The Best Albums of 2012: 25 – 11

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We Present to You, We Plug Good Music’s Best Albums of 2012

Over the course of three or four weeks, I bet you’ve all been inundated with several ‘Albums of 2012’ lists – my personal favourite has been NPR’s list of their favourite albums of 2012 – but alas, this is the definite list of the Best Albums of 2012 – in other words, this is the only list that you need! To compile our list of the best albums of the year, we have called upon some of our frequent contributors to We Plug Good Music in 2012, Bibi Cofie, Temi Yembra, Jojo Sainvilier, our associate editor Neefemi Oyedele and yours truly of course as well as a selection of music connoisseurs from the Hip-Hop Lovers family and forum – Niyi Okuboyejo, Jonesy Stark, Williams Stickles and Tim Haywood. Without further ado, let the countdown begin…

25. Jessie Ware – Devotion

Jessie Ware

Devotion by Jessie Ware is my favourite album of 2012 and arguably one of the best British records of the year. Jessie Ware is also our favourite new British artists of the year and for good reason too – with her excellent song writing, passionate and captivating vocal performances mixed with resounding musical backdrops provided notably by Julio Bashmore and Dave Okumu, she has produced a magnificent body of work for her debut. Like I said back in August, Devotion will not only enhance your record collection, it will also enhance your life! – Ayo Adepoju

24. Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio

robert-glasper-black-radio

I don’t listen to Jazz a lot, but when I do, I listen to Robert Glasper. Glasper has been on my radar for years, and Black Radio is nothing short of dope. Usually an album with a multitude of features makes my skin itch but Glasper does it in such a way that you’re drawn in from the first song to the last. Excellent. – Jojo Sainvilier

23. BJ The Chicago Kid – Pineapple Now-Laters

Bj the chicago kid

Another great – but low key – R&B album this year. BJ the Chicago Kid is a very soulful artist in a traditional, almost vintage way. He sings about love and pain for most of the album; universal feelings that anyone with a heart can relate to but don’t let the simplicity of his subject matter fool you because that doesn’t stop him from being totally captivating. Just listen to “Good Luv’n” and you’ll know what I mean. Jairus Mozee also deserves a big mention for handling the majority the production on this. – Tim Haywood

I’ve been a fan of BJ’s for quite some time now, via his collaborations with some of my favorite west coast artists like TiRon & Ayomari, the now-defunct U-N-I, and Pac Div. His first full-length album exceeds all expectations, giving the traditional R&B flavor that has been almost non-existent in R&B for a while. He sings on an array of topics, ranging from the ills of the world to love, and even covers the East Side High school song from “Lean on Me”. And the slow jams? Listen. Get your body ready. Just… Yeah. – Jojo Sainvilier

22. Schoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions

Schoolboy Q H&C

TDE’s resident gangster in designer also managed to drop the strongest project of his fledgling career this year. Q’s whole style is pretty hard to dislike, even with all the misogyny and whatnot. He is charismatic and just wants to mess around and have fun. Once again, the production is stellar, thanks in large part to their in-house Digi+Phonics crew; whatever melody is employed is always lush, and the drums always slap. Mean mugs abound. – William Stickles

This album is something of a rarity in any medium, the prequel that is superior to its inspiration. Which makes it fitting that the title of Schoolboy Q’s sophomore effort is Habits & Contradictions. Here you’ll find Q firmly in his lane. This album is loud, braggadocios, obnoxious, ignorant but also introspective, contemplative, spiritual, and vulnerable… exactly as advertised, a perfect paradox. – Jonesy Stark

21. Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

Michael-Kiwanuka-Home-Again

It is easily one of my favourite album of the year and every other “new” artist in 2012 had the onus upon them to create something as beautiful as this. This is not hype, this is substance and I say so very objectively. I have listened for flaws on Home Again and I can find none. He is a brilliant story teller; the guitar, the strings, the brass, the saxophone, the flutes, the trumpet and his stunning voice all blend together perfectly on each and every song on this album. – Neefemi Oyedele

20. John Mayer – Born & Raised

John Mayer - Born And Raised - Front

This might seem a little left-field, and probably won’t be near many year-end lists, but I’d be lying if John Mayer’s Born And Raised wasn’t on mine. I’ve been a fan since early days, and after the steaming pile of disappointment that was Battle Studies, this new Americana/Country-esque experiment really worked for me. Everyone can yell at me and think that I’m an idiot, but come on. This album is great. – William Stickles

19. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel

Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel

What can I say about Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel that hasn’t already been said? The comeback album of the year? Without a doubt! Only Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! by Godspeed You! Black Emperor comes remotely close. After seven years on hiatus, Fiona Apple returned with much creativity, anger, innovation, delicacy, introspection and unpredictability to serve as the perfect antithesis to the horrible dance/pop music that invaded our radios this year. The only thing that could be faulted about this record was its unusually lengthy title The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do but even that was a stroke of genius to me. – Ayo Adepoju

18. Roc Marciano – Reloaded

Roc Marciano Reloaded

Roc Marciano is right next to Action Bronson at the forefront of this NY-rap renaissance. It took me a little while to come around to his quiet beats and almost quieter voice, but trust me when I say that it will be rewarding whenever it happens. Most of the production is courtesy of the man himself, and it works incredibly well because he sticks to what he sounds best on. His dense internal rhyme schemes and dry wit are truly refreshing, and I’m still hearing new lines with every listen. – William Stickles

My folks describe Roc Marciano as the end result of combining Raekwon and Q-Tip, and I couldn’t think of a more apt description. Roc Marci’s one of those cats that speaks softly and carries a big stick. His laid back, hella low key delivery adds a layer of menace to his songs that I haven’t felt since the early days of Mobb Deep. And the fact that dude generally produces most of his own material really adds a layer of appreciation for this album. The long wait for this album was definitely worth it because Marciano delivers that classic, east coast hard-nosed winter music. – Jonesy Stark

17. Andy Stott – Luxury Problems

Andy Stott Luxury Problems

Nothing this year sounded unsettling yet soothing like Luxury Problems. Andy Stott has a knack at creating atmospheric techno that terrifies but moves you instantly. The chills you get from the Icy voices hovering over menacing grooves; the constant mood swings that accompany each change of a snare; the bubbling bass erupting over ambient landscapes. It’s all there. – Niyi Okuboyejo

16. The xx – Coexist

The XX Coexist

Eerie, stylish, epic, cool – just a few words that come to mind when thinking about The XX’s 2012 album Coexist. Its beautifully stark lyrics and stripped down instrumentation simultaneously lull and unnerve you. Lyrically and sonically, it creates a sense of acutely anguished discomfort. This is an album that isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is. Coexist is a brazenly introverted, mood- inspiring album that subtly says, “if you don’t get it, then don’t get it“. It’s a fantastically bold slice of deliciously modern melancholia that’ll be influencing the sound of music well into 2013. – Bibi Cofie

15. Oddisee – People Hear What They See

Oddisee People Hear What They See

As far as rapper/producer albums go, this year’s best goes to El-P but in my book, Oddisee got the #2 spot. As far as debut rap albums goes, this year’s best goes to Kendrick Lamar, but likewise, Oddisee holds my #2 spot. I say that to say that this year has been really good for music in Hip-Hop and certain albums will always fall under the radar. So if you happened to not catch People Hear What They See in 2012, do yourself a service and rectify that error in the New Year because rapper/producer Oddisee’s debut rap album is more than worth a listen. – Tim Haywood

My favorite album of this year, any genre. Great production, dope lyrics, and just amazing. “Think of Things” is my favorite song of the year, hands down. Also the perfect “final song of the album that makes you instantly press play so that the album repeats again” song. – Jojo Sainvilier

14. Freddie Gibbs – Baby Face Killa

Freddie Gibbs Baby Face Killa

As we all expected, Gangsta Gibbs easily extends his menacingly consistent streak of album/mixtapes with Baby Face Killa. There are some stumbles, as there usually are with the sheer amount of content that he’s putting out, but the high points are higher than almost any others this year. The front-end of the album is incredible, and it really only falters when the guests start showing up. That said, the inclusion of Z-Ro was a wet dream to many fans, and no one is ever mad at a Curren$y verse. Hopefully leaving CTE will help Gibbs trim the fat from his upcoming releases, but even if it doesn’t, we’re still going to hear him rap. And that’s really all that matters. – William Stickles

Gangsta Gibbs has been the savior of gansta rap since he hit the scene. There really isn’t much more I can say about this cat that ain’t been said before. Homey’s the living embodiment of flow and one of the trillest dudes in the game. Baby Face Killa rides smooth front to back, thumps in the trunk, and contains verse after verse after verse of ice cold lyricism, rich with vivid imagery and matter of fact sincerity. – Joney Stark

13. Tame Impala – Lonerism

Tame Impala Lonerism

I never really had any doubts that Tame Impala would make a great follow-up to their debut Innerspeaker. I am, however, pleasantly surprised at how much more I dig Lonerism than its predecessor, just off the first listen. Several dozen spins later and I still feel the same. Introvert that I am, I know a thing or two about being a loner and it’s not the worst thing in the world. This album gets at that feeling; where you’re content with being a bit reclusive. If you understand that, then you’ll probably enjoy playing “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?” on repeat for a few hours as well. – Tim Haywood

Stumbling last to the finish line amongst other genres this year; Indie Rock has to thank Tame Impala for keeping the gap respectable. Building on their brilliant debut Innerspeaker, Kevin Parker and crew decided to play Indie Rock’s saving grace and make a pop record. What results is a great album reminiscent of past masterworks from The Flaming Lips and Animal Collective. – Niyi Okuboyejo

12. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream

Miguel Kaleidoscope Dream

I was more than content to spend the entire year replaying Channel Orange and neglecting every other R&B artist on the planet. But luckily for me, I accidentally turned on the radio one day and heard a phenomenal record titled “Adorn”. I figured Miguel had lucked-up again and hit it big with another radio single, but that was just the icing on the cake. Kaleidoscope Dream is actually beyond anything I expected from Miguel. There’s some real artistry in his songwriting that I was thrilled to discover on this album. Goes to show what a musician can accomplish when they’ve got creative control. – Tim Haywood

11. Brandy – Two Eleven

two-eleven

For those who think Brandy fell off, think again. Two Eleven, which took 3 years to record, is a great welcome back album from Brandy. The album caters to the commercial crowd with tracks such as “Put It Down”, but I most especially like the 90’s retro Brandy sound she returned to on the track “Wildest Dreams”. You could tell this album was very personal for Ms. Norwood as the album is filled with sincere tracks and with over 10 of the best producers in the industry on the album, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be on replay for a while. – Temi Yembra

Stay tuned for our 10 Best Albums of 2012!

Ayo Adepoju

Head of PR + Publicity @WPGM_PR // Founder + EiC @WePlugGoodMusic
Ayo Adepoju

About the author:

Head of PR + Publicity @WPGM_PR // Founder + EiC @WePlugGoodMusic. Follow him on Twitter / Facebook.

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