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Best R&B/Soul Mixtapes of 2012

The Cream of the Crop

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As these words are being written, 2012 is almost over, so it's time to look back at the 10 best free R&B and Soul mixtapes that were released the year, as well as the best free digital EPs and full albums. The list, which is chock full of talented young up-and-coming artists like Luke James, Josh Xantus, JoiStaRR and brother duo Jake & Papa, also includes links to where each mixtape can be listened to and downloaded legally and for free. To check it out, just have a look below.

1. 'Heemy Taught Me 2,' Raheem DeVaughn

Raheem usually puts out multiple mixtapes each year, and his second one in 2012 was Heemy Taught Me 2, is the sequel to his April 2011 compilation, Heemy Taught Me, a collection of new and previously-released sexy jams. The new mixtape follows the formula of the first in that there's a combination of all-new, semi-new and previously released material, including Rah's sexualized versions of other artists' songs, like Wale's recent hip-hop hit "Lotus Flower Bomb," and Kirko Bangz' "Drank in My Cup."

2. 'Whispers in the Dark,' Luke James

Luke James' Whispers in the Dark which was helmed entirely by the producer Danja, features a handful of full songs as well as a short intro, outro and a few interludes. This explicit mini-album is very sensual -- you might even say sexually-charged -- release, with some songs bordering on the romantic tone of "I Want You," but others being strictly about lust and desire.

3. 'Everybody Hates Josh X,' Josh Xantus

In all honesty, the word 'mixtape' doesn't adequately describe what we've all been given as far as Everybody Hates Josh X is concerned. This is actually a full-fledged album consisting of 11 complete, new songs as well as an intro track and a remix of an older Josh tune. For those who haven't heard Josh yet, his music is a mixture of traditional R&B, particularly romantic ballads, mixed with more modern, hip hop-influenced sounds.

4. 'The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor,' Teyana Taylor

She's between labels right now, so that means singer-rapper Teyana Taylor's free to put out her own music without limitations or restrictions, and she's taking the opportunity to do just that. Back in March she self-released a free mixtape of all-new music called The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor, which features 12 full songs and three interludes, is partially inspired by Lauryn Hill's classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and features cameo appearances by the rappers Wale and Jadakiss, among others.

5. 'Love and Other Drugs,' J. Valentine

San Francisco-bred R&B singer-songwriter J. Valentine lived up to his name this past February by releasing a digital EP of free new music for all the lovers out there. His seven-song Love & Other Drugs mixtape is a seductively romantic release that features J. sharing vocals with Chris Brown, LeToya Luckett and Tank, among others.

6. 'Hook Vs. Bridge II,' Kevin Cossom

Singer-songwriter released his first EP, Hook Vs. Bridge, in 2009 followed it up in April with Hook & Bridge II, a free mixtape consisting of 10 fully-produced songs. It's got strong singing, tasteful production and best of all, good songwriting. He does focus a lot of sex, but for the most part he keeps it clean and doesn't get too explicit. (But there are a few curse words here and there, so consider yourself warned.)

7. 'Magic Monday,' JoiStaRR

JoiStaRR's Magic Monday takes its title from the fact that the songs were all released once a week on Mondays in the months leading up to the mixtape's release in January. This is the follow-up to Broccoli & Noodles, her Don Cannon-hosted mixtape which dropped in May 2011. There's 19 songs on Magic Monday, all of which can be streamed or downloaded legally and for free at her official SoundCloud page. A link's included below.

8. 'Somethin' Soulful,' Jake & Papa

Jake & Papa, formerly of the R&B group Brutha, recently released their Somethin' Soulful mixtape in April. It followed on the heels of their previous mixtape, Destination Short Stay II, which dropped in May 2011. Somethin' Soulful, which consists of 13 full and complete songs and is really more of a free album than just a mixtape. Other than the first couple of songs, which are pretty aggressive, this is a smartly sensual album, albeit one that's almost totally obsessed with the topic of sex. It's available as a free stream or download via the link below.

9. 'Songs About HER,' Emanny

Songs About HER, a free so-called "mixtape" by up-and-coming R&B singer Emanny is actually more of a digital EP. Actually, this is practically a full-fledged free digital album since it's got 11 complete songs and a couple of musical interludes. And if you're a fan of Michael Jackson or his musical descendant, Ne-Yo, then you're likely to dig Emanny's style, since his vocals are similar, with the difference being that Em's lean more toward R&B than pop. Songs About HER is a pretty mellow, smooth EP (however, there's NSFW language on a few songs, so consider yourself warned).

10. '#Discovery Vol. 3,' Various Artists

The latest entry in the #Discovery series of mixtapes features 10 songs by artists that include Timothy Bloom, Chantel, Hal Linton and other artists who are either unsigned or haven't gotten the mainstream recognition they deserve. Volume three follows on the heels of Vol. 2, which was released in May 2012 and the first volume, which came out in October 2011.
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