Riff Raff and the Year of the White Rapper

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Riff Raff is misunderstood, and that's completely understandable. His stream of consciousness is more like a river of codeine, and floating in it are fragments of screw-tape freestyles and designer brands.

Neverthelless, Raff had a great 2012 and has put out a final mixtape, called Hologram Panda, to celebrate the holidays. His standout "Riffmas" carol from the tape? "Peppermint Tint," which showcases Riff Raff's falsetto voice as an ode to the down-South tradition of comparing our slabs to decadent treats.

It's a proper ending to a very confusing year for fans of the eccentric rapper originally from Houston, one that saw him go from MTV's From G's To Gents to signing with Soulja Boi's label to signing with Diplo's label, Mad Decent. Plus, he collaborated with hella white-girl rappers.

But that was just the tip of the Icee chain, according to Riff Raff. He's promising two albums with Mad Decent and more major projects coming up in 2013. For now, we'll take a look back on some of his best-worst cuts from 2012.

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Arctic Monkeys & The Rock N' Pop Class Of 2006

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This past decade, 2006 was one of the better years in music, with a ton of debuts, great albums and catchy singles. It was also the year this member of Rocks Off started putting his musical critiques into a computer, joining the great circus known as the music industry. Maybe that's why we love it so much.

Tonight Arctic Monkeys hit House of Blues behind this year's naughtily titled Suck It and See, which sees the band continue to evolve past the punky slur of their first two albums into a great, bluesy, metallic British band in the spirit of latter-day Kinks and Oasis, a metamorphosis that really began with 2009's Humbug.

Seriously, they sound kinda like a sweeter Black Sabbath now, but maybe that has something to do with the mentor they picked up along the way.

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1986: Best Musical Year Ever?

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For almost two weeks now, Rocks Off has been obsessed with the year exactly 25 flips of the calendar backward from this one. It started when Steve Earle did one of his "Time Machine" shows, where the singer-songwriter who plays House of Blues Wednesday spotlights a dozen or so of his favorite songs from a pivotal year in music on his weekly "Hardcore Troubador" Sirius/XM hour.

Really, they're all pivotal, but 1986 was an especially important year for both of us. Earle released his debut Guitar Town, one of the cornerstones of Nashville's "Great Credibility Scare" that had Music Row (briefly) thinking its commercial future lie in Earle and his fellow recent arrivals Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith and Randy Travis. If only.

Meanwhile, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first class, and a damned impressive one at that; Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and the Clash all called it quits (and the Rolling Stones nearly did while making Dirty Work); a rarely-sober group of hellions was about to turn the Sunset Strip into the jungle; and rap was already enough of a force that by year's end Billboard called its emergence the "biggest, brashest, freshest breakthrough of the decade."

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