Looking Through Time: 2012
With the anniversaries of culturally important albums sprouting up each and every year, the CommRadio Arts department will be diving into albums from select years and breaking down their impact. Here are the albums from 2012.
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city
When Nas released his debut album Illmatic, he set the gold standard for both raps albums and debut projects. He burts on to the rap scene with incredible story telling about what it was like to grow up in the conditions he did and painted a vivid picture of growing up in New York in the 1990s. Since then, no project perfectly captured the feeling of Illmatic the way Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city did in 2012. Lamar had a classic on his hands, perfectly illustrating what is was like to grow up in Compton, California. The album has everything that someone could want from a hip hop album. There is the gritty “Backseat Freestyle,” taking the listener back to a younger Kendrick Lamar. There is the equally gritty, but more anthemic “m.A.A.d. city,” which became a hit across the festivals that Lamar would play at. “Swimming Pools (Drank)” took a deep look at alcohol dependency and the harm that can do to an individual’s life. From top to bottom, Kendrick Lamr’s debut project dives deeply into many aspects of the young rapper’s life, would put him on the mainstream map and would turn out to be the first of many classics that Lamar had in him. – David Arroyo
Death Grips – The Money Store
Few artists have ever been so immediately hailed as pushing their medium forward like Death Grips. The combination of industrial production, manic vocal delivery and disturbing but philosophical lyrical content found on the group's debut mixtape Exmilitary seemed to have fallen out of a time traveler's pocket. But what cemented the group’s praise that continues still to this day was their debut album The Money Store. Just as experimental sounding today as the day of its release, The Money Store offered significantly cleaner production that led the way for instrumentals that were nothing short of a horrifying beauty.
The staying power for the album has been mostly rooted in it undeniable catchiness. While on the surface the instrumentals are otherworldly, underneath are excellently executed rudiments of songwriting, perfectly exemplified by “The Fever (Aye Aye)” which offers one of the best hooks of the decade. Tracks like “Hustle Bones” and “I’ve Seen Footage” offer more accessible production to give listeners a breather, but the deafening heavy sonic soundscape the majority of the album operates in ultimately proves itself over time to even the most squeamish listener. And with the current socio-political climate, MC Ride’s lyrical themes and content remain (unfortunately) as relevant and imperative, if not more, than they were upon release.
The 2010s have had nothing short of solid experimental hip hop releases and Death Grips’ influence on that cannot be ignored. Clear lines of influence can be drawn from Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition, clipping.’s CLPPNG and Kanye West’s Yeezus back to The Money Store. It’s an indisputable masterpiece of experimental music and its influence will continue to be prominent in underground and mainstream hip hop for decades to come. – Chandler Copenheaver
Mac Demarco – 2
Mac Demarco has been a prominent face in the indie rock genre since almost the beginning of his career. His first studio album, 2, was released along with Rock and Roll Night Club in 2012 and both gained wildly positive critical acclaim. However, 2 proved to be more successful, gaining attention from Pitchfork, The Guardian, AllMusic and more. It was even nominated for a Polaris Music Award in 2013. The album tells a story of being okay with who you are. It encourages the listeners to embrace themselves, no matter how ordinary the lives they lead are. It’s about learning how to live with some of the mistakes you might make and seeing life as the cold hard truth; that maybe some things are best in dreams, realizing that maybe he’ll never be the prodigal child, but seeing that in a new perspective. The album begins with Mac comparing himself to all of the people in his life doing these pretty ordinary things such as cooking, being on the sofa, smoking cigarettes and taking everything on in a new perspective by saying that they’re all the prides of the neighborhood. Topics of recognizing that he’s messed up in life as well as living in a relationship that he may not be happy with, but keeping them all in these happy up-beat tunes, create a theme of saying that all of this is completely okay and natural. Mac Demarco showed the music industry his skilled songwriting and vocals with 2 and it is clear that his name will remain relevant for years to come. – Lilly Adams
Led Zeppelin – Celebration Day
It’s no secret that Led Zeppelin is near the top of the list of rock and roll’s greatest artists. No band’s output of material in the 1970s and late 1960s was able to match that of Led Zeppelin. Of course, all good things must come to an end, as Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 after the death of drummer John Bonham.
Since their breakup, Led Zeppelin has appeared in multiple one-off performances, such as Live Aid in 1985 and the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1995. Then, the band went dormant for over ten years. But in 2007, Led Zeppelin originals Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones teamed up with John Bonham’s son Jason for one final show at the O2 Arena in London. The band put on a legendary performance and the entire show was recorded and released on CD and DVD five years later. The double album’s track order would be in the same order as the show itself.
Led Zeppelin treated its audience and listeners to live classics like “Black Dog,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Dazed and Confused,” “In My Time of Dying” and, of course, “Stairway to Heaven.” In addition, Led Zeppelin introduced “For Your Life” and a hard rock version of “Ramble On” to the live show for the first time. The album and performance concluded with “Kashmir,” an encore of “Whole Lotta Love” and a second encore of “Rock and Roll.”
Although the album may not be as crisp as its 1970s studio predecessors, there’s no doubt that the mere presence of Led Zeppelin on stage was a sight to behold and the band did not disappoint. With Led Zeppelin likely finished for good, it’s nice that they were able to give fans one last hurrah with Celebration Day. – DJ Bauer
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video studies. To contact her, email email@example.com.
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Public Relations
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Junior / Film/Video Studies