The year brought several genres and artists up from the underground and thrusted them into the limelight.
Independent musicians found their songs gaining radio airplay. Unusual has become unstoppable and experimental has become exceptional.
Rap music followed suit as several odd rhymers climbed the charts. Here are some noteworthy weirdoes that found success in the past year.
A 25-year old rapper from the notorious Compton, Calif., Kendrick Lamar first found a following in his self-produced mix tapes released online.
Lamar was heavily involved in rap music at a young age, creating a group called Black Hippy with fellow rappers from South Central, Calif., in his teen years.
Aftermath Entertainment, a subsection of Interscope Records, took interest in the group and signed them earlier this year, according to MTV News.
His latest album, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city”, exploded onto the scene in October. The album quickly climbed to number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart, with much of his pull coming from college campuses.
“He’s got one of those albums where every song on it could be a hit,” Brandon Goss (freshman-mechanical engineering) said.
The album has already produced three hit singles, and it peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart this fall.
His aggressive and unusual sound wielded unexpected results from the music media. The record was deemed “essential” by Spin Magazine and received four stars from Rolling Stone Magazine.
West Coast rap legend Dr. Dre executive produced “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” claiming success on his first album since Eminem’s “Recovery” in 2010. The record features verses from current mainstream artists like Drake and Lady Gaga.
Odd Future is a rag-tag group of rebellious rappers out to make a statement.
These artists, led by the infamous Tyler, the Creator, started in Los Angeles as angry teenagers with something to say.
The “wolf gang,” as the group calls itself, has attracted much attention over the last two years, attaining its own sub-label under Sony Records, a TV show and several hit albums.
Aside from Tyler, the group includes rap duo Mellow Hype, mysterious rapper Earl Sweatshirt, hugely successful singer Frank Ocean, jazz experimentalists The Internet, and several others, according to Odd Future’s official website.
The gang’s brutally controversial lyrics and videos have caused much turmoil in the pop-culture community.
“They’re willing to push boundaries in all respects,” Alex Liney, a fan of Odd Future, said.
The group has taken shots at Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa, nearly every race and religion as a whole. Aside from the disses, the gang often describes gruesome, X-rated scenes. Despite these questionable calls, Odd Future has found large-scale success as an indie-rap name.
“They're unusual in the sense that the beats they rap over are more avant-garde than other more well-known groups,” Liney (freshman-philosophy and English) said.
Tyler, the Creator is regarded as Odd Future’s primary producer, making beats on Apple’s Garageband software. His low-budget beats put Odd Future’s “The OF Tape Vol. 2” on the top of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in 2012 and climbed to the No. 5 spot on the Billboard 200.
In addition to “The OF Tape Vol. 2”, the group members’ individual projects also produced solid results — the most successful being Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange.”
Ocean’s second solo album reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and also reached the top of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Odd Future also debuted its TV show, “Loiter Squad,” on Adult Swim earlier this year. The gang’s controversial, low-budget and unusual success has proven to be one of the oddest of 2012.
Ben Haggerty, also known as Macklemore, is a rapper from Seattle. He first started penning his raps at age 14, with influences from all facets of rap music, according to an interview with 106 and Park.
Since his first release as “Professor Macklemore” in 2000, Macklemore has shortened his name and multiplied his fan-base. After recording and distributing his own work for over ten years, the 30-year-old has teamed up with producer Ryan Lewis to release a full-length album titled “The Heist” in October.
The album quickly gathered an immense following, jumping to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the Billboard Top Rap Albums chart within the first week of release.
The album’s success was largely due to the popularity of the singles, namely his hit from June, “Thrift Shop”. The song, partnered with a music video with over twenty-eight million views on YouTube, brought “The Heist” a ton of attention.
Although “Thrift Shop” is a light-hearted hipster hit, Macklemore’s catalogue is peppered with heavy emotional tracks.
“When he raps, he raps about his roots, his childhood, and his struggles,” Kate Allison, a supporter of Macklemore’s success, said.
The Seattle rapper hits on a serious note several times throughout “The Heist,” rhyming about sexual and racial stereotypes, the problems with commercialism and his struggle with drugs.
He is also avid in community outreach, traveling to juvenile jails to rap with troubled children, hoping to spark some inspiration in young men.
“He puts a lot of emotion into his songs, and the overall messages he sends through them are meaningful and relatable,” Allison (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said. “It’s hard to come across rap nowadays that isn’t accompanied with excessive profanity or mindless concepts.”