What a year it's been for rap music! None of us knew what to expect of 2012 way back on January 1, last Sunday, but it has panned out big time. This year's class is an inspired bunch, a crew of rappers who are really pushing things forward. While it's a little early to call this the best year for hip-hop ever, there's no doubt that it's definitely been a week and a half to remember. Here, then, are our top five of twenty-twelve.
5. Homeboy Sandman
Since emerging five years ago in New York, the Queens-born Homeboy Sandman has been on the come up. Having signed with Stones Throw last August, his new work is Subject: Matter. Sandman says his goal was for each of the release's tracks to cover something never spoken on before in hip hop, which he adds wasn't a very difficult thing to do. With topics ranging from his relationship with canned goods to bragging about his very humble belongings to breaking down his actual creative process, his mission is accomplished.
4. I Self Devine
LA State of Mind
Formerly one half of iconic Minneapolis Hip-Hop duo The Micranots, I Self Devine is setting the stage for his first album in seven years with four mixtapes dubbed “The Culture Series,” the first of which is LA State of Mind. I Self has always been an MC's MC, and on the new work he show off a deep arsenal of styles. Going from pulse-pounding urgency one moment to soft, spoken tones the next, the new work is something of a tasty sample platter.
3. Rick Ross
Last year Rick Ross almost lost his life after having a seizure on his private plane. But the Bawss got 2012 started right with an incredible mixtape, Rich Forever. Along with the first-rate Maybach Music production — which turns any commute into a ride on an expensive yacht ride — Rich Forever's guest turns are excellent, Nas' verse on “Triple Beam Dreams” in particular.
2. Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire
Merry eX Mas & Suck My Dick!
When hit single “Huzzah” began popping up all over last summer, little was known about its creator. It was a snowball to the ear for rap listeners, and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire continues his onslaught with Merry eX Mas & Suck My Dick! Here he takes modern New York rap by the reigns, killing original productions from Company.Flow's Legendary Mr. Len and El-P, as well as tackling the city's most recent favorites like A$AP Rocky's “Peso.” In one year eX has gone from a rapper with a great song to a leading talent.
1. Mac Lethal
After ending 2011 with his pancake flipping “Look At Me Now” video and his tumblr Texts from Bennet, Kansas City's Mac Lethal kicks his year with Irish Goodbye. Produced entirely by frequent Tech N9ne collaborator Michael “Seven” Summers, Mac marries his top notch wordplay with his storytelling and comedic timing. Irish Goodbye should satisfy new listeners curious to see if he can do more than make pancakes.