2012 has been a remarkable year for Strange Music. With a Tech N9ne album release nowhere in sight in the first half of the year, the label had to depend on others to step up to the plate and give the fans the elite music that they expect year in and out from the Snake and Bat.
Not only did ¡MAYDAY!, Prozak, Krizz Kaliko and Stevie Stone step up to the plate, they smashed it out of the park.
Which leads us to the big question, which Strange Music release is the best so far in 2012?
¡MAYDAY! – Take Me To Your Leader
The highly combustible mix of boom-bap and elegant instrumentation combined with two elite lyricists resulted in the Take Me To Your Leader, a critical darling and what many are already calling one of the best albums in 2012. With its eclectic combination of grooves, this record belongs just as much in a Spin magazine Top 20 list at the end of the year as it does on any hip hop publication. Songs like “Due In June” and “Imprint” showed off their talents for melody-driven tracks while “Badlands” and “T.N.T.” sets the tone for revolution. Overall this was a complete album from front to back, one that Travis O’Guin was even willing to call the best album that Strange Music has ever released.
Krizz Kaliko – Kickin’ & Screamin’
With his fourth album, Krizz Kaliko gave us that album that we’ve all been waiting for, where Krizz Kaliko’s fun-loving sensibilities form a perfect marriage with Seven’s highly innovative sound design. The result is an album that fans have already hailed as Krizz Kaliko’s all-time best. The song “Kill Shit” is a hardcore display of lyrical defecation featuring choppers Tech N9ne and Twista. “Hello Walls” is a trip through the corridors of Krizz Kaliko’s paranoid mind and is as haunting as it is beautiful. “Dixie Cup” shows that Krizz knows how to still get down, as he gives the red plastic cup the anthem it deserves. Overall this album saw a collection of sounds and songs that serve as a testament to Krizz Kaliko’s amazing ability to do whatever he chooses with any kind of music.
Prozak – Paranormal
Following a lengthy absence, Prozak returned to Strange Music more impressive than ever with Paranormal, a dissection of human emotions with haunting poeticism that many times was followed by the brute force of reality. The result was Prozak’s most aggressive release to date. A collection of somber tales, Paranormal drew a fine line between life and death and offered listeners both the rewards and consequences of their actions. On the metal-infused “End Of Us”, Prozak teamed with Sid Wilson of Slipknot to deliver a no holds barred collaboration that had metal enthusiasts like Revolver and Metal Hammer spotlighting the Saginaw emcee. Meanwhile, the melancholy “Until Then” framed the tragic events that unfold in our absence. A step forward in artistic maturity, Prozak’s Paranormal proved that hip hop still holds its core in the truest of all things – life.
Stevie Stone – Rollin’ Stone
By far the trunk-rattling summer album of the year, Stevie Stone’s debut Strange Music release carved out a new and exciting sound for Strange Music that possesses huge crossover potential for urban audiences, all while remaining Strange to the core. Rollin’ Stone is a collection of bangers that range from boastful and proud to introspective and humble. The lead single “808 Bendin” contains arguably one of Tech N9ne’s most quintessential verses of all time and is over a pounding beat by Johnny Juliano. The intimidating “Cast Out” is an effective warning to haters, “Oneness” is a crossover jam that ranges from reggae to rap and songs like “My Life” and “My Remedy” illuminate the softer side of Stevie’s soul. Overall this is the perfect album to kick off the summer of 2012.
So which one of these is the best so far this year?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!