On the back of their rise to success in 2011, Odd Future
released their highly-anticipated collaborative crew album on March 20. Starting off with Hodgy Beats
and Tyler, The Creator
- at the time arguably the groups two strongest rappers - trading verses on "NY (Ned Flander") it set the precedent for the rest of the album. All the sub-crews within Odd Future got their time to shine with The Internet ("Ya Know), MellowHype
("50"), and MellowHigh
("Lean") each recording individual tracks and the lesser known artists like Mike G and Domo Genesis
also getting solo tracks ("Forest Green" and "Doms" respectively) to show their skills on the mic. The album truly showcases the versatility of the group with Frank Ocean
even crooning on "White" and the jokers of the group, Taco and Jasper, getting their 16 bars with one of the funniest songs on "We Got Bitches." But, the albums true strength comes in the songs they take serious with the whole crew or the strongest members coming together to spit vicious rhymes mixed in with clever wordplay on tracks like "Rella", "HCapd", and "Sam (Is Dead)". The album also ends in the way all collaborative albums should with each member getting to jump on the mic to spit a verse in the smooth track, "Oldie"; we even get a special surprise from the youngest member Earl Sweatshirt
in his first verse back from his stint in Samoa.
Welcome To: Our House - Slaugterhouse
This powerhouse of a group did not disappoint when they released their second album this year. With a combined skill set of Crooked I
, Joell Ortiz
, Royce Da 5'9
, and Joe Budden
, the talent in the group is absurd. Easily the best group out there in terms of cohesiveness and lyrical wit, the quartet invited listeners into their home to blow their minds. Being signed to Shady Records, Eminem
was always going to feature on the album and he didn't disappoint. Marshall Mathers is a frequent guest at the Slaugterhouse
mansion as evident on tracks like "Our House" and "Asylum," stealing the show on both. But, what this album truly contains is a fantastic emcee times four as each rapper steps their game up to create punch-line after punch-line in an album that reminds you of the brash bravado and battle raps of '90's.
Eight tracks long but with only two true tracks - the rest are instrumentals or acapella - this EP, if it can be called that, is purely brilliant for its simplicity. Freddie Gibbs
is a man with a pen and a husky flow and his verses on "Terrorist" and "Shame" are so strong, it makes one excited for whenever he drops his much anticipated debut album. Legendary producer Madlibs' production on this album is second to none with retro flares, surprising snares, and a dope R&B sample on the titular track, "Shame" as Gibb's raps about the fleetingness of the male-female relationship. For the potential of Gibbs shining through in this album backed by the brilliant Madlib, this album merits a place on this list.
When Murs and Fashawn released This Generation
, the collaboration surprised almost everyone. But, it makes a lot of sense. Both MC's are West Coast natives, both underground artists that don't carry too much ego or elitism, and where Murs
is the grizzled vet, Fashawn
is the lyrical up-and-comer. Fashawn sharing the limelight allows Murs long-form storytelling to be shorter and more poignant and both artists' jabs and disses are more prominent throughout the album.
Each track averages around the three and a half minute mark, leaving very little room for features, which allows both MC's to focus on their own distinctive verses with purpose. Themes vary throughout the album from societal problems, "Heartbreaks and Handcuffs" to past loves, "Future Loves", to the trials and tribulations of street life, "And It Goes." Definitely the surprise package of the year, Murs and Fashawn don't compromise their individualistic abilities and distinctive voices on This Generation as their chemistry shines through to create a classic album.
Though the original idea behind this collaborative album was to have all members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan
to collaborate with all three members of D-Block
, hence the title of the album. It ended up being narrowed down to Ghostface
but the album finds itself littered with features from all the other members which truly helped the album. If it weren't for the features, the album might have found itself being too one-dimensional as both Ghostface and Sheek never truly ventured out of their comfort zone, opting instead to stick to their tried and tested successful methods. Though that does work so well, the features on the album from the likes of Method Man
on "Stella" and Styles P
on "Cocaine Central" helped the album give it a different kind of feel and allowed it to be yet another successful album from both groups. The album reminds every young rapper that the legends are still relevant and can rhyme circles around them all day. Overall, a refresher in the congested landscape of modern day hip-hop.
This track is the shortest in length on this list - it's five tracks long - but what it lacks in volume, it makes up for incredibly in content. Curren$y
dropped this gem a few weeks after his album, Stoned Immaculate
, and with up-and-coming producer Harry Fraud
on the beats for the EP, it was a perfect collaboration. Curren$y's smooth flow and stoner anthems were perfectly backed up Fraud, who clearly understood how to enhance but not outshine the braggadocio flow of the New Orleans Native. With good raps, solid production and the likes of Styles P
and Smoke DZA
jumping on for features on this EP, it's one of the shortest but one of the strongest collaborative pieces available.
What a combination to collaborate on an album. With Action Bronson
keeping the sharp New York lyricism alive, he's backed by legendary producer Alchemist
for one of the years best mix tapes. The mix tapes greatest success is not in sounding like a studio album but rather being able to cater to a large demographic with young and old being able to enjoy this album with ease. The quirky chef-turned-rapper gets ScHoolboy Q
to assist him on "Demolition Man" which shows he can spit with one of the best in modern-day rap. "Bitch I Deserve You" showcases a different misogynistic side of the former side while paying homage to the rap game and he follows it up with the jazzy "Eggs On The Third Floor." The unpredictability and quirkiness of Action Bronson truly allows the album it to stand out from the rest in 2012.
The indie darling of 2012, Macklemore
burst onto the scene and introduced himself to the masses with his hit single, "Thrift Shop," and they subsequently adored the Seattle native after they heard his debut album, The Heist
. The internet following he had garnered himself in the years previous to this weren't surprised as the thoughtful emcee showcased his skills on the mic with one of the years best albums. Macklemore isn't afraid to tell his individual tale on the album, of how he battled addiction, had a stagnant artistic beginning, and he also isn't one to shy away from topics that are never discussed in hip-hop. With Ryan Lewis' craft production and live instrumentation on the album, Macklemore raps about the rights for gay marriage in "Same Love", old flames in "Thin Line", and he even discusses the age-old saying of honing ones skills for ten thousand hours to perfect a craft in "10,000 Hours." He gets the Black Hippy
members ScHoolboy Q
to assist him on a banger of a track, "White Walls" while Ab-Soul
helps Macklemore spit viciously on the best track of the album, "Jimmy Lovine." Though Macklemore might be too mainstream for some, The Heist
is the indie hip-hop album that everyone had been craving and it surprised as it came from a white guy from Seattle who has a fondness for thrift shopping.
A fan-friendly album, Breakfast
serves the purpose for the duo of Chiddy Bang
to burst into the mainstream, which they did. Being the biggest thing on college campuses since Asher Roth
with their hit single, "Opposite of Adults", the duo took their bubblegum-ish sound and created a full-length debut album. This album won't have the hardest of hip-hop heads bumping along to it but it wasn't created for them. With no real wit or clever rhymes in the album, the album is for the generic masses to play at parties, concerts, and most importantly clubs. With no true standout tracks, each song is a club banger with heavy bass, an overuse of the synth but extremely catchy hooks. It's inclusion on the list - and its position - is for the success the album received and the boldness Chiddy Bang went for in creating possibly one of hip-hops best bubblegum albums.
When Rick Ross
created Maybach Music Group
in 2008, many scoffed at the roster of the group and didn't think they would hold up in the long run. Fast forward four years later and the same harsh critics sing his praises after MMG stole the show with their crew album, Self Made Vol. 2
. From "Bag of Money" to "This Thing of Ours", the entire album is hard not to listen to. Omarion
shines through, especially on "Let's Talk", despite being relegated to just three tracks. If they were actors, Wale
and Meek Mill
would win Oscars for their supporting roles to The Bawse's main character, as Mill brags heavy over hard bass on "Black Magic" and Wale
is his usual exemplary self on "I Be Putting On." With MMG affiliates French Montana
and Wiz Khalifa
making appearances, it solidifies the album even more, and allows the weak performance of Stalley
to easily be forgotten. Pleasing hardcore hip-hop fans, critics, and the mainstream, MMG can look down on the rest of the crews as they deservedly take the crown for the years best collaborative mixtape or album.
With 2012 drawing to a close, HNHH decided to look back on the best collaborative albums or mixtapes of the past year.
The past year was another intriguing one for hip-hop with several albums vying for best of the year along with a few that were expected to be great but fell short. The year also brought us a whole host of collaborative efforts from crews, to quartets, to surprising duos that took listeners by surprise. Many albums fell by the wayside as the chemistry between the artists never sparked while the albums that shone and stood out more than made up for the disappointment of others. After some tedious discussion, HNHH has broken down what we think are the Ten Best Collaborative Albums or Mixtapes of 2012. Enjoy.
Also check out HNHH's Top Breakthrough Artists of 2012.