The 50 Best Albums of 2012

The 50 Best Albums of 2012

frank-ocean-headbandWell, here we are. After running down our picks for the year’s best artwork, videos, remixes, mixes, singles, and EPs, we have arrived at that magical moment: our roundup of 2012’s best albums. As was the case with our previous lists, this was not easy at all to curate.

Despite what your friend, favorite music critic, parents, WHOEVER might have said, the past year brought with it some fucking great music and some albums we’ll be labeling as classics down the road. Decreasing sales aside, albums are still doing the damn thing; whether it’s a conceptual piece outlining a rapper’s upbringing in Compton, Calif. or a collection of deep house bangers from the past two years.

Click below to view our picks for the Best Albums of 2012.

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  1. nc.
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 22:41:00

    Channel Orange > GKMC imo.

  2. lildicknigga
    Mar 23, 2013 @ 11:31:00

    nas sucks

  3. Afan
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 23:29:00

    I’ll keep listening to REAL Hip Hip until someone from this generation actually puts out something worth listening to. Drake, j cole etc are disappointments.fashawn, Joey badass, big krit, action Bronson, jay electronica are a step in the right direction.

  4. Machiventa
    Jan 06, 2013 @ 17:33:00

    not on there for obvious reasons

  5. Chris Sarda
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 17:30:00

    Great list until it got boring and predictable and commercial at the end.

  6. Roberto Ciamora
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 00:58:00

    They didnt think it was one of the best of the year

    At least that would be my guess as to why its not on here

    *Kanye Shrug*

  7. Michael Gibson
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 18:30:00

    AGREED: how can “Illmatic” and “Only Built 4 Cubic Linx” not at least bust the top ten? This list is LUDACRIS.

  8. Michael Gibson
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 16:08:00

    Glad to finally see “Control System” in a top ten this year, I probably wouldn’t have thrown Kool AD’s so high, but hey not many more complaints than that here.

  9. Michael Ireroa
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 13:20:00

    This list sure feels randomly scattered for the most part, but whatever.

  10. Afan
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 06:38:00

    I don’t know How Nas life is good is not number 1. Or at least top 3? Plus I would put action Bronson rare chandeliers at number 2. Kendrick Lamars album was boring the first time I listened to it and still is. Is anyone really listening to it anymore? Big let down. Shit year for hip hop once again. In the 90s you got maybe 20 or 30 classics every year now your lucky to get one very couple of years. Nas released his best album since stillmatic is it a classic? Time will tell.

  11. ML
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 19:27:00

    No love for “ANX”? I assume you didn’t check it out then. Zavala deserves producer of the year for that album.

  12. David Reyneke
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:29:00

    We didn’t make this list to be unpredictable. We made this list to show appreciation for our favorite albums. Thanks for checking it out.

  13. Andrew Martin
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:16:00

    I love both Rare Chandeliers and Blue Chips, but the latter edged out the former for me.

  14. Andrew Martin
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:15:00

    Danny! is on our label, Potholes Music, so he and his labelmates can’t appear on our year-end lists.

  15. Anon
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:06:00

    By the way, D.Swain’s Payback and Lushlife’s Plateau Vision would have made my list as well. I’m a little surprised not to see Payback on here given this site’s general love for all things Danny!

  16. Andrew Martin
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:48:00

    Word. And thank you!

  17. Andrew Martin
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:48:00


  18. WWW
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:42:00

    There is no such thing as “real” album of the year. In the end it’s all about personal choice. Nobody can listen to every album out there, hell, nobody can even listen to every hip-hop album. I agree that it would be great to see some non US rappers here, but this is a list of 50 albums, the authors of these site liked the most (out of everything THEY have listened to this year). No point of getting butthurt over something like that.

    PS: I listened to that Jack Flash and Wizard LP and tbh, it’s nothing special. Some of the beats are really good, but Jack Flash is super corny.

  19. nikka
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:41:00

    predictable top 2

  20. David Reyneke
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 07:38:00


  21. Lab Rat
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 01:14:00

    Where is Sole – A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing?

  22. Name1
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 23:54:00

    Captain Murphy is 23

  23. D3Keith
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 22:59:00

    Really? I thought Rare was a big step back from Dr. Lecter and Blue Chips, and even more so because Alchemist is generally a producer whose work I love.

    Then again, these things are all a matter of opinion.

    The thing I get out of these lists more than anything are that there’s always a ton of great music I missed — Six of the top 10 were albums I liked or loved, and a couple were ones I’d never even heard of. The Year-end lists are always a reminder that hip-hop is even more alive and well than those of us who spend a lot of time listening to it think it is.

  24. nigelPOW
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 22:37:00

    Brother Ali was really low in my opinion. The production on that album was banging. Probably some of the best Jake One beats to date. Also Disappointed to see no Mellowhype, or Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Kaleidoscope Dream would’ve definitely cracked my top 25.

    Everything else on this list is on point. I should give Wild Water Kingdom and Rare Chandeliers a proper listen.

  25. Anon
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 21:48:00

    Great list! I would have flipped Kendrick Lamar’s and Killer Mike’s placements. Schoolboy Q, Brother Ali, and O.C. & Appollo Brown would probably have made my top 10, while Ab-Soul, Heems, and Frank Ocean wouldn’t have. I don’t understand all the hype around Channel Orange and just didn’t really enjoy Control System or Nehru Jackets. The only glaring omission from the top 50 in my mind is Skyzoo and maybe the Black Keys and Jack White. I think I need to go back and give THEESATISFACTION, Rapsody, and Nacho Picasso a second look and give Jeremiah Rae and a number of others a first look. Good lookin’ out!!!

  26. Rich
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 21:21:00

    oh yeah, where’s Captain Murphy and Murs & 9th Wonder?????

  27. Rich
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 21:18:00

    Just downloaded Action Bronson and Party Supplies’ album. Yall are sick! There’s no way it’s better than Rare Chandeliers! It’s good, but Rare is way better.

  28. youknowmySteez
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 20:02:00

    Great list! on point

  29. Felix Reichert
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 18:48:00

    There’s also a difference between the best albums of a year, and the best albums of a year the team of a certain website has bothered to listen to.

    Listen to the Homebrew album on Bandcamp. Afterwards you can talk shit.

    Also, many of these rappers are anything but obscure.
    Sure, for an ignorant American audience that isn’t interested in anything that goes on outside of the US; no matter how good, they might be obscure. Not for Hip Hop fans in their respective countries though, and definitely not for lovers of all English-language Rap Music, regardless where it’s from.

  30. Le Magnifique
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 18:41:00

    where’s Holy Other – Held!!!!??????

  31. WWW
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 17:36:00

    Yeah, Mystrogen is a really good album, not sure about being top 50 thi…Jehst’s Kingdom Of Fear is something coming from the UK that I would personally put in my top 50 list tho.

  32. WWW
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 17:31:00

    Ain’t bad at all. I don’t agree with everything but this is still one of the best lists out there. Keep doing it, cuz you are definitely one of the best 🙂

  33. bigghouse
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 17:21:00

    Solid list. I would have Kalediscope Dream in the top 10. Iv got no love for Wild Water Kingdom, But Nerhu Jackets was a big favourite for me this year.

  34. Andrew Martin
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:30:00

    I feel ya. I prefer Rap over Nitty and yeah, that Ace joint was rad, but I couldn’t get over the older beats.

  35. Andrew Martin
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:29:00


  36. Andrew Martin
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:29:00


  37. Andrew Martin
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:29:00

    Thanks, man. Four things ain’t too bad.

  38. WWW
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:23:00

    Good list but also many things I disagree with.
    1. I know that you all love Heems but come on, both of his mixtapes have plenty of skip-able material. Also he is getting boring with his “i’m not even trying, i’m just having fun” attitude. Even most Das Racist fan admit that both mixtapes are mediocre, especially the second one.
    2. I’m surprised that El-P’s album is so much higher than Aesop’s. I love both, but for some reason I think that this has something to do with that Danny Brown feat, haha.
    3. Still don’t understand why people praise Channel Orange that much. Probably the most overhyped album this year. Incredibly boring and forced.
    4. The Black Keys’ album really is amazing.

    These are my main butthurts. Other than that – a really good list…again 🙂 Goob job 🙂

  39. dollarbillrussell
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:06:00

    There’s a difference between the most obscure rapper’s albums you enjoyed personally, and the best albums of the year.

  40. bobbynipples
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 16:04:00

    dunno if i agree about kendrick lamar being number 1. Fuck macklemore tho.

  41. thatdudemanny
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 15:49:00

    fuck. that list was on point. beyond stoked that both action tapes AND both heems tapes made it, let alone two of them in top ten. mad list.

  42. Đ℞ΞV/
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 15:20:00

    def like oddisee on there best album he made yet.

  43. Molly Sweatin Me
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 15:15:00

    Now the Future makes more sense. The Rap over Nitty will always get me because 9th wonder got beats, but Nitty has actual Bars and Energy, imo. Black keys getting tiring? damn. welp.
    I think Masta Ace did a great job of telling a story over beats artists really ignore, then again i don’t listen to a whole bunch of Doom, so most of it was “fresh” to me. Other than that, rest of the list was different which is always good in this industry. No Heems for me thank you.. peace

  44. Tyler
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 15:09:00

    Andrew Martin has the best taste in music ever.

  45. DesTroll
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 14:30:00


  46. Andrew Martin
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 13:56:00

    Nitty – Solid but not great.
    Skyzoo – See above.
    Future was a choice of one writer who we gave some leeway to.
    Black Keys are getting tiring.
    We love Heems.
    Masta Ace’s LP was aight but the recycled DOOM beats were frustrating.

  47. Molly Sweatin Me
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 13:50:00

    So Rapsody made it but Nitty Scott’s EP wasn’t good enough? Skyzoo’s album wasn’t good enough but Future’s album was? You Got MMG (Mellow Music Group) which is a refreshing thing to see. Glad to see Tame Impala, that Psychedelic stuff is greatness. No Black Keys – El Camino? Why is this dude Heems on there so much, am I missing something? No Masta Ace, Wordsworth, or Punchline.. No eMC at all. I like that Jessie Ware was on here too.

  48. Andrew Martin
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 13:39:00

    Only one I could argue for of those three is Glasper. I don’t play ‘Life Is Good’ at all anymore and Miguel kinda fell flat for me. Great singles, though.

  49. Gedi D.
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 13:26:00

    Robert Glasper, Nas and Miguel should’ve all been way higher than Oddisee (#9???) but seeing Tame Impala in the Top 6 makes me very happy. Lonerism is a funky album! Love the top three albums

  50. Felix Reichert
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:10:00

    I know they’re not very well known because they’re from New Zealand… but I just can’t take a list without the self-titled Homebrew LP in the Top 10 (if not on first place) seriously. Best Hip Hop album in years.

    Other notable (English) Hip Hop LPs not from the North America:
    Jack Flash & Wizard – Progression.
    Verb T – The Morning Process.
    Illy – Bring It Back.
    Edward Scissortongue – Better.Luck.Next.Life.
    Urthboy – Smokey’s Haunt.
    Mystro – Mystrogen.
    FS & HG – Paid To Lst£n.

  51. Rich Kraetsch
    Dec 19, 2012 @ 12:06:00

    Spotify Users, I may a playlist with all available albums: Potholes In My Blog Top 50 – 2012 (http://open.spotify.com/user/richkraetsch/playlist/5GtHYD5GrZyy3geQwapBt3)

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