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The 50 Best Albums of 2012

3. Rick Ross, Rich Forever

Label: Maybach Music Group, Warner Bros., Def Jam
Released: January 6

Ross' career, while maintaining a steady success, hasn't had quite the same energy since Rich Forever virtually shut down the Internet in early 2012. As if to prove that the seizures of late 2011 hadn't stopped his stride, the industry-dominating rap star released one of his best albums in January as a free mixtape. It was the distribution equivalent of lighting up a cigar with a one million dollar bill.

Packed with high-octane post-"BMF" bangers ("High Definition") and balanced by lush anthems like "Keys to the Crib" and the smoky "Stay Schemin," which even gathered considerable radio traction, the "mixtape" was so strong—and so heavily anticipated—that it seemed like a high water mark for Ross.

While he might be rich forever, at that moment it seemed like he might dominate the industry forever, as well. -DD

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