Mixtapes are free! Got get these, they were my favorites in 2012.
I listened to this back and forth quite a few times. Intelligent lyricists. Despite a few cheesy moments (sampling Nirvana/Rage Against The Machine, yuck), this Chicago crew makes hip hop sound like something new. Released via MishkaNYC bandcamp for free.
Big Baby Gandhi—No1 2 Look Up 2
It’s Big Baby. He’s a pharmacy major at St. Johns. If he wasn’t busy in school, he’d have taken the rap game over by now. This is what the future of hip hop sounds like. Raw, experimental, and articulate. Big Baby picks apart relationships, politics, and his own self-deprication song by song with help from people like Steel Tipped Dove and Mike Finito. Download via mediafire.
Big Baby Ghandi—Big Fuckin Baby (Nov. 2011)
Look, y’all kind of glossed over this at the end of 2011. No1 2 Look Up 2 is good, but this Big Fuckin Baby is instant classic, I mean he sampled Minnie Fucking Ripperton! Lo Fi hip hop, samples of the stuggle, new york nights on record. This album is golden. I’ve taken it out of my phone, put it back in, taken it out, and put it back in. It won’t go away, and remained a favorite through 2012. Right click and save over at MAD DECENT.
Kool A.D.’s bay area bangers. With help from Main Attrakionz, Amaze 88, and Kassa Overall, Victor Vasquez works out some mind looping mantras for you to get stuck in your head. It’s really a beautiful album, full of sunshine and warm textures, just like the Bay. Again, Mishka NYC (see a theme here?)
Big K.R.I.T.— 4 Eva n A day
The media can’t fucking decide if they love or hate the K.R.I.T., their flip-flopping on his every release is hilarious, but his story rhyme flow is deadly serious. The product of an OutKast ruled south, dudes mixtapes are good enough to be sold as albums, but he’s just giving them away. Cool with me, because that track 1986 is one of the coldest songs I’ve heard in years. Download free at LiveMixTapes.
Lil B—Obama Based God
Overt positivity and audacious idolization of self are two things Lil B somehow mixes seamlessly. Just the idea of naming himself Obama Based God, then making a song about taking down the flag, and changing name of the White House to the based house out of a desire for unity makes this one of my favorite mixtapes this year. He also tried some interesting stuff with speeding up and slowing down loops on this one. Download at DatPiff.
Key Nyata—Two Phonkey
Two things. 1. This album has the best run of songs ever compiled from track three to track six. It’s audio acapulco gold from “Pitch Blvck” through “Blvck Mvnsixn” to “Bring Me The $$”. I’m sure he knows it, but you may not. This is the best distillation of 80s sex rap and chopped and screwed hip hop ever. Think Too Short and 2LiveCrew meet UGK and DJ Screw. Then there’s this second thing 2. He’s in high school still, but he’s the best rapper in the entire Raider Klan crew. From here to Miami, there is not a better Raider spitter. I assure you. I saw him live and was astonished at his natural, flawless, stage presence. Download immediately over at FRSHSLCTS.
Jay Ant & Iamsu—Stoopid
Bay area dream collabo. With crazy vocal variation from the Lil Weezy wheeze to a hyphy acrobatic flows Jay Ant & Iamsu could stand to rewrite a lyric here and there, but their beats and bars scream house party. They’ll try and sell you the pop simplicity of “Twenty One”, but “G Thang” was one of the better songs I heard all year, anywhere, and it was completely free. Get it on your house party/get laid tape now and get throwed up!
Chimurenga Renaissance—PUNGWE Mixtape (Tendai Maraire/DJ Chief Boima)
This extremely personal, extremely political mixtape collaboration between Shabazz Palaces Tendai Maraire, and NYC DJ Chief Boima brought together the best of African revolutionary music (Chimurenga) with Tendai’s rough cuts from his forthcoming album. Featuring Ishmael Butler and the mbari music of his own father, this mixtape is an amazing trip through time. Download on Soundcloud. H/t to Tendai’s publicist Hearth Music (a very unlikely mixtape source) for getting emails to me early and often this year.
Heems dropped this in cooperation with SEVA New York, and some help from his childhood friend/producer Mike Finito. It’s sprawling at times, but very effective at others. One of my favorite songs this year was “Ride The Wave”, which feature Mr. M/f’n Exquire, and Danny Brown, a lethal combination. I listened to this every day for months. Heems’ wordplay has that effect on me.
Show You Suck—OMPP3: Rest In Pizza
It was a big year for Chicago. Too many murders, but so much good music. Show You Suck really came through on this one creating a cohesive, clever mixtape full of uplifting music. Perhaps Chicago’s most based hip hopper, he’s content to confess his innermost tribulations through pizza allegories that somehow work. You can learn about addiction, relationship woes, and how to be happy by listening. Do not skip this mixtape this year download here.
MC Tree—Sunday School
Drill-hop, Trap-soul, call it what you will, MC Tree has a distinct voice and a great flow. I caught this one off MTV Hive’s 5 best mixtapes of 2012 so far (good ol’ Noz) article earlier this year. It’s been one of my favorites since.
Le1f is amazing. If you don’t have this mixtape, you haven’t had a 2012. Part of that Wesleyan/NYC/Greedhead crew, his tape was released on Greedhead earlier this year and makes some interesting noise with the help of huge producers like Nguzunguzu and 5kinandBone5.
The former Morning Benders not only shrugged off their accidentally homphobic name, but their whole sound, and a huge fan base when they released this mixtape earlier this year. Personally, I like them better now. Their album was better, but the mixtape was free, and captures the soul of the idea nicely.
DJ Gorky (Bond Do Role) BBC Diplo and Friends Set - Brazillian crew works a perfect length DJ set.
Hello Skinny Turkish Bath Mixtape - DJs taking records from Istanbul, remixing them. So good.
DJ Darwin & Keyboard Kid—808s And Space NYC New Museum mix: this is the mix I hand to people when they try to tell me about electronic music.
FACT Mix 312—Blondes I’ll never get over Blondes. The sound of two guys pushing loops and samples through analog equipment is so amazing every time. Pick up Lover/Hater over at RVNG, Intl., too.
Boiler Room #77 Bonobo- If you’re not into the Boiler Room, you’re wrong.
DJ BlesOne Soul Shot- BlesOne resurrected this mix of 90s R&B and posted it on soundcloud so we could all melt in a cuddle puddle of nostalgia under his power. I can’t stop listening to my younger days…Thanks Bles.
Tan Barf Puke Tape- The songs which provided inspiration for Don’t Talk To The Cops 2012 release Lets Quit! BlesOne goes punk.
The Darcys AJA - Canadian band completely reinvents Steely Dan. It’s so good you won’t believe it. You don’t like Steely Dan as much as I do, so don’t act like it’s some kind of sin, just go download this amazing free album. Look for their new release in 2013 too.
Mshka NYC Lil B tapes Vol. 1-5. A very definitive collection of the #Prolific #Gods #VeryRare #VeryBased #Work
Astronomar Girls Buy Me Drinks- Noone elses remix hit me like this one. Seattle DJ and Mad Decent collaborator Astronomar took a hyper song and moombathon-ed it to another level. So HAPPY!
Rhye—Open- Rhye is two dudes on Innovative Leisure. Look for their full length in 2013 too.