Last year was a great one for hip-hop in terms of albums, and 2013 seems to be following suit. After all, we've already had strong mixtapes from Young Dro and Migos, and great EPs from Homeboy Sandman and Sab the Artist. On the album front, here are our top five of 2013 so far.
Parts of Speech
The members of Minneapolis rap collective Doomtree have proven to be as strong solo as they are as a group. With P.O.S. already a certified indie-rap superstar, Dessa's right behind him with her stellar new album Parts of Speech. Weaving her influences into a unique tapestry, the work is nonetheless rooted in hip-hop tradition enough to satisfy most anyone.
4) Uptown XO
Colour de Gray
One-third of rap trio Diamond District (with Oddisee and YU), Washington DC's Uptown XO has been steadily carving his niche in the indie rap world for years now, culminating in his strongest showing thus far Colour de Gray. Over infectious, soulful production, the MC speaks on societal ills as well and offers solutions for better living.
3) Kanye West
Having faced charges of misogyny, Kanye West's Yeezus is quite possibly the most polarizing release this year. The minimalist thump of “New Slaves” was something of an anti-single, and Kanye promoted the work mainly on the strength of his (oft-obnoxious) personality. Through it all, however, the strength of the tracks can't be ignored.
See also: Sorry, But Kanye Is the GOAT
2) Quelle Chris
Niggas is Men
You may have heard Quelle Chris' production on some of fellow Detroit MC Danny Brown's best songs. But you might not know Quelle Chris is an outstanding artist in his own right. His Niggas is Men manages to combine his quirky sense of humor with his poignant observations, all while assembling one of the most innovative and irresistible soundscape in hip-hop this year.
1) El-P and Killer Mike
Run The Jewels
Last year, El-P's Cancer4Cure and Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music (which El-P also produced) duked it out for the #1 position on dozens of year-end “Best of 2012” lists. This summer they released Run the Jewels, a wrecking ball of an album that combines everything we loved about the other two works, combined with the additional fun of hearing them trade verses back and forth. Plus, how could you not love an album with a Prince Paul cameo?