The 70 Best Hip-Hop Tracks of 2012 (34-1)

The first edition of this list was met with praise and also some scrutiny. Here’s the second and final installment.

34. Game – “Heaven’s Arms


Game had a big 2012 as he managed to put together an album full of features that actually sounded pretty good. My personal favorite was this track which featured Game putting on a lyrical clinic over a smooth Michael Jackson sample.

Best Line: “He be where the summer be, I be where the winter go”

33. Rick Ross – “Pirates

“God Forgives, I Don’t” was, for the most part, no different than other Rick Ross albums. One small difference being that the introspective song was not found on one of his usual Maybach Music tracks, but on a lower-scale track produced by not-as-known producers Kenoe and Got Koke. If it wasn’t for another street smash, this would have been the best song on the album.

Best Line: “Seen so many things, be preposterous not to record it”

32. Kendrick Lamar – “Money Trees

With one album, Kendrick Lamar had the world proclaiming him the best young rapper in the game. With one song, Kendrick had the whole world finishing sentences with “ya bish.”

Best Line: “Pull off at Church’s with Pirelli’s skirting”

31. Miguel – “The Thrill”

In 2012, Miguel jumped out onto the forefront of the R&B game along with Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. “The Thrill” is not just a song, but more a celebration of success for Miguel & friends and the new life he leads.

Best Line: “Cause these moments come one blink at a time”

30. Gucci Mane – “F*ck the World

The title of this song fits Gucci Mane’s entire career. You don’t go to jail on numerous occasions, beat someone with a pool stick and perform at a concert in which your life has been threatened if you care about the world.

Best Line: “My uncle Ronnie died from smoking caine, my cousin suicidal he blow’d out his brain”

29. Young Dro – “I’m Wit It

Okay, Young Dro! Lets keep this up! Best song off his last mix tape, showcases Dro’s ability to push lyrics into your head that you can picture.

Best Line: “Hurry before yo’ outer space ass get zapped hoe!”

28. Rihanna – Loveeeeeee Song

Would you ever think that a love duet sung by Rihanna and Future could sound so good? Rihanna sounds fresher on this than she has in years, meanwhile Future’s croons over his need for love and affection. Even Jay-Z was feeling this one.

Best Line: “I’m searching for my soul…”

27. Big Boi – “In The A

It’s always hip-hop excellence when three of Atlanta’s finest get together on a track. Only thing that could have made this one better was an appearance by Killer Mike (Other than the song’s sample).

Best Line: “Cause when I’m on the mic, I go for broke like T.O.”

26. Rockie Fresh – “Driving 88

The title track from the Maybach Music signee’s latest project features a smooth instrumental and a stand-out verse from Casey Veggies.

Best Line: “It make my face light up, I feel like Robert Horry, When he hit that shot that made the headlines in the papers, run my team for my city like Kobe do with the Lakers”

25. Joe Budden – “So Good

My only problem with the best track from Budden’s latest mixtape? Too short. Joe could have left the talking out at the end. One of Araabmuzik’s best beats.

Best Line: “Panic when I wake up and she not next to me”

24. Future – “Deeper than the Ocean

One of the deepest songs in Future’s catalog is also one of his best. Regretful thoughts and a pain so deep he’s considered getting inside his escalade and crashing over a crushing guitar solo. Even people who don’t consider themselves fans, enjoy this song.

Best Line: “I’m too smart, I should have went to Harvard”

23. Frank Ocean – “Bad Religion”

If you’ve ever been in a relationship that may be have been forbidden in the eyes of some for whatever reason, you feel this song. The emotion overwhelmingly shines through in Frank’s voice. The video I’m posting is a live performance from the Jimmy Fallon show.

Best Line: “‘He said Allahu Akbar’,  I told him don’t curse me, ‘Bo Bo you need prayer’ – I guess it couldn’t hurt me”

22. Nas – “Stay

I knew the hip-hop legend was back when I heard this song. One of the smoothest songs in Nas’ catalog elicited goosebumps from me the second Nas starts spitting.

Best Line: “We enemies but your hatred could never enter me”

21. Driicky Graham – “Snapbacks & Tattoos Remix

I always appreciated the instrumental. But it wasn’t until I heard this remix that I enjoyed the song. To this day, I haven’t heard the original song. Featuring Roscae Dash, Driicky, French Montana and Ca$h Out, the hip-hop head might find this line-up to be a recipe for disaster. Minus the French verse, the other three shine brightly putting out the best and most entertaining verse that their abilities could afford.

Best Line: “Got plenty snapbacks but I feel like I need more tattoos!”

20. Ya Boy – “Playoffs

As much as the buzz has died for the Bay Area rapper Ya Boy, he gained some favor in my eyes when he released this track. The best original track in his catalog.

Best Line: “Rock 2 chains like Tity Boi, in the fast lane I’m a city boy”

19. Waka Flocka Flame – “Let them Guns Blam

The hardest track from Triple F Life would have fit in perfectly on Flockaveli. Meek Mill steals the show with another verse to showcase his standout 2012.

Best Line: “Won’t stop ’till I see a body drop”

18. Cyhi the Prince – “Drank & Smoke

What do you think of when you hear this slow, syrup-induced beat? If it’s not Houston, TX or something close to it, listen again. Cyhi, Big K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf come through and try to keep listeners at ease while they’re indulging in their vices.

Best Line: “They holler out the window, ‘Are you throwed’  I said ‘yes I am”

17. Pusha T – “New God Flow

How to make an already ill song even iller? Go ahead and add one of my top 10 favorite rappers ever, Ghostface Killah. Kanye even sounds like old Kanye on this one.

Best Line: “Went from most hated to the champion god flow,I guess that’s a feeling only me and Lebron know”

16. Childish Gambino – “UnNecessary

Gambino had to be pleased as he contacted TDE for features and watched Schoolboy Q and fellow group member Ab-Soul rip the soul out of this track. Not to be outdone, Gambino comes through with witty punchlines also.

Best Line: “Mr. Flop Boy, you got your label hot, I’m the hardest out, you’s a tablecloth, unnecessary ballin got me carted off”

15. Rick Ross – “Stay Schemin‘”

Remember at the beginning of the year when Rick Ross dropped a mixtape that was 10x better than his eventual album? This was the standout track. Drake’s verse(Verse of the year btw) sparked a “beef” with Common that didn’t go as far as the world wanted.

Best Lines: “It bothers me when the gods get to acting like the broads”

14. Big K.R.I.T. – “Boobie Miles”

The soulful jazz sample provides the groundwork for an inspirational track where KRIT encourages you to go for your dreams.

Best Lines: “One second on the clock and shot’s….alllll yours”

13. G.O.O.D. Music – “Mercy

Maybe the most popular song of 2012, the song comes in at #13 on my list. The verses and overall catchiness of the song did nothing short of establishing G.O.O.D. as possibly the dominant group in Hip-hop at the moment.

“Now catch up to my campaign, coupe the color of mayonnaise!”

12. King Louie – “Val Venis

The main formula for King Louie or King L’s success is simple, literally. Simple, yet complex rhymes delivered in a catchy manner. Gucci Mane & Project Pat would be proud.

Best Line: “Go against the team and you gon’ get exposed”

11. Rihanna – “Birthday Cake (Remix)

I’ll say this about both Rihanna and Chris Brown, they’re both talented and can make some catchy songs. If you’re inebriated and you hear this at the club, dance or get trampled on.

Best Line: “Cake, Cake, Cake(repeat 4,203x)”

10. King Louie – “My Hoes They Do Drugs

Already off to a good start. I don’t do drugs but this song is amazing. Juicy J continues his incredible reemergence and Pusha takes the track home. If you’re going to do a song about drugs, you’d better get two known drug users for the feature.

Best line:
(My hoes they do drugs) my black girl like to smoke weed

(My hoes they do drugs) my white girl like to go ski
(My hoes they do drugs) my Spanish girl wanna to roll E
(My hoes they do drugs) we mixed it up till we OD

9. Ca$h Out – “You Know

Not as well known as “Cashin’ Out,” this is easily the best song in the short catalog of Ca$h Out. Why he didn’t release this as a single is beyond me. DJ Spinz killed the beat, the melodic hook is memorable and the lyrics are typical Ca$h Out…yet more catchy than in any other song from him.

Best Line: “I been getting money so what the f*ck you saying, all white bricks they wrapped up in Saran”

8. Future – “Turn on the Lights”

I’ll admit it: It took a while for this song to catch on with me. It can be hard for a song catered towards women to resonate with me. Once I actually listened to what he was saying, I was hooked. When Future says he’s written for R&B artists, you can listen to this song and truly believe him. This song also represented to me the transformation of producer Mike Will Made It. Go listen to old beats from Mike Will in 2007 and listen to this.

Best Line: “I don’t want her, cuz she from the corner, and I heard that Beamer was a loaner, her old man the owner…”

7. Gucci Mane – “Trap Back

You can argue there were better songs from the mix tape. But no other song brought authentic Gucci Mane back than this one. Southside provides the beat as Gucci Mane takes us back to Zone 6 and cooks up a classic.

Best Line: “In a drop top, I’ma push the top back”

6. Rick Ross – “So Sophisticated”

When Rick Ross’ career is over, you’ll look back and say his hardest song was “B.M.F.” But a half a step behind that is “So Sophisticated.” Ross and Meek Mill shred Beat Bully’s masterpiece of a beat, taking listeners through a somewhat fantasy but mostly real -life view of their lives. Meek Mill takes advantage of his full advantage of his feature and if wasn’t for Ross’ powerful verse, I’d say Meek renegaded him. (Also for fun, go to 3:38 to see the scariest man outside of Mike Knox that I’ve ever seen in my life.)

Best Line: “You ain’t got no m’s in yo account, I never ask my amount, treat that bad bitch like a bad check cuz I cashed that and I bounced”

5. Wiz Khalifa – “Guilty Conscience”

So much music is released nowadays that it’s easy to forget about a good project. Wiz’s Taylor Allderdice mix tape was largely forgotten about in mainstream America. This standout track doesn’t as Wiz experiments with an unknown producer and finds great success. Lyrics are nothing spectacular but they shine as Wiz provides boasts-galore. Note to Wiz, cut all the introspective interviews off the actual tracks and save them as skits.

Best Line: “Had my own style ’til you ran with it, OG kush I’m the man with it”

4. A$AP Rocky – “Pretty Flacko Remix”

Rocky knew what he was doing with this one. You’ve got a hype solo track and want to create a remix. Who do you add? How about two of the hypest rappers in the game and throw in a rare appearance by Pharrell? The formula worked as the four artists created the craziest track of 2012.  Waka went nuts, Gucci went back to ’05 and Pharrell snapped.

Best Line: “Everybody on my dick like Ahab”

3. Juicy J – “Bands A Make Her Dance”

The strip club anthem of 2012. The most ignorant song of 2012. Whatever you want to call it, there was no denying that this is the track that brought Juicy J back into prominence. If his mix tapes with producer Lex Luger started the flames, this song burned the house down. Simple, hilarious and catchy is what works for Juicy J. And for fun, he adds Lil’ Wayne & 2Chainz who actually do the beat justice.

Best Line: “You say no to rachet p*ssy, Juicy J can’t!”

2. Kendrick Lamar – “Poetic Justice”

Who said Kendrick couldn’t make a radio song? With a sample of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place,” Kendrick describes an up and down relationship with his girl. Even Drake comes through and for once stays on topic. Lets hope Kendrick actually gets Janet for the video.

Best Line: “They say conversation rule a nation, I can tell, But I could never right my wrongs, ‘less I write it down for real, P.S.”

1. Miguel – “Adorn

Hands down, this is the best R&B song of the past 10 years. Doing a masterful job of encompassing sounds from R&B of each generation, Miguel drops the best song of 2012. Sure to win a Grammy, the best parts of the song are the funk elements meshed with the strong and powerful lyrics. The song is like a lightweight fusion of Prince & Marvin Gaye. The second I heard this song I said to myself, “I’m buying this album regardless of what the other singles are.” It’s that good. Who knows what 2013 has in store for Miguel, but after this past year, his star can only continue shining.

Best Line: “These lips….can’t wait to taste your skin”

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