2012 was, as usual, a year ripe with drama in the hip-hop world. From a hologram of a revered rapper to the coming out of a blossoming star, the year had its share of water cooler moments.
2Pac hologram performs at Coachella
The Twittersphere blew up in April when a hologram of Tupac Shakur, commonly known as 2Pac, performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival during a set with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Though it only performed two songs – “Hail Mary” and “2 of Americaz Most Wanted” – it left America wondering: Who will be the next dead celebrity to be resurrected for another slightly creepy performance? We may have to wait a while for the answer, as the company that created the hologram, Digital Domain Media Group, filed for bankruptcy in September.
Beastie Boys star dies
Adam Yauch, better known as the Beastie Boys’ MCA, died in May after a three-year bout with cancer. His death rocked the music world, garnering reactions from top-name artists ranging from Radiohead to Eminem. Spurning controversy, Yauch said in his will that his music is not to be used for advertising purposes, garnering enough buzz to further keep one of hip-hop’s pioneering superstar groups virtually immortal even after Yauch’s death.
G.O.O.D. Music vs. Young Money
In what the potential to be an earth-shattering feud, a battle between Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music and Lil Wayne’s Young Money labels was, in reality, a dud. Sparked by Pusha T’s May release of “Exodus 23:1,” in which the G.O.O.D. Music rapper criticized Young Money’s contract system, Lil Wayne responded with “Goulish,” which flopped. This almost-feud isn’t without precedent, as Common and Drake traded blows before. Regardless, the beef seems to be squashed, as September’s G.O.O.D. Music album “Cruel Summer” featured no such mention of the rival crew.
Chris Brown vs. Drake
While the previous “feud” might have fizzled out, things got heated in July at a New York nightclub when a brawl broke out between Chris Brown and Drake’s crews, reportedly over both artists’ relationships with Rihanna. Though both artists claim they had little to do with the incident, which left the night club in shambles and Brown with a bloodied face, a winner seems to have emerged: Brown, who despite being charged with felony assault 2009 for his attack on Rihanna, appears to be back together with her.
50 Cent vs. everyone
In a last-gasp struggle to remain relevant, 50 Cent had beef with just about anyone and everyone, ranging from Fat Joe to French Montana, though things really escalated in September when 50 got in a fight with Maybach Music Group up-and-comer Gunplay at the BET Music Awards. 50 has an album planned for release in 2013, titled “Street King Immortal,” so time will tell if all these feuds amounted to enough publicity to make an impact on his album sales, but if past history is any indication (his 2007 sales battle with Kanye West, for example), chances are good they weren’t.
The 2 Chainz and Chief Keef takeover
Time will tell if their music is flavor-of-the-moment novelty, but for the time being, 2 Chainz and Chief Keef have defied the odds and made 2012 their year. Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz lined himself up with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music crew and appeared on the roster’s chart-topping “Mercy,” as well as released his first album, “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” in August, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts. Chief Keef, on the other hand, blew up thanks to a mixtape single “I Don’t Like,” which garnered enough buzz in his hometown of Chicago to also attract the attention of fellow-Chicagoan West, who hopped on the remix alongside several of his G.O.O.D. Music members. After being signed to Interscope Records this year, his debut album, “Finally Rich,” dropped Dec. 18 and largely flopped, debuting at No. 29 on the Billboard 200.
Frank Ocean comes out
Arguably the year’s biggest story is that of Frank Ocean, the Odd Future crooner who revealed he was bisexual shortly before dropping the year’s best album, “channel ORANGE,” in July. His revelation was almost universally revered, largely in part for defying many hip-hop archetypes (though technically, Ocean is more of an R&B guy). Things kept getting better for Ocean from there – the album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for six Grammy Awards and appeared on many publications’ best-of lists for the year.