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While the distinction between a mixtape and an album seems to be blur more everyday, artists still see the merit in releasing Free99 music for their fans. Some of the projects in 2012 rivaled those available for purchase and may have raised the bar too high for the “official” releases from those artists. However, you can never have too much good music. So clear some hard drive space for these 12 highlights from the last year.

Joey BadA$$ – “1999″

A young kid by the name of Joey BadA$$ spread love the Brooklyn Way this summer with his debut project “1999.” The mixtape takes you back down memory lane with it’s nostalgic 90′s sound along with some ferocious bars from the Pro Era general. With the release, the 17  year old proved to have the talent to bring New York to the forefront of rap once again.


Mac Miller – “Macadelic”

Mac Miller, a young new artist out of Pittsburgh,  showed versatility and growth potential as an artist on his critically acclaimed mixtape “Macadelic.”  Some of the standout tracks include “Thoughts From A Balcony” and “Desperado” but he also showcases a brilliant yet ignorant side on the Juicy J assisted “Lucky Ass Bitch.”


XV – Popular Culture

Kansas City MC XV put out a stellar mixtape this year with the release of “Popular Culture.” The feel good project has a very unique and creative take on everyday life and today’s pop culture, along with a few good guests like Schoolboy Q, Emilio Rojas, Sim Tha Mobster and more. The underrated MC only continues to impress with this offering, so lets hope his Warner Bros. debut is as good as this tape.


 Wiz Khalifa – “Taylor Allderdice”

After dropping his heavily criticized major label debut, Wiz Khalifa went back to his roots with Taylor Allderdice. Young Khalifa sticks to his favorite subjects on the mixtape; weed, women and the homies. Tracks like ‘T.A.P.’ and ‘Mary 3x’ bring the best out of Khalifa and the production is solid. Overall, the Taylor Gang leader takes it to that next trippy level with Taylor Allderdice, lets hope he can do the same with O.N.I.F.C.


Big Sean – Detroit

Big Sean delivered a remarkable project with “Detroit.” The follow-up to his debut,”Finally Famous” boasts strong lyrics and delivery from the D-Town native and displays his versatility and willingness to work with different artists and production styles. Sean keeps up with some of the most lyrical MC’s in the game on the track “100″ alongside Kendrick Lamar and Royce Da 5’9″ and “24K” is another gem in this dope project. We can only expect bigger things to come from the G.O.O.D. music representative.


Action Bronson/Party Supplies – Blue Chips

Action Bronson proved to be a lyrical beast with the release of Blue Chips. Produced entirely by Party Supplies, the Flushing Queens rapper spits bars over R&B and soul samples. Action’s complex metaphors are at an all time high on this project and serve as just an appetizer until his major label debut.


Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 2

Meek put out one of the most downloaded mixtapes in history with “Dreamchasers 2.” Fans of Meek Mill got to know a brighter side to him with more mainstream appeal. The mixtape provided major anthems for Meek like “Amen” and the street certified bangers “Burn” and “Flexin.” Meek Mill put the Hip Hop world on notice with this star-studded project and paved the way for his debut album, “Dreams & Nightmares.”


Slaughterhouse – On The House

A week before their major label release Slaughterhouse tossed the fans a freebie aptly titled “On The House.” The punchlines and upbeat flow over great subtle beats make the group’s vocals shine with a gritty tinge. “Juggernauts” and “Truth Or Truth” are perfect examples of the groups lyrical capabilities. There’s no question that for hip hop heads this mixtape highlighted what Slaughterhouse was founded on—pure lyricism.


Freddie Gibbs – “Baby Face Killa”

“Baby Face Killa” is a well executed gangsta rap project. Gibbs puts his impressive lyrical dexterity to use in the songs “My Ni99a” and “Blessed” while keeping his menacing flow. Gangsta Gibbs also experiments with some newer sounds in this album like the Krayzie Bone and SpaceGhostPurrp track “Kush Cloud.”


Dom Kennedy – Yellow Album

Known for his laid back sound, Dom Kennedy decided to make the “Yellow Album” a more party feel project. The mixtape showcases Dom’s growth as an artist and his ability to keep up with some of the best in the game. The production on the Yellow Album is quite impressive with THC providing most of the tracks. Dom’s confidence as MC continues to grow with his playa persona in each of his releases.


Rick Ross – Rich Forever

Rick Ross opened up the year with the release of his third mixtape “Rich Forever “on the first week of January . The length and quality of this project made this mixtape feel more like an album than something given for free. When it comes to production, Rozay has a gift for selecting beats that meshes well with his guest appearances and his lavish rhymes. If you’re still teetering on whether to cop “God Forgives I Don’t” download this and it will make you a believer.


Big K.R.I.T. – 4Eva N A Day

“4Eva N A Day” is a concept album of sorts, following the highs and lows that K.R.I.T. experiences over the course of the day with introspective lyrics and sociological commentary over some classic K.R.I.T production. “Red Eye’”and “Boobie Miles” demonstrate why K.R.I.T. is one the best newcomers in the game. The Mississippi emcee puts together one of the most solid mixtapes of the year and the best thing about it…not a penny spent for great music.


Did your favorite mixtape not make the list? Hit us up @TheUrbanDaily and let us know which one and where to get it!

More of The Best Of 2012:

New Year’s Eve: Five Ways The Ruff Ryder Can Win In 2013

A Ranking Of Nicki Minaj’s 5 Guest Verses In 2012

The Top 12 Albums To Buy This Holiday Season & Release Dates

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Top 12 Mixtapes Of 2012  was originally published on