Album: Cruel Summer
Producer: Lifted, Mike Dean, Mike Will Made It, Kanye West, Hudson Mohawke
Label: G.O.O.D. Music, Def Jam
Some tried to resist, but "Mercy" is impossible to deny. Its chorus comes from an unlikely source—YB's otherwise-little-recognized "Lambo"—and it samples Super Beagle's reggae track "Dust a Soundboy," thanks to a suggestion from longtime Chicago hip-hop DJ Twilight Tone.

Produced by Lifted and with co-production courtesy of Hudson Mohawke, Mike Will, Mike Dean, and Kanye West, the track indisputably dominated 2012. It included a capstone verse for 2 Chainz and has done more for changing public perceptions of Big Sean than most singles in recent memory.

"Mercy" directly increased public awareness of "thirsty" as a slang term, making a mark on pop culture that goes beyond radio spins and digital sales. Simply put, it's the year's most undeniable musical moment, and proof that Kanye is as adept at churning out hits as ever before. —DD

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