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The Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums of 2012

From Illmatic to Madvillainy , To Pimp a Butterfly to Aquemini , Tha Carter II to De La Soul Is Dead , we look at the best hip hop albums of all time , year by year.

A major year for hip hop, 2012 saw the major label debut of Kendrick Lamar, an artist who would go on to the become the best rapper of the 2010s .

It was also the return of 2 Chainz aka Tity Boi who had spent the past few years grinding his way up to the top of the rap game; the return of Nasty Nas who had been sounding rejuvenated ever since his collaboration album with Damian Marley in 2010 , and the debut of Joey Bada$$, another rapper who would become a major figure in the decade ahead.

We also had the chance to witness the greatness of the partnership between El-P and Killer Mike, via their two albums R.A.P. Music and Cancer 4 Cure , which would birth Run the Jewels just a year later. In other news, Chief Keef was leading the Chicago drill movement, Future would officially become a superstar with Pluto , and Kendrick’s TDE label mates were all coming up the ranks. It was an extremely exciting and competitive time for hip hop.

From Nas’s Life Is Good to Kendrick Lama’s good kid, m.A.A.d city to Big K.R.I.T.’s Live from the Underground , here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 2012.

25. B.o.B – Strange Clouds

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2012 Bob Strange

Released: May 1, 2012

Label: Grand Hustle, Rebel Rock, Atlantic

Singles: “Strange Clouds”, “So Good”, “Both of Us”, “Out of My Mind”

Features: Morgan Freeman, Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, T.I., Nicki Minaj, Ryan Tedder, Lauriana Mae, Playboy Tre, Trey Songz, Nelly and Roscoe Dash

24. Maybach Music Group – Self Made Vol. 2

Self Made Vol 2

Released: June 26, 2012

Label: MMG, Warner Bros., Def Jam

Singles: “Bag of Money”, “Actin’ Up”, “Let’s Talk”

Features: Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Nipsey Hussle, Wiz Khalifa, Roscoe Dash, T-Pain, Ace Hood, Bun B & T.I

23. Styles P – The World’s Most Hardest MC Project

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2012 Styles P

Released: November 20, 2012

Label: D-Block, E1

Singles: “I Know”, “Araab Styles”

Features: Sheek Louch, Bucky, Large Amount, A.P. and Snyp

22. DJ Khaled – Kiss the Ring

Ranking Dj Khaled First Week Album Sales Kiss The Ring

Released: August 21, 2012

Label: We the Best, Terror Squad, Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Republic

Singles: “Take It to the Head”, “I Wish You Would”

Features: Meek Mill, Ace Hood, Plies, Lil Wayne, T.I., Future, Kanye West, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain, Scarface, Nas, DJ Premier, French Montana, Jadakiss, Birdman, 2 Chainz, Wale, Tyga, Kirko Bangz, Mavado and Mack Maine

21. Chief Keef – Finally Rich

Greatest Rapper Hooks Of All Time Chief Keef Love Sosa

Released: December 18, 2012

Label: Interscope, Glory Boyz

Singles: “I Don’t Like”, “Love Sosa”, “Hate Bein’ Sober”

Features: 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Reese, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Master P, French Montana and Fat Trel.

20. Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares

Meek Mill Dreams And Nightmares Intro

Released: October 30, 2012

Label: Maybach, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Amen”, “Burn”, “Young & Gettin’ It”, “Believe It”

Features: Nas, Rick Ross, Wale, Trey Songz, Drake, Big Sean, John Legend, Louie V, 2 Chainz, Kirko Bangz, Sam Sneak and Mary J. Blige

19. Rick Ross – Rich Forever

Greatest Mixtape Rappers Of All Time Rick Ross

Released: January 6, 2012

Label: Maybach Music Group, Def Jam, Warner Bros. Records

Singles: “Stay Schemin'”

Features: Diddy, 2 Chainz, Wale, John Legend, Nas, Kelly Rowland, Styles P, Birdman, Meek Mill, French Montana, Pharrell, Future, Stalley and Drake

18. The Game – Jesus Piece

Ranking The Game First Week Album Sales Jesus Piece

Released: December 11, 2012

Label: DGC, Interscope

Singles: “Celebration”, “All That (Lady)”

Features: Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Kanye West, Common, J. Cole, JMSN, King Chip, Trey Songz, Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Tank, K. Roosevelt, Jamie Foxx, Elijah Blake, Future and Young Jeezy

17. 2 Chainz – Based on a T.R.U. Story

Every Single Hip Hop Billboard Number One Album Since 1986 2 Chainz Based

Released: August 14, 2012

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “No Lie”, “Birthday Song”, “I’m Different”

Features: Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Dolla Boy, The-Dream, Mike Posner, The Weeknd and Chris Brown

16. Ab-Soul – Control System

Ab Soul Control System

Released: May 11, 2012

Label: Top Dawg

Singles: N/A

Features: Jhené Aiko, Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, BJ the Chicago Kid, Kendrick Lamar, JaVonte, Punch, Ashtrobot, Alori Joh

15. Curren$y – The Stoned Immaculate

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2012 Currensy Stoned

Released: June 5, 2012

Label: Jet Life, Warner Bros.

Singles: “What It Look Like”, “Jet Life”

Features: Pharrell, Wiz Khalifa, Estelle, 2 Chainz, Wale, Marsha Ambrosius, Daz Dillinger, Big K.R.I.T., Fiend, Corner Boy P, Young Roddy, Trademark Da Skydiver, and Smoke DZA

14. GOOD Music – Cruel Summer

Ranking Kanye West First Week Album Sales Cruel Summer

Released: September 14, 2012

Label: GOOD, Def Jam

Singles: “Mercy”, “Cold”, “New God Flow”, “Clique”

Features: R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, DJ Khaled, Mase, Cocaine 80s, The-Dream, Marsha Ambrosius, Jadakiss

13. Sean Price – Mic Tyson

Sean Price Mic Tyson 1024X1024

Released: October 30, 2012

Label: Duck Down

Singles: “STFU, Part 2”

Features: Buckshot, Ill Bill, Pharoahe Monch, Pumpkinhead, Realm Reality, Ruste Juxx, Torae, Ike Eyes and Freddie Gibbs

12. Future – Pluto

Ranking Future First Week Album Sales Pluto

Released: April 17, 2012

Label: A1, Freebandz, Epic

Singles: “Tony Montana”, “Go Harder”, “Magic (Remix)”, “Same Damn Time”, “Turn On the Lights”

Features: Drake, R. Kelly, T.I., Trae tha Truth and Snoop Dogg

11. The Coup – Sorry to Bother You

The Coup Sorry

Released: October 30, 2012

Label: Anti

Singles: N/A

Features: Justin Sane, Japanther, Das Racist, Killer Mike

10. Roc Marciano – Reloaded

100 Rappers Their Age Classic Album Roc Marciano

Released: November 13, 2012

Label: Decon

Singles: N/A

Features: Knowledge the Pirate & Ka

9. Big K.R.I.T. – Live from the Underground

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2012 Big Krit

Released: June 5, 2012

Label: Cinematic, Def Jam

Singles: “Money on the Floor”, “I Got This”, “Yeah Dat’s Me”, “What U Mean”

Features: 8Ball & MJG, 2 Chainz, Ludacris, Anthony Hamilton, Big Sant, Bun B, Devin the Dude, B.B. King

8. Schoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions

Top 10 Best Asap Rocky Guest Verses Of All Time Schoolboy Q

Released: January 14, 2012

Label: Top Dawg

Singles: “Druggys wit Hoes Again”, “Hands on the Wheel”

Features: ASAP Rocky, Jhené Aiko, Dom Kennedy, Currensy, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock

7. Joey Bada$$ – 1999

100 Most Downloaded Hip Hop Mixtapes Of All Time 1999

Released: June 12, 2012

Label: Cinematic

Singles: Waves”

Features: Capital STEEZ, Chuck Strangers, CJ Fly, Kirk Knight, Dyemond Lewis, Nyck Caution

6. Blu & Exile – Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 2010S Blu Exile

Released: September 4, 2012

Label: Dirty Science, Fat Beats

Singles: N/A

Features: Fashawn, Homeboy Sandman, Johaz of Dag Savage, Black Spade of Hawthorne Headhunters, and ADAD

5. Masta Ace – MA Doom: Son of Yvonne

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2012 Ma Doom Masta Ace Son

Released: July 17, 2012

Label: M3 Records, Fat Beats Records

Singles: “Slow Down”

Features: Big Daddy Kane, MF Doom, Pav Bundy, Reggie B, Milani the Artist

4. Nas – Life Is Good

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Life Is Good

Released: July 13, 2012

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Nasty”, “The Don”, “Daughters”, “Cherry Wine”

Features: Large Professor, Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige, Miguel, Amy Winehouse

3. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

50 Best Hip Hop Songs Of The 2010S Killer Mike

Released: May 15, 2012

Label: Williams Street

Singles: “Big Beast”, “Untitled”, “Don’t Die”, “Reagan”

Features: Bun B, T.I., Trouble, El-P, Emily Panic

2. El-P – Cancer 4 Cure

50 Greatest Third Albums In Hip Hop History El P

Released: May 22, 2012

Label: Fat Possum Records

Singles: “The Full Retard”

Features: Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Despot, Nick Diamonds

1. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

Best Hip Hop Album Every Year Since 1986 Good Kid

Released: October 22, 2012

Label: TDE, Aftermath, Interscope

Singles: “The Recipe”, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Backseat Freestyle”, “Poetic Justice”, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”

Features: Drake, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Jay Rock, Anna Wise, and MC Eiht

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