Why TDE Is the Most Important Rap Crew of 2012


“Now Punch is my mentor, Top Dawg is the coach

Jay Rock is my older brother, I was there when he wrote

His name on his record deal, we had figured the coast

Would live on a pedestal, once the shit hit the store

Found ourselves scrambling, tryna figure it out

Soul told me that the record shop ’bout to go in a drought

Q ain’t got a place to stay, and ’bout to sleep on the couch

We eating off each other tray, the dollar menu amount”

– The Heart (pt. 3)

A year ago, RESPECT. was gearing up to give Section.80 the props for the album of the year despite its mixtape status. Now, GKMC is leading the pack of all publications’ album of the year.  What 2012 helped prove was that Kendrick was not the only one who could carry the TDE torch.

The year began early with Schoolboy Q’s Habits & Contradictions releasing in January. The opus includes the singles “Hands On The Wheel,” “Blessed” and “Druggys Wit Hoes Again” which features A$AP Rocky, Kendrick and Ab-Soul respectively.

Control System came out in May with “Terrorist Threats” and “Pineal Gland” as the heavy singles. “Empathy,” where Ab-Soul commemorates his fallen friend, Alori Joh, was the third single off of the album.

These two projects served as the appetizers to what everyone was really waiting for. Solid projects by both Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q meant that Kendrick couldn’t slip in his debut album if he wanted to be who we all knew he could be.

As young’ns in the game, TDE had much more to prove than MMG, G.O.O.D. Music and YMCMB. (Yes, we’re gonna leave Bad Boy out of this post.) Coming from and reppin’ hard for the west coast, TDE had much to prove to themselves, their coast and to the culture. There was no major co-signs on paper, though love and admiration for the collective was voiced by numerous up-and-comers and established artists.

The buzz that TDE created for themselves was in such a high order, that even when Dr. Dre brought them under Interscope, the shock was minimal and the “will they change after being signed?” discussions were slim. Fans already believed in the product and didn’t need a major label to co-sign what the fans already knew.

GKMC was instantly thrown the title of “classic” once it leaked a few days prior to its release, but that is something that only time will tell. Compton, South Central, Watts and Carson – and Los Angeles as a whole has a whole new spotlight on them now courtesy of these four artists.

While the other main collectives in hip-hop concerned themselves with sub-par compilation albums, TDE successfully plotted their come-up and maintained all of the new and older generations attention.

Everybody has since serenaded the new fate of king Kendrick, and we meant it, so it’s only right that his court/cabinet/crew are represented as all winners as our group of the year.

PS: And no, Kendrick, we did not let hip-hop die on October 22.