The Top Carolina Hip Hop Releases Of 2012

Dirty Dave The Carolina Plug Mixtape DJ B Lord DJ Kub

Well y’all, 2012 is officially about over. Are you happy with how your brand prospered and flourished in 2012? Did you achieve all of the intended goals for your business?

In 2012, the Carolina hip hop scene had a great handful of awesome releases. There’s good hip hop to be consumed here, however let’s be real here. The music industry still does not "live" here, in comparison to a major market. With the exception of a very few, I still believe you’ll have to leave the Carolinas to make it, at the minimum tour and network in other markets. Plus have a strategic business plan of attack, promotions tactics, and strong web presence. Consistently. Oh and pay your taxes.

Anyway, in this post I’m going to focus strictly on the music. As always, my heart is in Carolina, so this only covers music from artists who are based in either North or South Carolina. It’s an absolute must to take special consideration, make time and listen plus support artists from both states.

Back in August of this year I wrote about The Top 5 Carolina Hip Hop & R&B Releases of 2012…….So Far. The list was dynamic, meaning it could change by the time 2012 finished out. And it did.

However for my annual end of the year end post, I’m doing something different. Instead of listing only the top 5 Carolina hip hop releases, I decided to list a couple of projects that were really good, with a brief explanation why. If you missed any of these albums/mixtapes/EPs, be sure to check them out. As a proud Carolina kid, I’m very excited about the hip hop being made here.

So without further ado, here’s my list of the top releases from Carolina artists in 2012. It is not a ranking and is in no particular order. For all you non-reading folks who seem to get hype over rankings let’s repeat that in bold caps THIS LIST IS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

Dirty Dave The Carolina Plug Mixtape DJ B Lord DJ Kub

1. The Carolina Plug (Mixtape)

Artist: Dirty Dave (@DirtyDaveDDE)

Release: September 2012

Label: Dirty Dollar Entertainment

Hometown: Charleston, SC

In 2012 I ran my first half marathon. I started training in January, and in ten months literally went from sitting on the couch to running the Raleigh City of Oaks half marathon the first week in November. During the race, I listened to this mixtape back to back for the first eight miles of the race. It’s that turn up. Dirty Dollar also has one of THE strongest and biggest movements out of South Carolina right now. If I were ranking releases this year, The Carolina Plug would be #1.

Rapsody-The-Idea-of-Beautiful North Carolina Hip Hop

2. The Idea of Beautiful (Album) *

Artist: Rapsody (@RapsodyMusic)

Release: August 2012

Label: Jamla Records

Hometown: Snow Hill, NC

I’ve been a fan of Rapsody since 2008 and her early Kooley High days. She has blessed fans with a plethora of free releases. While I have not liked some of her music (the Black Mamba EP is my least favorite), she is one of the most consistent rappers from the Carolinas, female or male. The Idea of Beautiful is a great album, full of stories, top notch production and razor sharp lyricism. Rapsody created something special with this one.

*Full disclosure: my name is included in the album liner’s Thank You’s.

Benjamin Starr - Guns & Roses

3. Guns-N-Roses (Mixtape)

Artist: Benjamin Starr (@Benny_Starr)

Release: November 2012

Label: N/A

Hometown: Pineville, SC

If I were doing a strictly ‘Top 5 Carolina Hip Hop Releases of 2012’ ranking post, and only listing 5 projects, this mixtape would definitely be included. And it would rank somewhere around #2 or #3, because it was that good. Benny Starr also made the best tribute track to Charlamagne Tha God I’ve ever heard.

Elevator Jay -- Ahead Of Time

4. Ahead Of Time (EP)

Artist: Elevator Jay (@ElevatorJay)

Release: October 2012

Label: N/A

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

I really dug this EP. The first three weeks after it’s released I listened to it non-stop. It’s only seven tracks long, with two of those being the intro and outro. Another coup is Elevator Jay produced most of it. The only bone of contention I had about Ahead Of Time is that it wasn’t pushed hard enough. A month after it’s release I barely heard anything else about it.

Righchus Black Cradles

5. Black Cradles (Mixtape)

Artist: Righchus (@Rigchus)

Release: July 2012

Label: Million Dollar Dreamz

Hometown: Charleston, SC

This was Righchus’ second mixtape release and he co-executive produced the project. My favorite part of Black Cradles was the variety, including the range of production (some of which was done by Sir Righchus). A very complete project top to bottom. It actually made my The Top 5 Carolina Hip Hop & R&B Releases Of 2012…….So Far list.

Black Cradles‘ mixtape cover is also my favorite artwork out of all the Carolina hip hop releases in 2012. Dem boi gold teeth and gold chain e fly (say that sentence with a Geechee accent).

King F.A.M.E. Rise to Fame

6. Rise To Fame (Mixtape)

Artist: King F.A.M.E. (@IAmKingFame)

Release: December 2012

Label: N/A

Hometown: Durham, NC

Rise To Fame is the surprise sleeper in this list. Before it’s release, I didn’t know much about King F.A.M.E. (and still don’t, as I haven’t seen or heard many interviews or stories about him or his music) but this project was put together very well and really flowed. It had club jams, reggae flavor, and something for the streets too.

S.Gold Ft. Lazarus & King Mez -- "Deny"

7. The Storm (Mixtape)

Artist: S. Gold (@SDotGold)

Release: December 2012

Label: Lazrso Records

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

The Storm was just released last week so I am still taking it in fully. "Goldie" is a rising star on the RDU hip hop scene, especially considering his packed out album release party on a rainy Thursday night in Raleigh. I’m still tripping out over the accomplishment of that feat. It felt real good to see folks come out in droves to support good #NCHipHop.

Bettie Grind Ft. Verse Simmons

8. #ME (Album)

Artist: Bettie Grind (@BettieGrind)

Release: October 2012

Label: Hood Supastar Entertainment

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Bettie Grind had the most subltly clever project titles out of everyone on this list. Twitter ruled social media in 2012 and people in the Carolinas has a lot to say about Bettie Grind, his background and music. #ME is a play on a Twitter hashtag. Also as mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of artists who has their business ish together. I interviewed Bettie Grind for November’s Feature Night Thursday radio show on WXYC 89.3 FM, and his interview is one of my favorites out of everyone I’ve ever interviewed.

Additional projects worth checking out:

Chedda Chapp, The Empty Theater (Mixtape). Hometown: New Bern, NC.

OxyMoron, The Woods (Mixtape). Hometown: Florence & Bamberg, SC.

Free Agent Jasun, 919’s & Headaches (Mixtape). Hometown: Raleigh, NC.

Alpha Male Society & Millie Vaughn, On Air (EP). Hometown: Raleigh, NC (Millie Vaughn).

Josh Adam, Rise of a Dreamer (EP). Hometown: Raleigh, NC (but now resides in Los Angeles).

Tab-One & Sunshine J, MADFLOWRIDICULOUS (Album). Hometown: Raleigh, NC.

What are some of y’all favorite Carolina hip hop releases of 2012?

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