In all the past years on this blog (such as 2009, 2010, and 2011) the end-of-year post started with everything that happened in Bay Area rap being summarized into succinct bullet points, but this year let's try something different:
It's difficult to make broad statements about this year in Bay Area rap, but I am going to try anyways. 2012 saw the Bay Area continuing to climb out of its hole of isolation that it seems to have been sentenced to since the mid 90's. Apart from its brief flirtation with a national audience around 2005, the Bay Area has been completely insular and content collaborating with local talent for a local audience. 2012 was the year the Bay continued to crawl out of its shell thanks to the democratization of music via the internet. Bicoastal collaborations have become easier than ever before and with the internet's constant pressure to produce new music and earn new fans this year saw Bay rappers collaborating with nationally known rappers more than ever before: 2011's biggest Bay Area track got an "official remix" with 50 Cent, D-Lo did a song with Tyga (???), Berner became Wiz Khalifa's official weed carrier, J. Stalin worked with Big K.R.I.T., Chris Brown and Young Jeezy hopped on a remix of the Bay's biggest local hit, The Team's "Slow Down" became a minor national hit, etc. All of a sudden people across the country could name a Bay Area rapper besides E-40 for the first time in 15 years.
Whether or not this greater national exposure will be a good or bad thing for the scene is yet to be determined. On the one hand, hopefully more Bay rappers will be able to make some decent money from the rap game and continue to make great music, but there is always the risk of the Bay Area losing its unique sound as a greater national influence finally penetrates the scene. Only time will tell, but that's one of the reasons why this blog started covering the Kansas City rap scene more closely this year than ever before. As the Bay continues to open itself up to the world, KC continues to be completely closed off just as the Bay has been in year's past. This blog was started in 2009 because there was all this great Bay Area rap being released that no one was talking about, but that is becoming less and less common today, so what's written about on here has naturally shifted to the next local rap scene that is being slept on.
The Bay Area is poised to really grow in this ever-expanding internet music era. Major labels do not sign anyone but a sure thing nowadays, which means 10 rappers AT MOST are going to be on a major label and heavily promoted with radio play, a VEVO channel and national tours, while everyone else is left to fend for themselves and really prove why they deserve to be on a major label. The Bay Area rap scene has already learned how to succeed independently and I don't see any reason why it can't "prove" to major labels that they deserve a chance at a wider audience. Hopefully Bay Area rap can successfully introduce itself to a wider audience in 2013 without sacrificing or watering down its unique sound.
Things that happened on this blog (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF GUYS):
-100GoMW,YLS interviewed Joe Blow, Dubb 20, Hen Sippa, and B-Luv.
-I was a guest on the Stay Hatin podcast a couple times: this time and this time.
-100GoMW,YLS started contributing to my favorite website out there, Stuff You Will Hate.
-100GoMW,YLS started a youtube channel.
-100GoMW,YLS joined twitter.
____ of the year stuff:
Music Video of the Year:
Kreayshawn "Go Hard (La La La)"
Let's be frank, 99% of Bay Area rap videos are boooooring as shit. I just can't get into watching some dude stand on a street corner and lip synch to his song while his friends all mean mug the viewer in the background. This music video looks like it actually has a budget and is super colorful and fun, plus Kreayshawn and Lil Debbie look adorable. Just like all good pop music this song is not really about anything and the video's concept reflects that with its nonsensical cartoonish imagery. -20 points for V-Nasty being in there though, she does not know what to do in the face of fun. I am willing to bet my left kidney that she uttered the phrase "y'all a fool for this one" at least a dozen times on the set of the music video.
Best Hook By an Androgynous Singer:
Joe swore the singer is a female, but I think it is probably a dude. Either way, congrats to "Kore" (even the name is ambiguous, very impressive), I am going to go ahead and assume you look something like Grace Jones in her prime:
Album Title of the Year:
Gap's I'm Gap, That's Me
So simple, yet informative!
Most Terrifying Animal of the Year:
Alligator Snapping Turtle.
The Alligator Snapping Turtle can weigh up to 250 pounds and its bite has been rated at 160 kilograms-force and if you make eye contact with it you will turn to stone.
Best Spam Comment of the Year:
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I like this one because it is pretty sassy and mean and does not play nice like the rest of the spam comments. If you are just posting a bunch of spam comments on blogs it is indeed a safe bet that the writer is "moaning about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy looking for attention" but I don't think I can really make Traxamillion's album less mediocre, so spam misfire dickhead!
Worst Comment on this Site Ever:
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I sincerely hope this comment was left for the sheer purpose of "trolling," because otherwise dude you seriously sound like the biggest clueless dickhead ever crafted in the history of time and please never say another word about rap music again.
Rapper Name of the Year:
It is pretty hard to follow up with last year's winners; Lil Goofy and Young Ridiculous, but this year's winner, is...
Court-Dog! Just let that name swivel around in your head for a bit like a fine wine and let it breath: Court-Dog. Never mind this guy's album is from 2003 and he probably works in a shitty industrial factory now, I just discovered him this year and cannot help myself in thinking Court-Dog is the best rap name ever and funny for reasons I cannot fully explain.
Best Rap Line Related to the Best Rapper Name of the Year:
"Hooked up with Court-Dog, now we runnin' the court, dog"
- Rich The Factor on "Are You a Ridah"
Poetry in its purest form.
Most Embarrassing Rap Song about Sex:
Wow, ladies and gentlemen...we have a tie!
E-40 ft. Gangsta Boo "Let's Fuck"
HD ft. Kiwi Da Beast "Freak U"
Both songs have an equally high cringe factor. I seriously cannot listen to either of these songs without blushing and imagining Jesus looking down on me with a look of disappointment. Perhaps I am just an L7 who needs to learn how to enjoy rap songs about sex, but 99% of the time songs about that subject just make me feel super uncomfortable like when a graphic sex scene comes on in a movie you are watching with your parents and you just want to die to make it stop.
Favorite Motivational Internet Picture of the Year:
Rookie of the Year:
Feva is a Kansas City rapper that NO ONE had heard of before this year and now is probably one of my favorite active rappers. In February he released an impressive double album, presented by Messy Marv, that featured just about every big name in the KC and Bay rap scenes. If that wasn't enough, in October, after projects of his slated for a Spring release failed to surface he dropped 75 mixtapes on datpiff. The most surprising thing about the move is that it appears that most of the mixtapes were actually quite well thought out projects, raising numerous questions about why some rappers had been sitting on 750 unreleased songs for such a long time.
What really makes Feva standout above killer features and nonsensically release schedules is how much character he is able to express in his rhymes. Feva's raps are reminiscent of 90's Dru Down; elastic, colorful, and sometimes downright ridiculous that will have you questioning his sanity, but above all else keep you entertained and wanting more from him. Hopefully 2012 was only the beginning for Feva.
Best Beat of the Year:
Rich The Factor "We in the Mobb"
Album of the year:
There is no album of the year. Sorry. I thought for sure E-40 and Too Short's History albums would be here, but I would lying if I said there are more than half a dozen songs that I am still bumping regularly. 2012 saw the release of plenty of good albums from the Bay Area, Kansas City, Akron, etc. but no one album truly stood out to me as the definitive album of the year. Maybe it has something to do with how we consume music today: it seems like the genre as a whole has become more and more singles-driven and there are usually only a handful of albums released each year that really strive for something beyond a couple radio hits. I swear I am not becoming bitter and out of touch with the current rap scene and loved tons of music released this year. In lieu of no single album of the year, here is a list of good albums that you should check out:
Feva- Pay Da Fee, Joe Blow- Real Recognize Real, C.W. Da YoungBlood- In Da Kitchen Vol. 3, HD- Breaking-N-Entering, Livewire- M.A.F.I.A., Rich The Factor- Everything he released this year, Gap- I'm Gap, That's Me, Bird- Fly Guy, Lil Levi & Lil Stu- Real Recognize Real, Lil Mo- Streetz Spokesman, E-40 & Too Short- History albums, B-Luv & DB The General- Tweaker Muzik, Roach Gigz- Bugged Out, E-40- Block Brochure albums, and Clyde Carson- S.T.S.A.
Top Ten Songs of 2012 (in no particular order):
1.) Shady Nate ft. Young No & Lil Blood"Banga'd Up"
This song is just so damn listenable. The beat's slick atmosphere could only come from the Bay Area, with a rolling 808 hi hat, operatic vocal samples, and a chorus that sees the atmosphere hyped-up by tense synths as Shady and friends rap about having a firearm in their possession. Shady Nate continues to be the most lyrically-talented member of Livewire:
B-B-Banga'd up when I went to school
now I'm banga'd up when I go to work
no disrespect to my G-O-D, but I'm banga'd up when I go to church...
For you roaches
No termites on my good wood
No dosage of this dope dick
2.) Joe Blow ft. Dru Down & Lil Rue "Grinding"
Five reasons why this song is on the list: 1.) Dru Down 2.) Dru Down 3.) Dru Down 4.) Dru Down 5.) Dru Down. But seriously Dru Down's verse steals the show and I wish he would go ahead and start releasing some more music already. This is the standout track off Joe Blow's excellent Real Recognize Real and features a sparse beat that still manages to have a real bite behind it. Joe Blow murders the hook and lets his second verse just bleed out from the hook as his rhymes bounce over the beat. Lil Rue's verse kind of weighs this song down, because it sounds like he recorded his verse while lying down on a shitty couch covered in cigarette burns, but Joe Blow and Dru Down sound absolutely incredible here.
3.) E-40 ft. T-Nutty, C-Bo & Stressmatic "Hittin' a Lick"
As much as I hate to admit it, the Sacramento rap scene is looking pretty dead these days, especially when you compare it to the creative and commercial success so many rappers from the area achieved in the 90's. You know your rap scene is getting a bit long in the tooth when T-Nutty, a rapper who has been releasing albums since 2003, is still considered a young up-and-coming artist from the region. While Sacramento's heyday of dark music equally influenced by horror movies and gang culture may be long gone, E-40 was able to perfectly reconstruct that atmosphere on "Hittin a Lick" for his Block Brocure album and recruited two of Sacramento's best to exemplify what the scene has to offer. Not to mention 40 drops arguably his best verse of 2012, breaking out his rapid-fire-flow which he has kept on layaway for the better part of the 2000's.
4.) Bird ft. Domo "Take Flight"
I have already written and talked about this song countless times, but let me just quickly say that Bird has the charisma and skill to be on a major label and this beat slaps so hard it makes you want to disrespect your surroundings and stab a hobo to death.
5.) Feva ft. Fat Pat "Duffles"
The obvious Feva song to put in the top 10 would be "Handsome" because it is catchy and features a rare Husalah feature. For me though, no other Feva song held up to the concise "Duffles" with it's thundering bass line that recalls the best 90's Bay Mobb music had to offer, but with a modern twist. Also the contrast between Fat Pat's opening verse and hook, with it's straightforward, deliberate flow and Feva's sloppy, erratic rapping make the song that much more engaging for the listener.
From what I understand Fat Pat is now deceased, which is extremely unfortunate considering how confident and direct this unknown rapper sounds behind the mic. If anyone has any information about music he has put out or how he passed away please let me know.
6.) J. Stalin ft. Philthy Rich "White Girls Gone Wild"
If you really ponder what this song is about and the morality of men rejecting women of their same race in favor of white women this song is really horrible and awful, but really if you take the time to ponder the morals behind any rap song you're gonna have a bad time. What makes this song special is the entirely unique atmosphere created by the memorable, booming production, along with a hook that is entirely too catchy. 1:15 sees a screeching synth coming into the already dense beat and along with a sound effect that sounds like the listener is being sprinkled with glitter (NO HOMO) and everything about the music sounds so much more different and creative than 99.9% of the rap music produced in 2012.
7.) HD "If I Should Die"
Taken as a whole, HD had another incredible year where he managed to become even more prolific while never letting the quality of his music slip too much. After 2011 it was safe to assume HD had peaked creatively and we had a much more quiet year to expect from him, but instead he continued to expand on his sound with impressive results. Some people will always complain about the beat selection or mixing and mastering of his projects, but if you step back and look at the bigger picture it's hard not to agree that HD is one of the best Bay Area rappers active right now.
HD has done a commendable job of expanding on his sound to include more production variations, bringing elements of blues and reggae into the fold, while never abandoning his hard-edged street rap origins in favor of more radio-friendly lighthearted songs. On "If I Should Die" HD's introspective raps are backed up by a morose saxophone-driven beat that includes soulful female chants that compliment his raps perfectly.
8.) Andre Nickatina "Drought Season"
Andre Nickatina is a definitive Bay Area rapper who has always made weird music that would sound out of place coming from anywhere but the Bay. On "Drought Season" King Nicky is back to his old self, rapping for two and a half minutes straight with no hook over an organic beat that sounds like it could be recreated easily with live instruments. Watch this lyric video of the song and revel in how bizarre, clever and awesome Dre Dog's raps stil are after all these years.
9.) Lil Mo "The World is Mine"
10.) Ampichino & Young Bossi ft. Yukmouth "Runaway"
Without a doubt in my mind, this is the best song of 2012. No other song came close to matching this song's emotion and the fact that it is not being hailed a "hip-hop classic" by every person who has even a feigning interest in rap music is absolutely criminal. Ampichino and Young Bossi have built a comfortable niche for themselves in the past few years by developing melancholy gangster rap that focuses on the everyday stresses that they face in the streets, but on "Runaway" they spin all of those themes into something that manages to sound 100 times more urgent, emotional, and immediate. The beat's ominous female vocals are distorted beyond recognition and perfectly compliment the paranoia and hopelessness expressed in their verses. On top of all that, Yukmouth, who is one of the most frustrating rappers to follow as he continues to squander his talents on cheesy songs pining for radio play, drops an excellent verse that makes me forgive him for all the garbage he has released in the last 4 years. An absolutely perfect rap song that will most likely be one of the best songs of this decade.
Songs that should be in the Top 10, but are not because I only wanted one song per rapper:
11.) E-40 & Too Short ft. Stressmatic "This Shit Pound"
Listen to this beat and try to tell me it is not one of the best beats you have heard this year. Stressmatic's hook is awesome, plus E-40 starts the song by rapping:
When I entered the world and took my first breath of air
the doctor gave me a blunt and 40 ounce of beer
What a bad doctor! I am no expert on neonatal nutrition, but I'm pretty sure you should not give kids weed or alcohol until they are at least like 4 years old.
12.) Ampichino & Young Bossi "I Ain't On It 2"
The original "I Ain' On It" from last year featured a large group of fellow Akron rappers taking turns trading bars two at a time and was easily one of the most inventive and impressive rap songs of 2011. The sequel is not quite up to par with the original (as is usually the case), but the melancholy beat along with Bossi and Amp's rhymes perfectly exemplifies the Akron sound at its best.
I have a (wildly unoriginal) theory that the songs we enjoy the most in our adulthood are ones that have elements of songs that we enjoyed in our childhood and this song is exhibit A to that theory. Listening to "The Other Day Ago" with E-40, Spice 1, and Celly Cell spitting some mobb shit over a low pitch piano sample I am transformed back to my bedroom in the early 90's: staying up late listening to Bay Area tape rips that me and my friends made for each other wishing I could be half as cool as these rappers.
Here are those 13 songs draped up and chipped out for you:
Thanks to everyone who reads this site and especially everyone who comments on here. I try to write everything on here in a conversational tone to invite discussion on the topics addressed. That's really what the internet is all about: increased interaction amongst people with a shared interest. In the bad old days people read music magazines written with an authoritative tone and their only chance of getting their voice heard was by mailing the publication a letter (with stamps!) and hoping to get it published in 2 months. It bums me out to see online music magazines continuing these old ways by writing in an all-knowing tone and not having a comments section available for people to voice their different opinions. The truth is that there is no right or wrong answers when it comes to music: everyone just has different tastes based largely on what music they have been exposed to in the past. More often than not you enjoy music you hear for the first time on an emotional level and then your brain catches up in explaining to you why it is that you enjoy that particular sound.
So thank you to everyone who shares their musical opinion on here and anywhere else on the internet. It has been a very pleasant experience getting to share my love for Bay Area rap with you guys and hopefully I can maintain this blog for a long time to come.
Have a Happy New Year, I have to go change into my official party outfit now before I hit the town:
What are your favorite songs of 2012?
Do you have a favorite Bay album of the year?