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With hundreds of mixtapes released in 2012, we picked our favorites, many which show that your street releases don’t have to be made up of freestyles over the hottest beats.

10. Childish Gambino – RoyaltyRoyalty represents actor Donald Glover’s self-made transformation into a respected hip hop artist. So whether you’re a hardcore hip hop head or a hipster junkie, Gambino creates the perfect balance to satisfy any listener and make new fans. Now the least you can do is give it a listen.

Childish Gambino – Royalty

9. Wiz Khalifa – Taylor Allderdice – Outshining his O.N.I.F.C. LP last year, Wiz proved once again that mixtapes are his forte. Wiz delivered a project that showcases improved songwriting ability, with mellowed out production that doesn’t take away from his artistic creativity. His personality shines on this project, and that’s what his fans appreciate from him the most. His raps about smoking, enjoying the pleasantries of life, and making sure all of his people are there to enjoy it with him are all elements that helped him reach his current mainstream status. Now if only he could harness that talent into his major label LP’s.

Wiz Khalifa – “Taylor Allderdice”

8. Big Sean – Detroit – It’s safe to say that while Big Sean has enjoyed his recent success, he still has much more to prove. If Detroit is any indication, then he’s more than up to the task of doing just that. It’s obvious that some of the songs placed here weren’t exactly album worthy, but there are more than enough that could potentially catapult a number of careers here. Sample clearances are probably the main reasons why those gems will be forced to live on this mixtape, but it’s a free treat worth appreciating. Besides if these are all tracks that were left on the cutting floor, then curiosity over what’s being left in the vault has just peaked for the Detroit artist.

Big Sean – “Detroit”

7. Fabolous – The S.O.U.L. Tape 2 – Fab followed up his critically lauded 2011 release, The S.O.U.L. Tape, with it’s sequel, landing much of the same acclaim. Like it’s predecessor, this conceptual mixtape found Fab spitting mainly over soulful, mellow production, suggesting this is a more accurate representation of the kind of music he’d like to make.

Fabolous – “The Soul Tape 2″

6. Showbiz & A.G. -Mugshot Music: Preloaded – Despite long hiatuses between each release, Show and A have a natural chemistry that finds them meshing together fluidly each time the reunite. The duo impressed us crazily with this free release – with a level of quality to it that we would have gladly plunked $16.99 down for it some years ago. If this is the mixtape, we can’t wait to see what they have in-store for the album.

Showbiz & A.G. – “Mugshot Music: Preloaded

5. Slaughterhouse – On The House – Much like Wiz and Meek Mill, Slaughterhouse’s best material as a group was found On The House. Joe Budden even joked about it in an interview, suggesting that fans could “mix and match” their favorite cuts from the mixtape and the Welcome To Our House LP and make their own Slaughterhouse album.

Slaughterhouse – “On The House”

4. Joey Bada$$ – 1999 – Joey Bada$$ single-handledly put his Pro.Era crew on the map, and made us care about his fallen homie Capital Steez, who passed away at the end of the year. Backpack beats and basement lyrics came back with a vengeance in this homage to the Fondle ‘Em era.

Joey Bada$$ – “1999″

3. Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2 – Meek Mill outshined his debut album with Dreamchasers 2, producing some of the best tracks of his career. Tracks like “Amen” w/ Drake, “Burn” with Big Sean, and “A1 Everything” w/ Kendrick Lamar, each of which probably should have been saved for his debut. Can’t forget that “House Party (Remix)” either.

Meek Mill – “Dreamchasers 2″

2. Action Bronson + Alchemist – Rare Chandeliers – Action and Al’s collaborative release plays solidly throughout, even if this seems like the two are screwing around half-of-the-time. It’s a more focused release than Al’s Russian Roulette, but not quite as consistant as Action’s Dr. Lecter. While this free album gives us a taste of what they are capable of, we can only imagine what a full-fledged studio LP might produce.

Action Bronson + Alchemist – “Rare Chandeliers”

1. Freddie Gibbs – Baby Face Killa – Freddie Gibbs just might be the midwest’s answer to a Biggie or Jay-Z. Like them, he’s aware of his bad-guy persona, but has such a talent for channelling it into his pen, that you can’t help but beg for more. The brilliance of Baby Face Killa might not hit you at first, but upon repeated listens, it becomes more and more clear that Gibbs arguably released the best street-album of the year.

Freddie Gibbs – “Baby Face Killa”

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9 Responses to "HHS 2012 Year-In-Review: The 10 Best Mixtape Releases"
  • Jo El says:

    FYI..Show and AG did release an actual album this year too. Back around October timeframe I believe. Called Mugshot Music (no preloaded).

  • adam says:

    No Big KRIT? but you got Fabolous who is STILL a mixtape rapper. It’s not 2004 anymore.

  • Youda324 says:

    Not sure how you missed Rick Ross’ Rich Forever….easily his best work to date…classic

  • Dayz says:

    This last guy must not come to HHS very often or he would know exactly why that mixtape wasn’t mentioned.

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