2013 was a huge year for Hip-Hop, and music in general. This section is dedicated to the songs that were constantly replayed on all of our play lists. All of the Hip Hop heavy weights stepped their game up in 2013- Kendrick took his smash hit, “B*itch don’t Kill My Vibe” to the next level by enlisting the present day G.O.A.T Jay-Z to murder his guest verse, Kanye broke new grounds by releasing his lead single “New Slaves” through projections on various buildings located across the globe, and of course Drake brought smash hit after smash to the radios and saw great billboard success. The songs below are tracks that blew us away in 2013, as I’m sure they did for you as well!
Wale ft. Tiara Thomas- “Bad”
“‘Bad girls ain’t no good, and the good girls ain’t no fun.’ Ain’t that the truth! Just kidding, but I love me a slow jam. Although I am a Wale fan, this song didn’t stick for me at first in the way his other songs do; what caught my attention (besides the bed squeaks all the way through), was Tiara Thomas’ beautiful, raspy voice that makes you feel like she’s stealing your soul, and the simplicity of the guitar in the background. Within a week, it was on repeat for me. While this song is sexy and a bit reminiscent of “Lotus Flower Bomb” ft. Miguel, there’s no cheesy love words exchanged here; it’s a straight-up song about a bad girl and some bad thoughts. While Wale does a remix with Rihanna, nothing beats the original.” – Eternity
Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake- “Poetic Justice”
“The first 20 seconds of this song is always anticipated; you always move your head to the beat just before Kendrick starts his verse. Why? Because you’re feeling it. Why are you feeling it? Because it really feels like poetic justice. Make no mistake- just because the song makes you feel all dreamy and subdued, don’t underestimate the content of the track: the verses are spot on, clashing perfectly in time with the beat, amorous strings of sentences dribbling out of Kendrick and Drake’s mouths seemingly faster than the tempo of the song, yet somehow still meshing perfectly. When Drake performed this track at OVO Fest, he slowed it down even more- it was an intensely wonderful experience. Poetic justice? I think so.” – Eternity
Shuko feat. Blu – “Be Yourself”
“Let me just say this now: I am a huge Blu fan. With that being said, I’ll also admit that No York! wasn’t really my thing. There were some good moments, but mostly I was left wishing for the same magic he was able to capture with Exile on Below the Heavens. On “Be You,” that essence is back. The track is one of Blu’s best efforts in the past year or two, right alongside last year’s “A Man.” Shuko’s production is upbeat and infectious, and Blu spits another pair of timeless verses, proving he’s still one of the best hip-hop artists we’ve got.” – M-Bomb
Chance The Rapper feat. Vic Mensa & Twista – “Cocoa Butter Kisses”
“A strong contender for my favourite song of the year. I think it’s literally impossible not to like this song. The funny thing is, the best part on this song isn’t even Chance – no disrespect to his verse either, which is incredible. Vic Mensa KILLS it on verse two. By the time Twista comes in for verse three, it’s a wrap. Cam from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Petter Cottontale do a fantastic job on the production, too.” – M-Bomb
Kendrick Lamar feat. Jay-Z – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” (Remix)
“I’ll settle the debate right now. THE BEST VERSE OF 2013 IS KENDRICK’S THIRD VERSE ON THIS SONG. The way this song builds is just classic hip-hop one-upmanship. Kendrick delivers a solid first verse – no complaints, but there have been better verses. Then, Jay-Z comes in for verse two. Whoa, Jigga sounds like he’s actually putting some effort in, not just some lackluster Watch the Throne or MCHG throwaway verse. All of a sudden, we’ve got ourselves a game here! *Birdman hand rub* Nobody, I mean nobody, was prepared for what happens next. I remember my jaw dropping when I first heard it, my head and arms simultaneously convulsing so violently to the beat that onlookers might have mistaken me for having a seizure. I couldn’t help myself.” – M-Bomb
Los – “Becoming King”
“As mentioned above, Los had announced Becoming King months before it was officially dropped, so I spent my time patiently waiting for this masterpiece to be released. After a quick download I was ready to let my body experience a much needed eargasm, but I was in no way ready for the insanity that was about to unfold in the self titled track “Becoming King”. Los starts off with an important message about perseverance before rhyming his heart out. Just after the hook the music starts to die down, but Los isn’t ready to quit and goes in for another verse that just solidifies his spot on top. All hail King Los!” – Colosso
Pusha T feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Nosetalgia”
“Every time I hear that high pitched guitar chord squeal at the start of this song, I know it means it’s time to get crazy. It’s physically impossible for me to keep my body from swaying along to this song, my head starts to involuntary nod and I can’t stop my lips from singing along to the lyrics. Pusha T opens things up on this track rhyming about his usual subjects: cooking and selling cocaine and the dangers of life on the streets but the delivery is spot on. The second verse comes from none other than Mr. Kendrick Lamar himself and he rips this instrumental apart. Kendrick takes the same approach as Push, rhyming about life on the streets and selling drugs but the words he uses are so strategically placed that it makes my mind boggle just trying to think how he came up with his ideas. When Kendrick says, “When I was 10, back when 9 ounces had got you 10, and 9 times out of 10, n***as don’t pay attention and when there’s tension in the air, 9’s come with extensions” I honestly got goosebumps.” – Colosso
Kanye West – “Blood on the Leaves”
“Blood on the Leaves contains all the elements that Kanye West fans look for when listening to his music: classic soul samples, clever rhymes and catchy melodies. Kanye is constantly pushing Hip-Hop music in different directions, and Blood on the Leaves is a prime example of Yeezie’s creativity as a producer as well as a lyricist.
The track begins with an eerie vocal sample of Nina Simone’s Strange Fruit, setting the tone for the rest of the record. The opening lines to the track, “I just need to clear my mind now/It’s been racing since the summer time/Now I’m holding down the summer now/And all I want is what I can’t buy now” feel very nostalgic, as Kanye compares his ,“five beats a day for three summers” grind to his dominance in the game today.
The climax of the song comes after the bridge where Ye goes off lyrically, giving listeners 16 bars filled with tweetable punch lines. The rhymes, “She Instagram herself like #BadBi*chAlert/He Instagram his watch like #MadRichAlret/He only wanna see that ass in reverse/ Two-Thousand-dollar bag with no cash in your purse” illustrate Kanye’s wit and conscious content. The themes of conspicuous consumption in this track remind listeners that the “All Falls Down” Kanye we loved in the early 2000’s still exists. Blood on the Leaves is definitely a song to take in if you haven’t had a chance to listen.” – Michael K
Jay Z – “Open Letter”
“While visiting Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary, the celebrity power couple was faced with quite a substantial amount of backlash regarding their controversial visit to the island. Due to the current United States embargo against Cuba, this meant they needed a permit to visit the country. It wasn’t open arms, however, Jay-Z later fired back at critics with the song “Open Letter.” Produced by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, Jay appointed many issues in the song, including “Politicians never did shit for me, except lie to me, distort history.” ” – Mlav
Kanye West- “New Slaves”
“Creative genius. Premiered on 66 screenings across the world in 66 locations, “New Slaves” also included a video of West projected on numerous buildings in various countries. Kanye even tweeted: “I open the debate… The 2nd verse of New Slaves is the best rap verse of all time….meaning … OF ALL TIME IN THE HISTORY OF RAP MUSIC, PERIOD” Now, this may not be the most accurate claim, there’s no doubt that this is the best song of 2013.” – Mlav
Drake- “All Me”
“Ask you to please excuse my table manners, I was making room for the table dancers” – Drake.
“Featured as a bonus track on the Deluxe edition of Drake’s Nothing Was The Same, “All Me” turned out to be one of the summer’s biggest anthems. Produced by Key Wane, the song also features heavyweights, Big Sean and 2 Chainz as well. The contagious hook sets the tone while each artist held their own by providing memorable verses.” – Mlav
Drake – “Started From The Bottom”
I think one of the reasons why is Drake is a very successful artist is because of singles like Started From The Bottom. What’s so special about this song? It’s so damn relatable, who wasn’t singing this past year that they Started from The Bottom and now we here? Whether you are broke, rich, have a vision for your future Drake definitely hit the target on this one. Everyone is trying to make it one way or another and I think it’s a major reason why it’s one of the biggest records of the year.
Drake – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
I clearly remember when this song was released because it was the day after the OVO concert that I attended. I heard the rumours that Drake was going to release his second official song from Nothing Was The Same and I thought it was going to be an aggressive club banger since it was the day after OVO. To my surprise I was listening to an R&B song that caught me off guard but I can tell it was the perfect fit for radio play. It wasn’t until I understood that Drake wanted to create a timeless wedding song for our generation to play for years to come and I think he has accomplished that mission.- CHedo
Nas – “Made Nas Proud”
“Radio records are needed, I just wanted it to bring the warning/Global warming to that cold world you was breathing/That’s some advice I never got” Nas
This for me was one of the most important things to happen in Hip-Hop. How often in the past 20 years have you heard a fairly new rapper address one of his heroes and how he feels he has let him down? J.Cole recorded “Let Nas Down” to share the pressure he felt to create a radio single and Cole caught word that Nas was disappointed. The response was something that J.Cole could have never foreseen and Nas created a response that based in wisdom, love and he “passed” the crown to J.Cole like it was nothing. I still feel the chills and goosebumps from this beautiful song.
While you was writing down my rhymes I was just trying to show you/ That if you say what’s on your mind, you can stand the test of time/ Now I’m playing Born Sinner loud, saw you live, rock the crowd/Like wow, you made your nigga Nas proud.
A$AP Ferg ft A$AP Rocky- Shabba
Sha-Shabba Ranks, Sha-Sha-Shabba Ranks. Eight gold rings like I’m Sha-Shabba Ranks. Two bad bitches like I’m Sha-Shabba Ranks. One gold tooth like I’m Sha-Shabba Ranks.
Don’t act like you didn’t sing that chorus this past year, “Shabba” was one of those songs I wouldn’t have predicted to best in our Favorite Tracks of 2013 but it rightfully deserves the spot. If you had to ask me what makes this song so great is the repeat factor, the catchiness of the hook, and let’s face it, it was a club smash.
J.Cole ft Miguel- “Power Trip”
Did you know that J.Cole was originally to sing the full chorus of this song? After he finished the song Cole played “Power Trip” for his manager and he suggested to get Miguel for the hook, Jermaine wasn’t convinced until JAY Z heard the song and suggested the same thing. Good thing Cole listened as this is his biggest hit thus far reaching the Top 100 Billboard charts and claiming a nomination at this years Grammy’s for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.- Chedo
Honorable Mentions for Favourite Tracks
Rich Kidd – “Syke”
J. Cole – “Let Nas Down”
Vic Mensa – “Hollywood L.A.”
A$AP Ferg ft. French Montana, Asap Rocky, Trinidad James and A$AP Rocky – “Work”
Wretch 32 ft. Shakka – “Blackout”
Schoolboy Q ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Collard Greens”