28. Chief Keef, Finally Rich
Label: Glory Boys Entertainment, Interscope
Released: December 18
In 2011, Chief Keef had no national profile. Even Chicago hip-hop blogs were in the dark. By the end of 2012, he's behind one of hip-hop's most anticipated debuts. While its reputation might suffer in the short-term—the record compiles tracks that have been bubbling throughout the year, mixed in with some new material—it's difficult to imagine 2012 without thinking of Chief Keef's Finally Rich.
The record sparked countless discussions and controversies, and at the same time, is a strong document of a major emerging talent's strengths. The songs are catchy, the beats are hard, and the mentality of a teenage kid who rapped his way from the literal bottom creates a strong case for empathy.
He's the most hated street rapper in years, and one of hip-hop's most promising stars. And despite a few major star cameos, the record is more or less the Keef and Young Chop show, a truly consistent major label debut that, defying all expectations, lived up to the hype and then some. -DD