Hip-hop has been on the upswing in the last two years, artistically expanding in both a lyrical and sonic sense.
But though there are a number of gifted teenagers making excellent work, the old guard reigned supreme in 2013. This list, the top ten rap albums of 2013 -- from anywhere, not just L.A. -- is populated heavily by both late bloomers and vets soaring on their second wind.
See also: The 10 Best L.A. Albums of 2013
10. Hellfyre Club
Dorner vs. Tookie
Dorner vs. Tookie serves as a sampler of local underground hip-hop label Hellfyre Club's heavyweight roster. A group of MCs who nonetheless possess an anti-crew mentality, Nocando, Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver, and others deliver rhymes featuring both brains and brawn, over eccentric and electronic-leaning beats. Political, self-aware and comedic.
Rap Album One
Jonwayne's Rap Album One is not easily approachable. It's challenging, dark and theatrical; Wayne mainly plays the brooding protagonist, though he occasionally dons the jovial jester costume. With his booming voice at the center of each beat, the work is an excellent platform for his highly literate and carefully crafted poetry.