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2012: Year in Music

January 6, 2013


The psychedelic movement that emerged in the 1960s changed visual art and music in popular culture, leaving a lasting impact. It continued into the ’70s and went underground in the ’80s. Alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic artists in the ’90s incorporated psychedelic elements into their music, but it didn’t conquer the public attention the way it did with the baby-boomer’s generation. In the 2000s, many artists found comfort in retro production styles, catering to a common nostalgia among music lovers. Retro styles opened the door for younger artists to blend the past with futuristic sounds. The following artists helped re-introduce psychedelia to a broader audience this year:

Tame Impala- “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”



Melody’s Echo Chamber- “I Follow You”



Frank Ocean- “Pyramids”



Flying Lotus- “Until the Quiet Comes”



Big Boi- “Mama Told Me (feat. Kelly Rowland)”



Kendrick Lamar- “Cartoon & Cereal (feat. Gunplay)”



Azealia Banks- “Atlantis”



Grizzly Bear- “Sleeping Ute” (Audio)



John Frusciante- “Ratiug”



Air- Le Voyage dans la lune



Santigold- “Big Mouth”



Ab-Soul- “Pineal Gland”



Animal Collective- “Transverse Temporal Gyrus Part 1 &2” (Audio)



Tamaryn- “The Garden”



Beach House- “Lazuli”



Captain Murphy- “The Ritual”



Kanye West- “Mercy (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, & 2 Chainz)




Occupy Wall St. started out of Zuccoti Park in New York in September 2011. The following year, America’s homegrown revolution continued to earn the support of various music artists. Jay-Z voiced his discontent with the movement this year; Russell Simmons, an active participant at OWS New York, defended the protesters in a rebuttal. Below are artists who have shown support for the movement, participated in the movement, and/or written songs relevant to OWS’s principles:

The Coup- “The Guillotine”

The Coup is heavily involved with Occupy Oakland in Northern California. Boots Riley continues to be an outspoken voice from his local part of the movement.


Ab-Soul- “Terrorist Threats (feat. Danny Brown)”



Brother Ali- “Mourning in America”

Brother Ali was arrested this past summer at a home foreclosure action in solidarity with Occupy Minneapolis. Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color touches on many themes dear to the movement.


Killer Mike- Untitled



Lupe Fiasco- “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)”



The Nightwatchman- “Save the Hammer for the Man (feat. Ben Harper)”

Tom Morello is a frequent visitor of Occupy Los Angeles and strong supporter of the overall Occupy Wall St. movement. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Los Angeles City Hall in the Fall 2011 during the Occupy LA encampment.


Talib Kweli- “Push Thru (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Curren$y)”

I met Kweli last year at a record store in LA where he signed my Occupy LA bandanna. He’s visited and performed at Occupy Wall St. New York before. I invited him to come visit our encampment, but it was raided shortly afterwards by the LAPD. Ten years after “Get By” invaded the conscience of the mainstream, “Push Thru” resonates with Gen. Y hip-hop fans enduring the recession.


Mos Def- “Niggas in Poorest”



Murs- “Animal Style”

The LGBTQI community has a significant presence in Occupy Wall St., with Occupy Oakland being its vanguard. Equal rights and protection for queer people are among the many issues the movement supports. Over the last few years, gay teens have committed suicide at an alarming rate. Murs made a bold statement when he released the “Animal Style” music video, which stars him as a gay man in a  turbulent relationship with his white boyfriend. With Frank Ocean coming out at the same time of the year, hip-hop began to make much needed progress with its relationship with homosexuality.


Pussy Riot

All-female feminist punk band Pussy Riot received media attention this year when they were jailed for protesting at a Cathedral. At least two of the members faced up to 7 years in prison. Occupy Wall St., along with other progressive activists, rallied behind the band in support.
The protest performance that lead to their arrests, followed by a report:


Photo by Erez Avissar – May Day General Strike Occupy Wall St.- New York

Read an article detailing the Guitarmy demonstration held May Day 2012 via Pitchfork

Kendrick Lamar

The Compton-based rapper rose to the top this year, becoming thousands of kids new favorite MC. Here are six songs, including non-album leaks, that the rapper graced his fans with over the year:

“Swimming Pools (Drank)”



“The Recipe (feat. Dr. Dre)”



“The City” (with The Game)



“Westside, Right On Time” (feat. Young Jeezy)



“The Heart Pt. 3”



“The Jig is Up (Dump’n)”


*“Cartoon & Cereal” is included above in the Psychedelic section

Azealia Banks

Ms. Banks was the prolific queen of hip-house in 2012. Her 1991 EP was greeted with wide critical acclaim from the alternative press. The Atlantis mixtape dropped later in the summer. The following music videos are from both releases:







“Van Vogue”






*”Atlantis” is included above in the Psychedelic section


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