Friday, December 27, 2013

Wayne's Best Albums of 2013

To begin, this has been a rather interesting year in hip hop, especially in terms of the albums that were released, which will be highlighted in this post. We continued to see multiple mixtapes (and EPs), albums being pushed back or mentioned a few times then not mentioned at all, etc. Although he didn't release an album this year, I can honestly say that 2013 was Kendrick Lamar's year by far, especially when you consider the awards he's won, countless guest appearances (some of them show stealing), and the continued buzz surrounding everything he's done this year, I don't think any other artist has had a better 2013.

I can also tell you with a lot of certainly that this list will be much shorter than last year's list for sure. There isn't that much to say as it relates to 2013, which is why my intro is so brief.

So, loyal reader, I present my picks for Best Albums of 2013.

Comprised of Apathy, Celph Titled, One-Two, Ryu, Motive, Esoteric, Blacastan and MC Rise, Demigodz delivered one of the year's collaboration albums. The term "dope beats and rhymes" really applied to this awesome album. Everyone brought their lyrical A-game, especially Celph Titled, and after listening to this album one question I had was, "when is Celph going to drop another album?!"

Edo G brought his usual style to this album, thought provoking lyrics, tackling relevant topics of the day. It was kinda brief with only 10 songs, but it was still dope.

Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric came together for their first collaboration album together, and they delivered in spades. Deck continued to show why he remains one of hip hop's most underrated MCs, along with equally dope contributions from 7L (also behind the boards) and Esoteric. It was announced that their planning a follow up to this album, and that's nothing but good news.

Based on the comic book of the same name, Ghostface Killah and producer Adrian Younge created a very good concept album. It may not be on the level of previous Ghost albums, but it's still worth checking out. Ghost still has a few projects that'll hopefully see the light of day, such as "Supreme Clientele Presents... Blue & Cream: The Wally Era", as well as a long awaited album with MF Doom.

Talib Kweli's 5th album was SO good, yet it flew so under the proverbial radar that it makes me shake my head. It was truly his best album since 2007's "Eardrum". This was one of the most slept on albums of the year.

I checked this album out due to a recommendation to review it on my blog, and it turned out to be a tight album. Rittz' rapid fire flow combined with the production to match not only won me over, but ensured that I'll be checking for more music from him going forward.

This was another album that I checked out via a recommendation, and again, it won me over. I know about Tech N9ne, but this was the first time I listened to one of his albums. I also liked the conceptual nature here, with the album being separated into three parts, Fire, Water and Earth. You can bet I'll be checking for Tech N9ne after this one.

This was another dope album that fell so far under the radar this year, and I'm not sure if even the most hardcore D-Block fans know it exists. Styles P brought his usual hardcore, no-nonsense lyrics to match the dope production by the underrated Scram Jones. Although most may say I'm a little late here, I feel this album fully confirmed that of the three Lox members, the Ghost makes the best solo albums.

Initially, this album by Killer Mike and El-P, "Run The Jewels", was not going to make this list, but I changed my mind after thinking about it a little more, plus I feel I underrated it in my review. It's not the cohesive listen that "R.A.P. Music" is, but it's still Killer Mike and El-P in their true form.

This was another recommendation and it turned out to be a very good one. While his style on the mic is unique, lyrically he can bring it and I was impressed with his flow throughout this album. The one song that really touched me was "Legends Never Die (Daddy's Halo)", and here's what I said about it in my review:

"This was a MOVING, emotional tribute to R.A.'s father who passed away after a battle with cancer. Towards the end of the song you can FEEL it in his voice, as he was about to literally break down and cry RIGHT as the hook came in. Must be heard to be appreciated." 5 out of 5

This apply titled album from West Coast veterans Daz Dillinger and WC was notable for them staying true to their West Coast sound, as well as showing that after all these years, they have not lost a step.

Alchemist was one of the best producers in 2013 and his production on this album brought out the best in Prodigy, who hadn't sounded this inspired since, well, Mobb Deep's "Amerikaz Nightmare" album from 2004.

Respected DJ Tony Touch returned in 2013 with the 3rd installment in his "Piecemaker" series. One look at the lineup of MCs who contributed to this project would automatically guarantee it to be one of the best albums of the year, and it succeeded.

Like a few of the albums on this list, the simple yet effective practice of dope, soulful beats and rhymes are on display here, definitely a breath of fresh air and it's something you're not going to hear on the radio unfortunately.

Much like 2007's "Port Authority", Marco Polo assembled a cast of some of the most underrated MCs in hip hop. And again, with the simple yet effective practice of dope beats and lyrics, this was a winner.

For an MC who took a while to grow on me and is still continuing to do so, Roc Marciano continues to impress, as his hot streak of DOPE albums continues. He solely produces this album and does a very good job with it. Don't let the plethora of guests deter you. In this case, they don't distract from the album one bit and it ends up being a tight piece of work.

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