Soundsystem 30: Best of 2012
by SIravani Published on Sunday, December 30, 2012
Here it is. To close out a dense 365 days of music, we are showcasing our picks for the standout tracks of the year; all consolidated for you in one place. Soak in the dynamic and sweet sounds of the Soundsystem 30: Best of 2012. Note: be sure to click on the headlines to learn more about each selection; various posts have bonus videos and tracks. The Superslice 100, our curated countdown of the best content, debuts tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve.
With that said, enjoy…
Previously: Soundsystem 25: Best of 2011
Several days after Frank Ocean casually made the somewhat shocking, definitely courageous, life announcement (via his Tumblr account), revealing he once fell in love with another man, Frank dropped this song. Sweet Life was off of his multi-Grammy nominated album Channel Orange. It was the Year of Frank O; not even the Mayans could stop him.
In 2012, we became devout fans of Portland phenom, RAC. This was an infectious original groove by producer/composer/instrumentalist/DJ and the founder of RAC, Andre Allen Anjos. Hollywood was heavy in the rotation and featured some smooth vocals from Penguin Prison. You play a song a thousand times, some get old, some become classics. This one became the latter.
RAC wasn’t the only underground talent, on the cusp of breaking out, we became acquainted with. We also wandered upon Carlos Serrano. The remix artist is a San Diego native, he hit us with this smooth mashup of Adele‘s Set Fire to The Rain and Daft Punk‘s Something About Us. Both songs were seamlessly fused together to create an outstanding sense of harmony. Check out the romantic next-level mashup for yourselves.
If Frank Ocean was the RnB king, Kendrick Lamar was the hip hop prince in 2012. Kendrick‘s album good kid m.A.A.d city was a huge hit, and deservedly so; it was a masterpiece. Swimming Pools (Drank), produced by T-Minus, was a nibble that got us pumped up for the whole enchilada. And this shit did not disappoint.
After nearly a solid year of producing Vybz Kartel’s Kingston Story and fresh off of producing Popcaan’s Get Gyal Easy, Dre Skull returned with a brand new riddim, featuring some original vocals from some of the biggest Caribbean artists. Big up, Bredren.
After a spiritual sojourn, 2012 saw the return of the elusive Earl Sweatshirt to his hometown of Los Angeles. He dropped the track Chum for our earholes during the heart of his re-emergence. The Odd Future scion flowed over a simply produced track which was bookend-ed by a snare beat and a piano loop. Damn near perfect.
Holy shit, talk about being served a super slice. Hova, The Doctor and The Bawse teamed up for 3 Kings. This supertrack by the super-trio was off of Rick Ross’ God Forgives I Don’t album. Boom. Swaggerific.
Los Angeles synth-pop artist Nite Jewel (Ramona Gonzalez) brightened our year with the smoky, fun yet tasteful, cover of MJ’s P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing). This was one of our favorite Michael Jackson hits, if not our favorite, and Gonzalez completely did it justice while putting a new spin on it. We, at times, have consecutively played this cover ten times in a row, utterly turning any grey day on its head. The power of music; thank you, Ramona. This was instantaneously a new favorite.
This came out of nowhere and was like unearthing gold. EDMTunes dug up this fantastic BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix by the legendary robot alien duo, Daft Punk. This nearly two-hour mix had originally aired March 2, 1997. Long live the alien robots!
Club Cœur was the long-awaited debut LP from Les Loups. The album featured many of the band’s first productions, some dating back to 2010. A few years later, in 2012, the three wolves from Hanover, Germany, finally released a refined, reworked version of Club Cœur.
This was simultaneously a guilty pleasure and an anthem. Admittedly, we’re not gigantic fans of GOOD Music‘s protege 2 Chainz, but we couldn’t deny how hard this track, Birthday Song, hit. We definitely dug how damn gritty it was. It featured bars by Kanye West, was produced by Atlanta’s Sonny Digital and Yeezy himself.
Justice announced they were releasing a new five-song EP titled, Helix and promoted it with the release of this killer remix. The EP arrives on January 8th, on Ed Banger Records, Because Music, Elektra Records, and Vice Records. The original track comes off of the full-length Audio, Video, Disco album.
As previously stated, 2012 was a coming-out party for RAC. His compilation Chapter One celebrated the first part of Andre Anjos’ career and compiled some of the classic remixes, by the Portlander/Oregonian, including The Shins’ Sleeping Lessons which first brought him to international attention. The album came out on November 6th via RAC Records.
Easily one of the biggest rap songs of the year. This was the first track to kick off G.O.O.D. Music Fridays. Mercy was lead by Kanye West and featured 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and Pusha T. The track used a classic dancehall sample from the late Fuzzy Jones‘ Dust a Sound Boy.
Several times, this past year, we featured Isaac Tichauer from French Express. Here was Tichauer’s whole Devotion album released to stream and download for FREE (you will have to download the tracks individually). It was a catalog of sexy, new sounds. We always dig French Express’ style. That verve, that swagger! Très bon.
The duo Urban Noize proved to be atop the mashup game. One of their highlights combined Jay Z‘s Threat (produced by 9th Wonder) from The Black Album with Adele‘s rendition of the Skyfall theme. It is a good one.
It was also a big year for chillwave artist Toro Y Moi. The remix of So Many Details was a keeper. The B-side featured Toro Y Moi, himself, and rapper Hodgy Beats. So Many Details is off of Toro Y Moi’s third LP, Anything In Return, which is being released by Carpark Records on January 22, 2013.
In Decay provided an idiosyncratic tapestry of electronic music history by New Jersey producer Com Truise. This was a compilation of unreleased, early recordings, 13 tracks that were previously only available as online demos or were unheard tracks altogether by Seth Haley (Com Truise).
It was also a huge year for the white Ghostface Killah (that is a huge compliment for the, already prolific, Flushing, Queens rapper). Here was the mixtape Rare Chandeliers, by that man with the plan, Action Bronson. It was the best mixtape of the year; anybody who was smart would hit that download button. The mixtape came courtesy of Vice Records and was produced by The Alchemist.
We, and the rest of the interwebs, were instantly enamored with Kate Boy and their mesmerizing video Northern Lights. The band, the song, and video, took the musical blogosphere by storm. Here was their follow-up track, In Your Eyes. The group consisting of three Swedes and an Aussie are signed to IAMSOUND and are set to release an EP on January 22nd, 2013. If these two songs are any indication of greatness, we await with bated breath for the LP and/or album debut by the talented electropop quartet.
Over-opinionated and slightly self-righteous rapper Lupe Fiasco dropped a critique of the use of the word “bitch” in the hip hop universe. It is utterly refreshing when a hip hop track has something to say, socially. Bitch Bad was the lead-off single off of FOOD & LIQUOR 2: The Great American Rap Album PT.1. Not bad.
Bonde do Rolê‘s sophmore album Tropicalbacanal was a smash. Bonde do Rolê has been around since Mad Decent‘s earliest years. You can hear a lot of Diplo‘s inspiration from these guys and vice versa. Just a solid album by BDR.
What can we say about The Weeknd that hasn’t already been said? The smoky Toronto crooner skyrocketed from the underground to the mainstream in Year 2012. Firstly, the mysterious RnB artist performed at music festival Mecca Coachella — then the white hot buzz developed into a record deal.
The Weeknd partnered up with Universal Republic to re-release his three, formerly free, 2011 mixtapes, (House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence) as a trilogy. The repackaged and remastered Trilogy dropped on November 13th, along with three new tracks. Twenty Eight was one of the three additional tracks by the, once, underground artist. It was added incentive to purchase his new compilation, Trilogy. It was a huge it, as all parties involved managed to finally monetize the Canadian’s brilliantly moody art.
Breakbot, forever one of our favorite artists from Ed Banger Records, released his track Programme and, as usual, hit us with another feel-good disco vibe. The song was from his full length album, By Your Side. Breakbot Forever. Breakbot is Dead, Long Live Breakbot.
One of several artists to make our list twice (Frank Ocean, RAC, Kendrick Lamar, Justice, featured artists: Adele, Daft Punk, Jay Z, Kanye West and 2 Chainz). Frank Ocean dropped his flawless album, Channel Orange, on July 17th. This was his lead-off single, Pyramids. It’s a ten minute RNB/funk/soul track stacked with a techy vibe. Frank Ocean couldn’t be touched this year. Well, not by the industry at least.
The Great Hope for Hip Hop, Kendrick, once again. Also, see #4 near the top of this list!
We were excited to introduce Askia Mohammed Toure Rumph, also known as Corté (pronounced “cor-tay”), an American rapper based in a small town right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We were proud to help showcase this budding talent and his album, SourLife2 Mixtape. Check out our review and introduction.