Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 For Certain: Top Hip Hop Albums


1 - Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric - Czarface
Couple beat maestro 7L with his standard partner Esoteric and you have a good combo, but add Wu alum Inspectah Deck and you have head nod central on this offering.  Guest artists like Action Bronson, Ghostface, Vinnie Paz, and Oh No shine on their respective tracks that have a comic book and old school wrestling feel punctuated with a 90’s Golden Era production.


2 - Armand Hammer – Race Music
Billy Woods and Elucid have such an undeniable chemistry, they lace the entire album with deep thinking (addiction, death, family, relationships) bars, Woods’ trademark worldview rhymes, and nary a beat that musters a skip.  Blue Sky Black Death provide the backdrop on bangers “Renaisance Garments” and “Noserfatu” while Woods frequent producer Marmaduke also provides production.


 3 - Grayskul – Zenith
“We strive for excellence, you strive for elegance” Onry Ozzborn bellows on the standout track “Face and the Fang.”  It could be the declaration for all underground Hip Hop, but also serves as the matra for Seattle based Grayskul.  Onry and JFK Ninjaface’s release yet another Fake Four stamped album with the crisp production and a highlight cameo from Aesop Rock on “Not Going Anywhere.”


4 - RA The Rugged Man – Legends Never Die
This crusty mofo took years to release new material, but it was well worth the wait.  Production galore from Buckwild, Apathy, Marco Polo, and a handful of tracks by Mr. Green, including the touching “Halo” which talks to RA’s late father. But it ain’t all serious, as the standard grimy, fuck-you, sexed up, dirty beer guzzling rhymes are ever present.


5 - Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
Say whatever the standard stereotypes about Wolf Gang or Earl and his exile in Samoa, but this album proves that they- notably Earl – have crazy mic skills.  On the flip side, Doris is dark, not a lot of happy cheering among the tracks that Earl laces alongside Tyler, The Creator, Domo Genesis, Mac Miller, and the surprising joint “Molasses” with the RZA.


6 - Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
After last year’s R.A.P. Music set the standard, El-P and Killer Mike took it to the proverbial next level with the self titled debut.  Seriously bumping and deep grooves lay the foundation for El-P’s signature lyricism and Killer Mike’s Southern baratone.  Only two cameos, but both are well worth it: Big Boi on “Banana Clipper” and Prince Paul on “Twin Hype Back.”


7 - Qwel & Maker – Beautiful Raw
The Chicago sound comes through again on this release , as Qwel weaves tales of Chi Town and beyond.  The official press release references “thoughtful care” put into the album and at the end of a listen, it evokes just that: two artists giving a polished release to their fans.  Guest appearances from Swamburger,  Gouch of Living Legends, and a highlight verse from Qwazaar.


8 - Billy Woods – Dour Candy
Last year’s top spot holder is back – again – with producer Blockhead on a full length subsonic journey.  Woods is at his best with his many layers of sex, shows, and general city living in the every gentrifying urban corridor.  Blockhead’s production helps maintain Woods’ imagery throughout.
The highlight guest appearance is a superb Aesop Rock verse on the standout “Tumbleweed.”



9 - Doppelgangaz – Hark
Hark’s production takes the album title into account with NYC Golden Era beats, but this isn’t a tribute to the 90s.  The production and MC duo EP and Matter ov Fact spit grimey and sometimes grungey or even gross lyrics, but it never bumps into the gimmick category.  Clocking in at under 40 minutes, this album is bridged with quick instrumentals and standout tracks like “Skin Yarmulke.”



10 - Castle – Gasface
The second track “No Prep Time” with its cathedral like organ music sets the tone for Castle’s debut; a sometimes psychedelic, sometimes off kilter, always funky and clever.  The North Carolina MC/producer has a refreshing, quick, and no cameo album that seems to always leave you with a smirk.  Check “The Punisher Kills Hip Hop” for some vivid story weaving.


11 - Jonwayne – Rap Album One
Los Angeles based MC / Producer comes correct on his proper debut, a simplistic yet layered sapproach with crisp lyrics and off beat production.  The sandaled one (he even has a track titled “Sandals”) relishes the different tag, rapping “…Maury Povich, because my style has no father.”  The Scoop DeVille featured “Come Up Pt 1” and “Come Up Pt 2” are certain to get the head nodding.

12 - Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge - Twelve Reasons To Die
Leave it to Ghost to think outside of the standard Wu box as he enlisted composer Adrian Younge to put together a musical offereing that mirrors a comic book and also as the soundtrack to an Italian horror film.  Standard Wu appearances from Deck, Cappadonna, U-God, and Masta Killa (on the banger “I Declare War”) even further the album’s flawless stories.

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES
Vertual Vertigo – Come Fly With Me
Quelle Chris – Ghost At The Finish Line
Ill Bill - The Grimy Awards
Hide and Seek Zoo – Banji
Demigodz – Killmatic

LET'S TAKE A TRIP TO THINK BACK: 
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

 

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I check this list every year then buy my three rap albums that are allowed in my life. Yep.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Calvin Natty Light said...

Good lookin Commish. No Danny Brown?

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