So we have done a few End of the Year “Best of” posts that look at some different products that rappers have put out this year but all of them have to do with the quality of music! What about the artist we hear every day on TV and the radio that aren’t quite as talented. That is where the “Who had the best 2012″ list comes in! I am not saying that these artists aren’t talented but that is not a criteria to get on here. This list is about who accomplished the most and who can say “I had a fantastic year” whether I, you or anyone else really like their music.
10. Action Bronson
Bronsonlinio missed XXL’s “Freshmen of the year” magazine at the beginning of 2012 but that did not keep him from accomplishing more than most people on that cover. He put out a couple fantastic free projects in Rare Chandeliers with Alchemist and Blue Chips with Party Supplies. Numerous killer features and a budding relationship with New New Yorkers Roc Marciano and Meyhem Lauren. He also toured around the US and Europe which I’m sure helped his pockets. To top it all off, he has signed a deal with Vice/Warner Brothers and knowing Bronson, they aren’t going to be able to tell him shit. I hope Vice is the right spot and I know if it is wrong that he will leave before he puts out bad music. He will have a good argument for 2013 too with big things in the works like Saab Music with Harry Fraud, Blue Chips 2 and a marijuana themed cook book.
9. Young Jeezy
Jeezy has been around for a while and he is still having some of his best years! After finally releasing TM103, which was delayed for 2 years(!), at the end of 2011 it achieved gold status early in 2012. Gold within 2 months of a release is now a good milestone, especially in hip hop, and deserves congratulations. Although it is generally tough to age in hip hop as fans and newer rappers try and push the older guys out – save a few – Jeezy is positioning himself well for life after rapping. Jeezy announced last August that he is now the Senior Vice President of A&R at Atlantic records. That was followed in December with the announcement of his label CTE’s distribution deal with Atlantic as well. I hope we continue to get new music from Jeezy but he will definitely have his hands full with all of his new label responsibilities.
8. Mike WIll Made It
2012 was a big year for producers. Either they started to get more recognition or maybe there weren’t as many new rap stars. For whatever the reason, a few of them stood out even more. I promise you that you were rocking to at least one song that Mike WIll made. He had major placements with all of the biggest stars like 2Chainz’s “No Lie” featuring Drake, Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” to Rihanna, B.o.B, Chief Keef, Future, 50 Cent and more.
7. Wiz Khalifa
In addition to one of the best mixtapes of 2012, Wiz’s album was very good and sold better than was expected considering her had no singles on the radio. Wiz took his act on the road with multiple successful concert series capped by his 2050 Tour that sold out most venues. He is establishing himself as a superstar and sets himself apart from everyone else in pretty much everything he does. His music, his fashion, his demeanor. Wiz is killing it. He was #12 on Forbes’ “Hip Hop Cash Kings” list but unlike most of the other people on the list, he isn’t pimping himself out for endorsements. He made most of that money straight off the music. At the last stop of 2050, in Pittsburg, the mayor named December 12th, 2012 “Wiz Khalifa Day“. That is pretty fucking cool!
Harry Fraud began the year with a tight knit crew who knew how dope he was. Now it seems like everyone wants “La Musica de Harry Fraud”. Not as many radio songs as some of the other producers on the list but Harry worked with most of the “underground” (which is now the internetsphere) Action Bronson, Curren$y, Smoke DZA, Meyhem Lauren, French Montana. The list goes on.
Similar to Lex Luger a couple of years ago, everyone seemed to want that “Young Chop” sound in 2012. After Kanye West and GOOD Music remixed Chief Keef’s Young Chop produced internet single “Don’t Like”, both of their careers seemed to take off. Keef’s arc went higher with a big deal from Interscope but it is also much shorter after disappointing sales of his album and allegedly cancelled tour dates due to poor ticket sales. Young Chop on the other hand got past initial skepticism of Kanye’s remix and used his new fame to branch out to all kinds of hip hoppers. Anyone who wanted a loud, bass heavy “Bang Bang” type beat had to get Chop. A lot more people know his name now than did 1 year ago.
4. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar has been appointed hip hop’s savior for a while now. However, Kendrick really stepped to the plate and backed this title up where other newcomers have fallen short. His debut was phenomenal and he successfully converted a strong internet buzz into real record sales. That is tough to do but he did it his way. It seems everyone was talking about good kid m.A.A.d. city and that kind of hype can be a killer, especially when people call it a classic before it drops. He toured successfully BET Music Matters and we can’t forget that he opened up 2012 as an opener for Drake’s Club Paradise Tour. No matter how you feel about K. Dot whether you are just discovering him now or have been a fan for years, there is no denying that he had one of the best 2012s.
Being associated with Kanye West usually takes you to the next level. It certainly did for GOOD music producer Hit-Boy. He saw two of his fire beats turn into two of the biggest songs of the year. The now triple platinum “N****s in Paris” and the ‘Cruel’ summer anthem “Clique”. After producing some of the hottest hip hop songs of 2012, Hit-Boy put out his solo effort HITstory showing that he can even rap too! His mixtape allowed him to venture into the concerts and opened even more opportunities. Now that the year is over, you can find placements on tracks by hip hop heavy weights like 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean to pop ballads by Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber. Hit-Boy is definitely getting paid.
Macklemore started out the year on our Top 10 to Watch for list and finished with one of the best 2012s, especially for an independent artist!! Where to even start.. Macklemore and long time friend/collaborator Ryan Lewis put out an incredible album in The Heist. Propelled by singles like “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love”, their debut was able to top the iTunes Charts for weeks after its release. It went on to sell over 200,000 copies in the first week and land on the Billboard charts. Mack was able to show that you don’t need a major label to succeed in today’s rap game and I think the waves he sent out could really change the way the next few years play out. Off the strength of his online followers, he was able to sell out shows all over the United States and Europe too. In addition to all of the amazing things that Macklemore accomplished this year, I am guessing that his favorite would be the involvement in the campaign for Washington referendum 74 in support of marriage equality. His song “Same Love” stood up for everyone’s right to marriage no matter their sexual preference and the accompanying video was one of the strongest and best we have seen. Ellen Degeneres even took note and invited him to perform on her national television show.
Macklemore took to Facebook and twitter to reflect on his amazing 12 months, here is what he had to say:
“2012 was the year I’ve been working towards my entire career. Since I was 14 years old I’ve been filling blank pieces of paper with ideas, hoping that people would connect with them. Over the years those ideas became songs, and slowly through word of mouth people started listening. 2012 was the year that we finally got the world to pay attention. And that’s because of you guys. You are the story. Whether its showing up in the snow 12 hours before a show, buying multiple copies of The Heist for your friends/family, or pulling me aside in the street and letting me know what a songs means to you- You created a foundation that has been the platform Ryan and I stand on. Without you, 2012 is just another year of ideas on a piece of paper.
As incredible opportunities present themselves, I always try to keep at the forefront of my mind the people that have made #sharkfacegang what it is. When we were rocking shows for 15 people in midwest sports bars… to a sold out world tour… to 200,000 albums sold. This year the dream became real. I’m not sure if I’ve fully woken up and realized it, but I’m aware enough to know who I need to thank. For your love, support and being some ride or die cutthroat ass beautiful humans, I raise my bottle of Martinellis to you all. #sharkfacegang. I love you guys. For real.”
- 2 Chainz
Who would think that Tity Boi of Playaz Circle would top the Best of list. 2 Chainz successfully completed the greatest transformation in the history of rap as he propelled himself to the top of contemporary rap after being in the game for 9 very ehhhh years. As 2 Chainz said himself on “My Moment” with DJ Drama and Meek Mill “I made more money than I ever did with DTP this year”. He seems very well spoken in his interviews and obviously knows what he is doing as he uses ratchet, loud, simple rhymes to make hit after hit. Without signing to Kanye’s GOOD Music, he was somehow able to secure a co-sign and very strong affiliation. He is able to work on a more independent level but still had a bigger role on Cruel Summer than some of the GOOD Music artists! Then he released his debut solo effort Based on a TRU Story that has sold over 500,000 copies so far. The list of 2 Chainz’s achievements from 2012 would be enough for anyone to end up in the #1 spot but when you also consider that he made a concentrated effort to reinvent himself and dabbling around rap’s gutter for a decade and we have to give him even more credit.