A full 10 months into 2012, we finally have a legitimate candidate for rap album of the year in Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city. It may be the first hip-hop record everyone seems to love since Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and it's heartening to read such online comments as "I downloaded it, then I went to the store and bought it," proving that people will still pay for quality music.
Ironically, recently West delivered his worst album to date in Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer. But since it's a compilation, he can pretend it's not part of his official discography, like Dr. Dre likes to do with Dr. Dre Presents…The Aftermath. We should take Macklemore more seriously; his The Heist may not be a work of staggering genius, but it has some real lyrical depth. He's not just another "white rapper." The huge opening-week sales for Lecrae's Gravity have turned him into the first Christian rapper that the rap mainstream cares about. And while Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor II is uneven -- the album's first half is compelling, the second less so -- it has tempered, for now, criticisms against the politically outspoken artist that his music was degenerating into dull anarchist pop.
Here are some of the most notable rap albums of the past several weeks.