Hip-Hop in 2012
While coming up with some of the Best New Sounds of 2012, I realized I was doing an injustice to some of the most brilliant hip-hop that came out this year. What’s even more astonishing is how much of it went unnoticed or seemed to have a shining moment of controversy. Still, there were a couple of artists that got some great attention on Billboard’s Top 200. And for some ridiculous reason I failed to mention them.
This isn’t a YAM Ranks post or anything. This is more my unfolding of some of the most brilliant hip-hop and rap-fusion songs, albums, and artists that I seemed to have glozed over in my attempt to make a Top 10. There will be a couple of repeats. And there will be some that many may not exactly consider hip-hop, but the truth is the genre is so broad, the scope so deep, it would be unfair to slight an artist because they managed to find a fine connection between what most consider rap and what many would consider an ambiguous “other.” Granted, just as with my Top 10, I know I’m going to miss some albums. But these are the songs and artists that turned my head this year.
First, I of course have to give my love to Miss Rapsody. Her Idea of Beautiful album did something to hip-hop this year. It made people stand up, give a shout and look around as if to say, “Is nobody hearing this?” Truly, it was a piece of brilliance that came out of North Carolina. But it wasn’t just Rapsody who was making a big noise. Indeed, 9th Wonder and his Jamla contingent gave new meaning to the depth of hip-hop. The sounds were crisp, unique, and intelligent. From Rapsody, to artists like Big Remo, Actual Proof, and songstress Heather Victoria, it indeed was a year of great growth and beauty in the Jamla family.
With my discovery of Rapsody, it seemed I was bound to come into constant contact with new artists who meant to stir the world into a frenzy. Alas, along comes Coley . His swagger, such that it is, isn’t predicated on the “traditional” ball-grab and bird-throwing that predominates most of the post-90s hip-hop scene. And even in the wake of his predecessors Eminem and Mac Miller, Coley stands a world apart. He manages to make the melancholy comical, manages to bring truth and fearlessness to the circus, almost taking the piss out of his own autobiography.
What made Slim Shady such a monster was his unfettered honesty and his self-imposed subtext, as if the man was a walking black comedy, dripping with all the dark witticism and sarcasm that makes the Cohen Brothers such dangerously brilliant filmmakers. However, Coley errs on the side of slapstick, almost as if his life was taken from the stages of Vaudeville and given brilliant color and charm. His debut single I Get Around allows the audience to shake the man’s hand without worrying if his own sweaty palm comes complete with an electric shock. That’s just it… it doesn’t. There’s nothing roundabout in his delivery, nothing menacing. It goes back to the fun and freedom prevalent in the mid-70s and throughout the 80s when hip-hop was just starting to make ground.