Pittsburgh has been in the spotlight lately because of its budding rap star Mac Miller. Miller has an impressive feat under his belt. His album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts after selling more than 144,000 copies of Blue Slide Park. With no major label or radio push, the 19-year-old has made history as a breakout rapper, who managed to cultivate a massive following on the Internet through a pair of mixtapes 2010’s K.I.D.S and 2011’s Best Day Ever. The label’s other triumph card is Wiz Khalifa and his Taylor Gang movement, another artist who has a steady stream of popular mixtapes and blew up with Kush & Orange Juice. Its latest signee Lola Monroe is a female rapper waiting to shake the game up as Taylor Gang’s first lady. Independent record labels have their share of successes; just check Strange Music and Rhymesayers Entertainment’s growth over the years. So don’t be surprised if the upstart Rostrum Records becomes the next big thing in 2012.
Young Money, Cash Money Records
Every year, YMCMB makes headlines. Just look at their past announcements: A Young Money debit card, a 14-year-old singing and dancing sensation Torion Sellers and strengthening the YMCMB roster with recent signees Busta Rhymes and Mystikal. Add two best-selling albums, Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter 4 and Drake’s Take Care, Nicki Minaj winning two honors at this year’s the American Music Awards and everything is kosher over at the YMCMB headquarters. 2012 is shaping up to be another good year in the making with Nicki’s sophomore effort Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and the rest of the crew (Tyga, Bow Wow) climbing aboard YMCMB’s ascendant. Wayne, Birdman and Slim have come a long way since their Hot Boyz days, so expect this powerhouse to command the hip-hop game come 2012.
If our cover boys aren’t enough evidence, Shady Records has all the momentum going into 2012. At this year’s BET Hip-Hop Awards, the Shady 2.0 cipher was undisputed as the best. It also served as a point of making lyricism a dividing factor against the competition. Much like Eminem, the latest acquisitions of Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf exemplify what Shady Records as a force can bring to hip-hop. Yela’s debut Radioactive is a compelling showcase for the speedy MC and each member of Slaughterhouse – Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’ 9’’ and Crooked I – all have solo albums on the way, as well as a highly anticipated sophomore collective album. Em reviving his label is just the beginning as they enter 2012 on some high notes.
Maybach Music Group
Rick Ross has been sitting comfortably at number two for a while. Another New Year’s Resolution alongside healthier practices is taking over the rap game with Maybach Music Group. A resilient recovery from two seizures only shows the Bawse works harder than anybody. His dream team comprises Wale, Meek Mill, Pill, Stalley and the lovely Teedra Moses. Of course, the focus has been on superstars Mill and Wale, the former taking over the streets this year with records like “Tupac Back” and “Ima Boss,” and the latter taking advantage of a new career second phase with Ambition. Ross’ God Forgives, I Don’t has fans gravitating toward the commercial rap kingpin, speculating its release date and guest appearances. His team all have pending debuts, especially Mill and Pill who have fans awaiting some lyrical heat, and another upcoming talent showcase in Self Made Vol. 2. Cue lady who says “Maybach Music!” to ring in the New Year.
Getting out our dreams is a motto best followed by the vision of founder Kanye West. While The Throne is busy setting records for how many times they can replay “N***as In Paris,” the rest of Kanye’s crew stayed true to the label’s school of thought. In particular, Big Sean has clearly become the life of the party since his initial freestyle to ‘Ye, that scored both a deal and an impressive debut Finally Famous. Common’s One Day It’ll All Make Sense is a riveting memoir and earned him a reputation as an established author. Pusha-T’s cocaine raps will continue to further his stardom and CyHi Da Prynce’s mixtape hustle is deeming him the new prince of the underground. And let’s not forget the G.O.O.D. Music compilation album with ‘Ye and Hit-Boy already offering production credits. In short, G.O.O.D. Music is a prime contender for the number one spot in 2012.