Top 50 Albums of 2013: 15-6
Start here… trust me
15. The Burgundy/The Buzz- Blu, Med, & Madlib
Yes it was technically two EPs but in a more real sense it was just the one. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to describe this trio’s output to people when I realized it was, and is impossible. Blu is Blu, a lyrical phenom with an ability to find his home in any beat while Med’s punchy delivery and ingenious wordplay are unmatched by the vast majority of rappers. And then there’s Madlib, a man born in the wrong decade, on the wrong planet, the producer from 1980s Mars ladies and gentleman.
Favorite Track(s): The Burgundy Whip, The Arrangement, Belly Full ft. Black Spade, The Buzz ft. Mayer Hawthorne, God’s Arrival
Least Favorite Track: This is Your Life
Best Instrumental: Belly Full (Prod. Madlib)
X-Factor: Look at that line up doe.
Must Listen Rating: 6/10
14. Ella- ScienZe
Not too long ago this release would have been a huge letdown for me. As a follow up to the classic Devine ScienZe a love ballad would have upset me to no end. But not too long ago isn’t today. And today I am a much different person. Four years ago I found not only my perfect girl but the perfect girl. And in true perfect girl fashion not too long down the road she shat all over my heart. After gaining my fair share of break up weight I spent the time from then until now making every piece of art, every dance, short story, piece of design, everything for her (not that she was listening). So an hour and a half 20 track tribute to the love of your life, or more likely to love itself since it seems Ella is more of an idea than an actual person, doesn’t seem too silly to me anymore.
Favorite Track(s): The Seminar, The Quest(ion), The Date ft. LeXus, Baggage Claim ft. Fresh Daily, The Answer, Charlie Brown ft. Blu, Lights
Least Favorite Track: The Pillow
Best Instrumental: The Answer (prod. Lord Quest)
X-Factor: It’s happy and sad and hopeful and pessimistic and more than anything it’s an artistic triumph like none other this year.
Must Listen Rating: 8/10
13. Indigoism- The Underachievers
The Underachievers are a New York hip-hop duo from NYC or in other words, Beast Coast nigga. The best way to describe this album is its spiritual, drug influenced, journey through the slums of New York in the 90’s, the golden age of boom bap and hard hitting rap, told with modern lyrics, energy, and production. The two MCs take the listener on a trip unlike any you’re going to hear this year or have heard in any years past, even from crews like Pro Era, Phony Ppl, Flatbush Zombies, or World’s Fair because while their style is similar it is also very different at the same time.
Favorite Track(s): Philanthropist, So Devilish, Maxing Out, New New York, Land of Lords, My Prism, The Mahdi., Leopard Shepard
Least Favorite Track: Sun through the Rain
Best Instrumental: T.A.D.E.D. (Prod. Mr. Bristol)
X-Factor: No more perfect example of the Beast Coast mentality exists in the music at this time.
Must Listen Rating: 10/10
12. Old- Danny Brown
Danny Brown’s reign as the concept album king may continue with this one (sorry Kendrick). Danny Brown’s Old is about aging and maturing and the conflict Brown has with that. As he gets older he is trying both to become an adult as society would suggest but also stay true to himself while embracing his past and at the same time distancing himself from the things he had to do in the past. Old is definitely an exploration of contradicting ideals and its laid out very clearly Side A/Side B the two sides of Brown, life, and struggle.
Favorite Track(s): The Return ft. Freddie Gibbs, Dope Fiend Rental ft. Schoolboy Q, Torture, Red 2 Go, Side B (Dope Song), Dubstep ft. Scrufizzer, Dip, Smokin & Drinkin, Kush Coma ft. A$AP Rocky & Zelooperz
Least Favorite Track: Break It (Go)
Best Instrumental: Dip (Prod. SKYWLKR)
X-Factor: You want to get hyphy? Half the album is for you. Tryna get learnt? Good he’s got some schoolin’ for you too.
Must Listen Rating: 7/10
11. Twelve Reasons to Die- Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge
This is right where Killah wants to be, in fact its pretty much Fish Scale II: The Revenge. And just like Godfather II this sequel is much better for its story telling and ambition. This is the greatest B movie soundtrack ever made and also one of the best products to come out of Wu Tang Clan in a long long time. Adrian Younge was the perfect pick up for this tribute to the expansive and smothering style of the album the instrumentals and motifs envelope you from start to finish of this epic of an LP.
Favorite Track(s): Beware of the Stare, I Declare War ft. Masta Killah, The Center of Attraction ft. Cappadonna, The Sure Shot (Pts. 1 & 2)
Least Favorite Track: The Rise of the Ghostface Killah ft. Masta Killa & Killa Sin
Best Instrumental: The Sure Shots (Pts. 1 & 2)
X-Factor: I’d watch this movie, cast it right, it could be as good as Goodfellas
Must Listen Rating: 3/10
10. Some Say I So I Say Light- Ghostpoet
As big and vast as Twelve Reasons to Die was, Some Say I So I Say Light is understated. The quiet English rapper takes these eerie, lurking instrumentals and creates something that is almost impossible to define. The 11 track LP feels both claustrophobic and incredibly spacious at the same time. Ghostpoet’s slow, plotting delivery is perfect for the aesthetic of the project.
Favorite Track(s): Cold Win, Them Waters, Dial Tones, Thymethymethyme, Meltdown, Comatose
Least Favorite Track: Plastic Bag Brain
Best Instrumental: Sloth Trot
X-Factor: The perfect listening experience for the abstract artist in you.
Must Listen Rating: 6/10
9. Tape Two- Young Fathers
The perfect exploration of minimalism. Whenever you find yourself at a modern art museum and think to yourself, “Why the fuck do all these people like this picture? It’s just a red rectangle and a blue one on a brown background.” Remember Tape Two the idea of which is to take an idea as small as two instruments or a single note or breath of silence or one instant of lo-fi imperfection and fill all the space with it. That’s why they love that painting because something so small can be that big, that vast and amazing.
Favorite Track(s): I Heard, Only Child, Queen is Dead, Mr. Martyr, Way Down in the Hole
Least Favorite Track: Ebony Sky
Best Instrumental: Freefalling
X-Factor: They’re Scottish. That’s gotta be worth a listen right there.
Must Listen Rating: 9/10
8. Because the Internet- Childish Gambino
I’m done trying to explain Gambino to people. Look, if you didn’t grow up obsessed with pop culture and you were never ostracized at some point in your life than you’re up shits creek without a fucking boat, paddle, life jacket, or space man rations when it comes to Mr. Glover. But as far as Because the Internet goes its possibly the most ambitious project along with the most oddly cohesive one and that is quite the feat. Individually each track is great, all together the LP is confusing as hell, it seems jumbled or out of order. I checked the tracklist of the leaked version like three times thinking my iTunes had fucked with order. Then I read the screenplay.
Favorite Track(s): Crawl, Worldstar, The Worst Guys ft. Chance the Rapper, Telegragh Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd), Sweatpants, 3005, Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information), Pink Toes ft. Jhene Aiko, Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night) ft. Azealia Banks
Least Favorite Track: The Party
Best Instrumental: Crawl (Prod. Christian Rich)
X-Factor: It’s a movie nigga!
Must Listen Rating: 10/10
7. BetterOffDEAD- Flatbush Zombies
This is pretty much everything you want from the crew, beast coast, and producer-rapper trio movements. Erick Arc Elliott understands Zombie Juice and Meech so well and it comes through in the beats– crafted perfectly to mirror the trios style and compliment it at the same time. It was hard to say already who was the best rapper in the Beast Coast movement, before BetterOffDEAD dropped the safe money would’ve been on Joey now with a couple of unmatched verses it might be Meech. I don’t know but I know the religion hating, establishment despising trio was pretty much made for me– so.
Favorite Track(s): Bliss, Death, Regular and Complex (GNB), Club Soda ft. Action Bronson, LiveFromHell, God Blessed the DEAD, MRAZ, My Team, SUPREME, The Results are in
Least Favorite Track: TP4
Best Instrumental: Regular and Complex (Prod. Erick Arc Elliott)
X-Factor: Erick Arc Elliott
Must Listen Rating: 10/10
6. Midcity- Clipping
Electro pop influenced noise rap group lead by MC Daveed Diggs. This is noise hop at its purest, distortion and glitches out the ass. It manages to both attack you, being one of the most aggressive and abrasive releases of the year, while it is also incredibly minimalist. The minimalist nature of the beat allows Diggs’ rapping and flow to be one of the most crowded part of the album. Diggs is the perfect MC for Clipping, dumbing down his lyricism to make this highly inaccessible release a little more accessible. On the “Intro” he spits his most impressive verses of the mixtape and for the rest of the work he dials it down allowing for and easier more head bobbing flow and just when you think he’s losing you, he sounds a little too much like your most loathed radio rapper, he delivers a dark, challenging line to reel you back in. The beats and Diggs play off each other so well in this release that it’s hard to see why anyone would hate it even considering it’s brash nature.
Favorite Track(s): Intro, Bout.That ft. Baseck, Get.It, Bullshit ft. Jalene Goodwin, Real ft. Ezra Buchla
Least Favorite Track: Mobb2it
Best Instrumental: Outro
X-Factor: If you like Blackie and/or Death Grips this might be for you but also if you hate them you could get a lot of enjoyment out of this challenging release.
Must Listen Rating: 2/10