50 Best Albums of 2012

Frank Ocean reimagined R&B; Dylan drenched us in blood; pop-punk vets, disco orchestras and Scottish oddballs made an election year bearable.

18

Nas, 'Life Is Good'

Every time Nas puts out a new record, someone says it's his "best since Illmatic." This one actually might deserve that title. Cut in the wake of his divorce from Kelis, his 10th album is honest in a way that's rare for hip-hop – from "Bye Baby," where Nas struggles to make sense of the failed relationship, to "Daughters," where he confronts his parenting lapses. Always a master storyteller, he leavens these personal moments with plenty of richly detailed street drama, delivered over soul-flavored hard-knock beats that are like comfort food for East Coast rap heads.

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