DAR Hip Hop: 8 Important Albums Released In 2013

By @TrueGodImmortal

5 years is such a short window of time, yet so much can change during that period. Music has changed since then, and the sound evolves as always, which is expected, especially in an ever changing genre like hip hop. However, one listen to the music from 2013 and in a way, it feels like ages ago on some instances and it feels literally like yesterday in others. Today, I wanted to go back and take a look at some of the albums released in 2013 that had importance and were standout releases on the year, whether good or bad. Which albums do we discuss on this list? Let's take a look.

*Kanye West- Yeezus

-Do not let bad music Twitter opinions sway you, Yeezus is still a subpar album. It is an important album however for several reasons. One, Kanye was always about helping to alter the sound of music and in a way, he does it here. However, I am not so sure that he was altering the sound for better. Music took on a considerably darker sound during this era and Yeezus went a step further. This album features production that is more so along the lines of experimental and rock inspired, which might be a result of Rick Rubin executive producing the album. While critics praised this album like they do every Kanye album, I found myself confused and lost during my attempts to listen. Tracks like "I Am A God", "Hold My Liquor", and "I'm In It" are among the songs that didn't really work to me, while the select few I could tolerate such as "New Slaves" and "Blood On The Leaves" were borderline enjoyable at best. To me, Yeezus has one true standout song and even that song is a bit lazy, and that's "Bound 2" of course. I get it. Kanye made an experimental and alternative rap album with punk and rock influences. If you enjoy it, by all means that's your choice. However, stop trying to convince people that this album is great, a classic, or even his best work. Stop it. Get some help.

*Pusha T- My Name Is My Name

-When Pusha is discussed today, many reference Daytona and of course his victorious beef with Drake, however before this year, his greatest claim to fame besides his work as a number of The Clipse was clearly his solo debut album. Pusha had released solo mixtapes and an EP prior to this album, but we had yet to see anything from him in official album form up until 2013. Some people have remarked that Pusha had the best rap album of 2013 and I wouldn't outright disagree. When looking at the albums that are turning 5 this year, there are very few that were on par with Pusha's solo debut. With production from Kanye, 88 Keys, Don Cannon, Pharrell, No I.D., and more alongside features from Future, Young Jeezy, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Kendrick, and others, Pusha delivers a solid listen from start to finish. To me, the highlights on the album are "Suicide", "King Push", "Numbers On The Boards", and "Nosetalgia". Pusha delivers a solid solo debut album that still shapes his legacy.

*Eminem- The Marshall Mathers LP 2

-There is no reason why this album is labeled as a sequel to perhaps Em's best album. This album pales in comparison to the original and is nowhere near as entertaining or good. It is like comparing the atrocity that was Blueprint 3 to the original Blueprint, which is a classic and arguably a top 2 album in Jay-Z's catalog. Apply that same logic here and you'll see why this is a disappointing Eminem release. Em had been on the decline anyways, but for me, after seeing the odd turn he took with the Recovery album, I expected something different with MMLP 2, and was instead hit with more of the same mediocrity that plagued most of his releases beyond the year 2003. The production here falters like with every Eminem album, as employing Rick Rubin as an executive producer never seems to be the way to go in hip hop these days. Dr. Dre contributes but his work here is pretty minimal, which might be a reason why this album suffers, not that he could have really improved it much anyways. Em does have a few highlights here, such as "Bad Guy" and "Evil Twin", but for the most part, the album is just an overall boring listen that could have and should have been called anything else besides a sequel to a possible classic album.

*Drake- Nothing Was The Same

-I think this is the best Drake album by far. Drake fans proclaim Take Care is a classic and I guess in terms of influence, it might be. However, the album itself is way too long, could be trimmed by 4 or 5 songs, and while it was a nice blend of singing Drake and rapping Drake, it still lacked that extra edge that puts NWTS over the top. While this album features his strongest singles, it also perfects his walking the line between genres with precision. With an intro like "Tuscan Leather", Drake plants his flag as one of the better artists in terms of opening an album. He would then follow it up with a great two part track on "Furthest Thing", along with one of his most booming songs ever on "Worst Behavior", and even channeled 80's music vibes on the single "Hold On, We're Going Home", which takes a minute to grow on you. Overall, this album isn't perfect, as I don't think there is an actual perfect Drake album, but it showcases Drake at his absolute best. NWTS is the best Drake album.

*A$AP Rocky- Long. Live. A$AP

-It seems like ASAP's stock has dropped a little after the release of his newest album this year, but if we go back 5 years, things were different. ASAP and his music were a bit more appreciated during this time, and to many listeners, his style and brand of artistry seemed fresher. With this release, his official debut solo album, ASAP set out to put his name in even brighter lights and stake his claim. To me, this album is mostly enjoyable, as ASAP is comfortable over every track and his features manage to keep pace with him. Production wise, he enlists some great names like Hit-Boy, Rico Love, Clams Casino, Danger Mouse, and 40, while his feature list is also impressive, as Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Danny Brown, Big K.R.I.T., Schoolboy Q, and others share the mic with ASAP on this album. Some of the highlights here include "Phoenix", "PMW (All I Really Need)", "LVL", "1 Train", and "Fuckin' Problems". ASAP delivers a very solid debut album.

*Jay-Z- Magna Carta Holy Grail

-So, I am indifferent to this album in terms of quality. I don't hate MCHG by any stretch and was a fan of the album to an extent when it dropped. However, we can always sense when Jay is making music for the hell of it, and there are always instances when it shows clearly. I feel as if perhaps MCHG was one of those instances. Jay would partner up with Samsung for the release of this album, which was a big moment in music at the time, and it was actually pretty forward thinking at the time. If you had a Samsung phone, all you had to do was download the Magna Carta app and boom, the music was there. Perhaps this is the motivation for this project instead of the genuine need to make music. Perhaps Jay saw the idea for a great business venture and decided to move on that premise. Regardless, MCHG is a decent listen, with highlights such as "Picasso Baby", "F.U.T.W", "Heaven", and "Crown", but there are far too many subpar and uneven songs on this album to give it a great rating personally. Jay could have done worse, which he has, but he is one of the greatest rappers of all time, so at this point in his career, there should be no reason to release subpar music.

*J. Cole- Born Sinner

-A part of me feels like this might actually be Cole's best work. While K.O.D. and 2014 FHD are both interesting albums, I remember being so disappointed with his first album that I almost didn't give his second project a chance. I wanted Cole to succeed because I was a semi fan of his work, but could sense that perhaps his best music would always come from mixtapes and EPs, instead of full length albums. Well, that might still be true, but Born Sinner is a lot better than most people would give it true credit for. The album features a number of features, from Miguel to 50 Cent to Kendrick Lamar to TLC to others, and they all fill their role well. For me, early on in the album is where Cole really shines, on tracks like "Villuminati", "Land Of The Snakes", "Runaway", "Power Trip", and "Rich Niggaz". The second half of the album has some misses, as I personally cannot get with "Crooked Smile" or the pathetic "Let Nas Down", but all in all, Born Sinner was a solid album that saw a much more focused Cole than on his debut solo album. That's progress.

*Earl Sweatshirt- Doris

-I was never the biggest fan of Odd Future, and besides The Internet, I still am not, but one artist from the group that defies the usual is Earl Sweatshirt. Arguably their best lyricist and the all around best rapper in the crew, Earl has managed to gain more fans each time out and this was no exception. The Doris album would be his debut solo album following the successful release of his 2010 mixtape. Earl managed to use some high powered producers on this album such as The Neptunes, Alchemist, Matt Martians, and RZA, while employing features from Mac Miller, Vince Staples, and of course his Odd Future family. Tracks like "Burgundy", "20 Wave Caps", "Hive", "Guild" and more are standouts on this album. Was Doris an album of the year candidate? It should have been.



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