Good Kid, M.A.A.D. CityIn 2012, while the mainstream power hitters were busy doing guest spots, the underground rose to the top. Former Internet mixtape artists Kendrick Lamar, MellowHype, and Death Grips released highly ambitious debuts for the majors. Hip left-field labels like Stones Throw (Quakers, Oh No, Homeboy Sandman, Karriem Riggins) and Rhymesayers (Brother Ali, Aesop Rock, P.O.S) continued to mine deep and strike gold. Instead of Young Money, we had the Black Hippy crew and rising L.A. stars ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Kendrick Lamar turning in three of the year’s most exciting releases. Production played an integral part as always, and Statik Selektah, Alchemist, 9th Wonder, El-P, and Curren$y proved that creative beatmakers deserve top billing, too.Ab-Soul - Control SystemAesop Rock - Skelethon
Gangrene - Vodka & Ayahuasca
Brother Ali - Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color
Curren$y - Stoned Immaculate
Danny! - Payback
Death Grips - Money Store
El-P - Cancer4Cure
Homeboy Sandman - First of a Living Breed
House Shoes - Let It Go
Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Roc Marciano - Reloaded
MellowHype - Numbers
Murs and 9th Wonder - Final Adventure
Oh No - Ohnomite
Plan B - Ill Manors
Pluto - Pluto
P.O.S - We Don't Even Live Here
Sean Price - Mic Tyson
Quakers - Quakers
Karriem Riggins - Alone Together
Rick Ross - God Forgives, I Don't
ScHoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions
Various Artists - Strong Arm Steady (Documentary)

Listen to the best tracks from our favorite Hip-Hop/Rap albums of 2012 in this playlist: