To say that 2012 has been an eventful year in music is an understatement. Some of hip-hop and R&B’s biggest albums this year have been released in the eye of controversy. From divorce stories from Nas to Frank Ocean‘s Tumblr note released amidst rumors of his homosexuality, the two have gone through a heap of media attention this summer. But when both artists released their albums, the respective projects proved to be high-quality, leading most listeners to forget the drama and focus on the music.
Over the last eight months, there’s been a shift in R&B, creating a more diverse pool of sounds within the genre. A new class of singers, namely Ocean, Elle Varner, Emeli Sande and BJ the Chicago Kid, take classic R&B stylings and pair that with modern production. Their albums have moved the genre forward rather than away from its soulful origins. However, veterans such as Usher and R. Kelly seem to be exploring freely on their LPs. Usher’s latest brings a euro-pop sound and the Pied Piper of R&B calls more on ’70s grooves and flowery lyrics.
On the hip-hop side, the diversity has continued as well, but with most rappers keeping in tune with the sounds of their crew. Odd Future released a well-received effort, as well as two out of four of Black Hippy’s own: ScHoolBoy Q and Ab-Soul. There’s also Maybach Music Group king Rick Ross, who dropped his fifth studio album, but allowed members from his camp to shine on many of the tracks.
More than halfway through the year, The BoomBox gives a nod to 15 of the best R&B and hip-hop albums thus far. Find out which crooners and lyrical entertainers moved past the competition.