, I think he has potential but is also primed to enter the mainstream, which won’t make for as good music as can be heard on ‘No Doz’. He’s made loads of music videos so check out his Youtube channel.

Joey Bada$$ – Rejex

Basically a 14 track tape of songs that didn’t make it onto 1999. As you might therefore expect, ‘Rejex’ is not as strong a release in any way, but at the end of the day, it’s Joey Bada$$, who is incredibly talented, so even his rejected songs are gold compared to most hip hop songs nowadays.

Download

Download

Dom Kennedy – Yellow Album

Dom Kennedy produced a decent mixtape featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Freddie Gibbs and Rick Ross. I’m unsure what I think about him, but the tape is well produced, west coast hip hop from a enthusiastic rapper who is still relatively unknown. Yes, it’s relatively ‘new school’, but its not unbearably so, and I commend his talent on the mic. Not all the songs are deserving of this praise however. Check out ‘My Type of Party‘ (I’m starting to regret having him on this list already)

Iggy Azalea – Trapgold

You don’t get many sexy rap models from Australia making trap music. As we already know, Iggy is a bit of a bad bitch, and she’s in a number of businesses, the ‘Murda Bizness‘ being one of them. She can rap, but I’m not going to pretend her music won’t aggravate the majority of ‘true’ rap fans. It’s great club music, but she’s hardly the best rapper to hit the ground running. I like her because although she tries to be the exactly the same as everyone else, she isn’t. I do hate her as well.

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Top 5 Best of the Worst

The ones you love to hate (or hate to love), these mixtapes are good for much more mindless entertainment. Call it dishonourable mentions.

5. Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allerdice

It’s better than ‘Rolling Papers’. I do find the weed smoking rapstar kinda funny. He’s a character, who makes mostly annoying music. Could he beat Snoop Dogg in a smoke-off? I think if he can, it would probably explain why his music is so much worse than the Doggfather’s. I do understand why people like him though.

4.Big Sean – Detroit

Signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, Big Sean likes to shout ‘swerve’ and ‘oh god’ on his tracks. He’s fun, and fits into the rap game quite comfortably. According to him, “I just feel like that’s what I’m doing. I’m swerving around. Especially in the D-Town with whips everywhere in the city. That’s something my crew was saying a long time ago” yeah, yeah, yeah… I like him on Ye’s records because he’s entertaining, but I’m not a massive fan.

3. Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2

Meek Mill seems to just yell unintelligibly. Clearly that’s something Rick Ross is a fan of, as he signed the Pennsylvania rapper to his Maybach Music Group. My favourite quote from Meek Mill is “We get money, and we fuck bitches we fuck bitches, and we get money but we don’t ever hate” there’s more depth in this socially analytical claim to greatness than in any line Shakespeare ever wrote.
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2. Azealia Banks – Fantasea

Rather than collaborating, I’d like to see Azealia Banks and Angel Haze have beef. Azealia yells on ‘212‘, “what you gon do when I eat a pear, I eat a pear”. She also claims she’ll be eating ‘kunts’ but I still think Angel Haze is the more threatening female rapper. I’d be genuinely scared if she told me she was going to eat me. This mixtape, ‘Fantasea’ is not really proper rap. Azealia is clearly very talented as a lyricist, she can throw out quick-fire rhymes that hit you hard, but just look at the front cover, thats the kind of rap you’re listening to. Mermaid rap. Its more suited for the club than for the ghetto blaster. Maybe Haze will hammer her into shape.

1. Rick Ross – Rich Forever

Rick Ross is the meant to be the biggest bawse since Genghis Khan. But look at the cover of his mixtape. What’s that, a cigarillo? Surely Rozay should be smoking blunts and cigars the size of his penis…

To be fair I do like a fair few of the songs on this mixtape. ‘Stay Schemin‘ is great fun, featuring a hot guest verse from Drake. As for French Montana, all I can say is “ahhh” (at the end of every single line, seriously?)

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4 responses to “Top 15 Hip-Hop Mixtapes of 2012

  1. Good reviews.I love it how you incorporate videos on your ‘top tracks’ lists.However I do disagree with some of your picks.If I was you,I would try to find a way to fit in Fabolous – The Soul Tape 2 or Joe Budden’s A Loose Quarter.I see you are a big Pro-Era fan…..good look there buddy!

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