Wayne’s Dedication 4 – Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 mixtape was
highly anticipated, if not just for the fact that we would be getting free music
from the YMCMB veteran. However, with
delay after delay, the anticipation soon waned, and when it finally dropped,
fans and critics were upset.
D4 found Weezy lazily
rapping over over-used industry instrumentals. With perhaps one or two stand-out tracks, including his single “No
Worries,” the rest left much to be desired. We’d heard these verses and these
topics from Wayne a million times over—but we’re used to that. It just felt
like, after all those delays, and all that hype, this was it? Nicki Minaj got
more attention for her verse on the “Mercy” freestyle than Wayne really did for
the entire tape.
7: French Montana’s Mac and Cheese 3 – Underneath the trendy flows and autotune French has a recognizable talent for rap. Knowing he is actually nice on the mic makes Mac and Cheese 3 all the more disappointing. At best French veers too far right and encroaches on other artist’s lanes. At worst he shamelessly bites.
This is unacceptable given French’s ear for beats and demonstrated understanding of the technical side of rapping.
6: Kreyshawn’s Somethin’ Bout Kreay – The pitfalls of this album lie more in its promotion than its appeal (or lack thereof) to the rap community. If Somethin’ Bout Kreay wasn't going to be a hit based on its technical strengths then it should have at least been a commercial one.
“Gucci Gucci” was the pop record of the summer in 2011 and for the label to not capitalize on the record’s success and the whole White Girl Mob’s buzz is their own failure. In the mean time, Kreayshawn must now pick up the pieces.
5: Nelly’s Scorpio Season – It was great to see Nelly back on the circuit with his Scorpio Season mixtape. Almost overnight, Nelly went from superstar to borderline recluse, which is perfectly understandable considering what he and his family went through.
In the spirit of objectivity however, he failed to deliver with this tape. He’s still the same Nelly that ruled the airwaves in the early half of the 2000s’, but therein lies the problem. Nelly has come a long way since his sudden disappearance and is several years older, but none of this growth translates in the music.
4: Shyne’s Gangland – It’s unfortunate, but Gangland wasn't a very good piece of work. The substance is there for the most part. Shyne has a lot to say and his skills with rhyming and lyrics are still present. The problem is his delivery and overall production.
The beats themselves are decent, but they aren't mixed well and Shyne’s voice sounds oddly muffled a lot of the time. The lyrics, while topically potent, seem to fall out of the emcee’s mouth without any particular attention to the beat or shifting in cadence. Older fans know what Shyne is capable of and Gangland is not it.
3: Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares – Meek Mill’s was one hell of a debut album, years in the making. But, for many, the Philly emcee’s ambitious project couldn't live up to its colossal, aged hype. However, this could have more to do with bad luck than Mill’s actual product.
Like so many movies that were forgotten the weekend “Avengers” released, Dreams and Nightmares dropped during those weeks when good kid m.A.A.d city held a vice-grip on rap media. Indeed, that grip didn't break until Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, the same weekend Meek Mill’s album dropped and another reason why the rap community (and the world at large) were too preoccupied for Mill's efforts to fully impress.
2: Rick Ross’ Black Bar Mitzvah – Though he selected some of the hottest beats this year, Rozay never managed to make any of the remixes throughout Black Bar Mitzvah better end products than their originals. In fact, he mostly adds a verse or two of his own on top and leaves the rest of the record untouched. Untouched to the point that the transition back into the original record is noticeable.
This approach also makes it uncomfortably clear how one-dimensional Ross’ raps are with nearly every verse sharing the same aplomb rhetoric and braggadocios lyrics.
1: G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer - Let's be perfectly clear, Cruel Summer was one of the year’s most exciting projects featuring some of the hottest records of 2012. Unfortunately, many of those records were released well before Cruel Summer's official drop.
Like those comedy movies that show off the best moments in the trailer, Cruel Summer felt wanting, incomplete. More than that, the album failed to play off G.O.O.D. Music’s superstar cast of emcees with Common and Cyhi having scarce representation and Q-Tip having none at all.
Truthfully, the album felt more like a feature-heavy, less ambitious and more mainstream Kanye West project than a collaborative effort from one of the rap community's strongest labels.