Not sure what happened here, folks, but I really wandered into my own world this second half of the year! No radio hits unless Chinx Drugz and French Montana’s hyper-regional hit “I’m a Coke Boy” counts. And despite my old-fashioned rule of not allowing anyone to show up twice, two cult rap acts make multiple appearances: Alchemist sneaked through with two beats, and Gunplay makes two appearances, one on 601 & Snort‘s tight-lipped closer from “Bible on the Dash,” and then, crooning like a goof on a Miami Sound Machine-esque Trina cut that went nowhere. For some perspective, the list at mid-year included 2 Chainz four times. I’ll try to get out of my head for the New Year. But yeah, combine these two lists and you get a “Top 100 Mostly Rap Songs of 2012” list that I stand by, nonetheless.
8Ball “Lucky’s Theme”
Memphis hero raps the treatment for his directorial debut, hopefully.
100s “My Activator”
Evil pimp-rap dignified by a Hollywood Shuffle sample and Boards of Canada-like beat.
Action Bronson & the Alchemist “Sylvester Lundgren”
Ghostface-sounding jabroni’s Black Moon impression.
The Alchemist, feat. Mr. MFN eXquire “The Kosmos pt. 7 – The Explanation”
Like a lost Jack Kirby comic left in Stan the Man’s drawer, rapped into reality.
Antwon “Sittin’ in Hell”
Self-loathing sex raps over a stammering soul beat from Big Baby Ghandhi.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Mature Themes”
Nice Jewish boy Ah-REE-ehl bemoans his age and height and all-encompassing ickiness.
Big Sant, feat. King Mez, Tito Lopez, and Phonte “Rap Nigga”
Great rap song. Terrible testament to the South’s skillz. Just ignore the trolls, you four.
B L A C K I E “Everybody Knows (When We Get Together)”
Utopian piano-punk noise rap. Fuck with it.
Cat Power “Manhattan”
Best sad-pop slow jam from an entire album of “Cross Bones Style”s.
Chinx Drugz, feat. French Montana “I’m a Coke Boy”
Shouts to the prick teens I saw singing this on the way to school one morning.
Cities Aviv “Escorts”
Sick-duck rap dickhead track about boppers, while a quiet-storm soulster gasps for air.
Dice Raw “Tea Party”
Remember when there was, like, sort of a chance Mitt Romney was going to be the president?
Struggle raps’ #YOLO. Not quite as dumb, but not half as catchy, either
Fatima Al Qadiri “Oil Well”
16-bit “warno” ruminations mock indie fucks’ “LULZ-DA-’90S”-wave.
Frank Ocean “Pyramids”
Heady, shake-club epic from the set of Doctor Who episode 082, “The Pyramids of Mars.”
Freddie Gibbs, feat. Kirko Bangz “Bout It Bout It”
Further proof radio’s a joke. Could’ve been a hit. Oh, what’s that? Jeezy dropped him? That explains it.
Gene the Southern Child “The Police Pulled Me Over”
Like a painfully polite “99 Problems.”
Gunplay “Bible on the Dash”
Most tragic and transcendent rap song of 2012.
Heems “Running Thru the Jungle”
Along with Nehru Jackets, here’s what Himanshu can do when he tries.
Hello Skinny “Crush”
Resident superfans’ smoky instrumental ready for a Hal Hartley soundtrack.
Ratchet music meets synth-laser Sabbath “Hand Of Doom” riff.
Jeremiah Jae “One Herb”
Reedy industrial rap from a spawn of Odd Future.
JJ Doom “Wash Your Hands”
Rap-game Howard Hughes turns a blacklight on in the club.
Kanye West “White Dress”
Heartwarming TMZ-rap. Kanye returns to soul beats when he “really means it.”
Kendrick Lamar, feat. MC Eiht “m.A.A.d city”
K. Dot taunts Crips and Bloods. Not because he thinks he’s invincible. Because he knows he isn’t.
Main Attrakionz “24th Hour”
Harry Fraud turns chipmunk-soul into Smurf-soul. MaZ try and channel scrappy Jay-Z.
Miguel “Kaleidoscope Dream”
Centerpiece of one of 2012’s best albums: An Eminem x Brothers Johnson x Shuggie Otis mash-up.
The Mountain Goats “Lakeside View Apartments Suite”
Lived in an apartment like the one described. May or may not have bought angel dust. Had no army surplus jacket.
Mykki Blanco “Riot”
The best Lil Wayne song of 2012, or 2011. Possibly 2010, as well.
Mystikal “Hit Me”
Awful person and awesome rapper pays tribute to awful person and legendary singer.
Nas “A Queens Story”
Illmatic on Broadway. Nas, hat backwards, spits into one of those old-timey microphones. Somehow, not lame.
Nguzunguzu “Smoke Alarm”
Creepy instrumental R&B turned lounge music for cyborgs.
No Doubt “One More Summer”
Gwen and crew do New Order’s “Regrets.” Remember when they made that weird injun video?
OXYxMORON “Flo Town”
A double-time, dorm-room dick-around session gets heavy.
Purity Ring, feat. Danny Brown “Belispeak II”
Warning! Warning! Warning! This might could be moombahton.
Robert Glasper “Twice (?uestlove’s Twice Baked Remix, feat. Solange & the Roots)”
NPR-friendly jazzbo spruced up by some of the Roots’ undun outtakes.
Ryan Hemsworth “Charly Wingate”
IDM tribute to Max B by the Internet’s most ambitious producer.
ST 2 Lettaz “Space Jam”
The Beasties’ “Intergalactic” dropped in a Block Beattaz brand blender.
The Sea and Cake “The Invitations”
Archer Prewitt and pals do 808s & Heartbreak slow burn.
Sinkane “Makin’ Time”
Like a Can “Ethnological Forgery Series” cut for realz.
Steven A. Clark “Seashore”
Imagine a Miami Vice reboot starring How to Dress Well as Crockett and the Weeknd as Tubbs.
Styles P “Keep Me High”
Maze, Keith Sweat, and swaggering-though-not-swaggy Styles do the oldhead strut together.
SupaKing Big P.O.P.E. “Asthma Attack”
Huntsville minor player melodically rap-sings rubbery shit-talk.
T-Pain, feat. Big K.R.I.T. “Going Off”
iPhone-sampling idiocy tests the limits of ringtone rap. Even K.R.I.T. can’t add some dignity.
Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin “GRM Blue II”
Exactly what a collaboration between these two should sound like. That rarely happens.
Trina, feat. Gunplay and Ice Berg “Beam”
Trina does Trina. Gunplay sings like Jimmy Buffett on a disco album that never happened.
Trinidad Jame$ “Females Welcomed”
When wailing country-rap and diva-dubstep become one.
Twin Shadow “You Can Call Me On”
Guitar hero hearthrob doesn’t care about your feelings or the end of the world. Cool story bro.
Sly’s “Everyday People” for the post-Neptunes generation.