At first glance, the 2012 year-end R&B/hip-hop charts mirror those of 2011. Many of the same names are back in the limelight: Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Rihanna and Chris Brown, to name a few.
However, a closer look reveals a host of newcomers and established acts who left their own indelible footprints on the year: Frank Ocean, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Miguel, Anita Baker, Brandy, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Trey Songz, Tyrese and Tamia. Not to mention a significant methodology shift for the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart -- the addition of streaming and download data plus the breakout of a separate R&B Songs tally.
• Q&As: One Direction, 5 Interviews
• COVER STORY: One Direction
• OVERVIEW The Year in Pop
• YEAR-END ISSUE: Order It Here
• HUB: The Year In Music 2012
• 2012 CHARTS: Hot 100 Songs
• 2012 CHARTS: Billboard 200
• 2012 CHARTS: Top Artists
The latter revamp bowed the week of Oct. 20. To keep pace with the consumer-influenced methodology applied to the Billboard Hot 100, makeovers were also given to R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Country Songs, Latin Songs and Rock Songs. In addition to the existing radio airplay data monitored by Nielsen BDS, these charts' 50-position rankings now factor in digital download sales tracked by Nielsen SoundScan and BDS streaming data.
Concurrently, the Rap Songs chart -- in existence as a radio survey since 1989 -- also includes digital download sales and streaming data for the first time. And a new R&B chart was launched as well: R&B Songs. Like Rap Songs, R&B Songs is a 25-position chart that incorporates the same airplay/sales/streaming hybrid formula to gauge the popularity of core R&B acts like Ocean, John Legend, Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton. However, because the revamped data formula is only 6 weeks old, the 2012 year-end charts were compiled using the earlier methodology.
That said, Young Money/Cash Money returned as an omnipresent force in 2012. Drake -- whose 2010 debut "Thank Me Later" kept the rapper in the mix last year -- wrapped up 2012 at No. 1 on the year-end R&B/Hip-Hop Artists recap, thanks to his 2011 sophomore studio album, "Take Care" (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic).
Also the top male artist on the all-genre Top Artists tally, Drake further reigns at No. 1 on year-end recaps Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (with "Take Care") and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artists.
YMCM colleague Nicki Minaj sashayed to No. 3 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums with "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded." Minaj also finished in the top three on the R&B/Hip-Hop Artists and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artists. On the strength of her sixth album, "Talk That Talk" (SRP/Def Jam/IDJMG), Rihanna ends the year at No. 2 on the overall R&B/hip-hop artists recap.
Meanwhile, Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music "Cruel Summer" (G.O.O.D./Def Jam/IDJMG) -- from which "Mercy" springs -- is No. 15 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums recap. Beyond West, Jay-Z and other established stars ( Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Nas, Flo Rida, Young Jeezy) who turned in strong chart performances this year, a host of next-generation rappers also cranked up major noise. Among those leading the charge: Kendrick Lamar, Future, Ca$h Out, French Montana, Tyga, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Wale, J. Cole and LoveRance.
On the R&B front, Beyoncé rules at No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs with "Love on Top." Her 2011 album, "4" (Parkwood/Columbia), claims No. 13 on the year-end R&B/Hip-Hop Albums recap. Also weighing in prominently are such genre stalwarts as Usher, Mary J. Blige and the return of Trey Songz with "Chapter V," spinning off the No. 7 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hit "Heart Attack." Other strong showings on the songs chart include Chris Brown, Tyrese, Estelle, Brandy and John Legend with Ludacris.
This year, however, all ears were tuned to the left-of-center, critically acclaimed vibrant R&B personified by Frank Ocean and Miguel. Ocean's breakthrough debut, "Channel Orange" (Def Jam/IDJMG), claims No. 12 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The chart-topper on last year's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs recap with "Sure Thing," Miguel places twice on that tally this year: His guest spot on Wale's "Lotus Flower Bomb" puts him at No. 3 and "Adorn," from sophomore set "Kaleidoscope Dream" (ByStorm/Black Ice/RCA) is No. 6.