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