Sam (Lesson Six)
I probably end up saying this come December of every year, but it’s been another great year for hip hop. We’ve had some fantastic albums this year. I’d be a fool if I didn’t include Aesop Rock’s Skelethon on here. Despite the five year wait, the album showed him sounding sharper and more focused than ever.
The same could be said for Open Mike Eagle’s 4NML HSPL. He is as witty as ever and deciding to let UK electronic-leaning producer Awkward make all the beats was a terrific decision. I don’t want to say it’s his best album, because my favourite Mike Eagle album is whatever I’ve listened to last.
This was also the year that Lesson Six hosted a few live gigs, the second being headlined by Wordburglar. 3rdburglar is probably his best album to date, and it was great to have the opportunity to host his first UK show.
I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I would be listing an album that frequently abuses the hip hop lexicon. Oddisee does it in such a humble and cerebral way, that I can’t hate but love People Hear What They See.
My favourite album of the year though, has to be Homeboy Sandman’s debut for Stones Throw. First of a Living Breed is complex and packed full of variation. You can take any two tracks on this album, and think they’re by different artists, never mind different albums. Yet Boy Sand manages to pull it off. A vastly under-recognized album, but easily my favourite of 2012.
Biggest surprise: That a project Dr. Dre was involved which was high on my radar – although, it has to be said, his appearance feels contradictory. Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d City was a fantastically realized project. Every line seems incredibly well crafted to be referenced later or to prove a point. It’s been called the most important mainstream release of the last decade, and it probably is.
Biggest disappointment: I really couldn’t get into The Good Sin’s first full album, The Story of Love x Hate. I absolutely adored Late, it’s one of my favourite EPs of the last five years. That had great abstraction to make his sound work and it was backed up by his great confidence. But this album lacked both and it’s a shame. I have no doubt he has a great album in him, unfortunately this wasn’t it.