Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
In 2012, R&B crooned underwater, metal went not-metal, and hip-hop fell into a K-hole, and these were just a few of the ways to make a big bang this year. Here’s SPIN’s favorite 50 albums — from the biggest-selling pop sensation (and pizza ad) of the year to anonymous Afro-psych from the wintry expanses of rural Sweden; from ground-breaking hip-hop IMAX cinema to garage-punk gnashing still being recorded by Steve Albini. Most critics’ taste levels ain’t at our waist level. Ain’t nobody fucking with our clique.