AFH: Best Hip-Hop Mixtapes of 2012

In many ways, mixtapes are the new album.  That being the case, 2012 was an excellent year for hip-hop.  Here's a look back at some of the best mixtapes of the year.  You'll be able to listen to and download music from Slaughterhouse, Big K.R.I.T., Phonte, Raekwon, Joey Bada$$, Rick Ross, Curren$y, Slum Village, Saigon, Action Bronson, Wiz Khalifa, Jadakiss, A Tribe Called Quest + The Pharcyde, Styles P, Freddie Gibbs, Game, Skyzoo, Dom Kennedy, Meek Mill, Childish Gambino, Angel Haze, Lloyd Banks and many, many more.  Get ready...
Raekwon - Unexpected Victory: The Chef cooking up dope rhymes was very much expected, and he delivered.

Jadakiss - Consignment:  As the suit he wears on the cover conveys, Jadakiss was all business with this project.  He brought out superstar guests and made several videos.

Game - Californina Republic:  Game was another artist to drop an album-worthy mixtape in 2012.

Joey Bada$$ - 1999:  Joey Bada$$ exploded onto the scene in 2012 with universal critical acclaim for 1999.  It was easily one of the best projects (mixtape or album) of the year.

Rick Ross - Rich Forever:  Outta nowhere, Rick Ross dropped a mixtape that was hotter than most albums (possibly even his own) in 2012.

Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva N A Day:  Big K.R.I.T. took his already prodigious mixtape game to a whole different level by making this one a concept album about a day in his life.

Slum Village - The Dirty Slums:  The "new" Slum Village brought out several dope artists for this mixtape including De La Soul, Rapper Big Pooh, Black Milk, Phonte and more.

Lloyd Banks - V6: The Gift:  Lloyd Banks is so consistent, it's easy to take him for granted.  This was another mixtape that was a victim of somnambulism.

Saigon - Warning Shots 3: One Foot in the Grave:  Saigon dropped more street philosophy on the 3rd installment of his Warning Shots series.

Curren$y & Styles P - #The1st28:  Curren$y and Styles P combined for an unexpected pairing and that yielded a dope EP.

Action Bronson - Blue Chips:  This was the 1st of 2 hot mixtapes Bronson dropped in 2012.

Wiz Khalifa - Taylor Allderdice:  Wiz Khalifa went back to the sound he perfected on Kush & OJ for this mixtape.

The Clipse x The Doors - Keys Open Doors:  The Clipse and The Doors.  The combo sounds crazy but it was SUPER dope.  Props to DJ Frankie P for the blends.

Talib Kweli & Z-Trip – Attack the Block:  Talib Kweli, Ab-Soul and Black Thought??  He had me at "hello."

Skyzoo - Theo vs. J.J. (Dreams vs. Reality):  Skyzoo examined the good life (through the eyes of Theo Huxtable) and the hood life (through the eyes of J.J. Evans) on this project.

Styles P - The Diamond Life:  Though individually, each of the Lox put in work in 2012, Styles P's contribution was The Diamond Life Project.

Dom Kennedy - Yellow Album:  Dom Kennedy's latest mixtape served up his biggest hit to date--the etereal My Type of Party.

Meek Mill - Dream Chasers 2:  Meek Mill made it clear that Dream Chasers was no fluke.  Be clear.  He is here to stay.

Crooked I - Psalm 82: v6:  Crooked I had more to say than 2 Slaughterhouse projects could contain, so he dropped a solo joint, as well.

Childish Gambino - Royalty:  Childish Gambino maintained his momentum in 2012 with a hot mixtape and one of the best verses in the 2012 BET Hip-Hop Awards Cyphers.

The Official 2012 Rock the Bells Mixtape:  KRS-One, Ice Cube, DMX, Xzibit, Murs, Hieroglyphics, Sean Price...Nuff said.

Slaughterhouse - On the House:   Die-hard Slaughterhouse fans liked the mixtape better than the album.  This was Slaughterhouse raw and uncut.

Rittz - White Jesus: Revival:  Rittz was still undeservedly slept on in 2012.  Maybe that will change in 2013 now that he has linked with TechN9ne.

Big Sean - Detroit:  Big Sean also raised the ante on mixtapes (or albums, depending on your perspective) by releasing one that was every bit as good as his album.

Stalley - Savage Journey to the American DreamStalley's follow up to Lincoln Way Nights was criminally slept on.  It was easily one of the best projects of the year.

Yelawolf - Heart of Dixie:  Yelawolf had a quiet year but he still managed to release a bangin' a$$ mixtape.

Delicious Vinyl 25th Anniversary Mixtape (Mixed by Pete Rock):  To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the legendary label commissioned the Chocolate Boy Wonder to create a mix of their catalog and he went deep in the crates.

Curren$y & Harry Fraud - Cigarette Boats:  Curren$y collaborated with Harry Fraud for his 2nd EP of the year.  This was a return to his trademark soulful sound.

Cyhi the Prynce - Ivy League:  The cover to Cyhi's mixtape stirred up some controversy--some thought he was making references to the illuminati.  Instead it was a metaphor for him taking his rhymes to a higher level...

Bizarre Tribe - A Quest to the Pharcyde:  This was a personal favorite of the year.  The Gummy Soul collective created a set of incredible blends of music from A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde.  Absolute genius.

Jon Connor - While You Were Sleeping:  Jon Connor was on a mission to be heard in 2012.  If you did sleep on him, he woke you up with blistering rhyme after blistering rhyme. 

Sir Michael Rocks - Lap of Lux:  Sir Michael Rocks threw on the Coogi and got his G-Funk on...the 90's are officially back in hip-hop.

Hit-Boy - HITstory:  Hit-Boy, the sonic architect of monster beats like N*ggas in Paris, stepped from behind the board to in front of the mic.  Get used to it.

Freddie Gibbs - Baby Face Killa:   Gangsta Gibbs mixed it up indeed on this project.  He got verses from everyone from Krayzie Bone to SpaceGhostPurrp...and that was on the same song.  Other notable features included Jay Rock, Jeezy, Jadakiss, Dom Kennedy and Kirko Bangz.

Freeway - Freedom of Speech:  After nearly 10 years in the game, Freeway has not lost a step.  This freebie was one of his better efforts in a minute.

Angel Haze - Classick:   Angel Haze was another newcomer who made waves in 2012.  Her sharp rhymes and deeply personal subject matter separated her from the ever-growing pack.  This mixtape played like a diary.

Curren$y - Priest Andretti:   After releasing collabo EPs with both Styles P and Harry Fraud earlier in the year, Curren$y dropped a full solo project with his Priest Andretti mixtape.

Action Bronson & The Alchemist - Rare Chandeliers:  The Alchemist laced Curren$y with one of the best mixtapes last year.  This year he shared his super powers with Action Bronson.  The cover was just as good as the music.

Phonte – Never at a Loss for Words: The Guest Verses:  This wasn't new music but it was dope to get a compilation of Phonte's best featured verses on one project.

Joe Budden - A Loose Quarter:  Like his Slaughterhouse brother Crooked I, Joe Budden also had more to say than 2 Slaughterhouse projects would allow.  Hence, the extremely candid A Loose Quarter mixtape.  It was a different title but it was still moody.

Fashawn - Champagne & Styrofoam Cups:  Two months after dropping his album with Murs, Fashawn was back with a melodic (some dope 90′s R&B samples) and brooding mixtape.

Fabolous:  The Soul Tape 2:  Fabolous hasn't had an official album in more than 3 years.  He's kept his fans engaged with his Soul Tape mixtapes which are exactly as they sound--Fab dropping verses over soulful tracks.

Pro Era - PEEP: The Apocalypse:   Just when it seemed there would be no more hot mixtapes for the year (and not because the world was ending...), Pro Era released one more gem on 12/21/12.  More importantly, they showed they are a legit crew.  Be prepared.