Generally speaking, 2012 has been a very strange year for many different reasons, especially in the music industry. We've had an eccentric South Korean annoy the world with a very stupid dance; ridiculous public spats which were in order to gain a certain singers' attention and certain Hip-Hop artists deciding to cancel shows over death threats made by local gangs. (rruuUUGH!)
However, I like to focus on the music. So in that case, I'll get to the point of this article:
Let's see if you agree or disagree with my top 5 Hip-Hop tracks of 2012, which actually turns out to be very different from my colleague Ramz's top 5 list, over at TheEpicNetwork.
Yes - Rick Ross in a top 5 list for Hip-Hop songs. However, this is more of an Andre 3000 song than it is a Rick Ross song. In the beginning of the song, Rick Ross proclaims "This is special...extremely special!". Well he certainly isn't wrong when it comes to the production from The J.U.S.T.I.C.E League; the style of the song and the MVP of the song - Andre 3000.
Ross' verse is quite forgettable in terms of subject matter. It's the usual money-based verse telling a story from poor to rich and becoming "a bawse" over a beat of pure grandeur. Even with Ross going for 32 bars, he gets outdone quite easily by Andre 3000 who not only performs the hook, bridge and guitar piece at the end, but he tells his side of the story for 48 bars! (If I'm not mistaken). Not quite "300 Bars and Runnin' " but still memorable for it's difference in typical format. If you're an Andre 3000 fan then you really need to get this track listened to and if you haven't already - where have you been?!
Very memorable song from "God Forgives, I Don't", which is a very decent album considering it has "Hold Me Back" on there.
This track was voted as DJ Premier's best piece of production in 2012 who, in my opinion, is the greatest Hip-Hop producer of all-time. That in itself means this track deserves your attention. The subject matter is very evident in the song title. Ill Bill goes after social media which is literally music to my ears, to finally hear someone say:
Mind your business, don't worry about the next man's plans/
Cause there's a very thin line between a fan and a Stan/
And fuck Facebook, in the real world, if you and me met?/
I'd sign your CD, snap a flick and you'd respectfully step/
Slaine doesn't hold back either:
We know the difference who the bitches and girls are/
Nah, I ain't as rich as them snitches at WorldStar/
But I can spot a rat with the camera phone/
Who only beefs when he's with his man cause he can't alone/
Absolute banger of a track. Great home-truth lyrics over a quality 1930's New York mobster film-style beat.
To me, "Welcome to: Our House" was a very poor album. I found it very hard to enjoy it which was one of the biggest let-downs for me in Hip-Hop in 2012. However, there was one song which was undeniable. "Goodbye" is by far the best song on the album and if you take a listen to the song, it's easy to understand why.
Budden, Crooked and Ortiz dedicate a verse each to the people they lost in their lives. Joe Budden relives the time he and his partner lost their twin babies due to contraceptive pills; Crooked I talks about his late uncle's influence on his life as a father figure and Joell Ortiz reminisces about the time he found out his grandmother had died. If (or when) Slaughterhouse has a "Best of..." album this song has to be a definite choice to put on there. Shit album, great fucking song.
Rick Ross...now DJ Khaled?! Bear with me on this one folks. Look at the other names in the title. Hip-Hop royalty let DJ Khaled use this song for his album. Again, all Khaled has done here is say his name...and uhh...well he never produced the song, The J.U.S.T.I.C.E League done that part. He never wrote the song...Scarface and Nas done that bit...and the scratching? Surely he done that part right?! He's a fucking DJ! Nope - DJ Premier done that part also.
This song has to be heard by everyone who ever proclaims to like Hip-Hop. They can relate to the subject matter with Scarface and Nas discussing how they feel about the state of Hip-Hop and how their relationship with "her" has been once great to now damaged and alienated due to their stance on the mainstream product which gets all the airplay. Very ironic song for DJ Khaled to have on his album! Neither artist are out of their depth on this song however, Nas' verse is quite special. I guess his attitude since "Hip-Hop Is Dead" in 2008 hasn't changed much.
Do yourself a favour and listen to this song - several times.
This is my number 1 Hip-Hop song of 2012. I had an idea it would be when "Life Is Good" came out in July. Produced by No I.D., "Daughters" can be considered as "grown-folk music". The subject Nas chose for this track is timeless - a man's perspective as a parent to a girl.
He discusses his fears of his own daughter growing up, beginning to notice boys as a teenager and also her opinion of him as he goes through several relationships with various women. He also addresses the aspect of dealing with a teenage girl during the age of social media:
She's on Twitter, I know she ain't gon post no pic/
Of herself underdressed, no inappropriate shit, right/
Her mother cried when she answered/
Said she don't know what got inside this child's mind, she planted/
A box of condoms on her dresser then she Instagrammed it/
At this point I realized I ain't the strictest parent/
Nas is extremely honest on this track, even openly admitting to doubles-standards during his fatherhood of a girl:
She heard stories of her daddy thugging/
So if her husband is a gangster can't be mad, I'll love him/
Never for her I want better, homie in jail - dead that/
Wait till he come home/
You can see where his head's at/
In the 3rd and final verse, Nas once again brings up the topic of double-standards as a father between a son and a daughter:
I finally understand/
It ain't easy to raise a girl as a single man/
Nah, the way mothers feel for they sons/
How fathers feel for they daughters/
When he date, he straight, chip off his own papa/
When she date, we wait behind the door with the sawed off/
Cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters/
Even with the fact I don't have any children of my own, (never mind a daughter) as a man, I can still somehow relate to this song. This song must be at least twice as potent for men who have actually become fathers. Not only can father's relate to this song but daughters can to. They can identify with instances that Nas brings up in this song but also see it from their father's perspective. Great production, great video, timeless song not only in Hip-Hop but music period.
DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles - More Levels (The Kollexxxion)
Freddie Gibbs (featuring Kirko Bangz) - Bout It, Bout It (Baby Face Killa)
The Game - Holy Water (Jesus Piece - Best Buy Bonus Song)
Dom Kennedy (featuring Freddie Gibbs) - Hangin' (The Yellow Album)
Kendrick Lamar - Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe (good kid, m.A.A.d city)
So that's my lot for Hip-Hop in 2012. I am fairly confident with my list however, do you agree with it? Are there any songs which you think are undeserving of such status? Any particular songs you would have on your Top 5 Hip-Hop Songs of 2012? If so, let us know in the comments section. Hopefully, it won't get too heated down there!