My 2012 in Music (So Far)
- by Señor Editor, 22 October 2012
You know how every December (or sometimes January) websites make these articles summing up the best stuff that happened that year? Yeah, this isn’t something like that. This ain’t no comprehensive, detailed list of everything remotely noteworthy that happened in music in 2012. This is a highly subjective list of the most memorable things in music this year, from a young G's-uh, highly-opinionated Trash Mutant's perspective. That’s what I will remember from 2012 in a few years, and I’m not waiting until December or January because I’m whimsical like that.
Nothing terribly interesting happened during the first months of the year (it rarely is a very interesting period as far as new releases go), and I was mostly just listening to all kinds of pre-2012 stuff and waiting for the damn snow to melt. One thing that came out in December and a lot of people missed, though, is “Need Some Bad” – a song by Slick Rick that reminded everybody that he apparently doesn’t age and still sounds as fresh as ever. And just because that’s a truth worth remembering, I’m putting it here anyway. Not gonna keep The Ruler out of an article just because he was three weeks too early. He’s just ahead, man.
Mayer Hawthorne’s “How Do You Do” album came out in late 2011, but 2012 was the year of the huge, many, many months-long world tour promoting it. Most likely due to poor planning, he wasn’t playing anywhere near me, though, so the girlfriend and I went to Berlin for a few days, where we got to see his show. And holy crap, did it put the (already real good) album in a new perspective.
Highly charismatic on stage, funny and engaging, Hawthorne (along with The County) put on one hell of a show. It was the funkiest thing I’ve seen all year and I’m going to keep an eye for future tour announcements without a doubt. If you haven’t seen this guy’s show you should just do yourself a favor and see it at the first chance you get.
Also, I ate more wursts and curry wursts and visited more insanely clean (it’s a German thing) public toilets on this trip than you could shake a stick at.
You know what else happened in March? El-P dropped “The Full Retard” and got me super hyped for his new record. What can I say, I love El, I love Camu, and this was the best hip-hop joint thus far this year for me. The video showed up later, but I’m putting it here anyway.
April is foggy, and since this is a “what I will remember the most from this year, as far as my music listening goes” type of thing, it wouldn’t make sense to google around and remind myself about April’s releases. Same goes for September.
For me, the saddest and most important thing to happen this year in music and culture is the death of Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys. This is the first time when somebody who I didn’t know personally died and I was bummed out by it for the longest time. I’m still bummed out by this. I’ve been a Beastie Boys fan for most of my life and, as far as I know, MCA was the kind of dude that it’s impossible not to respect. For his music, for his message and for how damn cool and humble he was.
In 2007 I saw the B-Boys twice, during a bigass music festival, and their live shows, even after all the years in the game, were still putting everybody else to shame.
Around the time of his passing, we were just about ready to launch this website, and I was thinking about writing an article about him, but I didn’t do it in the end. I had plenty to say, but many people who knew him well already said things a lot better than I ever could have. MCA's death is still in my mind as just the damnedest, shittiest thing.
Also in May, El-P’s long awaited “Cancer for Cure” finally came out. El-Producto takes so much time between releasing his records that whenever one drops it’s always a big event for me. I’ve been all excited for this album after hearing the “Drones over Brooklyn” single in the previous year and the absolutely banging “Full Retard” track a few months before “C4C” dropped. The album didn’t disappoint, and the two previously unheard songs that I enjoyed the most on it were “Oh Hail No” (with Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire and Danny Brown) and, arguably the absolute best story rap this year, “For My Upstairs Neighbor (Mums the Word)”:
For me, June belonged to B. Dolan and his "House of Bees Vol.2" mixtape. More than just a worthy successor to the first volume (from 2009), this record is Dolan at his finest. It's quite incredible how B. is managing to constantly evolve and improve his skills. The beats by Buddy Peace deserve high praise as well, and I think they fitted B.'s delivery and flow much better than Atlas' production on 2010's "Fallen House Sunken City". More Dolan & Peace, please. And release that ODB that you've been teasing us with for months, already.
There's a few tracks that stand out on this mix, including "King Bee" and "2Bad" with Sage Francis, but the song that's an absolute high point here is "Which Side Are You On". I already wrote about this song when it came out, but here it is again, with the video:
Aesop Rock released “Skelethon”. And I barely checked it out. I admit to hearing some of it and thinking it’s not my thing, but I’ve been listening to it since and grew to enjoy at least some songs. I’ve liked Aesop for years, but sometime around 2006/2007 he pretty much lost me. I didn’t enjoy his previous album, “None Shall Pass”, anywhere near as much as the rest of his catalogue (though I am a fan of “Bazooka Tooth”, and from what I know a lot of people consider it his weakest album, which is just insane). Maybe “Skelethon” will prove to be a “grower” for me, though. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve been wrong before. Two or three times.
We started August with a week-long trip to Greece, and the absolute number one hit of this idyllic journey was a track by Mr. Gregory Pepper. The song was “Persona Non Grata” off the Fake Four Inc. “Record Label Sampler Vol. 4”, and it proved to be the best possible soundtrack for long days at the beach, dining at all kinds of charming taverns and pondering the weird “never flush toilet paper” Greek policy.
When I came back, I found out it’s actually a song from the upcoming “Escape from Crystal Skull Mountain” record by Gregory Pepper and His Problems, that came out later that month.
While my favorite Gregory Pepper record is still “With Trumpets Flaring”, I’m not one of those sad sacks that expect the same thing they liked over and over and “EFCSM” is a great record in its own right and one of the best things to come out this year. And you should all be buying it (here).
Also, Pepper was nice enough to do an interview for us, so big thanks for that, and if you didn’t read it yet then I don’t know what the hell are you waiting for.
OCTOBER & ONWARD
I'm kind of curious about the MHz Legacy record that's about to come out later this month. For those not in the know: MHz was a classic underground hip-hop group that only put out one album together, over a decade ago, called "Table scraps". It consisted of Camu Tao, Copywrite, Jakki Da MotaMouth, RJD2 and Tage Proto. After that the group dissolved, its members all went in different directions, and while I was a huge fan of Camu Tao and loved RJD2's solo albums, there's no doubt they all used to have something really great when they were working together.
Now, after Camu Tao's death, the remaining group members added "Legacy" to their name and are working together again. There are two singles released so far, one called "Gone" and the other one called "Spaceship" and featuring Danny Brown. I enjoyed "Gone", but wasn't feeling "Spaceship" (I like Brown, I like that "You Are What You Eat" sample, but I'm not into the production on this at all). Surock is really good, no doubt, but why is it that none of those tracks are produced by a MHz member? MHz had three producers among them on their first record, they still have two (RJD2 and Copy) and it would seem to me there'd be no need for looking outside the group for beats. It kind of makes me wonder if this attempt at getting them all together won't be a bit half-hearted. C'mon, you got RJD2 right there. Put him to work. There shouldn't be a need to outsource at all when you got 3 rappers and 2 producers, one of which makes most other hip-hop producers look like lightweights.
“Gone” is a really good single, though, so here's hoping the rest of the album will be just as good. It drops this month, on the 30th, on Man Bites Dog.
What else is in the works and rumored to come out this year?
Well, the indie producer duo Ratatat is supposedly in the studio, but that's been the case for a while and there's no news whatsoever on that front. I like Ratatat, so whenever the record drops I’ll be checking it out.
And speaking of Ratatat, the rapper Despot (who's been working with them on several occasions) said his album will be out this year, too. But he’s been saying that almost every year since like 2006, so I'll believe that when I hear it. Despot's record is almost the indie rap equivalent of "Detox" by now.
And that's about it. No doubt there are a few other things happening this year that I have interest in, so if they warrant their own article, I'll make sure to cover them.
What has your 2012 been like, music-wise? What will you remember from this year, as a music listener? Do you think I left off something truly great? How does that make you feel? Am I sleeping on something? Am I totally wrong and stupid? Leave us a comment!