Some have said hip-hop in 2013 feel short, but just because it wasn't the money machine it was in 2010 and 2012 doesn't mean it was a boom-bap wasteland. There were still plenty of great albums, and perhaps even more so great singles; here are five we couldn't get enough of.
5) N.O.R.E. (Featuring Large Professor)
Most fans of N.O.R.E. either prefer his more-poignant, socially-aware early work or his, as he put it, “thugginist” club material. “Built Pyramids” — featuring and produced by Large Professor — is the exact mid-point between these two extremes, giving us 2013's better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be record.
4) Sims (Featuring Astronautalis)
“This Is The Place”
It's been a great year for midwest hip-hop. Along with Atmosphere's welcome return to form with “Bob Seger”, we got the Cecil Otter produced “This is the Place” from Doomtree member Sims and Astronautalis. Both an example, and critique of, the “document everything” culture, the song is as resonate as it is infectious.
3) Rich Homie Quan featuring Meek Mill and Young Jeezy
“Type of Way (Remix)”
It's been a big year for songs involving Young Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan. But as much as we loved them on YG's “My N*gga,” their turn on Quan's “Type of Way (Remix)” (which also boasts a blistering Meek Mill appearance) stayed with us in a very thorough and complete way.
2) Chance the Rapper
Chicago MC Chance the Rapper's unconventional flow and earnest personality struck a chord with hip-hop audiences in 2013. Whether you obsessed over the technical proficiency of his rhyme schemes or were disarmed by his charisma, his refreshing style appealed to most everyone on his introductory single, “Juice.”
1) Kanye West
It was the most discussed hip-hop song of 2013. Everybody had something to say about Kanye West's “New Slaves.” The, for lack of a better term, “lead single” off of an album that was too polarizing and abrasive to have anything that could really be called a “single,” “New Slaves” combined West's fury at its most fervent with social commentary at his most incendiary. All over an unsettling beat that really knocks. It's everything a strong hip-hop single can be.
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