Diamonds & Wood: These Are The 10 Very Best Rap Songs Of 2012

"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.

The very first time I went out with the woman that would eventually become my wife, I actively tried not to make jokes about erections, homeless people or any of the things that I thought might give homeless people erections. It just didn’t seem like it’d be that easy to segue from any of those conversations into a situation where she felt like it’d be in her best interest to take her shirt off.

After about a year or so of dating her, I probably talked about at least two of those things at least 60 percent of the time.

And I think two months before our second anniversary, I responded to a particularly insightful, thought-provoking line of questions about our racial differences (she is Black and I am Mexican) and the inevitable issues that would occur while raising our future children by standing up, walking over to her and then farting on her head.

Anyway, the point: This is not our first date. The Diamonds & Wood column, it’s been around for months on months on months (which is basically the same as years on years on years in blog time). We know each other's secrets. We love each other (or, rather, you leave comments and I try to respond to them, which is basically the same as blog love). Let’s not dance around this. You knew it was coming.

These are the for realsies, no jokesies, all in your faceies* TEN BEST RAP SONGS OF THE YEAR. Giddy-up.

*Faceies sounds a lot like feces, and that might otherwise be weird, but it works ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY here, and that’s a little thing called having class.

10. Trinidad James, “All Gold Everything”

I think that Trinidad James might’ve inadvertently changed the way that rap music is made. Or, I don’t know, maybe he just figured out that if you paint a bicycle gold then everyone will say you’re a genius. Either way, THIS SHIT GOES.

9. Undergravity, “Some Moe Funk”

This is the counterpoint to “All Gold Everything”—a completely solid, heavy-as-oak, magnanimously meaningful underground rap song.

8. Danny Brown, “Grown Up”

The kid in this video made me want to toss my kids into a river and try again. Also, Danny Brown is officially a goddamn rap menace.

7. Chief Keef, “I Don’t Like”

One of the year’s most invigorating, most Earth rattling moments.

6. Juicy J, “Bands A Make Her Dance”

“You say no to ratchet pussy. Juicy J, he can’t.”


5. Earl Sweatshirt, “Chum”

Because maybe you forgot that Earl is/was/has been/will remain to be the best rapper in Odd Future.

4. (and 3.) Killer Mike, “Big Beast,” featuring Bun B, Trouble, El-P, T.I.






(4. and) 3. Big Boi, “Gossip”

This one and the one above are interchangeable, really.

2. G.O.O.D. Music, “Mercy”


1. Kendrick Lamar, “Cartoons And Cereal”

You are now witnessing the coronation of King Kendrick Lamar.

Nobody was better this year.


And he was never better than when he completely weirded out here.

Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.