Mixtapes have always been essential to music, especially in Hip-Hop and 2012 proved no different. Mixtape’s are a valuable way for an artist, established or upcoming, to get music out into the public sphere without having to go through record label executives first. This often means a mixtape has a sound truer to the artist, and allows for a lot more creative control. Anyway, peep Museum Lunch and Snooze’s favourite 10 mixtapes of the year!
Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2
After gaining a huge buzz off the first Dreamchasers mixtape and the “Ima Boss” single, Meek was almost ready to drop his first album. He just needed that extra push, and Dreamchasers 2 acted as that platform. It spawned the hit singles “Amen” featuring Drake and “Burn”, which had a standout performance from Big Sean, both of which garnered enough attention to chart on Billboard and earn a spot on the Dreams And Nightmares album tracklist.
Here’s our pick from Dreamchasers 2: Meek Mill – Burn (ft. Big Sean)
Jeremih – Late Nights
Jeremih is known mostly outside of the urban scene as a one hit wonder. Ok maybe two hits, with the success of 2009’s “Birthday Sex” and 2010’s “Down On Me”, but Jeremih never seemed to be an artist that could wow audiences with a whole body of work. With his third album suffering delays still to this day, Jeremih took it into his own hands to give his fans new music, and did so with the help of mixtape king DJ Drama. Late Nights proved that Jeremih wasn’t just another random pop artist, and actually turned out to be a creative and individual take on R&B. This mixtape was definitely bedroom music, epitomized with the track “Fuck U All The Time”, which became an underground hit, spawning numerous remixes, in particular one by Shlomo.
Here’s our pick from Late Nights: Jeremih – Ladies (ft. Twista & AK)
Gardna – Doin’ It Dutty
Dont get it twisted; Gardna’s inclusion on this list isn’t just because he’s a featured artist at #MuLa. His Doin’ It Dutty mixtape was an introspective and mellow insight into life in the South West, and simultaneously provided hope that conscious hip-hop is still alive in the UK (especially outside of London). It provided a hopeful and bright look into life as a young person in Britain and should genuinely be admired. If you haven’t heard it, do so here. Don’t be surprised so see Gardna doing things even duttier in 2013.
Here’s our pick from Doin’ It Dutty: Gardna – Around And Around (ft. Sam Evans)
Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allerdice
Wiz became a bit of a target in the hip-hop community after his major debut album Rolling Papers was extremely pop-orientated and he impregnated Kanye West’s stripper ex-girlfriend. However, on Taylor Allerdice he returned to his roots (quite literally; the mixtapes name is also the name of his school), and the underground weed music returned. His unorthodox flow blessed the mixtapes trippy beats, provided mostly by in-house Taylor Gang affiliated producers, such as Sledgren, and the old Wiz that fans fell in love with returned. This is a prime example of artists releasing “proper” music on mixtapes.
Here’s our pick from Taylor Allerdice: Wiz Khalifa – The Cruise
Childish Gambino – Royalty
Childish Gambino has faced a lot of criticism in his short career. Real name Donald Glover, Gambino is already an established actor, with appearances on US show Community. When he revealed he was an aspiring rapper many peoples initial reactions were similar to Community’s Senor Chang; HA! Gaaaayyyy. But if his first major release Camp last year didn’t prove his worth as an artist, this certainly will. Laden with features (unlike previous releases), Royalty signifies Gambino’s induction and acceptance into hip-hop.
Here’s our pick from Royalty: Childish Gambino – Toxic (ft. Danny Brown)
Busta Rhymes – Year Of The Dragon
Although technically a “free album”, it had no cost and that warrants it as a mixtape in my eyes. Many an eyebrow was raised when veteran Busta Rhymes announced his signing with Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint. An elder and established rapper aligning himself with a younger and arguably lesser one? Strange. Also, with Busta doing a feature for just about anybody these days (eg Cher Lloyd) his credibility has been raised into question. However, on Year Of The Dragon he proved he still has that aggressive, no-bullshit flow and I was pleasantly surprised by how good this was. Fair play old man, you’ve still got it.
Here’s our pick from Year Of The Dragon: Busta Rhymes – King Tut (ft. Reek The Villian & J-Doe)
Miguel – Art Dealer Chic
Miguel is an R&B artist that completely fell under the radar and was completely forgettable. The Art Dealer Chic trilogy changed that mindset entirely. A mature and incredible take on R&B, the series propelled Miguel to prominence, and his sleeping giant of a song “Adorn” slowly blew up in the mainstream (I still cant believe it took 8 months to do so). A lot of the songs made it onto his album so that shows you the quality that was involved. Strangely, whenever I try to put anybody on to this guys they seem unwilling to listen… I was right about The Weeknd, I’m certain I’m right about Miguel.
Here’s our pick from Art Dealer Chic: Miguel – Adorn
Wretch 32 – Wretchercise
What a hell of a couple of years it’s been for the UK wordsmith. Several top 10 songs, a top 5 album and an internation nod, winning BET’s best international act award. As a show of thanks to his fans for getting him in that position, Wretch released this mixtape doing what he does best; witty and introspective lyrics over playful beats. Featuring performances from top UK MC’s Kano, Scorcher, Chip & Sneakbo, Wretch solidified his place as king of the UK Hip-Hop scene.
Here’s our pick from Wretchercise: Wretch 32 – Beat It Up (ft. Scorcher)
Big Sean – Detroit
After a huge amount of success (and hate) solo and with his G.O.O.D. Music comrades, Big Sean has established himself as an A-Lister in the rap game. He silenced his haters on the very strong Detroit mixtape, an ode to his hometown, which has a darker and more mature sound to his previous efforts. From trap bangers to a Bloc Party sampling song, Sean Don shines on every beat. Despite the change in sound, fans need not worry as his cartoonish flow and trademark adlibs are still in abundance. Swerve!
Here’s our pick from Detroit: Big Sean – Higher
Rick Ross – Rich Forever
Despite delays to his album, Rick Ross solidified his position as Bawse of the rap game way back in January. The fact it was released so long ago and still wins the number one position is credit to how good this actually was. His admirable work rate paid off, and this was full of so much quality it could of been an album (and a good one at that). Featuring massive artists such as Drake, Nas and John Legend, Ross reassured all fans he was still top of his game; each song is brilliant, whether it be a tale of grandeur or a trap braggadocio banger, his lyrics perfectly complimenting his great ear for beats. Even though Officer Ricky’s past is a little questionable, his rhymes are not. Sometimes when I listen to this I believe I’m a drug dealer… And that’s a credit to his story telling ability
Here’s our pick from Rich Forever: Rick Ross – Rich Forever (ft. John Legend)
10: Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2
9: Jeremih- Late Nights
8: Gardna – Doin’ It Dutty
7: Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allerdice
6: Childish Gambino – Royalty
5: Busta Rhymes – Year Of The Dragon
4: Miguel – Art Dealer Chic
3: Wretch 32 – Wretchercise
2: Big Sean – Detroit
1: Rick Ross – Rich Forever