20 Best Rap Albums Of 2013
December 29th, 2013 9:00am EST
2013 has been an exceptional year for rap album releases. Some were hot, while others were far from it – cold as Antarctica. Still overall, there were plenty of releases to be proud of, no questions asked. Below, you’ll find my ‘MIA’ (or called it in) list as well as my top 20 rap albums of 2013. This excludes mixtapes and previously released material FYI.
1) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Eminem set out to prove he’s still the illest MC, epitomized by his vicious performance on the epic “Rap God”. Ultimately, Eminem accomplishes his task of affirming his ‘god status’, soundly following up his pivotal 2000 album. There is no “Stan” or “The Real Slim Shady” this go-round, but there are plenty of triumphant moments.
“So Much Better”; “Survival”; “Berzerk”; “Rap God”; “The Monster”; “Love Game”; “Headlights”
2) Kanye West - Yeezus
Lately, Yeezus has made its way back into my playlist rotation, which I may have denied that happening back in June. While I was always on board with Yeezus, I also acknowledged its ‘issues’. Even so, there is a wealth of worthwhile listens, led by “Black Skinhead”, “Blood on the Leaves” and “Bound 2”. Is there an argument for the number one spot? Definitely!
“Black Skinhead”; “I Am A God”; “New Slaves”; “Blood on the Leaves”; “Bound 2”
3) Pusha T - My Name Is My Name
Pusha T’s debut album was one the most underrated efforts commercially. Don’t let its commercial fortunes dissuade you though – this is a rock solid album. If you want frank, real talk, Pusha Tis your man and this is your ‘jam’. Like Eminem, he gets a worthwhile assist from Kendrick Lamar.
“Numbers On The Boards”; “Sweet Serenade”; “Hold On”; “Who I Am”; “Nosetalgia”; “S.N.I.T.C.H.”
4) Drake - Nothing Was The Same
Three albums and EP in, ain’t nothing changed with Drake; he’s still one of the hottest, most creative MCs in the game. The quality of Nothing Was The Same remains consistent, even if it fails to supersede previous juggernauts Thank Me Later or Take Care.
“Tuscan Leather”; “Started From The Bottom”; “Wu-Tang Forever”; “From Time”; “Hold On, We’re Going Home”; “305 To My City”
5) J. Cole - Born Sinner
Perhaps J. Cole should be higher than number five – it was a consistent, enjoyable album by all means. J. Cole played up the concept of being a ‘sinner’ and details his shortcomings throughout the effort. Furthermore, the material and the production is more than satisfying. Oh and yes, Kendrick Lamar also stops by on Born Sinner.
“Land of the Snakes”; “Power Trip”; “Trouble”; “Rich Niggaz”; “Forbidden Fruit”; “Let Nas Down”; “New York Times”
6) Danny Brown - Old
Eccentric yet brilliant, Danny Brown is one of a kind. Old highlights both Brown’s musical eclecticism and his brash delivery. Overt he may be, Brown can definitely spit.
“The Return”; “Wonderbread”; “Dope Fiend Rental”; “Torture”; “Clean Up”; “Dip”; “Float On”
7) A$AP Ferg - Trap Lord
I know, I know – it was A$AP Rocky that broke through back in January, but Rocky’s album is killer. Ferg definitely has a cool style about his rhymes, and a unique voice to match. Maybe I’m overrating Trap Lord, but several of its ‘big guns’ remain on my iPod rotation.
“Shabba”; “Lord”; “4:02”; “Work (Remix)”; “Murda Something”
8) Wale - The Gifted
Wale’s more intellectual approach is certainly refreshing, particularly on “Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)” where Wale wordplays between “piece” and “peace”. That said, ‘the gifted’ MC can also deliver an awesome club banger. Maybe he didn’t have Diplo in his corner this go-round (“Slight Work”), but his booty anthem certainly held up pretty capably (“Clappers”). The Gifted may lack the shock value of Eminem or Kanye, but Folarin still definitely had one of the best rap albums of 2013.
“The Curse of the Gifted”; “Love Hate Thing”; “Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)”; “Clappers”; “Bad”
9) Childish Gambino - Because The Internet
Childish Gambino made a late push for the best rap album of 2013 and did so convincingly. A conceptual album that also has a 75-page script to clarify the songs, Because the Internet is one of the most ambitious albums (regardless of genre) of the year.
“Crawl”; “The Worst Guys”; “Sweatpants”; “3005”; “Zealots of Stockholm”; “Pink Toes”
10) A$AP Rocky - Long. Live. ASAP
Probably the biggest reason A$AP Rocky sits at number ten is because it was released back in January. That isn’t to say Long. Live. A$AP doesn’t have enduring value (it does), but some of the material was less memorable than some of the albums sitting ahead of it. Still, can’t deny the endurance of “F**kin’ Problems”, right?
“Long Live A$AP”; “Goldie”; “F**kin’ Problems”; “Wild For the Night”; “Suddenly”; “I Come Apart”
11) Mac Miller - Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Easy Mac matured on Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Sure, he’s completely naked on the album cover (questionable) and he still has plenty for women advocacy groups to complain album (aka misogyny), but the young MC definitely shows greater ‘range’ so to speak.
“The Star Room”; “S.D.S.”; “Objects in the Mirror”;“Gees”; “Watching Movies”; “REMember”; “Goosebumpz”
12) Ace Hood - Trials & Tribulations
Ace Hood released a very fine album in Trials & Tribulations, though it was quite underrated. Even an hella catchy gem like “Bugatti” couldn’t amplify the sales. Regardless, its quite interesting how the religious and the secular work thematically here.
“Trials & Tribulations”; “Another Statistic”; “Before The Rollie”; “We Them N***as”; “Pray For Me”; “Bugatti”
13) Tyler, The Creator - Wolf
Tyler, The Creator is still very much himself on Wolf – if you heard Bastard or Goblin, you’ll catch my drift. Even so, Wolf seems to have a bit more polish and finesse about it, even if the offensive, explicit rhymes remain intact.
“Cowboy”; “Answer”; “Domo23”; “IFHY”; “Trashwang”
14) Juicy J - Stay Trippy
Personally, as I prejudged Stay Trippy, I thought it was going to be a big, dumb joke. It does have its dumber moments, but ultimately, Stay Trippy is a very good album, surprisingly.
“Smokin’ Rollin’”; “Bounce”; “Wax”; “Gun Plus A Mask”; “The Woods”; “Bandz A Make Her Dance”
15) Big Sean - Hall of Fame
Big Sean had a bad year as Hall of Fame tanked. Even so, I actually dug the album – or most of it. Big Sean’s certainly not a preeminent MC per se, but he definitely has his moments and the voice is perfect. I mean, yeah “Mona Lisa” and “MILF” are incredibly shallow, but they’re at least irresistibly so!
“Nothing Is Stopping You”; “Fire”; “First Chain”; “Mona Lisa”; “MILF”; “Ashley”
16) Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
Tyler, The Creator’s buddy sho’ can rap. Doris proves to be an exceptional underground rap debut for the 19-year old MC. Definitely better than Chief Keef’s debut… cheap shot, I know.
“Burgundy”; “Hive”; “Chum”; “Centurion”; “Whoa”
17) Tech N9ne - Something Else
Who says older MCs lose their swag? Tech N9ne is 42 and still going strong. Something Else was definitely underrated and probably resides too low on this ranking.
“Straight Out The Gate”; “B.*.*.C.H.”; “I’m Not A Saint”; “Fragile; “Meant To Happen”; “Believe”
18) Bun B - Trill O.G. “The Epilogue”
Bun B closes out a quartet of albums capably with Trill O.G. “The Epilogue”. RIP Pimp C!
“The Best is Back”; “Cake”; “Fire”; “Gladiator”; “Dippin’ & Swervin’”
19) 2 Chainz - B.O.A.T.S. II: #METIME
2 Chainz goes pretty dumb, but sometimes, we all need some utter stupidity in our lives.
“36”; “Feds Watching”; “I Do It”; “Netflix”; “Beautiful Pain”
20) Kid CuDi - Indicud
When I first reviewed this album, I was probably guilty of overrating it. Still good, Indicud doesn’t quite match-up with most of the albums ahead of it. Kendrick Lamar does stop by though.
“Unf**kwittable”; “Just What I Am”; “Solo Dolo Part II”; “Mad Solar”; “Beez”
Missing in Action:Jay-Z - Magna Carta…Holy Grail
Had its moments, but didn’t feel nor sound like elite Jay-Z.
Lil Wayne - I Am Not A Human Being II
Tunechi wasn’t at his best.
Tyga - Hotel California
Felt completely uninspired compared to 2012 effort Carless World: Rise of the Last King
French Montana - Excuse My French
Lacked a strong musical personality; didn’t feel elite…
Rich Gang - Rich Gang
Sounds like all they think about is money and not quality.
Maybach Music Group - Self Made 3
A notch less satisfying than Self Made 2 was…
DJ Khaled - Suffering from Success
Plays like any number of DJ Khaled albums – that’s both a blessing and a curse…
Photo Credits: Aftermath