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SD Exclusive: Mobb Deep on Unreleased Songs, Favorites Off New Album, The Future & More

In April, Mobb Deep released what will likely end up one of the best slept-on albums of the year. The Infamous Mobb Deep commemorates their 20th anniversary and marks their first album since 2006. A whole lot has changed in the rap world, but Prodigy and Havoc's chemistry has stayed ...

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SD Exclusive: Kid Ink on Most Expensive Date He's Had & Diving Back Into Producing For Next Album

Kid Ink's career has been a slow burner. Since he made his first steps into the industry, he has built up his name over the course of three mixtapes, various records and a lot of videos before releasing his independent debut album, Up & Away, in June 2012. Touring followed. ...

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SD Exclusive: Kirko Bangz Explains Bigger Than Me Album Title & Creating Love Rihanna

It's been three years since "Drank In My Cup" and Kirko Bangz is finally ready to release his debut album, Bigger Than Me, this June. Many might think he missed his window to capitalize off the success of his earlier singles, but Kirko feels otherwise. "A lot of niggas would've ...

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Access 206: J. Pinder Interview

At some point in an artist's career, he can feel like he only do so much in his city. For J. Pinder, that happened and he ended up moving down to Los Angeles in 2012. A move that might have been criticized a little bit, but has turned out to ...

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Review: Rick Ross - Mastermind

Mastermind, previously slated for release on December 17th, 2013, is in stores this week. It’s Rick Ross’s sixth studio album, and his second in a row to miss a winter release—despite statements over the years by Ross and the MMG twitter account that the Untouchable Maybach Empire does not do ...

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Artwork by: Sk3ptic | Written by: Pat Bierut

With the first half down, here’s the final five. No need for long introductions. Just read on to find out who made the cut.

5. Schooboy Q – Habits and Contradictions

His crushing flows aside, Q is not the best rapper in TDE. In fact, he’s probably the probably the worst one. However, he’s also the most fun and the most awesome. Nobody out right now doesn’t give a fuck the way Q doesn’t give a fuck. Try him. He doesn’t give a fuck so much that he isn’t even going to bother with you. You can either get on his level or get out of his way, and in that regard he is a completely convincing guy. The album is packed with fucking jams. “Hands on the Wheel” isn’t a top 5 song of the year? Yeah, right.

Purchase: iTunes

4. Ab-Soul – Control System

I know, I know. Soulo above Q? Trust me, it wasn’t easy. What it came down to was this: Q awesome and probably a lot of fun to be around. On Control System, though, Ab is a more interesting guy than Q ever manages to be. Their albums have the same major issue—neither truly merits its length—but like the other members of Black Hippy, Ab-Soul has a unique place in rap. No one else is saying what he’s saying or making the references he’s making. He’s simultaneously intimately revealing and painfully guarded. It’s in his voice. Control System might not be the most fun of 2012’s releases, but it is one of the most mesmerizing.

Purchase: iTunes

3. Action Bronson – Rare Chandeliers

No matter what they tell you or how they accomplish it, a rapper is selling is a character. In 2012, there was no better example of this than Action Bronson. Bronson deals fantasies. His braggadocio reaches far beyond simple drug lord, “greatest rapper alive fiction.” He rhymes about ridiculous misadventures in a grindhouse style. Have you seen the cover of this album? Rare Chandeliers wasn’t even Bronson’s only release this year, but it was his strongest. Alchemist, who tends to be hit or miss, turns out to be Bronson’s best partner yet.

Download: Sermon’s Domain

2. Nas – Life is Good

After two stale, sloppily curated albums (Hip-Hop is Dead and Untitled) Nas had us worried. His unexciting beat selection and overambitious concepts became exhausting to hear. The Don was forcing it. After his very public tax and divorce problems, he seems to have taken the opposite approach on Life is Good. With the help of No ID and Salaam Remi, he sounds almost enlightened. Nas spent his entire career trying to be the everyman. He was his own worst enemy. This year, he became the everyman just trying to be himself. Also: album cover of the year, and probably Nas’ career.

Purchase: iTunesAmazon | Best Buy

1. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

By the end of 2012, it’s obvious: there simply isn’t anyone in the game rapping better than Kendrick Lamar. His flows are poignant and inventive. He’s not just a fantastic technical rapper, he’s also a lyricist who isn’t preachy. That, plus he’s got an excellent ear for beats. The guy’s career is a perfect storm right now. Last year’s Section.80 set high expectations; with major backing, Kendrick delivered not only one of the best major label debuts, but albums, in recent memory.

Purchase: iTunesAmazon | Best Buy

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