This is the third and final part in the 2012 Year End Best of Hip-Hop Amoeblogs in which I do my personal top ten albums of the year, plus some other highlights of the past twelve months in hip-hop music and culture. This is all from one person's perspective and includes some losses of 2012 like Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys who had been battling cancer since 2009 and passed on at the young age of 47. MCA joined the ranks of such other hip-hoppers as Camu Tao who also died from cancer. Coincidentally, 2012 was the year that Bay Area graffiti fan Sonae Ponce produced the Graffiti Against Cancer event. Within a week of MCA's passing, BK rapper Tone Tank recorded a great tribute to the Beatie Boy (with cool accompanying logo - left) based on the Beasties' "Shake your Rump."
Overall in 2012, we gained much more than we lost with such things as a resurgence in the art of the skratch DJ. Best evidence of the Return of the DJ in 2012? The return of the DMC DJ battle to San Francisco and releases such turntablists as DJ Needlz and DJ Moschops (who also raps). Also in 2012 artists began to specialize more in their own respective niches. These included Oh No's guest heavy tribute album to Dolemite, Ohnomite (Traffic Entertainment). In 2012 some of the best labels making music included Mello Music and Stones Throw.
1) El-P Cancer 4 Cure (Fat Possum)
2) Kid Koala 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune)
3) Aesop Rock Skelethon (Rhymesayers Ent)
4) Homeboy Sandman First Of A Living Breed (Stones Throw)
5) JJ Doom Keys To The Kuffs (Lex Records)
6) Casual & J-Rawls Respect Game or Expect Flames (Nature Sounds)
7) Lushlife Plateau Vision (Western Vinyl)
8) Killer Mike' R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)
9) Serengeti C.A.R. (Anticon)
10) E-40 & Too $hort History: Mob Music (Heavy On the Grind)
The above top ten includes the long-awaited History Channel series from Bay Area veterans E-40 and Too $hort. Due to copyright name issues of a certain TV channel, they shortened the name to just "History" and released not one but two albums in the series that has been promised for many years. In addition to these two albums (plus all of the guest spots 40 and $hort made), they also released other individual albums: E-40's Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 1, 2 & 3 (Heavy On Grind) and Too $hort's No Trespassing (Dangerous Music). There seems to be no slowing down these two ever prolific Bay Area living legends. Another album recorded in the Bay in this top ten is Chicago emcee (perhaps the most slept on artist in hip-hop today) Serengeti who hooked up with the cats from Anticon for this latest (recommended) release C.A.R. from the clever wordsmith that he recorded in the East Bay.
2012 was the year that proved how unity is one of the best ways to thrive with collectives like the Minneapolis-based Doomtree crew and the Bay Area's Hieroglyphics as prime examples that there is strength in numbers - when those numbers are made up of talented artists. Doomtree featuring such talents as emcee P.O.S. (who had to cancel his tour in late 2012 due to illness in support of his album We Don't Even Live Here), vocalist Dessa, and producer Lazerbeak (who released the kick ass Lava Bangers in 2012) toured as a collective and won more fans in 2012 in their slow but steady rise to hip-hop domination. Meantime the two-decade strong East Bay Hieroglyphics collective released a slew of albums in 2012 and in September kicked off the premiere of what will soon become an Oakland institution - Hiero Day. The long list of individual Hiero artist releases in 2012 included Pep Love's Rigmarole (Hieroglyphics Imperium /Clear Label), Casual with J-Rawls Respect Game Or Expect Flames (Nature Sounds), Tajai Machine Language CD (Hieroglyphics Imperium), Opio Vultures Wisdom Vol 2 (Hieroglyphics Imperium /Clear Label), Phesto Dee Background Check (Hieroglyphics Imperium /Clear Label Del & Parallel Thought Attractive Sins (Parallel Thoughts), and Casual He Still Think He Raw (Hieroglyphics Imperium)
Best Bay Cassette Release of 2012 was by Rime Force Most Illin' "The Supalove Tape" which both brought back an old school style of rapping and a way of presenting it - as a cassette only physical release.
In 2012 the best heartfelt tribute video/song to someone who has passed on was Meta P's "DragonFly", which was made for his twin sister who died way too young in 2012. Best reunion of the year was the Cue's Records Reunion in Daly City in October.
Best organization for promotion disabled artists in hip-hop was (once again) the Leroy Moore headed Krip Hop Nation who in 2012 accomplished many things including putting out a the Krip-Hop Nation & 5th Battalion Ent - Police Brutality Profiling Mixtape that was available at Amoeba Berkeley.
Action Bronson, above in one of his many 2012 tracks/recordings, is truly the artist set to take over majorly in 2013 (as he proved in 2012). I saw him in concert towards the end of the year and was blown away by the man. He lives up to the hype and has a promising career ahead.
Dark Time Sunshine "Never Cry Wolf" feat. Reva DeVito from ANX - more good music in 2012
2012 was the year we lost not only many hip-hop artists (MCA of the Beastie Boys died, as did Kevin Gulley, aka KMG, from legendary West Coast rap group Above The Law, and former Amoeba Berkeley employee/KALX DJ Matthew Africa) and we also hip-hop meeting places. Most notably, in the Bay Area Creative Music closed its doors for good early in 2012. And the closing of this beloved San Francisco music store symbolized the passing of many hip-hop fans' lives since so many longtime San Francisco rap fans had grown up buying cassettes and records and CDs from the store on Ocean Ave since it was opened in 1985 by its personable owners Elba & Joe Lambert. Creative was one of those few spots in the Bay that sold the fledgling Source magazine back when it was a small respected publication. Record store closures are also tough for the folks who own these stores, especially when it is an independent mom and pop business. For customers, gone is that personal touch. Indeed it is that aspect of a record store that means the most - the meeting place that makes a record store so special. Sure you can buy music online. You can get it for free and faster than you could make it to a physical store. But that feeling of going into a record store and meeting like minded folks - that warm enriching feeling is priceless and cannot be duplicated online. The message? Support your existing local record store including Amoeba Music everyday...not only on Record Store Day. In fact, make it your new year's resolution to go to Amoeba once a week, starting tomorrow New Year's Day 2013 for the big sale at all three Amoeba Music stores. And may we all enjoy a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!