For the last three days we (Kenny, Kyle, our guest contributor Johnny 5 and I) have provided our top 5 mixtapes, disappointments and producers of the year and for our 4th installment of the RapDose Wrap Up, we give you our top artists.

Time Freeman’s Picks

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Rick Ross

Only one word can effectively summarize the Boss Rozay’s year overall: consistency. Starting off the year with expectations to meet, Ross dispelled it with the critically acclaimed Rich Forever mixtape. Then while that held the MMG faithful over, Ross was quick to remind the world that his every move is an event, holding a press conference in May to announce the signing of Omarion, B2K’s only survivor in terms of relevancy. It was a move that seemed unimpressive early on but ended up being a magnificent decision as he shined throughout Self Made Volume 2, one of the 4 separate projects that Rick Ross had a large part of, whether it be a compilation, mixtape or an album. Add to that the fact that he has refused to slack with his features, and you have no choice but to accept that Rick Ross belongs on this list. He’s built his brand and his empire at the same time. [/wptabcontent]

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Future

Future literally exploded this year and made his presence felt. Far from the most artistic on the block, it’s Future‘s unusual yet oddly appealing ability to have a tone that’ll mesh with the sounds that define Hip Hop these days that’s made him the immediate choice for various features this year. He’s spent the year tirelessly working, collaborating with everyone from Pusha T to Rihanna, then releasing his own separate projects. He’s taken incredible advantage of the T-Pain syndrome that has taken over his person as of late, putting himself on to a point where it was impossible to avoid his efforts. Oh and “Turn on the Lights“? One of the best tracks this year. Yeah, I said it. [/wptabcontent]

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2 Chainz

All it took was a name change. Tity Boi was once a part of the duo known as Playaz Circle, signed to the eternally mediocre Ludacris, and had only a hit single to his name. 2 Chainz? Armed with a catchy delivery in terms of his name, 2 Chainz carries himself in a way where his company is valuable, he’s so entirely ghetto that it is invigorating to the crowds and finally, when he wants to? Obliterates verses. His album may have been a let down (and Why? I have no idea since the masses have fueled him and that album was no more and no less than what we’ve dealt with) to some, but his mixtapes and features have been nothing short of what we’d expect from Tauheed Epps. He’s managed to reinvent himself and make himself more of a power player this year than ever. [/wptabcontent]

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Frank Ocean

We know what this is for. Frank Ocean is beyond talented, but nothing deserves more applause than the bravery that came with Ocean’s risky possibly career ending effort. On July 4th, Ocean revealed in a very vulnerable tumblr post that his first love was a another individual of the same sex, making it very clear that he is interested in both genders. That and more was said in his letter, leaving it up to the fans and the true music appreciators to show either their support or their disgust with his statement, and thankfully the music spoke for itself. Ocean’s debut album Channel ORANGE sold over 100k first week, and the support was overwhelming. Vulnerability in music is always appreciated and due to Ocean’s decision to leave it all in his sound, he was rewarded immensely, making him easily one of the best artists this year. [/wptabcontent]

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Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar refuses to lose. The cryptic verse killer from Compton has done nothing but rap his a** off the entire year and forced the nonbelievers to accept the reality as he puts it: “Real people want real music, the jig is up.” Covering all bases, it’s clear the man does nothing but put together the best verses you’ll hear this year, whether it be with The Game, Talib Kweli, ASAP Rocky, his own lethal unit known as Black Hippy, or on his phenomenal album good kid, m.A.A.d city. KDot’s determination has shown what we really want within Hip Hop these days and proving that point with his words and tireless work this year puts Compton’s human sacrifice at #1. [/wptabcontent] [/wptabs]

Kyle Fall’s Picks

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Rick Ross


2012 was a great year for Rick Ross & Maybach Music Group. His album God Forgives, I Don’t was a commercial success as were other MMG releases like Meek Mill‘s debut Dreams & Nightmares and the Self Made Vol. 2 compilation. The label had no shortage of headlines throughout the year with Rozay’s health being called into question, Gunplay‘s trouble with the law, Meek’s ongoing feud with Cassidy as well as the brawl that happened at the BET awards taping. They work too hard to not be on this list, expect even bigger things in 2013. [/wptabcontent]

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Future


Future had an incredibly strong year and it feels like a lot of people didn’t even notice. “Loveeeeeeee Song” with Rihanna managed to get him heavy mainstream exposure not to mention he had a handful of successful street singles that held up on their own. He also broke through and took over radio waves with his solo hit “Turn On The Lights“, which I have had on heavy rotation for months now. [/wptabcontent]

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Kendrick Lamar


West Coast legend in the making Kendrick Lamar put out an album that had people using terms like “Greatest Of All Time” or “Instant Classic” this year and if that wasn’t enough his supporting cast of Black Hippy members all reached new heights of success as well. Every publication on earth was dying for a Kendrick Lamar interview the past few months while everything he touched turned to gold. He saw mainstream success for the first time with his single “Swimming Pools” and used the momentum to release a project that sold just under a quarter million copies in it’s first week. [/wptabcontent]

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Big Sean

G.O.O.D. Music‘s Big Sean has always been on the cusp of greatness but has seemingly been overshadowed by his peers. This year was Sean’s year to break out of his shell and prove to the world he is a star. A small guy with big ambitions, this year Big Sean put out a critically acclaimed mixtape Detroit and headlined his first show in his hometown. Sean has been on a ton of hot tracks lately (“Burn” and “Mercy” standing as pretty good examples) and with his Hall of Fame album dropping in 2013 the future is bright for the first artist Kanye West ever signed. [/wptabcontent]

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2 Chainz

The artist formerly known as Tity Boi waited a long time for a year like 2012. The Playaz Circle member finally released his major label debut Based On A T.R.U. Story at the age of 35 via Def Jam and it was received by the hip hop community with wide open arms. At the time of posting the project has already been certified gold while his hit single “Birthday Song” is likely to see play at people’s parties for the next decade. Source Magazine named him man of the year, and now I am as well. [/wptabcontent][/wptabs]

Johnny 5’s Picks

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Rick Ross

2011 was an incredible victory lap for Miami’s biggest boss. From the formation of his new Maybach Music Group label (which lead to the rebirth of Wale as a bankable solo star and Meek Mill as a sought after star in the making) to his unshakable ear for catchy street anthems — it was clear last year was his. 2012 was more of a restructuring year. He re-centered MMG around Meek Mill and Gunplay this year on the sequel to their Self Made compilation series while also signing Chicago up and comer Rockie Fresh. 2012 also saw the release of the oft-delayed God Forgives, I Don’t which added another #1 album to his already incredible achievements (along with his highest selling debut on the charts). Ross has maintained his incredible ability to rhyme and put it side by side with his business acumen (Ross has been integral in the Reebok rebirth this year as well). While the ship may have slowed a little, Ross will almost always have a spot on this list for years to come. [/wptabcontent]

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Kendrick Lamar

TDE’s golden boy; Kendrick Lamar, raised the stakes this year. Faced with the immeasurable pressure of delivering a debut album that lives up to the hype; he not only delivered but he also took his grassroots following with him on that journey. Lyrically there isn’t many on this list or in the industry that can take him on, he’s the king of dizzying multisyllabic rhyme schemes. He’s pushed the bar for rhyming above and beyond, cultivating his skills on good kid, m.A.A.d city, the debut album that is distinctly his own — and every bit as amazing as people have raved about. Kendrick Lamar has captured the minds and hearts of an audience wishing for a people’s champion, and 2012 was the crowning of a new Hip Hop superstar. [/wptabcontent]

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Drake

No album, no problem. Drake served as the glue to this year in Hip Hop — just play six degrees of Aubrey Graham on this very top 5 list and you’ll notice that he’s supplied a verse for every one of them (and even a #1 charting single or two). Drake gave verses, made cameos, even headlined a top grossing world tour this year. Let’s not forget to mention that he’s still getting better. Cruising far above the .500 mark for features this year, there really aren’t many MC’s this year that had the lyrical ferocity of Drake — from “No Lie” to “Pop That”, no song was safe from his ownership. It’s rare to see a MC defer to others so young in their career and actually flourish while doing so, but at this rate it is scary to think of the impact a new Drake song (or album) will have in 2013. [/wptabcontent]

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2Chainz

2012 will be remembered as the 2 Chainz Takeover. Suburbanites yelled “2 chaiiiinz” loudly from their cul-de-sacs, “Truuuuu” became a staple imessage response, and we really couldn’t get enough of trying to imitate his patented dances. How did 2 Chainz, formerly known as Tity Boi, famously known as a benchwarmer on Ludacris’ C-string Disturbing Tha Peace stable rise to power? He worked harder than everyone else. Taking a page from Lil Wayne, he made sure he was ubiquitous on the Billboard Charts. He took a tip or two from Kanye on how to capture an audience visually while still maintaining his charisma. To put it simple, 2 Chainz came in as a student of the game and he won — and he told all of his doubters to kiss his ass. After a #1 debut, and a string of successful singles, 2 Chainz stands firmly atop of the game as an example of hard work and patience — the definition of his own campaign. [/wptabcontent]

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Nicki Minaj

It’s cool to dislike her decision to split her time between being an MC and trying her hand at pop royalty, but in 2012 you can’t deny that all roads went through Planet Nicki. Raising hell at SummerJam 2012? Led to a powder keg of promotion (good and bad) and thug posturing from top level NYC radio stations. American Idol host? Undeserving or not, a major coup for Hip Hop. Even her second album, which was met with (mostly unfair and reactionary) negative response stands as the highest selling Hip Hop album of the year (Even with a re-release that was wasn’t found at major retailers…though many will attempt to spin that one into an L too. Go figure.). Nicki Minaj, much like listmate and labelmate Drake, follows a trajectory of reinvention. She is attempting to juggle many talents, much to the chagrin to the bleeding heart “old Nicki” purists that are just as out of touch as they believe her to be and sometimes to the detriment of her own self when they don’t exactly hit as they should. Her imperfections stand as the one uniting factor that brings her down to earth no matter how otherworldly she tries to seem, her vulnerability is proof of the growing pains of a vastly talented MC that is still finding her way. Nicki’s still a hell of a lyricist, as the first half of her second album suggests, brave enough to take the risks seldom seen on many in this and any list — and she elicits a reaction out of you whether it’s good or bad. 2012 threatened to bring the Nicki universe down to Earth again, but we’re still in her orbit; twirling us with her fingers. [/wptabcontent][/wptabs]

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