Saturday, 18 January 2014

Top 20 Favorite Tracks of 2013

As a conclusion to 2013, I wanted to talk about some of the tracks that I have replayed constantly over the past year. These tracks can range from official album/mixtape tracks to non-album singles. Like last year, I tried to included only one track from an individual artist so I don't include like 4 songs from the same artist and not have any variety. I'll try to go through the first 10 quickly, and then get into more depth with the top 10. So without further adieu, I give you MY personal favorite tracks of 2013!

20- Continue? - Clear Soul Forces:
Clear Soul Forces are becoming one of my favorite new groups. This Detroit based group has 4 of the most lyrical MCs out there right now and with this track they just hit you with classic Detroit boom-bap Hip-Hop over a crazy 8-bit sounding beat. The comic book and video game references are awesome and nostalgic and Noveliss absolutely murders this track (and the whole album). I highly recommend you check out this group if you're into the type of Hip-Hop were you just wanna here MCs continuously rap over dope beats. The album is called Gold PP7's and I recommend you check it out.

19- Manteca - Billy Woods:
Billy Woods is a New York rapper who I put in a similar lane with Aesop Rock were you need multiple listens to decypher their lyrics. His verses are very dense and verbose yet very vivid and creative. I loved his album Dour Candy and this track is an easy favorite for me because of its huge beautifully layered beat produced by the underground legend Blockhead. I love the sample used in between the verses and Billy Woods delivers solid verses. If you're willing to take an experimental route, check this track out and the album itself. 

18- Demigodz Is Back - Demigodz:
Killmatic was my first introduction to Demigodz and I gotta say that I was impressed with the group's lyricism. The reason I love this track is because it starts off the album in a huge way with the Rocky soundtrack sample looped in a clever way. I like how they handled the chorus and all three verses are solid (especially the first verse). So if you're into boom-bap Hip-Hop, check this track out. The album itself has a lot of energy and solid tracks as well. 

17- Beware of the Stare - Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge:
Even though I still love the album, it did eventually lose steam as the year went by and more albums came out. However, that doesn't take away the fact that Twelve Reasons To Die is an absolute experience. With this track, Ghostface showcases his storytelling abilities by introducing the main character that dominates the album. His rapping on this track shows why he's my favorite Wu member. However, I believe the true star of this track (and the album) is Adrian Younge's stellar production. He doesn't produce a track in the traditional Hip-Hop format, but in his own way. Like a movie soundtrack beat, it just continues to grow and is able to show you a story without an MC needed. So props to Ghostface and Adrian Younge for delivering a great album and one of my favorite tracks of the year! 

16- Savagely Attack (Feat. Ghostface Killah) - CZARFACE:
Another project that lost steam for me, I felt like many other albums outshined this one. However, Inspectah Deck came back and proved that he still got some energy in him with stellar verses on the album, including his verse on Savagely Attack. Esoteric then comes in with a crazy verse with an immaculate flow and impressive breath control (you never hear him take a breath!). Then Ghostface comes in and totally destroys this track with a viscous verse. 7L delivers a fantastic 90s sounding beat. Drop this track in 94 and it would totally blend in. If you're a fan of the 90s sounding Hip-Hop, check this song and the album out. 

15- Chum - Earl Sweatshirt:
I thought Earl's Doris was a great project and this track is my favorite from the album. It could be Earl's most personal moment to date. He raps about his fatherless childhood and how he actually misses his father rather than constantly hating him. He also raps about his rise to fame and his relationship with Tyler the Creator, referring to him as a big brother figure. It truly is a heartfelt track that I appreciate from Earl. The beat is also very beautiful, produced by Earl himself under the name randomblackdude and also Christian Rich. It's one of my favorite beats on the album. Earl is a lyrical beast on the whole album, though his monotone-ness might distract some. However, I highly recommend you listen to this track and the album if you haven't yet. 

14- Nephilim - Flatbush Zombies:
This track is an easily favorite from the acclaimed Flatbush Zombies mixtape Better Off Dead. The beat is absolutely mesmerizing, sounding very calm at first but has a hauntingly beautiful feel to it like something from a horror movie. Then Darko comes in with a menacing verse reflecting on himself and his music. Juice finishes this track off with a very dope verse talking about similar topics and his personality as well. He is probably my favorite member in the group but that doesn't take away the skills of the others. The whole mixtape is great and I recommend you check this track out and see what this group is all about. 

13- Nasty - Logic:
Logic's latest mixtape Welcome to Forever was a pleasant surprise because I felt like it was a huge improvement on his previous Undeniable mixtape (while I didn't feel it topped Young Sinatra). I liked how consistent it was and Logic's lyricism was great as ever. With Nasty, I though Logic completely went the fuck off over a very soulful beat that I that was fantastic. He raps about his style and aspirations as well as dropping some braggadocios bars (but done very well). This track is very irresistible and will definitely get you nodding your head while it plays. 

12- Grandma and Them - Brother Ali:

The second the beat switched up from Dial Tone into Grandma and Them, I quickly took notice because the juxtaposition was incredible. The Jake One produced beat is stellar, sounding very soulful yet hauntingly depressing in a sense. The organ based beat and the "nothing" sample are amazing. Brother Ali displays impeccable storytelling on this track, rapping about a pair of brothers who were raised by their grandmother but ended up giving into a life of crime to make money. One day when they're grandma falls in and needs an expensive surgery, they feel obliged to rob a bank. I'm not gonna spoil how that track ends, so you'll have to listen to the track itself it find out the finale!

11- The Cauldron - Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire: 
The opening track to one of my favorite projects of the year is an absolutely hypnotic track. The beat is very spacious and atmospheric and eXquire's flow in immaculate. He has a voice made for Hip-Hop (just like Dr. Dre). He raps about his youth, his mother, his sexual encounters as well as the sacrifices he had to make for his musical career. It is a perfect mood setter for the mixtape because he uses the same formula in more diverse ways throughout the project. For a taste of who eXuire is, I highly recommend you check this track out. 

10- Born Sinner (Feat. James Fauntleroy) - J. Cole:
While Born Sinner was a bit of a disappointment, I do believe the album had many great songs, and the standout to me was the title track. I thought J. Cole did a great job with putting this song together, from the production to the lyrics. The synths and the instrumentation worked very well to create a personal vibe throughout the song to match J. Cole' s lyrics, which were incredible. He touched on his fame and how it influenced others around, but in a negative way. He talks about how it influenced his family but there is more of an emphases on his relationships, which J. Cole handles very well. The hook is done beautifully and the way the track ends is very touching, with the choir singing the hook making the song sound very soulful. It's J. Cole at his finest and I hope his approach to his next album is more consistent, lively and diverse than Born Sinner

9- Rusty (Feat. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt) - Tyler, the Creator: 
Wolf was a great way for Tyler to come back from a lackluster Goblin which was a very disappointing album. On Wolf, Tyler was more cohesive, personal and lyrical throughout the whole album. He also stepped his production game up too, dropping some stellar beats. With Rusty, Tyler drops one of his best songs to date. Domo opens up with a ferocious verse and does the hook as well. Earl ends the track off with a cool verse but the real star of this track is Tyler himself. While Earl is recognized as a bigger lyricist to many, Tyler's extra lengthy verse outshines both of the other MCs. He raps about the general assumptions and stereotypes that are placed on him from his music, such as his "homophobia" and lack of respect for women. He even addresses the MTV incident, but in a clever way. The way he finishes off his verse is perfect and jaw-dropping. I wish the song was done in the order it was performed on Letterman, but I still enjoy listening to this track. Go check it out, I highly recommend it!

8- WTF - Big K.R.I.T.:
Originally written in the structure of a poem, WTF is Big K.R.I.T.'s rant and vent at the stereotypical yet real problems that people get involved in and have a hard time of getting out of. This includes dealing with poverty, selling drugs and finally getting caught up with complicated relationships. He criticizes how people totally ignore the warnings in life that are thrown in people's directions, which are ignored and gets people in those "what the fuck we gon do now" situations. Big K.R.I.T.'s energy and performance on this track is so inspiring and touching that you feel his anger and struggles which makes the song ten times better. The beat is produced by K.R.I.T. himself, and its absolutely breathtaking. The strings and saxophones and vibe throughout the whole track is amazing, and shows how Big K.R.I.T. is not only a great lyricist, but a great producer as well. It is one of my favorite K.R.I.T. songs yet and I highly recommend you check it out!

7- Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels: 
I've praised the album enough by now but it truly deserves all the praise it's getting. Its raw, energetic, and the chemistry is uncanny, and all of that is displayed perfectly on this self-titled track. The beat is huge, and totally compliments both Killer Mike and El-P's styles perfectly. They both trade off killer verses, and this type of track brings back the competition vibe back to Hip-Hop because it feels like each rapper is trying to outrap the other. Its quick, efficient, and catchy as hell too. If you want to know what this collab is all about and where it's heading, check out this track and the album too. You won't be disappointed.

6- The Dangerous Three (Feat. Brother Ali & Masta Ace) - R.A. the Rugged Man: 
From the title of this track you should know what to expect. Three super dope rappers laying back to back verses over one of my favorite beats of the year. While there are many tracks to choose from Legends Never Die like Learn Truth, Sam Peckinpah and Still Get Through The Day, this track is easily my favorite. Brother Ali starts the track off with a verse that he usually doesn't rap like these days, but his ignorant style is untouched by anyone. His flow was great and his bars were awesome. R.A. and Ace follow with great verse as well. While I do believe Brother Ali slightly outshined R.A. a bit, he still held his own and had great double-time throughout the song. R.A. put out a great album this year and I highly recommend you check it out. This track acts as a great way to introduce what the album is all about.

5- 1 Train (Feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson & Big K.R.I.T.) - A$AP Rocky:
This track is the best posse cut of the year, including some of my favorite new wave rappers of this new rap renaissance. I love the beat behind this track, which samples a Syrian song bringing a great fusion of Hip-Hop and Middle Eastern music. The loop works well for me and never gets tiring to listen to. Now with the MCs, I love how each brings their own flavor and the song is filled with East Coast, West Coast and Southern sounds making it very diverse. I can also respect how A$AP Rocky held his own against the other rappers even though he is by far the least lyrical (to me). The two standout verses to me were easily Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T., both delivering lengthy, menacing and ferocious verses. They both had the best flows and delivery to me, followed by maybe Joey and Kendrick. That's not to take anything away from all the other MCs, but with tracks like this comparisons had to be made. It came out super early in the year and I still listen to it which says a lot. Check it out asap! (no pun intended)

4- Control - Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica:
I'm pretty sure every Hip-Hop has heard this track by now because if you haven't then I'm pretty sure you've been living under a rock. Big Sean leaked this track because he wasn't allowed to have it on his album due to sampling issues. It featured Jay Electronica and Kendrick Lamar and I had to check it out because of those two (and the fact that the internet blew up the second this track dropped). Big Sean had decent bars and Jay Electronica had a great verse but it's Kendrick's 3-minute verse that makes the entire song! His ferocious delivery was jaw-dropping and his claim as king of Hip-Hop was done perfectly. But the most controversial part is calling out the top rappers in the game (by name) and basically saying "I got love for you all but I'm tryin' to murder you niggas!". Many took this as a diss and feelings were hurt (cough*Drake*coughs) but I thought it was done in a respectful way. Kendrick merely challenged Hip-Hop and ignited the competition that the game lacks. I feel No I.D.'s beat didn't get the credit it deserved, but I absolutely loved the beat. It sounded so triumphant and well layered. I still replay this song and I absolutely love it.

3- So Far... - Eminem:
I've said this before: Rick Ruben had two strikes this year and then a home-run with The Marshall Mathers LP 2. He produced 4 of my favorite tracks on Eminem's new album but So Far is easily my favorite. The beat sounds so Country influenced and corny but so catchy and dope at the same time. Eminem on the other hand came through with stellar verses. He was absolutely hilarious, especially when it came through not coping with the new technology and how he handled the fan that wanted his autograph in the bathroom. The beat becomes atmospheric half way through and samples of The Real Slim Shady and I'm Back which was very nostalgic. Em's flow is immaculate and the hook is catchy as fuck; a Detroit anthem. The sample worked perfectly and it had high replay value for me. I highly recommend you check this track out. It's stellar.

2- Telegraph Ave. ("Oakland" by Lloyd) - Childish Gambino:
A track from this album was obviously expected on this list. If I could cheat I would combine this track with Shadows which comes right before it on the album because they are connected to each other. Shadows is the love story and the paranoia while Telegraph Ave. is Gambino's frustrations, retrospect and desperation for love. He sings about how he would run all the red lights and the stop signs and he would risk dying just to get to his girl. It's truly a beautiful track. The singing works perfectly and it sounds like what a good Drake song should be. Gambino's rapping is also excellent and the meaning behind the album is revealed for the first time in this song. The production is amazing as well. I loved how Gambino layered basically the beats of two tracks on top of each other and the iPhone samples are chilling as well. The base comes through and the nostalgic sound works as well. I highly recommend you listen to this track.

1- Nosetalgia (Feat. Kendrick Lamar) - Pusha T:
Where to begin? This is my most played track of the year. To me, this track is the best Control response of the year. While it wasn't Pusha T firing shots back at Kendrick, it was Pusha T proving that he can go toe-to-toe with the so called "King". Pusha T's flow on this track was incredible and his word-play was stellar. His approach to coke rap is very original and his ability to tell stories is displayed well in this track. I loved how each line flowed into the next with the content and pop culture references. The Ivan Drago line was crazy (IF HE DIES HE DIES) and the way he ended his verse was vicious. Then Kendrick comes in and absolutely destroys the track with one of the best verses of the year. Kendrick has stated before that he never indulged in the drug game when he was younger and tried to distance himself from it. So with this track, he completely flipped it. He raps about how he will become his father's connect for cocaine but in the end he says "go figure motherfucker every verse is a brick/your son dope nigga!" relating everything he said in his verse to his rap career, which I think is genius. The few bars in the middle of the verse with the play on the 9's and 10's was stellar as well and his flow was absolutely menacing and hypnotizing. It clearly shows how creative of an MC Kendrick is and I would love to see the direction he takes with his music. The beat is amazing and the vibe throughout the whole track is awesome. If you haven't checked out this track than you missed out. Its easily my favorite track of the year.

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