Public Enemy – “Most Of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp” (Slam Jamz) – Twenty five years after their Def Jam debut “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”, arguably the greatest group in Hip-Hop history returned with a robust collection of typically rebelutionary beats and rhymes, with Chuck D joined by allies such as Brother Ali, DMC and Bumpy Knuckles to fire lyrical shots at political figures, mass media corporations and rap culture vultures.
Muneshine – “There Is Only Today” (Droppin’ Science Productions) – Backed by top-notch production from the likes of DJ Spinna, Buckwild and Jeff Spec, Canadian rap renaissance man Muneshine delivered both inspirational and introspective rhymes on this latest addition to his already impressive musical catalogue.
Masta Ace – “MA_DOOM: Son Of Yvonne” (Fat Beats) – Considering how many times MF Doom’s “Special Herbs” beats have been used for freestyles, YouTube videos etc, it would take a talented emcee to make them sound like you were hearing some of them for the first time all over again. But that’s exactly what former Juice Crew member Masta Ace did with this autobiographical project, recalling memories of his Brooklyn childhood and early rap career with his typical attention to detail and story-telling skill.
Purpose & Confidence – “The Purpose Of Confidence” (Ill Adrenaline Records) – Having produced one of 2011′s best albums in the form of his “The Element Of Surprise” collaboration with NY’s Rashad, Boston beat-master Confidence hit the target again in 2012, teaming-up with Tragic Allies emcee Purpose for another accomplished project. Displaying a slightly harder, grittier side to his production this time around to match Purpose’s street-orientated verses, Confidence one again proved his ear for both quality beats and lyrical talent.
Kingdom Of Fear – “Kingdom Of Fear” (YNR Productions) – Inspired by the work of legendary American gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, UK favourites Kashmere and Jehst adopted off-the-wall alter-egos for this larger-than-life concept album, with the pair careering through bright lights and big cities in a haze of weed smoke and Hip-Hop technicolour. Inspired, creative and entertaining.
Oddisee – “People Hear What They See” (Mello Music Group) – Drawing inspiration from a wide-range of real-life experiences and conversations, Washington DC producer-on-the-mic Oddisee’s latest album showcased the sound of a maturing artist, an individual determined to push the boundaries of his own creativity whilst remaining grounded in the underground sound that he built his name on.
Dialect & Despair – “Self Evident” (UKNOWHO Records) – Proving the sentiment behind Rakim’s famous lyric that it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at, this Australian duo crafted an impressive collection of true-school bangers on the follow-up to their 2010 debut “The Vortex”, featuring an inspired line-up of featured talent including the UK’s Melanin 9, X-Ecutioners member Total Eclipse and D.I.T.C. affiliates Majestic Gage and D Flow.
Sean Price – “Mic Tyson” (Duck Down Records) – Brooklyn’s favourite microphone bully Sean P finally got around to releasing his long-awaited “Mic Tyson” project in 2012, pummeling a concrete-tough selection of beats from the likes of 9th Wonder, Evidence and the UK’s Beat Butcha with his trademark brand of deadpan threats of violence and amusing Hulk-sized boasts.
Verb T – “Morning Process” (High Focus Records) – UK emcee Verb T has always been more interested in letting his talent do the talking rather than trying to shout louder than everyone else. With this latest project, Verbs put the complexities of his own personality under the microscope, describing the thoughts of an emcee entering his thirties who is just as happy shutting himself away from the world for extended periods of time as he is ripping mics onstage for enthusiastic fans. Understated brilliance.
Aarophat – “Invictus” (Ill Sevenz Music Group) – Raised in Ohio but currently based on the West Coast, veteran subterranean wordsmith Aarophat’s seventh full-length project mixed motivational sentiments, down-to-earth life observations and mystical imagery together into one satisfying listening experience, with the authoritative lyricist proving himself to be a true master of his craft by tackling a variey of subject matter with both character and insight.
Constant Deviants – “Diamond” (Six2Six Records) – Gaining notoriety in the 90s with indie favourites such as “Competition Catch Speed Knots”, NY / Baltimore duo M.I. and DJ Cutt returned to the rap game without having missed a beat on this quality album. Blending golden-age flavour with current inspiration, the pair effectively bridged the gap between the past and the present with an undeniable rugged charm. A real diamond in the rough.