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Top 50 Rap Songs of 2012

Counting down 2012's best hip-hop songs


40. Chief Keef - "I Don't Like"

Chief Keef had one helluva year in 2012, and it all started with his accidental smash, "I Don't Like," which spells out a number of things the Chicago rapper doesn't like. "I Don't Like" also announced the arrival of the dazzling Young Chop who shouldn't have any trouble logging more production gigs in 2013.

39. ANTHM - "Move Me"

© Amoeba Music Group

ANTHM is not your average rapper: stock broker by day, lyricist by night. His allegiance to the Golden Era is little different from the rap revivalism sentiment of so many boom bap admirers, but coming from a mind as nimble as the Duke-educated ANTHM, it feels so damn inspirational.

38. Nicki Minaj - "Beez in the Trap"

The impossibly catchy hook does its job, as do the club-centric beat and Minaj's confident rhymes.

37. Nas - "The Don"

Nas - The Don
© Def Jam
"The Don" is as brazen as your typical Nas street single, but this time his boasts are more assured. Peep his unflappable cool as the bragfest draws to a close. "Don sh-t/Under fire, I remain on some calm sh-t," he rhymes with a near-whisper.

36. A$AP Rocky - "F**kin' Problems" (Ft. Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz)

"F**kin' Problems" is A$AP Rocky's idea of a wink: Drake as a zany playboy? Kendrick Lamar as the lecherous thug? 2 Chainz as the wicked linchpin? And why does it sound this good? We've been had, y'all.

35. Action Bronson - "9-24-11"

On "9-24-11," Action Bronson flubs his lines over and over and keeps going, stopping to edit on the fly. It captures the vibe of Bronson's, Blue Chips, a collaboration with Fool's Gold producer Party Supplies, that relies on sample-based production and spontaneous rhymes. Bronsolino is assaulting beats with relative ease even when he's half-asleep. This isn't even fair anymore.

34. Joey Bada$$ - "Like Water" (Ft. Capital STEEZ & CJ Fly)

A grim song made even grimmer by the death of one of its contributors just three days after it dropped as part of Pro Era's Aprocalypse mixtape. The crew renamed and re-released the song in honor of 19-year-old Capital STEEZ, who some believe committed suicide on Christmas Eve.

33. Wu-Tang - "Rivers of Blood"

Deceptively soulful intro quickly makes way for a speed-rap contest, clanking swords, buzzing synths, and one of the most memorable Wu tracks in recent memory.

32. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Thrift Shop" (Ft. Wanz)

As long there's pen and paper, hipsters will always be a punchline in rap. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are just the latest to mine hipster jokes for a hit on this brilliant single from The Heist.

31. Juicy J - "Bandz a Make Her Dance" (Ft. Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz)

Now this is some "Let's Move" fit soundtrack for the hood. "Bandz a Make Her Dance" permeated car stereos and strip clubs throughout America, thanks to the perfect blend of Mike Will Made It's slow-motion production and Juicy J's woozy flow. Chainz and Tunechi are merely here as ornaments.
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