Hip-hop witnessed plenty of memorable rap songs in 2012, but only 50 could make the final cut. I give you the 50 best rap songs of 2012. I also made a Spotify playlist
for this year's picks. (See also
: The 10 Best Rap Albums of 2012
© Fat Possum
The glitch-hop of “Works Every Time” paints the scene like a flood of overhead lights, industrial effects spinning underneath. And in the middle of it is El-P. He signifies the struggle to wrest our souls from addiction, which El-P uses as a metaphor for the things that tie people down. "I'll do anything, anything, anything to go home," he says. But you get the feeling there's no other place he'd rather be.
Raekwon apes the Jackson 5 cut of the same name and kicks a warm ode to his youth: "And my mother was in gangs back then/Kinda strange back then." "Never Can Say Goodbye" appears on Raekwon's Lost Jewelry
EP, which sets up the third installment of his Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Heems' Nehru Jackets
exists primarily to showcase the production chops of his boy Mike Finito and standout track "Womyn" shows that Mike is deserving of some hype. Heems is in full DR mode here, rattling off free associative rhymes about the fairer sex while Mike's Xylophone and staccato drums dance in the background.
"Sade is in My Tapedeck" is TNR's best volley yet. The EMI twosome (Alexander The and Arowbe) wrote the song as a birthday gift to Ms. Adu. It's also an ode to OutKast, as evinced by the title and hook. Fittingly, slick drums and jazz atmospherics combine to yield the silky smooth tune a Sade/Outkast homage deserves. Double entendre done right.
Giddy. Raw. Ferocious. Also proof that it's possible to wring a decent verse out of Big Sean by surrounding him with superior talent.
© I.V. League
Audacity is Presto's M.O. He's the type of guy who wants to make sure you feel his aura when he walks into a room. So on this bold anthem, he grabs hold of the beat with a totally politically incorrect boast and never lets go. Does his city proud in the process.
Pusha T laughed off his rivals with this Biggie-inspired taunt which hews to the Old School mantra of not naming names. The alarms, Frank White's laughter, and scathing disses mirror the theme song to a horror flick. Call the coroner.
A modern update on a vintage smash, "Money on the Floor" hearkens to "25 Lighters" and boasts earwormy rap goodness, with standout performances by Ball, G, and Two Necklaces.
Detroit-born Angel Haze stomps her way to viral success, breathing fire and crushing divas on her way to the top.
© The Artist
Don't let the title fool you, "Watching the Moon" isn't exactly a lullaby. It's a man and his woman quibbling over work-related issues. It's also proof that Rukus can go rhyme for rhyme with any of the names on the 2012 Freshman list. Marium Echo is no slouch, either. She can hold a note alongside any singer on the charts. Here, they combine for some sweet-sour music that drips with honesty.