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Thank god the world didn’t end on December 21, because I want an encore. 2012 has been a standout year in rap music. We saw the rise of many rap posses, such as Pro Era, the A$AP Mob, and Black Hippy. Not to mention, the site itself has grown tremendously in popularity and is catching rap references (shouts to Ab-Soul). And we’ve collected numerous big name rappers to break down their own lines.
Near the end of November, I opened a poll for the Rap Genius community to vote which songs were the cream of the crop in the past year. Since then, the votes have been tallied and the results are here (also in a playlist here).
Before we begin, the audience should know this is not my personal list. I would have replaced and switched some of the tracks. That being said, I stand by this list and the choice of the community. So without further adieu…
100 “No Worries” — Lil Wayne
99 “Neato” — Three Loco
98 “Pop That” — French Montana ft. Drake, Rick Ross, & Lil Wayne
97 “Cold” — Kanye West
96 “Flash Gordon” — Roc Marciano
95 “Sixteen” — Rick Ross ft. Andre 3000
94 “LVL” — ASAP Rocky
93 “Walk in Wit the Mo” — Freddie Gibbs ft. Dom Kennedy
92 “Big Spender” — Theophilus London ft. ASAP Rocky
91 “Violet” — The Coup
90 “Thrift Shop” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
89 “A Man” — Blu
88 “Sorry” — T.I. ft. Andre 3000
87 “It’s Over” — Murs & 9th Wonder
86 “100” — Big Sean ft. Royce Da 5'9" & Kendrick Lamar
85 “Dead Presidents III” — Logic
84 “Mob Ties” — Nacho Picasso
83 “My Type Of Party Remix” — Dom Kennedy ft. Tyga & Juicy J
82 “My Life” — 50 Cent ft. Eminem & Adam Levine
81 “The Boys” — Nicki Minaj ft. Cassie
80 “The Formula” — Apollo Brown & OC
79 “Get Free Coleworld” — J. Cole
78 “M.I.A.” — Omarion & Wale
77 “Burn” — Meek Mill ft. Big Sean
76 “Same Damn Time” — Future
75 “Tan Leather” — Action Bronson
74 “Goldie” — ASAP Rocky
73 “Exodus 23:1” — Pusha T ft. The-Dream
72 “No Introduction” — Nas
71 “Sushi” — Ras Kass
70 “Hold Me Back” — Rick Ross
69 “Cleaning Out My Closet” — Angel Haze
68 “R.A.P. Music” — Killer Mike
67 “No Lie” — 2Chainz ft. Drake
66 “Remember You” — Wiz Khalifa ft. The Weeknd
65 “Edge Of Destruction” — Machine Gun Kelly ft. Tech N9ne & Twista
64 “The Fever (Aye Aye)” — Death Grips
63 “‘64 Impala” — Murs & Fashawn
62 “She Said OK” — Big Boi ft. Theophilus London & Tre Luce
61 “Can’t Trust Em (Remix)” — Dizzy Wright
60 “9-24-11” — Action Bronson
59 “Santino” — Loaded Lux
58 “We Ain’t Them” — Childish Gambino
57 “24k of Gold” — Big Sean ft. J. Cole
56 “To The World” — Kanye West ft. R. Kelly & Teyana Taylor
55 “I’m Different” — 2Chainz
54 “Respect Game or Expect Flames” — Casual ft. Del The Funky Homosapien
53 “Tell a Friend” — Freddie Gibbs ft. Curren$y
52 “Hammer Dance” — Slaughterhouse
51 “Push Thru” — Talib Kweli ft. Curren$y & Kedrick Lamar
50 “3 Kings” — Rick Ross ft. Dr. Dre & Jay-Z
49 “Mighty Morphin Foreskin” — Captain Murphy
48 “No Idols” — Domo Genesis ft. Tyler The Creator
47 “The Symbol” — Action Bronson
46 “BBQ Sauce” — Sean Price ft. Pharoahe Monch
45 “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” — Big KRIT
44 “Miss America” — J. Cole
43 “Our House” — Slaughterhouse
42 “Same Love” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
41 “Oldie” — Odd Future
40 “My Hoes They Do Drugs” — King L ft. Pusha T & Juicy J
39 “Chum” — Earl Sweatshirt
38 “Pain” — Pusha T ft. Future
37 “Celebration (Remix)” — Game ft. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
36 “Iron Age” — KA ft. Roc Marciano
35 “Bandz A Make Her Dance (Remix)” — Juicy J ft. Lil Wayne & 2Chainz
34 “Swimming Pools” — Kendrick Lamar
33 “Bye Baby” — Nas
32 “Zero Dark Thirty” — Aesop Rock
31 “Boobie Miles” — Big KRIT
30 “Crack Spot Stories” — Wu Block ft. Raekwon & Jadakiss
29 “Long.Live.A$AP” — ASAP Rocky
28 “Lamborghini Angels” — Lupe Fiasco
27 “I Don’t Like (Remix)” — Kanye West ft. Chief Keef, Pusha T, Big Sean, & Jadakiss
26 “I’m On 2.0” — Trae Tha Truth ft. Big KRIT, Jadakiss, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, BoB, Tyga, Gudda Gudda, Bun B & Mark Morrison
25 “Goodbye” — Slaughterhouse
The hip hop supergroup works together on a deep track dedicated to ones they’ve lost, and even though Royce doesn’t make an appearance, it holds up.
24 “Reagan” — Killer Mike
Killer Mike’s “Reagan” is one of the top songs of the year without a doubt. Not to mention, RAP Music was an outstanding album.
23 “Just What I Am” — Kid Cudi ft. King Chip
Cudi makes his return with King Chip with a joint about marijuana dependency. Even though for a while he tried to stay clean, Cudi makes dope music with weed in his system, so we aren’t complaining.
22 “Black Lip Bastard (Remix)” — Ab-Soul ft. Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock & Schoolboy Q
Black Hippy had a huge year, with Schoolboy, Soulo, and K. Dot all dropping major releases. This track off Ab-Soul’s Control System only shows why people love to listen to these guys.
21 “Traumatized” — Meek Mill
Say what you want about his rhymes, but Meek Mill has more passion then a lot of artists in the game. Listen to “Traumatized” and you can truly respect his work.
20 “Clique” — Kanye West ft. Big Sean & Jay-Z
Clique.. clique.. clique.. clique.. clique..
This GOOD Music and Roc Nation collab brought together some of the biggest names in music for a song you hear everywhere.
19 “Loco-Motive” — Nas
To honor his old head fans, Nas hooked up with Large Professor and put out a mean track. Life Is Good ended being one of the best cuts of the year and this was a standout record.
18 “White Dress” — Kanye West
Kanye always discussed how much RZA’s production influenced his own. On this track, it was met full circle, as ‘Ye spits some bars that had his College Dropout fans wanting more.
17 “The Full Retard” — El-P
El-P was always known for his dope production. But his album Cancer 4 Cure was met with major critical acclaim and took a lot of listeners by surprise and “The Full Retard” is easily one of the hottest tracks of 2012.
16 “The Jig Is Up (Dump'n)” — J. Cole & Kendrick Lamar
These two promised us a collaborative album in the next year, and after hearing this track, we are praying they keep that promise.
15 “Bitch Bad” — Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco’s ode to honoring women was met with much acclaim here at Rap Genius. Think the song is deep? Watch the video, as Lupe skewers ideas such as black face actors and minstrels.
14 “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” — Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick’s song dedicated to two of his listeners, one of which is deceased, the other being Keisha’s sister (of “Keisha’s Song”). Then after the beat switches up Kendrick’s flow is dangerous.
13 “Mercy” — Kanye West ft. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2Chainz
“Mercy” is a song that still sounds just as mean as the day it dropped. Good Friday 2012 hyped everyone up for GOOD Music’s debut album with one of the best and most catchy songs of the year. Even if you didn’t completely understand what that strange dancehall voice sample was saying.
12 “Elimination Chamber” — Domo Genesis ft. Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples & Action Bronson
Four of the most dope lyricists came together with some of their best work on this track. To have all that backed by an Alchemist beat is asking for an amazing record.
11 “Waves” — Joey Bada$$
Pro Era and ring leader Joey Bada$$ came right out of Brooklyn with some of the nicest sound flows. “Waves” is one song that really shows why Joey is somebody you need to listen to.
10 “The Book Of Soul” — Ab-Soul
Easily one of the most meaningful songs released in the last year, “Book Of Soul” is Ab-Soul basically spilling his heart on a track. Not many rappers do something like this so successfully. You can almost feel Soulo’s pain.
9 “Hands on the Wheel” — Schoolboy Q ft. ASAP Rocky
This East Coast meets West Coast collab always sounds good. Rocky and Q have put out some mean tracks before, and with “Hands On The Wheel,” we ask that they please put out more.
8 “Survival Tactics” — Joey Bada$$ ft. Capital Steez
Rest in peace to the late Capital Steez. If you’ve never heard him, listen to our number eight track of the year. You’ll realize how much talent the game has lost with Cap’s death.
7 “Around My Way” — Lupe Fiasco
Even though Pete Rock wouldn’t rate it as high on his top of 2012 list, we found Lupe Fiasco’s “Around My Way” a strong lyrical display paired with the political awareness and social commentary he was praised for in the past.
6 “M.A.A.d City” — Kendrick Lamar ft. MC Eiht
Kendrick brought back veteran emcee MC Eiht on one of Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City’s titular tracks. One of the most intense songs of the year, and another Kendrick pick, there’s no doubt KDot came strong in 2012.
5 “Hip Hop” — DJ Khaled ft. DJ Premier, Scarface & Nas
DJ Khaled always finds a way to unite the biggest stars in today’s hip hop for mean bangers. But he took it back for this track and recruited Premo. With Scarface and Nasty Nas comparing music to a woman, you have one of the best cuts of the year.
4 “Terrorist Threats” — Ab-Soul ft. Danny Brown & Jhene Aiko
Some people say they don’t feel Danny Brown, and some people say they don’t feel Ab-Soul. But if you like hip hop, you can’t deny that these two came together for one of the dopest tracks of 2012.
3 “Hardknock” — Joey Bada$$ ft. CJ Fly
This song epitomizes the amount of talent in the Pro Era posse. Joey goes in. CJ Fly goes in. This track and these two earn the title of our number three song of the year.
2 “New God Flow” — Kanye West ft. Pusha T & Ghostface Killah
Pusha T admitted to taking some shots in one of the meanest verses dropped this year. Then Kanye rolled through and owned his verse, and made this song a hard, in-your-face, no frills hip hop track. And after Pusha and ‘Ye destroyed their parts, Ghostface anchors it. If you don’t think “New God Flow” is one of the best songs this year and in recent memory, then you might want to check yourself.
The number one spot belongs to…
- “Money Trees” — Kendrick Lamar ft. Jay Rock
Kendrick Lamar dropped one of the best albums in music this year. He also helped put his Black Hippy crew on the map. “Money Trees” is a smart, strong outing by the new West Coast idol. Jay Rock also spits with ferocity and together they have the top rap record of 2012. The Rap Genius community has always loved KDot. And what’s not to love.
Well, there you have it folks. The people of Rap Genius have spoken. Obviously, Kendrick’s outreach has only grown since last year when he had numerous songs on the countdown. Pay attention to the breakout names on this list too, as they could very well be the future of hip hop. Shouts for helping go out to Nappy, J-Franks, Klono, NoSki, BBDS, the homie Lemon, and Maboo the Don.
Love it? Hate it? Feel free to comment below or let me know and hit me on Twitter: @JuicyJC_