Only ten days into January we jokingly picked the year's top rap albums of 2012. But it turns out that 2012 has in fact shaped up as a pretty amazing year for hip-hop full-lengths -- arguably one of its best since the '90s. Here then, are the best 2012 hip-hop albums through July. (Note: No mixtapes or EPs have been included.)
5. Kristoff Krane
A Minneapolis underground staple and frequent collaborator with deceased icon Eyedea, Kristoff Krane has spent years pushing the boundaries of standard rap conventions, live performances and intimate subject matter. Fanfaronade may be his most conventional hip-hop project, showcasing how knowledgeable he is about his craft and how talented he is at executing his ideas.
Misunderstood and overlooked by many because of its lead single, "Tony Montana," the rest of Pluto is legitimately innovative in a way that's matched by few in mainstream rap today. Pushing the envelope through vocal patterns that clash with effects -- it's almost avant garde -- you would also be hard-pressed to find an album with such honesty (and infectious hooks) on store shelves this year.