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Top 10 Hip-Hop Artists of 2012

The always improving art of rap is going stronger than ever, with the help of the legends and the up-and-comers, it is safe to say that Hip-Hop music has a bright future. Year after year the rap game is growing stronger yet different. With artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z and T.I, among others, still showing that great music can still be created. Though there is a select group of rappers that just wont quit, the kind of rappers that make true rap fans want to facepalm time and time again.

2012 was a phenomenal year in Hip-Hop, we witnessed the true potential of K-Dot, we heard Kanye West yet again put out good music and saw that there is still life in one of the greatest rappers of the past decade, T.I. With a wonderful year behind us, it is time to make a list of the best Hip-Hop artists of 2012. The only things being considered on this list are what the artists did in 2012. Not only who achieved the most in 2012, but also which rappers actually put out quality music, worked hard and brought the heat to make last year one phenomenal year in Hip-Hop music. Here are the Top 10 Hip-Hop Artists of 2012, according to The Hergula.
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10. Future

(© 2012 Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment)

(© 2012 Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment)

Albums: Pluto / Mixtapes: Astronaut Status

Singles(Lead): 4 / Singles(Featured): 3

Music Videos(Lead): 7 / Music Videos(Featured): 8

Future came out of nowhere and literally murdered beat upon beat, making him one of the most talked about names of the year. After mastering the Auto-Tune, his voice became perfect for hooks and verses alike. Future released a mixtape that was well received, as well as an album titled “Pluto” that featured many of his hit songs such as “Same Damn Time” and “Turn on the Lights”. Not only did Future impress with those two tracks but being featured on Kelly Rowland´s “Neva End”, pretty much showed that Future was ready for whatever, whenever, however. He was able to do some slower songs and club bangers, all thanks to how his voice started sounding with Auto-Tune. Appearing in over a dozen music videos, Future worked hard in 2012, something that can´t be denied.
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9. Drake

(© 2013 Cash Money Records, Inc.)

(© 2013 Cash Money Records, Inc.)

 Albums: – / Mixtapes: -

Singles(Lead): 2 / Singles(Featured): 8

Music Videos(Lead): 3 / Music Videos(Featured): 10


Drake had arguably as great of a year in 2012 as he had in 2011. Without releasing an album nor a mixtape, he was able to hold himself in the limelight throughout the year thanks to his brilliant guest verses and controversial lines that had people buzzing. While both of his singles were good, Drizzy shined in 2012 due to his guest verses on songs like “Stay Schemin´”, “No Lie” and “Fuckin´ Problems”. Not only did Drake have phenomenal verses on all of the tracks he was featured on, but he had the best verse out of all the artists on most of those songs as well. While Drake did not drop an album in 2012, he surely brought the heat in his verses. Evolving as both a lyricist and a storyteller, he showed that even during a year where he didn´t release an album, he was able to stay relevant.
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8. ASAP Rocky

(© 2012 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment)

(© 2012 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment)

Albums: – / Mixtapes: Lords Never Worry

Singles(Lead): 2 / Singles(Featured): 4

Music Videos(Lead): 8 / Music Videos(Featured): Unknown


ASAP Rocky had a great year in 2012 mostly because of a good mixtape and phenomenal verses. Both of ASAP Rocky´s singles, “Goldie” and “Fuckin´ Problems”, were great songs that impressed many but the reason he made the list was because of his hard work ethic and guest verses. ASAP Rocky is to thank for the success of many tracks he was featured on as he did not only bring his old-school flow, but he murdered the songs he was on by bringing the ASAP Rocky´s “I be that Pretty Mothafucka” flow. “Cockiness (I love it)”, “Yellow Tape” and “Hands on the Wheel” were excellent songs largely thanks to ASAP Rocky´s verses. While he did not release an album, he dropped a mixtape and had arguably an even greater year in 2012 than in 2011. ASAP Rocky is as sharp and as skilled as ever, appearing in over a dozen music videos, his work ethic and lyrics were on point in 2012.
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7. T.I

(© 2012 WMG/©2012 Grand Hustle / Atlantic Records)

(© 2012 WMG/©2012 Grand Hustle / Atlantic Records)

Albums: Trouble Man: Heavy is The Head / Mixtapes: Fuck da City Up

Singles(Lead): 2 / Singles(Featured): 6

Music Videos(Lead): 4 / Music Videos(Featured): Unknown

If there is anything that the “King of the South” is known for, it is for going harder than anyone in the game. With a very weak year in 2011, T.I needed to get back on the horse and rap his ass off, luckily, that is exactly what he did. After releasing a good mixtape and being featured on several good singles, T.I was back on track. Not only did T.I return to his old self, but he literally brought us back to the 90´s with songs like “Go Get It”, “Trap Back Jumpin´” and “Ball”. These songs are not only great, they are T.I songs, no one besides him could have rapped that well on those beats. But the real reason T.I made the list, besides getting back on track, is because of his album “Trouble Man: Heavy is The Head”. With several hot songs and a couple of decent ones, the album is stellar and features artists like ASAP Rocky, Pink and Akon. After a year where T.I nearly fell off, it sure is wonderful to see him back going as hard as ever before.
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6. 2 Chainz

(© 2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group)

(© 2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group)

Albums: Based on a T.R.U Story / Mixtapes: –

Singles(Lead): 4 / Singles(Featured): 13

Music Videos(Lead): 12 / Music Videos(Featured): Unknown

He is one of the most talked about rappers of the year, he is one of the most hardest working musicians of 2012, he is non other than 2 Chainz. He did not only have a great year in 2012, but he had one of the most succesful debuts into mainstream Hip-Hop music in recent history. He blew up quickly and was soon making good music with Kanye West, Drake and ASAP Rocky. While most rappers dream of having hit songs, all of the four singles 2 Chainz was on were hits, to say the least. After his award-winning verse on “Mercy”, 2 Chainz was as legit and as sought after of a rapper than any big name in the game. He was soon featured on songs like “Beez in the Trap”, “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and “Fuckin´ Problems”. 2 Chainz is unique, he has great delivery and has a voice that is hard to get out of your head. With that in mind, 2 Chainz had a phenomenal year in 2012. He released “Based on a T.R.U Story” that was filled with several catchy tracks, he was featured in over 12 music videos and is easily one the most memorable rappers of 2012. He has style, he is different, he is 2 Chainz.
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5. Nicki Minaj

(© 2012 Cash Money Records, Inc.)

(© 2012 Cash Money Records, Inc.)

Albums: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up

Singles(Lead): 7 / Singles(Featured): 5

Music Videos(Lead): 10 / Music Videos(Featured): 8

Nicki Minaj had worldwide success this past year, releasing two albums and appearing in over a dozen music videos, she worked as hard as any other musician in the business. First and Foremost, Nicki´s work ethic needs to be acknowledged. She released “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” which was a great album, featuring hit songs like “Starships”, “Pound The Alarm” and “Beez in the Trap”. While some of the songs off of the album were received with mixed reviews, the album was still great in its entirety. “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up” was sadly a weak project with only a few good songs worth mentioning. But one of the biggest reasons Nicki made the list was because of her singles. Not only were the three songs named above huge hits, but so were “Va Va Voom” and the mediocre “Freedom”. Even in the midst of a weak album, Nicki´s verses were rarely talked about, which is surprising because she pretty much killed every track she jumped on in 2012. A great work ethic, two albums, 7 singles and over a dozen music videos, Nicki earned her spot on this list.
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4. Rick Ross

(© 2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group)

(© 2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group)

Albums: God Forgives,I Don´t, Self-Made Vol. 2 / Mixtapes: Rich Forever, The Black Bar Mitzvah

Singles(Lead): 3 / Singles(Featured): 14

Music Videos(Lead): 15 / Music Videos(Featured): Unknown

Rick Ross has not only become one of the biggest names in the game but he´s showing to be one of the hardest working rappers out there today. After releasing two studio albums and two mixtapes, it is hard to deny the fact that Rick Ross put in work in 2012. “God Forgives, I Don´t” is a great album with several hot tracks. “So Sophisticated”, “Diced Pineapples” and “Pirates” are three songs that impressed, as Rick Ross is showing off his improving storytelling and lyricism like never before. While those three songs are excellent, there is one song in particular that stood out like a sore thumb, the song I´m talking about is of course the anthem “Hold Me Back”. The track in its entirety is so raw that it is hard not to bob your head and sing along , as it has everything from great lyrics to a crazy beat and an addictive hook. Being featured in over a dozen singles is impressive on its own, but what made it even better is that the 14 singles he was featured on, were improved due to Rick Ross´ verse. With two incredibly solid mixtapes that impressed much like Rick Ross´ album, the question becomes “What Didn´t Rick Ross do in 2012?”. Whether you love him or you hate him, Rick Ross put in work as he released an incredibly good album, he also released two mixtapes, both of which were excellent and he appeared in around 20 music videos. Rick Ross has never had a year like he had in 2012, he is finally getting the respect and recognition he deserves.
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3. Meek Mill

(© 2012 WMG)

(© 2012 WMG)

Albums: Dreams and Nightmares, Self-Made Vol. 2 / Mixtapes: Dreamchasers 2

Singles(Lead): 3 / Singles(Featured): 7

Music Videos(Lead): 7 / Music Videos(Featured): 8

If there is anyone that impressed with their flow and delivery this past year, it would have to be MMG´s own Meek Mill. He raps with so much passion and excitement that it is difficult not to like and enjoy his way of rapping. In 2012, Meek Mill proved to the world that he´s a force to be reckoned with. When he released his mixtape, it impressed and was as good as an actual album, if not better, largely due to tracks like “Amen”, “Burn” and “Ready or Not”, to name a few. After the mixtape, the expectations were high for Meek Mill´s first studio album and when it was released, it did not disappoint. It was shocking to hear an album, so well put together with a great track order and to see “Amen” and “Burn” on the album as singles, did not surprise one bit. With that in mind his mixtape was still considered to be the better of the two albums. Meek Mill is similar to the big boss Rick Ross as he too has an incredible work ethic. Releasing three albums in 2012, together with three singles and appearing in over a dozen music videos, shows that he is putting in work and putting out excellent music.
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2. Kendrick Lamar

(© 2012 Interscope)

(© 2012 Interscope)

Albums: good kid/m.A.A.d city / Mixtapes: –

Singles(Lead): 2 / Singles(Featured): 5

Music Videos(Lead): 2 / Music Videos(Featured): 7

In 2012 we witnessed Kendrick Lamar´s true potential, his lyrical ability and we witnessed the birth of a possible future legend. To say that Kendrick Lamar had a spectacular 2012, would be a severe understatement. Kendrick Lamar did not only drop an incredibly epic album, he showed his lyrical depth and his impeccable storytelling ability like never before. “good kid/m.A.A.d city” is a phenomenal piece of art and deserves every last bit of praise it has received. While the two singles off of the album were in the spotlight in 2012, there are arguably even better tracks on the album like “Money Trees”, “Poetic Justice” and “m.A.A.d city”. Lyrically, Kendrick Lamar had very little competition in 2012, with his album alone, he pretty much made every other musician sweat. Bar for bar K-Dot showed that he is, and most likely will always be, one of the greatest lyricists around. With only a year in the limelight, he can easily be thrown next to the greatest lyricists of all time such as Rakim, Nas and Eminem, without him feeling out-of-place. Appearing in nearly 10 music videos, Kendrick worked for his spotlight but it was an easy feat for this lyrical beast. While some of his guest verses were hardly that impressive, his album, singles and verses show that he did not only have a great year, but he also proved to the world that he is here to stay…for a very long time.
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1. Kanye West

(© 2011 Roc-A-Fella Records, LLC)

(© 2011 Roc-A-Fella Records, LLC)

Albums: Cruel Summer / Mixtapes: –

Singles(Lead): 5 / Singles(Featured): 4

Music Videos(Lead): 5 / Music Videos(Featured): 3

Kanye West is a musical genius, an innovator and a trendsetter. Wherever he goes, controversy and haters follow, but that rarely seems to slow him down, if anything, it only empowers him and makes him that much stronger. In 2012 Kanye West´s GOOD Music released an album titled “Cruel Summer” which was received with mixed reviews. While not everybody might like it, one thing can´t be denied and that´s the overall quality of the album and Kanye West´s impressive verses. While there is a number of great songs on “Cruel Summer”, the ones with Kanye West stick out more than any of the others. Who can forget, arguably the best rap song of 2012, “Mercy” or Kanye West´s “Cold” where he ripped every hater to pieces or “New God Flow” that showcased Mr. West´s unrivaled flow and delivery. Whether you are a fan of Yeezy or not, it is hard to deny that pretty much every track he was on, was great. Lets not forget “I Wish You Would”, “Birthday Song”, “I Don´t Like” and “Diamonds (Remix)”, all of which had an extraordinary verse from Kanye. With that in mind, Yeezy showed that he is not only still relevant in the game in a major way, but that he is still putting his entire heart and soul into creating the best quality products possible, and that he is still creating music for the people .

The main reason Kanye West earned this number 1 spot is rather simple, he had rarely any weaknesses in 2012 and most of the songs he was on, he laid down a solid verse, one after another. He was in the spotlight more than any other rapper in 2012 and it should not come as a surprise as he has come to that level in his career where whatever he does, people are going to listen and watch. While some may feel that he is arrogant and cocky, what can you really say to a man who puts out so much quality music year after year, if there is anybody that has the right to be arrogant, it´s Kanye West as he literally backs it up time and time again. With a great 2012, Kanye West was the best Hip-Hop artist of 2012, showcasing his unparalleled Flow and delivery together with impeccable tracks overall.

(ASAP Rocky Cover via Rap.about / © RCA/Polo)

Author: Hergie
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