Rapper Kendrick Lamar solidified his place in the hip-hop game with his album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” in 2012.
Much has changed in the music business in the past 10 years.
Back then, R. Kelly still held his place on the throne of R&B.
And Frank Ocean still put out music on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, some things have not changed much at all since 2012.
Kendrick Lamar is still at the top of the rap game.
Bruno Mars is still carrying the male R&B torch.
Kanye West is still a musical genius.
And Rick Ross is still the boss.
So, to celebrate geniuses, bosses and great urban music, RegalMag.com celebrates the 10 best albums of 2012.
Check it out!
- “Blak and Blu” by Gary Clark Jr.—If underrated was a person it would be Gary Clark Jr. If throwback was a person, it would be Clark. His style is reminiscent of Black bluesmen and Black rockers of previous generations. Songs like “When My Train Pulls In” and “Bright Lights” show some of the best guitar skills on record in years. But his skills also compare favorably to non-Black artists too like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robin Trower and The Rolling Stones.
- “R.A.P. Music” by Killer Mike—When Killer Mike hit the mainstream rap scene, he had one of the biggest cosigns of all time. He had the legends from Outkast in his corner and he soon took the baton of Atlanta and kept the torch burning for the ATL. On “R.A.P. Music,” Killer Mike had features from Bun B, T.I. and Scar. Standouts on the project include the tragic “Reagan” and the title track. The entire project was indeed “southern fried” to borrow from a classic track from the album.
- “God Forgives, I Don’t” by Rick Ross—It might have been impossible for “God Forgives, I Don’t” to not be fire. “Rozay” was on top of his game in 2012. Additionally, the album contains features from some of the most iconic rappers in history like Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Andre 3000 and Meek Mill. Rick Ross also had some R&B heavyweights on the project like Usher, Omarion and Ne-Yo. The best track on the album is “Diced Pineapples” featuring Wale and Drake.
- “Write Me Back” by R. Kelly—Say what you want about R. Kelly’s sins, but no one can deny his musical genius as the king of R&B. In 2010, “Kellz” hit paydirt with a 1960s-inspired throwback, concept album. Following in the footsteps of that 2010 album entitled “Love Letter,” he dropped a 1970s-inspired sequel in 2012 called “Write Me Back.” Ten years later, “Feelin’ Single,” “When a Man Lies” and “Share My Love” are still bops. Despite the controversy surrounding his sex crimes, it is safe to say that some future artist will one day make 1990s and early 2000s R&B concept albums, inspired by the crooner from Chicago.
- “Kanye West Presents Good Music—Cruel Summer” by Various Artists—Kanye West has had his Goliaths to fight throughout his legendary career. But making hit music and blowing up his artists is not something that the brother has struggled with. West brought the music game artists like John Legend, Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Teyana Taylor and Pusha T as a solo artist. So it made sense to release a Good Music (West’s record label) compilation. “Cruel Summer” featured the anthemic track “Clique” with Jay-Z and Big Sean.
- “Channel Orange” by Frank Ocean—An artist has the goods when his debut album boasts features from superstars like Andre 3000 and John Mayer. Ocean released five singles from “Channel Orange” such as “Thinkin Bout You,” “Pyramids,” “Sweet Life,” “Lost” and “Super Rich Kids.” But some of the songs not released as singles jam too like “Sweet Life, “Crack Rock” and “Forrest Gump.”
- “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys—Sure, everyone remembers the women’s anthem of a title track from the “Girl on Fire” album. But many people really got there hopes up when Keys dropped the single “Fire We Make” with Maxwell. The song was epic as to be expected. But rumors started to fly after that track steamed up bedrooms that Keys and Maxwell would make a duet album shortly thereafter. Like planned Maxwell albums, that duet album has yet to materialize 10 years after the fact. Regardless, the album gave fans more gems like “Brand New Me,” “New Day” and “Tears Always Win.”
- “Unorthodox Jukebox” by Bruno Mars—Although “Unorthodox Jukebox” was Bruno Mars’ sophomore album, the legend fans know now was birthed on this second album from 2012. Like R. Kelly, Mars has a way of bringing the R&B sounds of yesterday into modern times, while still sounding fresh. His first album “Doo-Wops and Hooligans” released in 2010 was solid. But when Mars released songs like “Gorilla,” “Treasure,” “Locked Out of Heaven” and “When I Was Your Man,” a new megastar was born. His stardom has only continued to grow with “24K Magic” and the supergroup, Silk Sonic.
- “Kaleidoscope Dream” by Miguel—Critics often say that R&B is dead, especially real R&B from soulful crooners. But last decade, Miguel held it down for the men who were equally good as singers, producers and/or songwriters. “Adorn” is one of the silkiest singles of the past 10 years and still jams today. The song went to the next level thanks to a remix featuring rapper Wiz Khalifa. However, Miguel made sure that the album was not just a one trick pony or one-hit wonder. He scored with his next two singles as well, “Do You…” and “How Many Drinks?”
- “good kid, m.A.A.d city” by Kendrick Lamar—The buzz surrounding Kendrick Lamar before he dropped “good kid, m.A.A.d city” rivaled that of Drake before he released “Thank Me Later” in 2010. This album made K-Dot a legend in the rap game, and he has since solidified his place as of the greatest emcees ever. Kendrick is fire because he cares little about trends or making radio friendly songs. However, on this album, he did succumb to the pressure of making songs for the radio like “Poetic Justice” with Drake, “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” But even with the crossover effort, he stayed true to self, a signature quality of his albums.