Between major-player stop-gap freebies from dudes like Rick Ross and Big Sean, career-building collections from Joey Bada$$ and Chief Keef, the weekly offerings from Lil B, and the thousands upon thousands of undiscovered gems that fill DatPiff and LiveMixTapes, rap and hip-hop seem to have the mixtape game on lock. That said, the other genres of the world are prone to drop great digital exclusives too. Here are just a few of our favourite genre-jumping freeleases of 2012.
Top Non-Rap Freeleases of 2012:
5. Blackout Beach
11 Pink Helicopters in the Coral Sky
Carey Mercer lightened the mood from his mighty ominous 2011 set Fuck Death with an excellent, almost-instrumental, pay-what-you-want collection of synth snippets and ambient explorations. Despite weighing in at 1:28 and opting out of using Mercer's powerful tenor all together, the acoustic strumming and shaky whammy leads of airy, new age number "Sign of Harry" lift the song near the top of his songbook.
4. Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape Vol. 1
Titus Andronicus' full-meal deal of 2012 was obviously the New Jersey band's live-off-the-floor, Exclaim!-approved third LP Local Business, but the troupe's pro bono rarities set Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape Vol. 1 served up some tasty morsels as well. On top of some alternate takes from their Monitor LP, the mixtape gave us some pretty great covers of tracks from Weezer, the Replacements, Thin Lizzy, and more. Grab the release over here.
Jeremih made his way onto our hip-hop mixtape wrap-up for stopping by on Meek Mill's Dreamchasers 2 to sing the smooth hook on the horny church procession "Amen," but the Chicago R&B singer still had plenty of salaciousness to slip onto his own 2012 freelease, Late Nights. Some of its odder moments include a mid-song chat on "Rosa Costa" between Jeremih and an adoring fan (who, by all accounts, appears to be Jeremih speaking in a falsetto), and the Twista-assisted ode to thick club girls, "Ladies." The sensual title track, club-thumper "Rated R" and the ultra-dirty bedroom lurker "Fuck U All the Time" proved the set could get steamy, as well as silly.
Music for Keyboards series
Montreal producer d'Eon arguably hit biggest this year with his retail-bound full-length, LP, but 2012 also marked the beginning of the artist's Music for Keyboards series. D'Eon explained to Exclaim! this year that the project came about through a desire to release his music immediately, and he's obviously having fun with the sessions. Volume I, for instance, captures him in a playfully ethereal mood, tweaking heaven-sent synth sounds, while the follow-up featured lovely, electric piano-driven variations on pop-punk pranksters Blink-182's "What's My Age Again?"
Running from the Sun
Chromatics mastermind Johnny Jewel kept us busy this year. Not only did he and his noir-pop troupe offer up their stunning commercial release Kill for Love, he flooded his SoundCloud profile with a megamix of the set, a remastered stream of the now-classic After Dark compilation, and a couple of mixtapes (see here and here) showcasing his favourite cuts from the likes of Nico and Tangerine Dream. The top spot, however, is clinched because of Running from the Sun, a Chromatics rarities mix featuring outtakes, a crackly, minimalist cover of "Blue Moon," and the romantic, piano-driven title cut.