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Year-End Lists

SPIN’s 40 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2012

The anarchy of the Internet — and the major-label system’s attempt to harness it — has fractured the hip-hop narrative into its most diverse smash-up of personalities and ideas since the days when N.W.A and MC Hammer could exist safely in the same gang. Our list of the 40 best hip-hop records of the year has enough room for nihilistic teenagers with Ramones-simple flows and 45-year-old legends with bars for days; Auto-Tuned robo-pop mutations and assonance-heavy boom-bap purists; lysergic cloud-rappers and aggy noise-punx; openly gay party-starters and ultra-macho luxury-rappers; molly-popping late-nighters and rise-and-grind go-getters; and, yes, even a pair of evil clowns. Everything is fair when you’re living in the bitly.