The Ten Best New York City Rap Albums of 2012

Categories: Lists

1. Ka, Grief Pedigree

"Sutter and Stone, Rockaway and Dumont -- the gritty arteries of Brownsville..."

So informs the sampled voice that gels together Ka's meticulously crafted 11-song album. Phrased against the backdrop of the rapper's Brownsville, Brooklyn, locale, Grief Pedigree sounds like it was created in the idealistic way that we pine for: An artist writing from his heart and first-hand memory, rapping over beats chosen solely for the purpose of meshing wholly with the words. It's a formula that Ka himself has admitted makes the album a slow-burner: He's said he expects the first listens of a song to underwhelm. But then comes the moment when it reveals itself as something approaching greatness, and Grief Pedigree solidifies as this year's best homegrown album.

Entirely self-produced, Grief Pedigree's songs are possessed of a stark beauty that's capable of inspiring moods of brooding danger and melancholy lament in the listener. (Future career wildcard: 50 Cent regains his creative spoils by employing Ka and Roc Marcy to produce the entirety of his parting shot to Interscope records.) To this Ka brings verses that focus on the idea of contrast and muses on the way choices made in the moment can change a life's course (a concept taken to the extreme on "Decisions"). On "Iron Age" he raps with a noble dignity as he explains, "In time you'll see [a] thin line between friend and rival/ Between you and me, stupidity and men's bravado/ Almost died trying to make paper, now I pen survival."

In another era Ka held down a brief spell as part of indie rap cult favorites Natural Elements. Fittingly, Grief Pedigree exudes the best of the mentality of independent music. Orders on his website are prefaced with the small-town-like disclaimer, "Please be patient with your order, I don't go to the post office every day." Thankfully, there's still shopping time left before the year's out to make him haul a bunch of padded envelopes over to the Brownsville USPS depot.

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20 comments
TrickyKid2
TrickyKid2

@dmittelman @stinch187 Congratulations (and Merry Christmas) but their might be some confusion. Did you see my original statement?

The_Unflattered
The_Unflattered

@TrickyKid2 @villagevoice @MrChuckD @Scott_Ian Because mainstream hip hop is mannerist, “follow-the-leader”, homogenized trash.

TrickyKid2
TrickyKid2

@The_Unflattered Agreed, but how can that still explain such an atrocious oversight. The @villagevoice isn't in business to be irrelevant.

The_Unflattered
The_Unflattered

@TrickyKid2 the VV hasn’t been relevant for 20 years.

TrickyKid2
TrickyKid2

@The_Unflattered Such an appalling omission such as this certainly suggests so.

TrickyKid2
TrickyKid2

@soundofthecity @villagevoice Appears u over looked Public Enemy because their older. Put out TWO full-lengths that r relevant & untouchable

TrickyKid
TrickyKid

Based on this list it appears you over looked Public Enemy because they are older. However they released not one but TWO full-lengths this year that are relevant and basically untouchable.

PhotoRob
PhotoRob

@PhillipMlynar nice mayne

chriscolumbus212
chriscolumbus212

where's 360 outta Queens? He put out one of the best albums all year.

AlexandeRichter
AlexandeRichter

@PhillipMlynar well done on the obligatory year end list Phillip.

PhillipMlynar
PhillipMlynar

@AlexandeRichter Now back to waiting on Metal Clergy...

DARTparker
DARTparker

@therealelp - @BrownsvilleKa is in good company!

breakinbreadLDN
breakinbreadLDN

@PhillipMlynar Great list, need to check the Ka album (not heard of it, the *shame*). I really liked the Beneficence album on Ill Adrenaline

PhillipMlynar
PhillipMlynar

@breakinbreadLDN It's available on ye olde fashioned vinyl too, which is always appreciated.

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