The Top 5 Carolina Hip Hop & R&B Releases Of 2012…….So Far

Wreck-N-Crew 72-10

Well y’all, with less than five months left in the twenty twelve, the year is officially half way over. My work in corporate IT, which along with this blog helps feed an insatiable Chucks habit, is a huge part of my life. I love my career, because among all the perks that go along with it, I get to listen to music literally all day long (whenever I’m not meetings). This gives me the time to check out artists from around the globe, in various genres, from bluegrass to eastern European house, who cover all types of subject matter.

At the end of the line though, my heart is in Carolina. It’s an absolute must to take special consideration, make time and listen plus support artists from both states.

Over the past 7 months, there has been quite a few releases from Carolina artists. Some good, several great, quite a bit "man don’t quite your day jobs", a couple of instadeletes, and a handful of those that are truly jammin’.

Truly jammin’ [tru-ley, jam-ming, also can be shortened to trujam] — noun, interjection

    1. Music project (mixtape, album, EP) that has been listened to repeatedly.*

    2. Music project with minimal to no track skips, dope production, content, and flow.

    3. A record that I really like.

    *one indication of which can be found in my Top 25 Most Played iTunes playlist

Example sentence: "Have you heard that new King Mez album? It’s truly jammin."

Artwork is also taken into consideration on a truly jammin’ project. It definitely matters but doesn’t rank as high as the other things.

Honestly y’all, a lot of the music from a Carolina artist that has the most plays in my "Top 25 Most Played iTunes playlist" comes from Young Jeezy’s The Recession. Even though he’s from South Carolina, it’s an old release so that one doesn’t count here. Anyway, the projects included in this count up are those that I’ve listened to a lot over the last 7 months, feel a certain type of way about and/or think are truly dope.

I also want to point out that there have been several projects released in 2012 from Carolina artists that could be technically ranked overall better then the ones listed here. They may be better for other various reasons, including the label the artist is signed to, a powerful marketing campaign, huge out of state buzz factor and more. But I only listened to those projects once, twice, maybe three times tops and then went right back to what I was doing. The music was good but I wasn’t necessarily feeling it. This list represents Carolina music that has been in constant rotation since it dropped.

So without further ado, here’s my list of truly jammin’ projects from Carolina artists that were released in 2012. It’s also dynamic, meaning it might change by the time December rolls around. And it’s in no particular order. 

For all you non-reading folks who seem to get your underwear in a bunch over rankings let’s repeat that in bold caps THIS LIST IS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

These are the top 5 Carolina hip hop and R&B releases of 2012… far.

Dirty Dave 1000 Ways To Get Paid

1. 1000 Ways To Get Paid (Mixtape)

Artist: Dirty Dave (@DaveDaFlyGuy)

Release: March 2012

Label: Dirty Dollar Entertainment

Hometown: Charleston, SC

1000 Ways To Get Paid is Dirty Dave’s 2nd mixtape release and is hosted by DJ Scream and Bigga Rankin. The project marks the first time in history the two industry veteran DJs have ever collaborated on a project. Major.

However it was Dirty Dave’s marketing campaign that really made me pay attention. Outside of Toro Y Moi and a couple of other artists, he’s one of the only Carolina artists making waves in other states. The "1000 Ways" tour touched down in Kentucky, Cincinnati, Texas, Florida, Indiana and more. Dirty Dave went into the hoods and touched the people. A lot of y’all Carolina artists still miss that piece. You cannot get a buzz by sitting behind a computer tweeting links and posting on Facebook all day! And judging by the "1000 Ways" tour vlogs, Dirty Dollar’s efforts really made a difference.

1000 Ways To Get Paid is your requisite street rap mixtape. Hard beats, heavy basslines, lots of talk about money, hoes, dope, clothes (surprisingly though, no cars). There’s also a couple of radio ready records, one of which is "I Got A Sack", that’s in heavy rotation throughout South Carolina.

Tracks to check:

"Work Out", "A Lot Of This, A Lot Of That", "Straight To The Top", "Playing With A Check", "36 O’s".

Righchus Black Cradles

 2. Black Cradles (Mixtape)

Artist: Righchus (@Rigchus)

Release: July 2012

Label: Million Dollar Dreamz

Hometown: Charleston, SC

Black Cradles is also Righchus’ 2nd mixtape release. His prior project, Sweetgrass & Supras, actually made it onto my Top Carolina Hip Hop Releases Of 2011 list. Black Cradles, though, is a whole ‘nother beast.

Righchus co-executive produced the entire mixtape, along with Benjamin "Max" Berry (another Carolina kid). The variety of production combined with Righchus’ lyrical ability and content makes this project dope. Beat variety includes trap, old school samples, "stadium status", and the kind of beats Lupe Fiasco would probably select. If there had to be a requisite "back packer" (a term I sometimes hate) entry on the list, Black Cradles would be it. This is also a great mixtape to listen to repeatedly on a road trip.

Tracks to check:

"Still Ridin", "Bossin", "Been Gone", "The Life".

Girl Interrupted Cover

 3. Girl, Interrupted (Mixtape)

Artist: Sadie Hawkins (@SadieHawkins)

Release: April 2012

Label: N/A

Hometown: Columbia, SC

Ahhhh Sadie Hawkins. The rapper that so many people in the Carolinas, especially South, totally counted out. Her first mixtape, Who The F%ck Is Sadie Hawkins? literally had people talking. But not in a good way. Folks felt that it was not great at all and could not understand why people were paying attention to her. I actually received phone calls from folks who talked about how bad it was (true story). Keep in mind though, it WAS her first mixtape effort. Despite how people viewed the mixtape and it’s lyrical ability, Sadie Hawkins did not let that stop her.

Since the top of 2012 Sadie Hawkins has been seen on MTV, Sirius XM satellite radio, and on tour with Yo Gotti. Girl is hosted by DJ Scream and included features from Stuey Rock. Part of her management team is actually also on Sway Calloway’s team (good look). She’s also had strong visuals. But let’s talk about that mixtape.

If you haven’t heard Girl, Interrupted yet, listen to her Who The F$ck Is Sadie Hawkins? mixtape first. Then listen to Girl, Interrupted. You will hear a total 360. Her flows improved greatly, the production is industry quality, there’s radio records plus a couple girlie records I dig and…….it’s jammin’. I actually played this mixtape non-stop for a couple of weeks.

Tracks to check:

"Cocky", "Laughing At Em", "Microphone Checka", "Moan".

Marcus Allen Personal Invitation

4. Personal Invitation (Album)

Artist: Marcus Allen (@MarcussAllenn)

Release: April 2012

Label: JG Entertainment

Hometown: Summerville, SC

In 2012 there’s been a lot of talk about how R&B is dead, no one cares, etc. But I believe there’s still a contingent of fans that wants to hear good R&B music. Why has pop music seemingly overtaken such a huge chunk of the R&B market? Maybe R&B fans need to buy more to prove it matters. Maybe folks feel there’s no "good" R&B out there. I don’t have a true answer here but Personal Invitation is just……is.

Personal Invitation is Marcus Allen’s first album. I listen to a lot of hip hop but also love R&B. There’s absolutely nothing like cupcakin’ with your boo thang on a sunny afternoon with sweet R&B sounds in the background. Therefore Personal Invitation really showcases M.A.’s vocal ability. This guy can sing, no doubt, but he also writes great records. There’s a couple of tracks on the album that I think could be radio hits, and of course there’s several lovemaking songs as well.

While visiting Greenville, SC one weekend shortly after Invitations’ release, I stopped by Earshot Records and was pleasantly surprised to find his album on the shelves. There was only one copy left, which I took to mean it sold well within that store (hopefully it wasn’t undershipped there either). Personal Invitation is a great R&B album and truly one of my favorite records of the entire year. I actually have a copy for the car and listen to it regularly. It’s good to see there’s Carolina artists out here making great R&B music.

Tracks to check:

"You Make Me Better", "Do Not Disturb", "Got Me Gone", "Incredible", "Sweat It Out".

Wreck-N-Crew 72-10

5. 72-10 (Album)*

Artist: Realer Music Group (@RealerMusic_NC)

Release: August 2012

Label: Realer Music Group

Hometown: Durham, NC

*At the time of this posting 72-10 has not been officially released*

As I was drafting this post over the past couple of days, there was actually a different project that held this slot. Then over the weekend I attended a private listening party for 72-10, received an advanced copy of the album, have literally been jammin’ to it non-stop and subsequently removed the other project off of this list.

Realer Music Group is a small collective of artists, producers and artist-producers based out of Durham, NC. Members include Wreck-N-Crew (Trie & Fresh), Jacobi, Lil Bob Doe, Groove Theorist, Laphelle, Free Agent Jasun, and DJ Swirlz.

72-10 is Realer Music Group’s first release as a collective. In prior individual releases, there is theme throughout the project. Wreck-N-Crew’s Ron O’Neal EP was based around Youngblood Priest from the movie Super Fly. Each track was preceded by a movie clip, which then Trie and Fresh’s rhymes were centered around or based on. With 72-10, the premise of a theme is continued, however this time it’s sports related.

72-10 was the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls end season record. That year, they became the first NBA team to set an NBA record and became the first team to win 70 regular season games. Realer Music Group is comparing themselves to one of the best teams ever in the NBA, with the differentiating points being RMG does music and they are from Durham, NC. aka The Bull City. Get it? Throughout the album there are pop culture references to 1996 (the movie Space Jam for example), people who were newsworthy that year, and of course, basketball analogies. If I knew more about the Bulls and sports in general from that year, I’d probably enjoy the album even more. However there’s still enough non-basketball/sports items to jam to.

It also needs to be pointed out that Actual Proof’s "All The Way" featuring Raheem Devaughn sounds very similar to RMG’s "Armed & Dangerous". ActProof’s track released in March. Even though 72-10 doesn’t drop until tomorrow, "Armed & Dangerous" has been out since "All The Way". There has been quite a bit of behind doors talking within the RDU hip hop scene on who’s production came first. I’m still not sure and I’m not about to go Nancy Drew-ing to figure it out either. Facts are facts, and the fact is the tracks sound alike. Maybe it’s a sample? Perhaps a sample of a sample? Perchance we’ll know for sure one day.

Anyway 72-10 is a very dope album. It drops tomorrow August 8, 2012 so be sure to check it out when it does.

Tracks to check:

"Space Jam 2.0", "1996", "Armed And Dangerous", "Pressure", "6 Rings".

What about y’all? I’m sure you have favorites! What are your top Carolina hip hop and R&B release of 2012….so far?

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