In 2012, Green Ova Music released a cavalry of hip-hop. Everything from cloud rap to trap to dreamy instrumentals to closed eye mumbles, it was damn near impossible to keep up with everything (shout-out to Lil’ B being the only artist with more releases). After much debate and numerous listens, I have compiled the best Green Ova releases on my radar in 2012, plus a mix that needs mentioning. If I missed one, let me know. Some are loosely based, fuck with me.
17. Green Ova – Diamonds of God EP
Number of Tracks: 8
Features: LOLO, Dope G, Main Attrakionz, Robbie Rob
Blurb: The first (and only) Green Ova compilation released in 2012, showcasing the majority of the crew, but sadly missing Shady Blaze. Most tracks are under two minutes, this EP is short and forgettable.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “We Hott” by Squadda, the only memorable track on the album, and one of Squadda’s strongest of the year. If only it were longer. “I’ma give me two more years to get myself up out the mud.”
16. 13 – The World Bout to End
Number of Tracks: 4
Producers: Ammbush, Hollywood Squadda, Alchemist, Gila Monsta
Blurb: With the end of the world comes the introduction of new Green Ova rapper 13, who glides through four tracks like he is part of the funk-friendly beats, encompassing a very similar flow as Main Attrakionz, if not more sleepy and hazy-eyed.
Stand-Out Track/Line: The production on this album is quality, but 13 doesn’t seem to have anything significant to say. Spittin’ that real life, sure, but most of the lines are forgettable as soon as they pass. “The World Bout To End” is easily the strongest track with the beat transgression, but no good lines. For example, “That nappy ass flow. And the, uhh, what you call that thing? I don’t know.”
15. Squadda B – This Me EP
Number of Tracks: 3
Blurb: A quick little three track EP where Squadda B goes in over Dead Prez’s “Hip-Hop” and tells us to maybe cut back on quoting Rick Ross lines. Fuck around and get killed.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “New Money” has Squadda answering his phone in the booth, discussing a possible drug deal. “I’m about gettin’ rich, I’m about gettin’ chips, my momma been broke too long in this shit.”
Blurb: Hollywood turned 20 in 2012 and released a two disc set to celebrate. Sloppy and not mastered, but a nice birthday gift, nonetheless. One track is a piano instrumental (“Pianos”), one song has smooth jazz and stream of consciousness normalcies (“Made Man Talk”). Some of these songs sound like what Frank Sinatra would sing over if he was still alive.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “San Jose Head,” this Main Attrakionz collaboration is dope, the beat sounding like a possible Joe Wax creation. “Shit too easy, pockets extra cheesy.”
13. Shady Blaze – The Anomaly of Hip-Hop
Number of Tracks: 10
Producers: Marlee B, Ryan Hemsworth, BLVCKHXVRT, So Sincere, Eric Dingus, Tazmanian Tiger, DK All Day, Orthodox
Features: Deniro Farrar, MondreM.A.N
Blurb: Shady Blaze releases music almost as fast as his verses. The slow motion, oftentimes cinematic beats contrast well with the rapid fire raps. Marlee B always delivers a wonderful amount of bass. But, with only ten tracks, the album jumps all over the place, from introspective and heartbroken to angry and violent, no pacing in sight, as if he was happy with ten tracks and put them into a .zip file without consideration.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “The Crash,” a story about a near-death car crash told over a College Dropout-era soul sample. “Couldn’t think of who I was, only what I’d become. I was somewhere in another world, far from the sun.”
12. Main Attrakionz – Tag Champz Bundle
Number of Tracks: 23
Producers: Friendzone, Unknown
Features: Western Tink, Dope G, HD, Joe Blow
Blurb: Released right before their big label debut Bossalinis & Foolyones, this album feels like a collection of B-sides and toss aways. Not to mention the album sells for $20. A few hidden wonders within the monotony (check “Love U” produced by the great Friendzone).
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Stimulate Mindz” is on that dojo flow, that kung fu swag. “Give it to you straight up, can’t candy-coat the whip.”
11. Hollywood Squadda – Squad Ready, I Declare War
Number of Tracks: 13
Blurb: As we can see from the cover (Squadda covered in ammo surrounded by Kanye, Hova, and Andre 3000), it’s a return to the grime for Hollywood, the first time we’ve seen an output like this since 2011′s much better Back $ellin Crack.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Lemme Breathe” wins the award for best beat (Johnny Cash rollin’ through the projects) but the lyrics on the overwhelming bass track “Ballz Deep” must be mentioned: “You ain’t seen me with the pookie lips, talkin’ shit, all musty outside, lookin’ for a lick.”
10. Main Attrakionz – Chandelier Redux
Number of tracks: 9
Producers: Nem270, Fol Chen, Evan Voytas, Keyboard Kid, Giorgio MoMurda, Ryan Hemsworth, the Neighborhood, SKYWLKR, Sea Things
Blurb: Chandelier is arguably MA’z greatest release, the first time the world saw the production beauty of Julian Wass and .L.W.H. This time around, a bunch of artists hop in to try their best at one-upping the Executive Series. Not quite as good or atmospheric, but still with plenty of fine moments.
Stand-Out Track: “8ball” produced by Ryan Hemsworth, who mixed the initial album. Hemsworth has crafted a video game version of “Big Pimpin’,” with plenty of foreign instruments and yacht-friendly bass. “If you ain’t got a heart, then you ain’t got shit.” – MondreM.A.N
9. Deniro Farrar and Shady Blaze – KILL OR BE KILLED
Number of Tracks: 16
Producers: Oswin SM, Ryan Hemsworth, Keyboard Kid, Friendzone, Kira, Spadez, DK All Day, Tree, Sines, Nem270
Features: ST 2Lettaz (R.I.P. G-Side), Lofty, Squadda B, Deecee, MondreM.A.N, Haleek Maul, Tree, Boldy James.
Blurb: A very dark album, covering heavy topics like deals with the devil, rape, murder, robbery, and questioning God. Not a happy line in sight.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Breaking Ties” produced by Kira is one of the few that strays from devilish violence as the beautiful piano beat and sample steal the show. “Still get them butterflies in your stomach as soon as you see me. A soft kiss to the lips, girl, you hold me like you need me. I pull out the zucchini and do magic like I’m Houdini.” – Shady
8. MondreM.A.N – MC ILLIN
Number of Tracks: 21
Features: Dope G, B Smith
Blurb: With enough tracks to make Silkk the Shocker come out of hiding and say, “Respect,” this output is deep cloud, with all of the tracks blending into each other and providing a great hour + to drift and dream.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Laptop,” is a orchestrated party with every line finishing with the word “laptop.” The beat goes in, Mondre is having the time of his life, and the video is a simple blast to watch. “Weed on my laptop, weed on my laptop, I made a couple G’s from my laptop.”
7. Hollywood Squadda – My Room Look Like a Mall
Number of Tracks: 16
Producers: Joe Wax, Unknown
Features: Lo Da Kid, Dope G, Koopsta Knicca (great rap name), Uncle Ricky (another great rap name), Floyd Waybetter.
Blurb: This album might have been knocked out in half a day, but by no means does that make it bad. Very sloppy, very based, most of the tracks coming in under two minutes. But, as always, there are a number of gems that you can’t miss (“Newports,” “Charles Glover,” and “Public Transportation” especially), and, overall, the album grooves. A good party record. Also, can we discuss the stoned mumblings of Lo Da Kid? Amazing way to introduce someone.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Public Transportation” has a dope Joe Wax beat, with Squadda comparing himself to a bus. “I guess I’m like a bus ’cause I be rollin’.” Also, be sure to check the incredible video for “Newports.”
6. MondreM.A.N – M A N // R E M I X E D
Number of Tracks: 9
Producers: Pariah Carey, Blissed Out, Yalls, Shady Blaze, ZachG, Julian Wass, Sea Things, BSBD, Ryan Hemsworth
Features: Danny Brown and Squadda B
Blurb: Not as incredible as the original M A N, which might be my favorite MondreM.A.N solo effort, but still enjoyable. The producers that come through to turn it up do not disappoint. “Surprise,” the strongest track on the original release, is dripping in Julian Wass lean. Shady Blaze speeds up “50 Toes” like the final boss in a video game.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Suffocation” with Danny and Squadda, Hemsworth throwing down on a really fun beat. “This rap shit suffocatin’ my regular life, thinkin’ what I’m bout to write on my next flight.”, but let us not forget Danny’s great, “Morning flight with a hangover, TSA smell the loud on me, don’t fuck with a Bruiser, it’s Green Ova.”
5. MondreM.A.N – From Da Lo-Fi Railroad
Number of Tracks: 12
Blurb: A nice little treat before the end of 2012, this album has Mondre cruising through some late-night alleys, half asleep, half stoned, torn between a party and a pillow. I love it when the same producer sticks around for the whole album, so this eery atmosphere hits home for me. Not a bad song on this track and it might be higher on the list, but I still have yet to fully digest it, since it came out like eight minutes ago.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Sharkz,” the last album on the song, sounds like a phantom satellite in outer space overrun with hungry aliens. “In this hat I got on, I think I’m Gilligan. The illest kid, iller than I’ve ever been.”
4. Hollywood Squadda – Northside Bad Guy
Number of Tracks: 14
Producers: Squadda B, Friendzone, Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, Nem270, A.Notes, Bussit Benny, Joe Wax, Marlee B, Yung Lan, Vette Boyz, Ryan Hemsworth
Features: B-Charlie, Big Fam Terrorist, MondreM.A.N, Shady Blaze, Dope G, Deezy Dolla, Lo Da Kid
Blurb: Finally! We get Squadda back on the boards. This album destroys. Every beat is precise, every song long enough to digest, and the flow unreal. Easily Squadda’s strongest release of the year (unless you include the video for “Newports”). Marlee B’s beat for “Be A Chapter” has been in my head for weeks.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Mayhem” is disgusting. Squadda and Hemsworth sharing the boards makes the world sound like a championship game in outer space. The sample is absurd. Repeat for days. That being said, my favorite line comes from “Mouth Shut Eyes Wide” despite its simplicity: “Mouth closed, eyes wide.”
3. Shady Blaze – The Grind, Hustle & Talent
Number of Tracks: 11
Producers: Signs, YS, DK All Day, BK Beatz, Ryan Hemsworth, Shady Blaze, N-Pire
Features: Noah23, MondreM.A.N, Deniro Farrar
Blurb: Released early in 2012, this album stuck with me throughout the year. Normally, Shady has trouble with the flow of his albums. Equal parts cheesin’, grindin’, and cryin’. Dude is all over the place. But with this release, he keeps it turned up almost the entire time. When he does slow down to reflect (“40 Bars”), it fits and sounds great.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “40 Bars,” a sorrowful track with Shady rarely slowing down, spitting, “Crooks made to look like heroes, heroes made to look like crooks. This ain’t nothin’ but an ocean, we all the fish on the hook.”
2. Main Attrakionz – Bossalinis and Foolyones
Number of tracks: 17
Producers: The Mekanix, Rob Lo, YS, Supreme Cuts, Joe Wax, Uptown Greg, Metro Zu, Harry Fraud, Zayoven, Ammbush, WarRoom, Al Jieh, Grown Folk
Features: DaVinci, Gucci Mane, Shady Blaze, Mon$ta
Blurb: This is the big one. The major label release, the money machine. They made a catchy single “Do It For The Bay” with DaVinci, shot a video in an attempt at a Bay Area anthem (better than The Grouch’s “Bay to LA” with Slug). The unpredictability of the “best duo ever” continues with this release, returning to an old-school, less spacey version of expectations.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “24th Hour” with Squadda telling us, “There’s only one God, but the devil’s is us.” Harry Fraud throws down on this one.
1. Mondre270 – Rhythm & Zone
Number of Tracks: 18
Features: Dope G
Blurb: I love when artists stick with the same producer for an entire album. Mondre throws down really well to create his best solo effort of the year over Nem270′s beats. We have seen these two in the past with success on Dope Sine ’91. Plus, it’s hard to say no to “Heros & Legends,” where Mondre quotes Sandlot for the chorus. No bad songs on this album.
Stand-Out Track/Line: “Sippin Twisten Up” sounds like a circus attraction and Mondre wrecks the carnival. “I ain’t been to math class, no problems for me.”
[BONUS] Ryan Hemsworth – Live For the Funk Mix
Obviously, there were plenty of releases this year that also featured Green Ova affiliates, so it is worth mentioning the greatness of .L.W.H.’s CIA TV, Friendzone’s dreamy Collection 1, and 100s pimpin’ Ice Cold Perm. Lastly, it is worth mentioning the mix of the year. By no means is this a Green Ova release, but it is worth talking about. Clocking in at over one hour, Hemsworth throws everything from Danny Brown to Rick Ross to Main Attrakionz over incredible production and clever mashups. Get familiar.