The Most Anticipated Hip Hop Albums Of 2012

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The staff at Gutta World highlights 10 releases this year that we are personally excited about. And no, we’re not counting on “Detox” either.

After so many colorful releases in 2011, Hip Hop fans have a lot to look forward to in 2012. No, we’re not actually basing our hopes on Dr. Dre’s Detox or Jay Electronica’s elusive debut, the mythical merger of Nas and DJ Premier or the long-delayed complete reunion of Goodie Mob. Like any fan, we would love if any or all of those released before we purchased new calendars, but there are a plethora of albums already underway that have a ton of promise in making this year musical.

Younger artists who had powerful impact in ’11 as well as some “golden era” alumni keeping the hardcore alive are slated to make bold statements with their music this year, and the Gutta World staff sat down and compiled 10 releases that we can count on, and why we think they’ll make 2012 all the more exciting.

The Ecology by Fashawn


Few debut albums in recent memory were as potent and honest as Fashawn’s 2009 debut Boy Meets World. The independent release, produced entirely by Exile, helped rush the forefront of a West Coast renaissance of music coming from young emcees with wisdom well beyond their years. Late this summer, when the Fresno DXnext alum announced that he was going to uphold the formula with Ex on the boards, the Gutta World staff rejoiced. Expect colorful sample-driven sounds and common-man themes as the Young Santiago helps expand his legacy as one of the more resonant voices of this time. As Common, Talib Kweli and Mos Def all began as independent artists in the ’90s before reaching mainstream stature, Fash is another poised to have that kind of impact.

Trouble Man by T.I.


2010′s No Mercy felt like a rushed T.I. album, as the Grand Hustle founder was quickly recording as a free man before serving for his latest (and hopefully last) felonious brush with the law. Given Tip’s track record for every-other-album being outstanding (see Paper Trail and King), the album sharing a name with the Marvin Gaye hit sounds audiobiographical and brutally honest before it even nears roll-out. Hopefully the man who made Atlantic Records relevant to Rap music can go in and delicately walk that line with a mainstream-friendly album that still carries plenty of trappings.

The Kolexion by Bumpy Knuckles & DJ Premier


Dating back to O.C.’s Jewelz, Bumpy Knuckles and DJ Premier share a musical chemistry that reflects their strong personal bonds. Two “kings of the underground sound,” these masons of the East Coast Hip Hop sound have teamed up for a March album that’s fully collaborative. Whereas 2000′s Industry Shakedown was a mosiac from the likes of Pete Rock, Diamond D and The Alchemist, The Kolexion is a project the fans have been asking for and brings Premier back to one of the fiercest emcees of the Gang Starr Foundation glory years. We anticipate a mosaic of wisdom and aggression.

Live From The Underground by Big K.R.I.T.


Few artists have the ability to appeal to the streets and the college campuses as well as Meridian, Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. With two mixtapes that easily could have been albums held in the highest regard, the Cinematic/Def Jam emcee, like J. Cole has the ability to make an album entirely by himself that could change the face of Hip Hop. Given K.R.I.T.’s history of working with icons that influenced him such as 8Ball & MJG, Devin The Dude and Ludacris, even if that’s not the case, the expectations for this are high. Plus, with Sha Money XL (who made classic albums with 50 Cent and Game as G-Unit Records’ former President) having a strong hand in the project, this is an album that could prove to be another Def Jam southern game-changer in the line of debuts from Ludacris, Young Jeezy and Rick Ross.

Good Kid In A Mad City by Kendrick Lamar


After making the “album of 2011″ (according to us, anyway), Compton, California’s Kendrick Lamar is expected to go right back and drop another one. Good Kid In A Mad City, as its known now anyway, finds Jay Rock’s lil’ homie dealing with rumors of an Aftermath deal, Tech N9ne, Game, and Drake working with him, as well as a whole different place than he was in just a year ago. We hope the supporting cast is as obscure as they were last time (GLC, RZA, J. Cole, Terrace Martin), but that one of the smartest 24 year-olds you’ll ever meet has more anthems that carry Hip Hop out of its stupor.


God Forgives, I Don’t by Rick Ross


Few superstars have the ear for beats that Ricky Rozay possesses. Just as Teflon Don was one of the best-produced albums in recent years, we expect a refreshed (hopefully healthier) Rawss to make another gem. With the Maybach Music Group compilation and Wale’s sophomore LP being winners of 2011, this seems in the cards to one of the biggest voices and personalities in Rap since the 1980s. Moreover, like Drake and Lil Wayne, Rick’s guest-lists usually pack surprises that change lives, just ask Styles P.

R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike & El-P


Ten years ago, this collaboration would have sounded like a clunky April Fool’s joke. However, Company Flow-meets-Dungeon Family next year, as Brooklyn-meets-Adamsville. Mike Bigga and El-Producto have been at work on this album for years, and two of the smartest guys in Hip Hop music are expected to make joints that sound informed as well as experimental. Hopefully it puts each talent in front of audiences previously not exposed to their greatness. El-P’s track record with producing others’ albums (see Cage’s Hell’s Winter and Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein) is of the highest level. We are trying to get subs back in the trunk before this rolls out.

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded by Nicki Minaj


The emcee with 2010′s “Verse of The Year” has proved herself to be one of Rap’s most animated lyricists since Busta Rhymes. While her debut, Pink Friday may have been guilty of trying to do too much, after strong appearances with Lil Wayne, Drake and Big Sean, Oneka is the one to watch in ’12. Mainstream Hip Hop fans should tune in to see this 2008 DXnext alum step in and give Lil Wayne a run for his millions as YMCM’s sharpest spitter.

The Make Believe Album by David Banner


2005 belonged to Houston. 2008 belonged to Detroit. 2012 may belong to Mississippi. The Magnolia State’s Hip Hop pioneer David Banner, along with K.R.I.T. may shake things up with brutal honesty over-top self-produced beats. After making ethery commentary on 2011′s “Swag” (an inclusion on The Make Believe Album), expect D.B. to come out vocally swinging. In late ’10, David brought out one of his strongest works to date in Death of A Pop Star. Now removed from the controls of SRC Records, this Rap veteran may do for ’12 what Killer Mike did for ’08.

Godfathers by Kool G. Rap & Necro


For years, Necro’s rhyme delivery has been compared to Kool G. Rap, and the Psycho Logical Records’ founder will proudly admit that the Juice Crew spitter is a deep influence. As not all G Rap works have sounded cohesive since Roots of Evil, hardcore Hip Hop fans can count on this merging of the musicians to sound grimier than New York in the 1970s. Meanwhile, this is a perfect vehicle for Necro to bring his brand of “Death Rap” and amazing sources for sounds back into the ears of common Hip Hop fans. As Riches, Royalty and Respect went under the radars of most, this is a perfect collaboration for two cult followed icons.

What albums are you most looking forward to in 2012?

Mystikal Officially Joins Cash Money Records

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A one-time No Limit Soldier has officially enlisted with the Cash Money army. CM labelhead Birdman announced today (December 13) the latest acquisition of the YMCMB family: fellow New Orleans legend Mystikal.

“It is an honor to get the opportunity to work with Mystikal, as we have a long history together,” Birdman said in a statement. “It has been a truly long time since I have felt like a rapper and with this signing, and partnership, Birdman and Slim have given me my life as a rapper back,” Mystikal, who has been signed to the label since last month, added in release to the press. “I am ready to go. I am going to put my red Superman drawers, cape and boots on and go! This is a huge moment for me and I am truly excited to be with Cash Money Records.”

Birdman and Mystikal aren’t wasting any time with their new allegiance. The two are putting out “Original,” Mystikal’s first single, later on this evening via Funk Master Flex’s Hot 97 radio show. According to their reps, Birdman and Mystikal have been sequestered in Miami’s Hit factory recording a gaggle of records, including “Original.” Besides The #1 Stunnna, the track features Lil Wayne. Mystikal’s Cash Money debut is due this Spring.

Ironically, prior to signing his new deal, Mystikal had been hard at work on several records that were produced by former Cash Money staple, Mannie Fresh. Just this past September, the 41-year-old MC told MTV News he was working on “rebranding” himself and creating new hits with Fresh.

“We been working,” Mystikal said of his Fresh collaborations. “Last couple of weeks, we been coming with some monsters in that studio. I still gotta give [the fans] that vintage me, because that’s what I am, but I found a way to kinda bring it up to speed and still be contemporary.”

Mystikal’s signing comes on the heels of Birdman and his brother Slim signing Busta Rhymes last month.

DRAKE – Take Care

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Take Care is an unbelievably plush album. Not only are the soundscapes on the album orchestral, ethereal, but the tone of the album is equally emotionally indulgent, Drake adopting the position of a somewhat world-weary player. The tone is set unmistakably with the opening track, Over My Dead Body, a piano-chord rich number. Drake boasts of his success, detailing a sense of disaffection in equal measure: “I was drinking at the Palms last night/ Ended up losing everything that I came with,” he raps, before adding, “Feel like I been here before, huh/ Still got ten years to go, huh.” It’s a tone that stays throughout. Even whilst he’s boasting of his lyricism, his album success, on tracks like Headlines and Crew Love, there’s a note of mournfulness, of predictability, about this game. The Weeknd’s verses on Crew Love is a particularly wistful, ethereal addition.

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Wiz Khalifa On Fame, Love and Being A Rock Star

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These days Cameron Wiz Khalifa”  Thomaz, the rapper behind platinum hits “Black and Yellow” and “Roll Up,” is dealing with the highs and lows of superstardom.

BET honored Wiz with nine nominations for their upcoming Hip-Hop Awards show, matched only by Kanye West (and surpassed by Lil Wayne’s seemingly absurd 18 nods).

Add to that the rapper’s venture into cinema with the stoner movie “High School” – which he’s making with his idol-turned-mentor, Snoop Dogg – and it seems like he can’t lose. Or can he?

A marijuana enthusiast, Wiz Khalifa was recently cleared of a felony drug trafficking count. In another odd twist, while visiting the Barney’s department store in Beverly Hills over the summer with girlfriend Amber Rose and their families, he was mistaken for a thief.

(Speaking of Rose, Wiz Khalifa’s public displays of affection with the former girlfriend of Kanye West have brought on the ire of fans who seem to think he loses credibility with every photographed hug.)

In this interview with CNN, Wiz opens up on his love for Amber, the best advice he gets from Snoop, why he’s cool with being called a “rock star” and all of the responsibility that comes with the title.

CNN: Where does the name Wiz Khalifa come from?

Wiz Khalifa: The name “Wiz” comes from me being the youngest dude in my age group of people that I hung out with. I was pretty good at anything I tried to do, so they would call me a young wiz. Khalifa is Arabic, it means successor/leader/shining light, and my granddaddy gave me that name. He’s actually Muslim and just saw my path, what I was doing and how hard I was working, and he gave me that name and I just put the two together.

CNN: You’ve been referred to as a “rock star.” Do you feel you’ve reached that status?

WK: It’s great because it just puts me in a different realm of how people see me. Of course I do rap music and I’m a hip-hop artist, but as an individual, as a personality and what I give to the people – it’s that perspective. I see myself as like the lead singer of a band or something [laughs]. When I go out there I’m a real performer, so I’m cool with [being called that].

CNN: You’re often compared to Snoop Dogg

WK: Just because of the vibe. Snoop is the boss dog, you know what I’m saying, and I’m a young boss so they see where I’m going with it. And even Snoop fully embraces me and gives me more [ammunition] for them to call me “young Snoop.” It’s a blessing, it’s a great thing, because I’ve always been a fan and everything that he brings is positive.

CNN: What life lessons did you learn from Snoop?

WK: He always just tells me to keep focused, to stay working when everybody’s not working. When people feel like they don’t have to work that’s when you’re supposed to be on your job. And always give back.

CNN: Let’s talk love and Amber Rose. Rappers aren’t supposed to be all lovey-dovey – what’s that feel like?

WK: It’s awesome to have that support and to have that base. It gives me structure, it gives me discipline and it helps me work on other stuff that’s much more important. I feel like everybody has some person that’s out there for them. If you tap into that and take advantage of it and hold it close and treat it like what it is, that’s when you’ll get – fully – out of it what you’re supposed to.

CNN: Let’s talk about your love for weed. How much are you spending these days? Give us a figure.

WK: Oh nah, there’s no figure, man. It varies [laughs].

CNN: Would you see your financial habits or relationship with the drug change if it was ever legalized?

WK: It would be the same.

CNN: Really?

WK: Yeah, because it’s not about being illegal and it’s not about it being bad or anything like that, it’s about what makes me happy and what I know is not too dangerous. It’s a huge umbrella – doctors smoke weed, old ladies smoke weed, soccer moms, players, coaches – everybody smokes weed. I think it’s a common ground, it’s a peaceful ground.

CNN: You’re recognized more often now, but at a Barney’s store you were confused for a thief while shopping with your mom and Amber. Did that make you angry?

WK: It’s cool because I never have any expectations. I don’t expect to get the red carpet rolled out. Other people expect me to get [Hollywood]. That situation kind of blew up and Barney’s ended up sending me an email being like, “We apologize! Any time you come to the store…” It ended up working out in my favor anyway, by not blowing up and by just remaining who I am and being cool. That doesn’t bother me at all. The only time I would lose is if I give up who I am. As long as I stand up for me and what I believe in, I’ll be straight.

CNN: You started taking music seriously at 14. How has Cameron grown up as a person since then?

WK: I see myself [as] pretty cool. I was a cool 14-year-old, too. I always envisioned myself being a rapper and being in the game and having success, but you never know what it feels like or how you’re going to be when you’re there…Like from it being a dream and from just watching it on TV and seeing people’s tours to now having my own tour, having my own buses, having my own production. I shake the hands of all of my production guys my lighting guys, and I’m like, “Yo, you’re doing a great job!” It’s just knowing, the knowledge. I’m really, really happy with I’ve learned.

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Mack Maine Talks Lil Wayne’s Impending Retirement

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With his popularity and success still at a supreme zenith, is it really close to the end for the man who will have the number one album in the country? Back in the July/ August issue of XXL magazine, Lil Wayne declared that he was retiring soon to spend more time with his children.

“I’m bowing out still on top,” Wayne said during his interview for the cover story. “I’m bowing out still on top,” he says. “I’ma make y’all want me when I retire. I’ma make y’all be like, ‘Nooo!’ I ain’t leaving out this bitch when y’all be like, ‘Yeah, it’s about time, dawg.’ Carter IV might be my last one. I’ma make y’all be like, ‘Fuck!’ Yeah, nigga, I’m gone.”

“…Nah I’m fuckin wit y’all man,” he would say later. “Y’all know a nigga ain’t going nowhere till he bout 31. By 31. I’m gone by 31 shawty.”

Obviously none of his fans want to see Wayne leave the game, but what does his Young Money family think?

“As far as that retirement goes, I don’t know what he’s talking about,” YM President Mack Maine told XXLMag.com. “I’m not trying to hear that… I mean technically he can. We paved the way where Young Money the brand is gonna be so big. And he’s done so much where he can just tour. But I know his love and passion for the music…. I also know he has love and passion for his kids and family and he sacrificed a lot of this life we living. So at 30, if he says he wants to hang it up and be a family and a businessman, I wouldn’t be mad at it. He’ll be like 18, 19 close to 20 years in the game. And [have put out] that many albums. He’ll be a vet at a young age. It’s not like we’re gonna need to put out albums, it’s just the passion. Can you walk away from it?”

Well luckily, listeners still have a few years for Weezy to change his mind. As for now, reports are putting the first-week numbers for Wayne’s Tha Carter IV (released August 29) as high as 900,000 copies sold. He also has two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. “How To Love” is currently number seven while the Drake assisted “She Will” debuted at number three just last week.

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Lil Wayne Is Getting Sued For $15 Million Over “BedRock”

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Rapper Lil’ Wayne has been hit with a $15,000,000 lawsuit over the hit single “BedRock.”

Done Deal Enterprises, based in Waynesboro, Georgia, filed a lawsuit against Lil Wayne, Young Money Records, and Cash Money Records, in the United States District Court, Southern district of New York, over the song.

The lawsuit, which was filed on August 1st, claims that the rapper stole their copyrighted tune “BedRock,” and incorporated it into the track of the same name, that was eventually featured on the compilation album We Are Young Money.

We Are Young Money peaked at #1 on the Billboard Rap charts upon its release in December of 2009.

The Young Money version of the tune featured guest appearances by Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lloyd, Tyga, Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz and was originally produced by Kane Beatz.

According to the lawsuit, the single has moved an estimated 3,000,000 copies, while the album has been certified Gold (500,000 sold) by the RIAA.

The rapper and his counsel have been directed to appear in court on October 12th, 2011.

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