Eight Hip-Hop Projects You May (Or May Not) Have Heard

Posted: December 24, 2012 in Blog, Dyscyplynary Action, Hip-Hop
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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In the world of Hip-Hop, 2012 has brought a vast array of eclectic and cohesive projects that will receive continuous spins for years to come. Amidst fanfare of current releases from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Nas, and Rick Ross, a slew of equally impressive albums had made waves through quality though not as much recognition. Here I present eight various albums and mixtapes that produced a body of work capable of even outshining most of the major releases of this year. A lot of these works have been often overlooked (or downright ignored when they shouldn’t) and require a listen or two…or three. Merry Christmas y’all.

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1. Chance The Rapper – 10 Day

During the influx of Chicago Drill music making its way into the airwaves with Chief Keef, Lil Durk, and King L, there were other artists that went an alternative route in the Windy City. In come 19-year-old Chance The Rapper and his stellar debut mixtape 10 Day. The name and concept was inspired by a 10-day high school suspension when he took the time to record the project a year after it. Chance had a platform to showcase his sing-song flow and versatility in a fun way over eclectic production.  With heartfelt picks like “Nostalgia”, “Family”, and “Long Time”, and the brilliant “Brain Cells”, 10 Day would have you coming back for more.

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2. Starlito – Mental WARfare

How long people are going to be sleeping on Starlito? A rapper’s rapper in his own right, the man formerly of Cash Money didn’t let previous label issues faze him. Throughout the years he has build an incredible rate of consistency with his mixtapes such as Renaissance Gangster, Starlito’s Way 3, and @ War With Myself. After releasing my personal favorite mixtape in 2011 with Don Trip in Step Brothers, he drops the second of three four mixtapes of this year with Mental WARfare. Initially with this release, he had it for purchase for a whopping $100 as a way to use that money for scholarships. It’s a pretty genius idea that also came with the quality music on this project.

Let me say this again: Starlito is one of the most overlooked rappers today and it’s a shame as his talent outshines 90% of what’s out now. From wordplay, storytelling, and introspection, Starlito has all the makings of being a major fixture in the genre. With the radio-ready “WTF”, and the soulful “Nortriptyline”, Star has more than enough in his tank to keep going and grind hard.

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3. King Mez – My Everlasting Zeal

Raleigh’s King Mez has made a name for himself working with 9th Wonder and Khrysis as he gained a following before releasing his debut full-length My Everlasting Zeal in June. Lyrically excellent with production provided by Soundtrakk, J. Cole, and Prolyfic, Mez delivered on the hype. The sound itself is euphoric with live instrumentation with city tales (“The Diadem” and “About Me”) and the chilling story of a misguided girl (“The Queen”). This is one of the names worth checking out for years to come.

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4. Lil Ugly Mane – Mista Thug Isolation

Yeah I know, you’re thinking “Why is Chris putting a project on a best-of list from an artist named Lil Ugly Mane”? The Richmond, Virginia resident brings a style of dark, drugged-up, syrupy rap that was that was made very popular in 1990s Memphis. With Mista Thug Isolation, a project produced entirely by Shawn Kemp (not to be confused with the basketball player of the same name), Ugly Mane takes his screwed, lower-pitched voice and has it amplified over the sonic horns and pulsating bass.  Whether it will be living life in the face of adversity (“Breezem Out”), pimping out women (“Slick Rick”), or serenading them (“Mona Lisa Overdrive”), Lil Ugly Mane finds ways to make a nostalgic genre of rap sound refreshing.

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5. Lil Reese – Don’t Like

As Chief Keef begins to make his rounds going with his major-label debut Finally Rich, fellow G.B.E. cohort and Def Jam-signee Lil Reese is carving out his name in the Drill scene. With DJ Drama and Don Cannon hosting and production handled only by Young Chop, Don’t Like is a 40-minute wrecking ball of energy. Much like Keef’s heralded Back From The Dead mixtape, things are kept terse and straight to the point in its intensity. Reese also shows that he can be able to hold his own here, having one of the popular songs in Chicago right now with “US”, which prompted Rick Ross and Drake to add their own spin to it. Chief Keef makes an appearance including the title track that’s been circulated on multiple mixtapes and albums now (“I Don’t Like”). This stands as one of the more impressive releases this year and intrigued on seeing how further Reese will go.

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6. Two-9 – #Two9Forever

I spoke on the Atlanta collective not too long ago and how they could be the next names to check out for in 2013. With #Two9Forever, it is a quality sample of what’s to come for Key!, Curtis Williams, Retro Su$h!, and the gang.  There’s a strong bulk a good selections here on the 22-track tape, filled with sparse, drippy 808s, and a pseudo-nostalgic sound very similar to that of Raider Klan sonically. The catchy “Scottie 2 Hottie” is their most recognizable track, with each member displaying different styles within the project. Out of all of the compilation projects that have been out this year, this is one of the better ones.

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7. Don Trip – Help Is On The Way

I could have sworn this was supposed to be Trip’s debut album for Interscope Records. The way he hyped it up over the years, it looked like it was going to be the starter. However he unable to capitalized on the single “Letter To My Son” and since then I wondered if he was ever going to drop anything. Then out of nowhere on Halloween, his highly anticipated Help Is On The Way dropped and judging from the quality in production and songwriting, this should have been for $10. The Memphis rhymer is known for his heartfelt memoirs and here he sounds as focus as he did on the earlier Guerilla project from this year. With features from Danny Brown, Starlito, Jeremih, and Juicy J, this mixtape comes forth in serious fashion as Don continues to tackle internal conflict with a cold heart.

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8. Iamsu! – KILT/$uzy 6 $peed

Richmond, California native and HBK Gang’s Iamsu! broke through being featured on LoveRance’s “Up” and the remix to E-40’s “Function”, and he added to his very productive 2012 releasing three mixtapes (two solo) and continuing his education. Of the three great mixtapes, KILT may just be the loosest and most exuberant of them. $uzy 6 $peed is the most accessible and likely to attract a wider audience with tighter production and radio-ready smashers like “Gone”. Both display a vibrant Bay Area sound that channels the spirit of Mac Dre and quality party anthems. Oh and Su! is really good with making beats as part of a production crew known as The Invasion. With both of these stellar solo mixtapes at his disposal, Iamsu! is looking to make even more waves come 2013.

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