And just like that, another year draws to a close. One of the faster ones in recent memory – or is that fatherhood taking me for a ride? 2012 was filled with unexpected musical thrills. A year ago, I would’ve never thought I’d ever spend this much time listening to new hiphop as I did in 2012. Alongside that, my musical diet mainly consisted of rocksteady, classic breakbeat / early jungle, soul 45s, Malinese griots and this mix on repeat. The ubiquitous lists are below; if you’re into sharing yours, the comments are open! C.
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Believe the hype. Not without its shortcomings, but the intensity and passion flowing from it more than make up for them. Also has some of the catchiest hooks of the year.
Actress – R.I.P.
Unmatched in atmosphere and style, often sounding both urban and timeless at the same time.
Kendrick Lamar – Good kid, M.A.A.D. City
The result of a *lot* of work, and it shows. Lamar has designed a true album where the sum of the individual tracks is greater than the whole.
Menahan Street Band – The Crossing
This second coming shows a stronger and more versatile Menahan. Fully instrumental, and very cinematic.
Cocaine 80s – Express OG
A free six-track EP that mixes up soul, hiphop, bossa and folk in a way that makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.
Best Compilation or Reissue
Love Apple – ST (Numero Group)
Previously unreleased demo from seventies soul trio – languid and droney.
Various Artists – Personal Space (Chocolate Industries)
A compendium of electronic bedroom soul from the seventies and eighties.
Alfonso Lovo – La Gigantona (Numero Group)
Revolutionary jazzfunk from Nicaragua, recorded in 1976. Descriptions are useless – check it out!
Various Artists -Jukebox Mambo (Jukebox Jam / Jazzman)
Essential set of bluesy mambo killers originally released on 78’s.
Various Artists –Crystal, Federal and Merritone series of 45s and LP’s (Dub Store Tokyo)
Making the life of any lover of Jamaican ska, rocksteady, soul and jazz better.
Ali Farka Touré – Ni Foli (Social Music lp)
Facemelting Mali blues with buckets of fuzz.
Various Artists -Loving on the Flipside (Now Again / Orivious)
A compilation of “sweet funk and beat-heavy ballads” – a solid concept, perfectly executed. I could listen to this untill the end of my days.
Tino Contreras – El Jazz Mexicano de Tino Contreras (Jazzman)
The best of the Mexican jazz drummer and composer, filled with top-shelf tracks.
F.J. McMahon – Spirit of the Golden Juice (Circadian Press)
Sad White Bastard of the year; a long-overdue vinyl reissue of this singer-songwriter masterpiece.
Jessie Ware – Running (Disclosure remix)
This was everywhere this year, and rightfully so.
Sir Own – Hooked (Kon’s Nite Time remix)
Jai Paul – Jasmine
Hazy basement vibes get taken for a ride in a jacked-up car and nearly crash.
Kendrick Lamar featuring Gunplay – Cartoon & Cereal
One of the albums and tracks of the year – 2012 is Lamar’s.
BJ the Chicago Kid featuring Kendrick Lamar – His Pain II
I was not kidding when I wrote that previous sentence… And I have been patiently waiting for someone to sample James Brown’s cover of “Sunny”.
Big Boi – Apple of my Eye
Ridiculously catchy southern rap over a beat that sounds like an early track by The Cure? Yes please.
Best Music Writing
Noz – here, here and wherever else you can find him
Rest in Peace
Matthew Africa, Bob Babbit, Fontella Bass, Terry Callier, Jimmy Castor, Duck Dunn, Jef Gilson, Etta James, Levon Helm, MCA, Johnny Otis, Ravi Shankar, Marva Whitney…