It’s hard to believe that 2012 is already ten years behind us, but time moves swiftly, especially when it comes to music and culture. Hip hop and rap can be a part of the industry that changes especially rapidly. Regardless, it’s always great to take a look back and see what was changing the game a decade ago.
Although there were plenty of incredible albums to come out in 2012, there were a few that stood out as some of the very best. While a few were highly memorable as albums on their own, some played their part in kicking off the careers of some of the most prolific artists still around today—Kendrick Lamar. Need I say more?
Everyone is likely to have their own school of thought on the best albums to emerge from any given year, but there are a few that remain consistent and have stood the test of time. Here are some of the best rap albums to come out of 2012.
The 5 best albums of 2012:
good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is one of the most incredible rappers to come along in recent memory, and his 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city is one of the early indicators of his artful and thoughtful style.
Especially after his Pulitzer win and his 2022 album Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, all eyes are on Kendrick Lamar, and for good reason. So it’s no surprise that looking back to 2012, one of his early efforts would serve as a standout.
Life Is Good – Nas
While Lamar was a budding talent in the making, Nas showed us the other side in 2012 by bringing his classic legend status to grace the world with yet another album.
Although it would certainly take a lot to top Illmatic, which I’m not sure Life Is Good exactly achieved, it can absolutely stand on its own two feet as an incredible work of music.
The Idea of Beautiful – Rapsody
You might automatically recognize the cover of this album because it was both everywhere and sort of under the radar at the same time. The Idea of Beautiful is one of Rapsody’s best albums according to many, and it’s her debut album.
Although she’s absolutely evolved and even developed her style with her more recent albums, The Idea of Beautiful stands the test of time as a masterpiece.
Skelethon – Aesop Rock
Skelethon is a very 2012 album, but that’s why it made it onto the list. Even if he isn’t on top of the rap game today, Aesop Rock was at the forefront of the alternative new-wave rap scene during the early 2010s.
Many people would consider Skelethon one of his best albums—if not the very best—and it definitely holds up. It’s cohesive, stylised, and it certainly knows what it is and has an identity.
Habits & Contradictions – Schoolboy Q
Schoolboy Q is, at least in my opinion, a little underrated, actually. And Habits & Contradictions is evidence that he deserves a little more love. He has such a unique style and intensity that’s always been there.
What’s more, a lot of this album holds up even after ten years, like any great rap album should. The artistic elements and flow are timeless, and ahead of their time all at once.