Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2013

2013 has been a huge year for Hip-Hop. We saw the release of some outstanding records, ate up the controversy surrounding Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse, enjoyed the many rants of Kanye West and debated over the June 18 showdown between Kanye West, J. Cole, and Mac Miller to name a few. But who had the best hip-hop album of the year? Find out in our list below.

10. J. Cole – “Born Sinner”

After all is said and done and the dust finally settles sometime after the June 18 releases of Kanye West’s Yeezus and J. Cole’s Born Sinner, most critics will be quick to point out Kanye’s unique progressive vision and make the claim that his stands as the better overall album — which might be true if that’s the way you judge things.

As a pure hip-hop experience, however, Born Sinner is a superior album that shows immense growth in Cole’s talents as a rapper and even more so as a producer. It’s far from perfect, but the North Carolina native has sharpened all his strengths on his sophomore outing and created a body of work that represents nostalgic appreciation as well as a refreshing outlook on a genre he’s clearly passionate about. Read the full Review: HERE

9. Dom Kennedy – “Get Home Safely”

8. Mac Miller – “Watching Movies With The Sound Off”

Never in my life have I ever watched a movie with the sound off but if the experience is anything like the level of the creativity and passion evident on Mac Miller’s sophomore album — I might hit the mute button next time I’m watching Bulworth.

Following his commercially successful but critically lukewarm 2011 debut album Blue Slide ParkWatching Movies with the Sound Off shows significant strides in Mac’s lyricism and beat selection. The result is a cohesive body of work that floats seamlessly from track to track with a head-bopping psychedelic vibe that runs all the way through. Read the full Review: HERE

7. Childish Gambino – “Because the Internet”

Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino has out done himself with ‘Because The Internet’. Glover has moved past music and past the concept album to create an interactive world for his fans to immerse themselves in through one of the most imaginative rollouts (movie and screenplay) in music ever.

The music is creative and no song is the same. They might seem fragmented, unconnected, and much like his actions over the past year, leaves the listener with many questions about what the artist meant and what it means to be alive today in the age of the internet. His lyrics are catchy, witty, and although the music is unconventional, it often reinforces the contemplative feeling that accompanies his work. Read the full Review: HERE

6. Tyler, The Creator – “Wolf”

Legions of high school fanboys salivating over every Odd Future release aside, a lot has changed for Tyler, The Creator in the two years since the release of his 2011 breakthrough album Goblin.

The 22-year-old has branched out and appeared on tracks with mainstream hip hop artists including Game, Pusha T and Waka Flocka Flame. His buddy Earl Sweatshirt is back from Samoa, he’s got a show on Adult Swim and people have finally stopped using “Yonkers” as the only example of his work.

Tyler’s latest offering, Wolf, is not only a reflection of his growth as a rapper and producer but as a creative entity trying to hold on to his artistic integrity as his popularity continues to rise. Read the full Review: HERE

5. Drake – “Nothing Was The Same”

On his critically acclaimed sophomore album, Take Care, Drake proved his signature blend of rap and R&B as a formula for success and his work on the project resulted in numerous accolades — including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.

The Grammy was not only a symbol of how far Drake had come from his days as a child star on the set of Degrassi, but it also showed a shift in the overall hip-hop landscape. Someone who conveyed superior rapping and singing abilities, coupled with honest lyricism grounded in stories about his own life, was able to break boundaries in the genre – far removed from content about the hardships of growing up in ghetto America.

It’s been nearly two years since Take Care, and Drake has since become hip-hop’s brightest star, surpassing the current success of icons like Jay-Z, Kanye West and even his mentor Lil Wayne.

His latest album, Nothing Was the Same, is a view from the penthouse, an ode to having finally made it and a statement that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Needless to say, the new album is also a musical departure from Take Care, as the slick R&B flavoured samples of Jon B. and Playa are largely dropped in favour of grittier Wu-Tang Clan beats that play an important role influencing the ‘90s hip-hop sound on certain tracks. Continue reading the full review: HERE

4. Kanye West – “Yeezus”

I’ve been struggling with this review for over two weeks. I’ve had discussion after discussion with friends and colleagues, analyzing the details of Yeezus ad-nauseum. The road behind me is littered with the bloody corpses of false starts and abandoned ideas. After some serious searching, I realized that I was trying to create a masterpiece of critical musical writing, sweeping and eloquent. I was trying to follow the all-encompassing model of grandeur Kanye West laid out in his magnum-opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy when I should have been looking right in front of myself and gone for the polar opposite, sleek and stripped-down approach West has employed on the dark, minimalist Yeezus.

Yeezus shares its skeletal form with West’s most divisive album, 808s & Heartbreak. But where that album was a desolate wasteland that found West pouring his heart out, Yeezus is an unrelentingly bleak record that finds West angrily amplifying his personality by lashing out at everyone.

West has proven time in and time out that he is a top-tier producer and Yeezus is no different. The sound of the album is one overflowing with aggression and rage, never letting up from the opening moments. Continue reading the full review: HERE

3. Pusha T – “My Name Is My Name”

Even after finding critical success with the release of his first official GOOD Music EP Fear of God II: Let Us Pray in 2011, Pusha T was still stuck in a transition period being less than two years removed from the last Clipse album Til the Casket Drops — the Virginia duo’s final project together before their current hiatus.

Despite having already paved a solo career for himself with GOOD Music, Pusha was still mostly being billed as member of Clipse rather than being recognized as the individual talent Kanye West believed him to be.

After Fear of God II dropped, Pusha still wasn’t getting much attention outside of Clipse diehards. Last year, he appeared on the GOOD Music compilation album Cruel Summer where the 36-year-old rap veteran was forced to share the spotlight with younger stars like Big Sean, Cyhi the Prynce and Kid Cudi.

Thanks in large part to the success of his second mixtape, Wraith of Caine, at the top of the year, Pusha’s position as one of the game’s finest lyricists was beginning to solidify. His album single “Numbers On The Boards” took him over the top and proved that a hip-hop song with a high level of word mastery could still attract a mainstream following.

Pusha has finally released his first full-length studio debut My Name Is My Name and the finished product is one of the most lyrically dense, furiously delivered and brilliantly produced pieces of hip-hop in recent years. Continue reading the full review: HERE

2. Chance The Rapper – “Acid Rap”

20 year old, Chicago MC, Chance the Rapper has been making quite a name for himself as of late. Last year, he dropped an incredible mixtape, titled 10 Day, during his own 10 day suspension from high school. He went on to tour with Childish Gambino and had a much buzzed-about set at this year’s South by Southwest festival. Capitalizing on his momentum, Chance dropped his second mixtape, amply titled “Acid Rap“ earlier this year. Acid Rap has taken the music world by storm due to innovative production and a breathtaking display of lyricism. The mixtape features guest appearances from Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, Ab-Soul, Twista, BJ The Chicago Kid, and more. Head over to to download the entire mixtape for free.

1. Killer Mike and El-P – “Run The Jewels”

This daring hip-hop album features amazing production, accompanied by great rhymes. If you are fan of good hip–hop then you need this in your life. Run the Jewels‘ is available for free digital download via Fool’s Gold. Click the following link to download Run the Jewels.

Read our review: HERE

What was your favourite Hip-Hop album of 2013? Did we forget an album?