Blueprint’s Five Favorite Albums of 2012

After doing several posts this past year titled The Last Five Albums I Bought, it’s only right that I list my five favorite albums of 2012.  To be honest, it’s really difficult for me to rank any of these albums above the others.  That seems a bit unfair when I consider how much I like them all.  So what I will say is that these are the albums that I remember playing the most in 2012.

So here it goes…

#5. Large Professor “Professor at Large”

To say this album came out of nowhere would be an understatement. I had no idea it was coming out but, to be completely honest, I’m not sure if it would’ve made any difference since I hadn’t been really moved by anything that the Large Professor had released since Breaking Atoms.  I had pretty much written Extra P off, content with listening to Breaking Atoms and never checking for any more of his newer material.  That all changed when I stumbled upon the song “Light Years” on youtube.  It sounded like he was finally making the album that I had been waiting on him to make for years.  I copped it immediately and played it a lot.  It’s a conventional hip-hop record that isn’t progressive at all, but that simplicity is its best asset.  Professor at Large is unapologetically oldschool and dope.

#4. KA “Grief Pedigree

There was a three or four week period of 2012 where I listened to “Grief Pedigree” by Ka at least every other day.  It’s a dark, menacing, poetic album.  It doesn’t have a single or anything that tries to be accessible, but it’s honesty is it’s appeal.  This is what New York hip-hop is supposed to sound like.

#3. O.C. & Apollo Brown “Trophies”

Can’t say enough about this album. I wrote a piece titled The Return of an Inspiration: O.C. earlier this year about O.C. and Trophies when it was released, so I won’t go into too much detail here. I will say that it’s been really inspiring to see so many of the veterans I grew up listening to release albums that brought them back to top form in 2012.  I played the hell out of Trophies all year.

#2. Robert Glasper “Black Radio”

I remember watching a youtube promo video for this before Black Radio’s release and not being too impressed.  The music didn’t really hit me at that time.  Although the line-up of hip-hop artists (Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, etc.) appearing on Black Radio was impressive, I guess I just wasn’t checking for new jazz artists.  Then one weekend I was burnt out on Hip-Hop, tired of all my R&B, and not in the mood for Rock.  This rare state of mind sent me right back to where I was almost a year prior–Robert Glasper’s Black Radio album.  I’ve played this record so much that sometimes I feel like I have to take it out just so I won’t get tired of it…then I turn it back on and listen to it again.  It’s one of those records with so much depth that you can discover small things every time you listen to it.  One of the most interesting part of this record is just how well the covers of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Sade’s “Cherish The Day” work.  I’ve always kind of hated contemporary jazz covers, but Robert Glasper takes each cover and owns it.

#1. Frank Ocean “Channel Orange”

There’s so much I could write about this album, but I’ll try to keep it short.  What most music lacks nowadays is a firm understanding of subtlety.  Artists feel that, to get most attention, they have to scream the loudest or act the craziest.  Producers feel like every beat they make has to feel epic.  However, Frank Ocean has a genius understanding of how subtlety is an art in itself.  He never over-sings anything. His production never tries to sound epic.  His lyrics are never cliche, nor do they attempt to shock you into paying attention.  His vocals aren’t clouded with effects or complicated harmonies. Everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be, exactly when it’s supposed to be there.  So much so that if you’re looking for over-the-top theatrics you might miss the beauty of this album. But once you hear it, you can’t unhear it, and you’re forced to appreciate the degree of difficulty in what Frank Ocean created with Channel Orange.  Probably the best R&B album I’ve heard since Voodoo by D’Angelo.

Word is Blog

p.s. Feel free to list yours below.  I’m always curious about what you guys are listening to.

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    • Alessandro

      Don’t have time to back my statement up but you should definitely check these out man:

      5. Squarepusher – Ufabulum
      4. Clare & The Reasons – KR-51
      3. Blu & Exile – Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them
      2. Giles Corey – Deconstructionist
      1. Aesop Rock – Skelethon

    • I would go with a top-four of Alabama Shakes, Frank Ocean, Killer Mike and Kendrick Lamar, but tough to call a fifth. I would have it between Big Boi, Lupe Fiasco and Cody Chesnutt.

    • Aesop rock – skeleton

      Atmosphere – life gives you lemons you paint that shit gold

      Edward sissortounge- better luck next time

      Fliptrix – interdementional piff highway

      DEEJ – hits from the 70s

      Image – poisoned philosophy

      Figarate – misery guts

    • What did you think about Kendrick Lamar’s album? It’s hard to find a top albums of 2012 list without Good Kid, maaad city on it

    • printmatic

      I thought it was a great album, but I had a hard time putting it on my list because although technically i think it’s great I didn’t play it as much as any of the top five I listed. Could be because it came out later in the year. It’s a great album though.

    • printmatic

      I’m kicking myself for not owning that Killer Mike album. I like everything I’ve heard off of it but keep forgetting to pick it up. Gonna scoop it this week

    • printmatic

      I like your list. I would’ve listed that Aesop Rock album but I felt like listing anything on Rhymesayers might have made me look a little too biased, ha! But he kills it on Skelethon.

    • printmatic

      thanks for the comment man. you listed a few joints i haven’t heard of and need to check out. good lookin out

    • Oh that Ka record most definitely! Funny how the stuff you said about the Frank Ocean record could easily have been my description of what Ka is trying to do(and totally succeeds in doing) with Grief Pedigree. With the subtlelty and thoughtful arrangement of everything.

      Apart from that album I’d say Homeboy Sandman’s new one(First Of A Living Breed) definitely won my heart over as far as lyricism goes. The new(old) Blu & Exile also has a few very nice songs on it, very tasty production.

    • selfischarles

      anx good kid mad city skelethon out of what I heard this year. I need to hear that frank ocean been lazy about hearing it that and the ka record. the song with him and roc Marciano is really good

    • printmatic

      I agree completely about the similarities between Ka and Frank Ocean!

      I gotta get that Homeboy Sandman album. I’ve really liked all the singles I heard from it so far.

    • 1. Kendrick – good kid mAAd city

      2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

      3. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

      4. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

      5. Oddisee – People Hear What They See

    • Stefan

      Apart from your record “Adventures in cc” these were my top five of 2012

      Chords – Looped state of mind
      Just listen to it, there is no words to express how good it is.

      Daniel Adams-Ray – Svart, vitt och allt däremellan
      For me this record represents Sweden, listened to it a lot while being abroad for a year and still do.

      Movits! – Ut ut min skalle
      Jazzy hip-hop in Swedish, what can go wrong?

      Looptroop (Have changed their name to “Looptroop rockers”) – The struggle continues
      Old school and awesome.

      Brother Ali – The undisputed truth
      The record that lead me to Rhymesayers, I always come back to it.

    • (in no particular order):

      1. Kendrick Lamar- good kid, m.a.a.d. city

      Haven’t been as impressed with a hip hop album like this one in a long time. don’t know when I last excitedly rushed to the store to buy an Aftermath album, either. hahaha

      2. Aesop Rock- Skelethon

      Honestly believe this is his best work, which is saying a lot for someone who’s put out so much stuff.

      3. Killer Mike- R.A.P. Music

      Ok, I lied on #1. The excitement I felt about Kendrick’s album was something I hadn’t felt since THIS album came out. But seriously, prior to THIS one, it had been a while. For real. They locked in on a great chemistry that gives a great lesson about the great results that can come out of an emcee/producer duo.

      4. El-P- Cancer4Cure

      It seems like he’s getting better and better at boiling his style down to a really concise and pure sound. Definitely on repeat.

      5. Fiona Apple- Idler Wheel

      Super raw, fragile and angry and brittle and intimidating all at once.

      6. Flying Lotus- Until the Quiet Comes
      Maybe a little bit of a letdown compared to the greatness of his catalog preceding this one, but I consider FlyLo to be one of the musical geniuses of today.

      7. Hiatus Kaiyote- Tawk Tomahawk

      I thought I discovered this band from New Zealand, but then later saw that Erykah Badu had actually seen their shit and given them quite the endorsement via Twitter. They’ve got a great sound and I think they’re going to get a lot bigger in the next year.

      Hey- not sure if you know about it, but Robert Glasper put out a remix EP of his album a couple months ago that is suuuuuuuper dope, with production from 9th Wonder, Pete Rock, Georgia Anne Muldrow, ?uestlove, and guest spots from Black Milk, Phonte, Erykah Badu, Solange Knowles, and more.

    • pb

      Quick note regarding the Robert Glasper Experiment: I saw them when they performed at the Lincoln Theater a couple months ago.

      * The very first song they performed was a cover of ‘Packt Like Sardines …’

      I immediately thought of you. It wasn’t the only Radiohead cover they did that night, but their choosing it as their opener – in Columbus – made me wonder if there’s a Printmatic fan in the band.

    • printmatic

      that’s dope! I saw they were playing in Columbus but was out of town that weekend. I’ve gotta catch them live soon.

    • pb

      Okay. Five “most spun,” if you will, albums of 2012, in my crib/earbuds:

      The Roots, ‘undun.’ Far from perfect, but even a year ago I knew it was worthy of a Grammy.

      Propaganda, ‘Excellent.’ Highly anticipated, and probably lives up to its title.

      Christian aTunde Adjuah (self-titled). Also highly anticipated, and very interesting.

      Stephen the Levite, ‘The Last Missionary.’ Yes, highly anticipated (’12 was a big year for album releases) sophomore lp. A well executed theme album.

      Timothy Brindle, ‘The Restoration.’ Ditto.

      (Also ‘Black Radio.’)

    • printmatic

      gotta get that Anx album. Really like Dark Time Sunshine.

    • Hiatis Kaiyote are from Australia

    • Sean Born
      Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson
      Chuuwee Wild Style
      S3
      Clear Soul Forces

    • printmatic

      outside of the roots, i gotta check out damn near everything on your list. so much music i haven’t heard yet

    • printmatic

      This post is making me realize just how much music i missed out on in 2012. So much catching up to do.

    • Blu and Exile-Give Me Flowers

      Batsauce and Qwazzar-Bat Meets Blaine

      Eligh-Therapy @ 3 (Nov. 2011-got all the play for 2012 tho)

      Fatal Lucciauno & Jake One-The Message

      Busdriver-Beaus$Eros

      Mixtape- Zion I x J. Period

      Aes Rock is a given like reading a top 100 list of guitarists with genuine curiosity even though you know #1 is Jimi Hendrix

    • dark time sunshine was a fresh face on my playlist that I thoroughly welcome now.they were with Aes Rock in Charlottesville,VA but some rain storm cancelled that East Coast show

    • Making my list I just had that moment when you go to list an album that is constantly on rotation realizing you forget that you’ve been on it for 3 years now and it’s only gotten better since first hearing it. times flies!

    • Skelethon was the only record I made an effort to purchase. 10/10