So its that time of year, when all the blogs make a mad scramble to compile top lists of everything that happened over the past year. Our contribution to the fray is less of a scramble on our part; we took a few days to scroll through all the posts of the year, look through all the CD’s dragged home from shows and tried to come up with a list the reflected the diversity and talent of Boston Hip-Hop. Our top 20 Boston Hip-Hop Albums of 2012 List was based on a few main criteria To even make it to the list, you had to be a Boston (not Cambridge, not Lawrence, not Brockton) artist – even though there is incredible talent from the Metro-Boston region and New England in general. But this is not that list.
We tried to consider several factors in terms of what made our “best” albums. The artists had to be local and have some sort of presence on the scene, but we still left space for new blood.
It all came down to the overall quality of the project, musicianship and lyricism. Lists and rankings like this are totally subjective and we know this list would be different for everyone who tried to make one, so we hope that people who disagree with us will, rather than get all bent out of shape over who ended up where, instead take the time to check out a different slice of the scene than you may already be acquainted with. If you still really think our list sucks, please leave a comment, make your own list, send us a link and keep the conversation going.
After spending days listening to the Hip-Hop that came out of Boston in 2012, we have a new appreciation for the diverse array of talent this city has to offer and hope that as a scene we can come together and show more support for the kind of music and artists we want to represent the bean. Boston Hip-Hop is what we make it. With that: Boston Hip-Hop 2012 – The Year in Review – Top 25 Albums.
#25 – Bigg Dee ‘#TOTB: This Is Only The Beginning…’
The Sophomore Release of Boston Based Rapper Bigg Dee. This Mixtape Includes Features Maye Star, REEM, D-Note and B.
#24 Lee Boy – Magic
Life 4 Life Artist Lee Boy released his project “Magic” this year which features Smoke Bulga, Masspike Miles, Millyz & the whole Life4Life/ Dukati Gang team. R.I.P Roc Dukati.
#23 Natural – 20 Somethin
Natural was busy in 2012, hitting a lot of shows and events and dropping his 2nd tape and debut album ’20 Something’. Features from Dutch Rebelle and the Famous Nobodies. #12for12.
#22 Avenue – Words Speak Life
Avenue’s Words Speak Life came out this fall (co-release with Natural’s 20 Something) and featured Newside Zeak, Cap Mazarati, Intl Show, Deon Chase and Tania. Production by HiFadility. #12for12.
#21 Lou Armstrong – Certified Hood Star
Let’s face it Lou can put out an album and take over worldstar every year without breaking a sweat – Certified Hood Star was 2012. Features from French Montanta, Alexx Fatt, Max B, Mike Beck, Ryan K., Cyrus Deshield, Young World, Carmen, Blanco and Crookz the Paper. Production by Statik Selektah, J. Cardim, BSM, Antagonist, Iroc Z and Ballistic Beats.
#20 Bakari JB – Skinny EP
You might know him from tearing down local stages with his crew X-Rated but the ‘Skinny EP’ is his first solo project. Who says lyricism is dead?
#19 City Slickers – A.D.I.D.A.S
The City Slickers mixtape from this year A.D.I.D.A.S. – All Day I Dream About Success is a mix of oriignal joints and freestlyes. Not to be missed is “Modification” ft. S. Dot.
#18 Alias & Fakts One – Second Chances
Man Fakts comes with some shit every now and then! Alias and Producer / DJ Fakts One team up for ‘Second Chances’ . Not to be missed is “dreamer”
#17 BeWyze x Good Gatsby – The Public Policy EP
Dope collab project from two up and coming Boston MC’s BeWyze and Good Gatsby.
#16 J The S – The Last Days
J the S gotta be one of the coolest chillest MC’s out here. His projet this year, The Last Days, saw features from The Kickdrums, Styles P., P-Dub,Harlem, Pill, Franco Anthony, Greater Good, A N E, Janet Onyenucheya, Emilio Rojas and L Michelle with production from he Kickdrums, J. Cardim, Nelly’s Protoolz, Goodwill & MGI, Franco Anthony, M-Phazes and the artist himself, with additional vocals, cuts and instrumentation by Lion’s Share, DJ Special Blend, Alex Bodnar and Netousha Monroe
#15 Riznut & Chilla Jones – High Def
Riznut and Chilla Jones linked up for a 17 track, full collab project ‘Hi Def’ showcasing both MC’s. For cats who might only know Chilla from his battles remember this guy had tracks first and still does.
#14 Rey Leon – The Pledge LP
U.S. Army Infantry Veteran and Conscious MC Rey Leon dropped his long awaited (2 tours) ‘The Pledge’ LP features include Apollo, J.C.I.T.Y., Midie, Spenda, Mike Anthonii, B&B and Damilleo Stacks.
#13 The Knowbodies – Sci-Non-Fi Vol. 2 “Reality Music”
The KnowBodies Crew and their fam of artists like Cassius have been making a lot of moves this year including the release of Sci-Non-Fi Vol. 2 – Reality Music. Features from Cassius the 5th, Madame Cruz, Jamille Malik and Kidd Fr3$h.
#12 Phinelia – Manteca
Phinelia is one of the most prolific artists out here and this year dropped his album, Manteca and a mixtape Heroina.
#11 MeTaL – What Should I Call This Mix Tape?
MeTaL’s debut EP ‘What Should I Call This Mixtape’ is dope project in its own right and captures the mix of integrity, levity and lyricism that MeTaL brings to the scene.
#10 Cassius the 5th – Diamond in the Dirt Mixtape Vol. 1
Cassius’ first mixtape is a raw display of lyricism and gets back to the roots of hip-hop reflecting the community it springs from. ‘Diamond in the Dirt Vol. 1’ features DQuest and her comrades in arms the KnowBodies and Madame Cruz.
#9 Black El x Durkin – The Collage EP
Black El and Durkin’s ‘The Collage EP’ is another example of a project built off that creative collaboration between one MC and one producer. #12for12
#8 Moe Pope – Stampeding Elephants
Moe Pope dropped ‘Stampeding Elephants‘ this year which has features from Dua of the Bad Rabbits, Fran P, Slaine, Anonymous, Blacastan, and Mark Merren. Production comes from (Quills) partner in crime Rain, The Arcitype, B. Lewis, VictorRadz and Blockhead. #12for12
#7 Fame or Juliet – Dreams of Reality
Watch out, even though Fame or Juliet are relatively new on the scene, they are making a lot of moves and putting out really solid music like their ‘Dreams of Reality‘ project.
#6 Sir Locksley – Greening
Sir Locksly’s name is on the cover – but through and through this is a Jungle Club project and product of that trifecta of Locksly on the mic and Kae Tea JC Howell on the boards and beats. Locksly has also been working double time on original music with Jungle Club and making moves in the battle world.
#5 Charmingly Ghetto – Scotland Yahd EP
Boston’s own Charmingly Ghetto has been getting a lot of buzz and well deserved attention especially from his latest collab project where teamed up with UK producer Cypria for a 7 track EP: ‘Scotland Yahd‘.
#4 O.T.O x Primo Profit – Herb And Turf
Something for the smokers. Drawing its title from that delectable combo, ‘Herb & Turf’ is a collaborative album by Prime Sus vet O.T.O and Money Mobb’s young gun Primo Profit.
#3 Dutch Rebelle – Married To The Music
2012 has been a big year for Dutch – she signed with Amalgam, has been all over the place doing shows and events and she put out her ‘Married to the Music’ album and accompanying visuals receiving widespread support and acclaim. About time, get em Dutch!
#2 Boycott Blues – Imerican Boy: The Hungrrr Games Volume 1
Our number two slot has to go to Boycott for his ‘iMerican Boy: The Hungrrr Games Volume 1‘, who definitly is one of the Boston’s slept-on talents. Dope project. Features from Reks, Lucky Dice, EdOG, Beantown Bricks and EzDred.
#1 – Retrospek – Sleepwalkers Remedy
The best Boston Hip-Hop album of the year without a doubt has to be Retrospek’s ‘Sleepwalkers Remedy‘. Retro’s third release and first full length LP shows the development and diversity of the groups unique sound.
Also in 2012
We have to salute cats like Chilla Jones, Sir Locksly and Moroney for putting Boston on the battle map in 2012, representing the city around the region and nationally while also working on original recorded music.
Boston is not necessarily known for a having a lot of producers but there are some incredibly talented and hard working beat smiths putting out material. In 2012 Lightfoot (working out of the Bridge Sound & Stage / AR Classics) put out two dope projects, The Rudimentals and Tree of Light. We also have to talk about the CCR / Scope Fam EvillDewer who put out three really strong and well received beat tapes this year, CrownChakraRocka [ Sahasrara Adri ], RAP \ ‡§H and Soul De Rey 2.
Our list was Boston only and we took a city-limits definition. If mumbles is not your mayor, if the BPD are not your pigs, you did not make it. This eliminated a lot of artists from the metro-Boston region who put out some great projects this year.
From across the bridge, we got NBS who put out ‘The Dispensary‘ this year, Key Fiya’s ‘Charles Rivers ExPerience‘ and Millyz with ‘Contagious Lifestyle 2.0‘. From Brockton we gotta bring up Notoriety who dropped their dope project ‘Road Trippin’, Kool-Aid Sippin’, Chicken, Beef Patties, And Herb‘ at the beginning of the year and Paranom’s ‘Five Seasons‘.
25 is just too small to cover everything that happened this year, like the homie AMB’s 12th and 13th albums, the new Al-J, M Dot ‘s ‘Layer Cake‘ and a lot from up and coming cats and crews like the The Chef Boys, High Key Random and his crew High Key Nation, Magno Garcia, KBC fam Kidd Fr3$h and so many more.
We hope you enjoyed our review of Boston Hip-hop in 2012, even if you might not agree with our choices. If you think there’s 25 better albums or a better arrangement we’d love to hear from you, see your list and keep the conversation going. In a city this small its a damn shame that as a scene we don’t come together to appreciate what other cats are doing more often. We might be pleasantly surprised.