Label: G.O.O.D. Music, Def Jam
Released: September 5

It seems weird now, but there was a time when no one believed in Big Sean. Then he shifted everyone's perception the good, old-fashioned way: hard work and improved performance. The signs were there on his debut, Finally Famous, they became a premonition on G.O.O.D. Music singles "Mercy" and "Clique," and his Detroit mixtape was the affirmation.

With this release, Big Sean established himself as a virtuoso for a very particular brand of witty, idiosyncratic, new age rap. "RWT" is an awe-inspiring flex of technique. "Mula" signifies the arrival of a legitimate contender for hip-hop's contemporary throne. Big Sean still has a lot of people to win over to get there, but this year he made records that make his eventual takeover seem like more than a distinct possibility. -EB