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Chris Morris' Top 10 Hip Hop albums of 2012

Chris Morris is one of NCPR's Adirondack correspondents, and a serious hip hop fan. He sent this awesome list of the best of hip hop from 2012:

I need to preface this list by saying that it was close to impossible for me to narrow this list down to 10 - 2012 was easily one of the best years for new hip-hop music in close to a decade.

(I listed the album, the artist, a brief description of why I loved it, and then the album's best track)

Note: Three of the artists on this list - Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul - belong to a Los Angeles super-group called Black Hippy. I encourage all of your listeners to go out and listen to EVERYTHING they've put out in the last three years. (The fourth member is Jay Rock - go back to 2011 and check out his freshman release "Follow Me Home" - it would have made the list this year.)

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10. “Dreams & Nightmares” by Meek Mill – I’m not a big fan of bragging, boastful rappers, but there’s something magnetic about Meek Mill. His raps are staccato and speedy – it feels like he’s expecting someone to cut the mic off at any second. Best track: Dreams & Nightmares

9. “Control System” by Ab-Soul – Ab-Soul is, well, abstract. I’ll admit I didn’t love him at first, but he grew on me. He’s not afraid to take chances, and I respect him for that. Best track: Terrorist Threats ft. Danny Brown and Jhene Aiko

8. “Skelethon” by Aesop Rock – He’s been a personal favorite of mine for a while. Great lyricist – you can get lost in the words and miss the fact that the production quality is so good. Best track: 1,000 O’Clock

7. “The Heist” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Y’all heard that “Thrift Shop” jam, right?! Yeah, the rest of the album might be even better. I’ll be honest, I thought Macklemore was a gimmick – he’s not. His music is fun, honest, and a breath of fresh air. Best track: White Walls ft. Schoolboy Q (This might be the song of the year; I almost bought a convertible because of it.)

6. “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color” by Brother Ali – This album gives me the chills every time. Brother Ali’s raps are so brutally honest and personal, it feels like he’s reading straight from his diary – and he might be. He gets a huge assist from producer Jake One for some great, soulful beats. Best track: All You Need

5. “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors” by Big Boi – One half of Outkast can still out perform most of the rap world. Unbelievable production on this album and Big Boi proves again that he’s one of the most creative lyricists in the game. Best track: Raspberries

4. “Life is Good” by Nas – What? Nas put out a new album and it wasn’t in my top three? That’s how good 2012 was. Nas hasn’t put out a bad album in almost a decade, and this one is no different. He gets his grown man on in a big way on this one. Best track: Daughters

3. “R.A.P. Music” by Killer Mike – Produced by El-P, the beats are straight fire from beginning to end, and Killer Mike’s lyrics touch on everything from guns to gospel music. Best track: Southern Fried

2. “Good Kid, Madd City” by Kendrick Lamar – I desperately wanted to give this the number one spot, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Kendrick Lamar reminds me of a young, hungry Nas, and for me, that’s about the best compliment I could give a rapper. So creative. Best track: Money Trees

1. “Habits & Contradictions” by Schoolboy Q – The title of this album sums it up better than I can: It has everything. It moves from socially aware, conscious rap to hardcore gangster rap seamlessly, and it’s sprinkled with incredible guest spots, some club bangers and some heady, introspective stuff. This album came out early in the year, and it’s been on repeat for me ever since. Best track: There He Go


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