Here at T.I.R., we have discussed putting together a collaborative post where we talk about which albums of 2012 made it to being great in our opinions. There were many ways we proposed to do this, but due to our hectic and ever-changing schedules it was hard to make this collaboration come into existence. With that being said, I figured since we are going to be moving into the 2nd month of 2013 pretty soon I should go ahead and make this post happen before 2012 is gone and forgotten. So the following will be what I consider to be the top albums of 2012. My criteria for “must have albums” are simple: 1) have amazing music, 2) the album must be able to played in its entirety with little to no skipping of tracks, 3) you should be able to name at least 2 or 3 tracks from it without having to be reminded or hear them, and 4) when in doubt, see numbers 1 thru 3.
Now that you have the criteria…let’s get to the albums. They are in no particular order, but I believe if you were to go and get these albums to listen to right now, you wouldn’t be disappointed in their greatness and potential to be timeless. So take a look at those mentioned and see if your favorites from 2012 made the list.
1) Elle Varner – Perfectly Imperfect: This lady was a breath of fresh air to me when it came to her content and delivery. She had songs that were refreshing, charismatic, and meaningful. I really was surprised when I listened to the album for the first time simply because it seemed like she had been doing this for a long time and made it seem easy. Her voice commands your attention and her lyrics paint pictures that are vivid and relate-able. The singles that were in regular rotation on the radio were Refill and Only Want To Give It To You. I personally like the tracks I Don’t Care, Stop The Clock, and Sound Proof Room. However, all the songs on the album are good listens and it is money well spent to get this joint.
2) Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE: Now I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Frank Ocean when he first hit the scene, but after much reference to his music from The Audacity of Dope! I decided to give it a listen and was impressed on several levels. His mixtapes were impressive and he kept his talent flowing with this début album. His music may not be what most people are used to, but I believe that’s what makes his music so captivating. He too is a great storyteller and has a style that is unique. My favorite tracks include Pyramids, Thinking of You, and Super Rich Kids. This is another album that will definitely be something that can be listened to for years to come and won’t miss a beat.
3) Nas – Life Is Good: Rarely will you find a hip hop or rap album that has track after track of music that is tolerable. That is to say the formula of most albums in this genre are to put out 3 or 4 commercial singles to carry the album and get radio play and the rest of the music on the album is a lot different from the singles. Nas seems to step away from this formula and gives us a classic album to say the least. Using a lot of personal stories and experiences on several tracks, he opens up to listeners and gives them a glimpse of his difficulties with is now ex-wife Kelis and his daughter. The album can be played without skipping any tracks and each song gives you lyricism in its purest form. Tracks I recommend from this album are Daughters, Cherry Wine, Bye Baby, and, if you have a deluxe edition, Nasty. I enjoyed this album so much I wrote another post specifically on it last year (read it here), and I had to get it on vinyl so that should tell you how much I recommend this.
4) Maroon 5 – Overexposed: I think Maroon 5 is great and I have been a fan since their 2nd album. I was impressed with the music from this album and felt like they had a range of emotions from track to track. They seem to explore the subject of love and relationships from the good and bad angles, and to me this is realistic and easily understood. I know a lot of artists can sing about everything being great, but since this album touches on the negative aspects of relationships as well, it resonated more than others. My my most enjoyable tracks are Daylight, Ladykiller, and most definitely Beautiful Goodbye. Their rendition of the Prince classic Kiss was also different and enjoyable to me, but it still has nothing on the original. All in all, I think it’s another great album that can be enjoyed from beginning to end.
5) Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio: Hands down this was my most favorite album of 2012. I only say that because it has gotten the most listens in my car and on my computer. It falls into the genres of jazz, R&B, hip hop, and soul music, which is difficult to pull off, but this album makes it look effortless. It has a ton of features from all types of artists and each song gives a unique twist that makes it easy listening. I enjoyed this album so much that I gave it as a Christmas gift! I could go on and on about it, but I will just say if you like any of the genres mentioned above then you can find something worth listening to off this joint. Tracks to check out are Ah Yeah, Why Do We Try, Afro Blue, and Black Radio. Do yourself a favor and get this if you don’t have it. It is an epic album to say the least.
6) Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1: Another classic hip hop album for me. Sadly, I will admit it will probably never receive the credit that it deserves nor will it get much radio play because the content on the album isn’t all about the party life or being flashy. It speaks of a range of topics a lot deeper and forces listeners to actually do something that a lot of music on the radio fails to do……listen to the lyrics. The content can be deemed as being “political” or “conscious”, but I found it to be realistic. The lyrics make the listener think about the things that are advertised as being important during current times. They also place the limelight on topics that have been glorified for the less than moral reasons (misogyny, materialism, etc.) and asks the question of why do these ways and thought processes have to remain prominent. It can be enlightening and uplifting, which is hard to find in hip hop music these days. Definitely not for everybody, but a classic nonetheless. My favorite tracks are Bitch Bad, ITAL, Around My Way, and Hood Now.
7) Miguel -Kaleidoscope Dream: This is the follow-up to the début album and Miguel keep the great music coming. He definitely expanded upon his music giving out a plethora of styles on the album. He touches on topics including love and lust, but does it in a way that is poetic to the listener (for the most part). He still has the voice that people came to know and appreciate, and to me, it seems like it has gotten stronger. He keeps the listeners on their toes when going from track to track making sure they don’t get lulled into a state of monotony. I came to appreciate this and have gotten to where I can recognize songs on the album from only a few seconds of hearing it (2-3 seconds to be exact). I would recommend Arch and Point, P*ssy Is Mine, Use Me, and Adorn.
8) Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City: I must admit that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this album that much. That is to say I heard about his music for a while but never took time to listen. Well I’m listening now and will honestly say I was blown away at how good this album is. Production is insane and his delivery of lyrics and storytelling ability are off the charts. The fact that he does this while staying in the realm of gangster rap is something that shouldn’t go unrecognized. I may skip one track on the entire album and minus the commercials in between each song you can let it play without having to touch the dial. Some of my favorite tracks off this album include Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, The Recipe, m.A.A.d City, Money Trees, Swimming Pools, and Backseat Freestyle. Practically the whole album is just that good so it is my highest recommendations for those fans of hip hop to get this joint ASAP.
Well that’s the list for now. I’m sure there are plenty more albums that can go on the list, but since I’m drawing a blank right now on those albums I will stop here. I will try to come back and add to this post when my brain is fresh with music from 2012 that fits into the category of top albums, but until that happens go and check out the joints mentioned above and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading and let us know of your thoughts however you see fit.
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