With the relentless expansion of the Internet and the rise of social media, mass exposure is accessible to more artists than ever before, for better or worse. Each new year gives rise to new artists, as well as older artists attempting to reinvent themselves in the digital age.

Of this ever-growing yield there are artists that stand out, leaving a deeper impression than those that simply ride out and rely on that first taste of viral recognition.

We clearly couldn’t include everyone we had in mind, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 11 artists we feel have truly broken through in 2012. They’ve remained consistent throughout the year, surpassed the initial hype and show promise for the immediate future. Read on and see if you agree.

This is the first of many year-end lists. Be on the lookout for our other upcoming lists, such as Best Collaborations, Biggest Beefs, Top Videos, Biggest Singles and Top Mixtapes.