I have compiled a list of some tracks that I was really feeling heavy this year and had on repeat the most. Some are from some really solid albums/mixtapes and others are just random gems that were dropped throughout the year.
So in no particular order here are some songs that might have slipped under your radars that I was really digging in 2013:
– Lakutis! This New York City rapper has been making some waves the past couple years on solid appearances with other rappers from the area along with a project of his own (I’m in the Forest). ‘Too Ill for the Law’ has a sample heavy beat with some nice drums underneath that is perfect for his off-the-wall delivery along with a catchy hook referencing Notorious B.I.G.
– Over a beat produced by Hit-Boy with an Indian tinge to it, M.I.A. goes in for almost a minute straight rapping about her south Asian background and some recent events that got her name in the news like the whole Superbowl-Madonna scandal from a couple years back.
– Track two off of Government Plates, the album released out of nowhere in true Death Grips fashion, is a futuristic and dark record that got my attention on first listen. It’s dirty, aggressive, and MC Ride’s looped vocals along with the hook I think were some of his best moments on the album. Also, I need more of those live drum sounds I heard in this album on future Death Grips releases because Zach Hill is a monster.
– Opening up with some very light piano notes and then going into the dark synths Denzel Curry is known for rapping over, this track juxtaposes mellow moments with aggression that makes it one of my favorite songs off of Nostalgic 64. Denzel Curry is not to be slept on next year because he can actually spit and has a great ear for beats.
– This track just reads amazing because look at who is on it! Captain Murphy, Earl, and the return of Viktor Vaughn! The lo-fi vocals over a very chill beat reminiscent to something off of a Viktor Vaught album will have you looking up the lyrics on RapGenius trying to follow along with some of today’s (in my opinion) most creative rappers.
– I find myself singing the hook to this song at random times of the day because it is pretty infectious. ‘Werk 4 Me is’ one of the catchier records off of Antwon’s tape In Dark Denim, where he takes you through a day in his life filled with good food and loose hoes.
– If you haven’t listened to Chance the Rapper in 2013 then where have you been? Acid Rap is one of the best projects that came out this year and ‘Lost’ is the track I always find myself coming back to and singing along with. One of the slower songs on the album, Chance and Gypsy rap over a well-produced beat by Nate Fox that implements a guitar, piano, and flute that fit perfectly with Chance’s inflection. Noname Gypsy holds her own too, I had no idea who she was before I listened to this song but her verse is the one I am always waiting for when this track comes on.
– Dripping with West Coast flavor, Problem and Bad Lucc come together to put out a strong record with a beat that bounces as much as Problem’s delivery and lyrical ability do. Play this at your New Year’s Eve party and you’ll have everyone yelling WHAAAT by the end of the night.
– I need BadBadNotGood to be on more rap albums because they produced one of my favorite records off of Earl’s debut album Doris. ‘Hoarse’ has a smooth bassline that rides over a simple but bombastic drum beat where Earl can just flow and lay down his gritty bars.
– I think there was a period of about two weeks where I had this song on repeat everyday on the way to work. Ab-Soul is one of my favorite rappers and if you disagree I think you need to give this song a listen because his flow and wordplay are untouchable on it. Mac Miller is actually decent too but I think he shines more on the production side of the jazz-inspired but spacey beat.
– Ay, ay, go listen to this song right now. Killer Mike and El-P… There’s not much more to say because if you’re familiar with their work then you’ll know what to expect from ‘Banana Clipper’ and the whole Run the Jewels EP. Trading off some elegant verses until Big Boi comes in at the end and finishes off the track gracefully; Mike and El deliver some of the strongest and exciting verses from this year.
– If this song doesn’t get you at least a little tiny bit hype then there’s something wrong with you. It’s catchy and the beat is one of the hardest I’ve heard this year. Travis is great on the track and Wale is a welcome addition at the latter half of the song. Listen to it and try not to rap along during the hook.
– Yung Lean and the Sad Boys clique have been making some waves this year on the internet with their interesting trap-inspired lyrical content and delivery over cloud-rap production handled all in-house by Yung Sherman, Yung Gud, and Gregar. ‘Nekobasu’ is no exception to the typical Sad Boys formula but I found myself coming back to this track the most out of everything they put out this year. If Yung Lean’s rapping ability doesn’t impress you (which it probably won’t) the beat will definitely catch your ear.
– Why hasn’t Ezko blown up yet? I ask myself this every day because the Maryland MC can really spit. Ezko’s delivery and witty wordplay really shine on the smooth 90’s inspired jazzy production handled by Esta. If you want to hear some real deep shit about life and existence that’s not boring to listen to then check this track out. I know I’m excited for what he’s going to be putting out next year and all of you should be too.
– The newly-signed member of the currently dominating TDE, Isiah Rashad will become one of my favorite rappers if he keeps putting out songs like this. He’s hungry and you can tell just by listening to his TDE debut ‘I Shot You Down’. It will definitely have you singing along at the end and I don’t know there’s something about the music video that just makes me feel all warm inside. Isiah Rashad is having a pretty good year but I think next year will be even better for him so make sure you keep your ears open for him in 2014.
– Ok yeah it’s not a rap song but if that really bothers you then consider this an honorable mention. The roots of this track are definitely hip-hop with the dirty looping drums underneath smooth synth lines and horns. King Krule croons over this track with sections that implement his own style of rapping in that thick English accent that graces all of his songs.
So there you have it. These were my favorite tracks from this year that our readers might have missed. 2013 was a pretty good year for hip-hop and I am more than excited for all the amazing tracks that will drop next year.