I will bless this list for it shall sin. It shan’t include concessions and blurring of lines. In the distance the terror of a Mandela manifesto manifesting musically is sampled only on the Fidelian chapters. The path of a better music shall travel covertly across borders. Its fulcrum shall deny the dumb and pivot a passage through the deaf giving the blind a fuckin carbon print to gauge their loss by. A list henceforth dispelling with the niggery of tough cupcakes and the Casey Kasam syndrome that plagues men, women, boys and girls and propels A&Rs, radio directors and pop beat’s journeyless journalists with the westernized pseudo-science of the supposedly earned bottom to top rights. This list is from a writer that no homos macklemore, defines softness via drake barometer and knows the skill of any eminem set is the exaggeration of the empire. Never a concession yet always respectful of the worthy contemplation. So there is no definitiveness and any nations of Sunez shall never be promoted as the Fidelian Way abhors idolatry. Rather this list of the Real of 2013 is a blueprint from the God’s barracks for any private soldier or General to find solace that the history of musical soldiers, monks, warriors, samurais, ninjas, assassins and marksmen are honored. From a Hip Hop Writer, a warrior Sifu monk of an abused element, I bid you peace break by break…
- G Huff – Vacant Thoughts
The Ohio MC with the tools of the trade (i.e. 100& voice enunciation, bar/break timing, punctuation/fluctuation/delivery style, etc.), a strong beat selector and topics. REVIEW HERE
Willie the Kid is blessed with unique vocal timbre and smooth conversational tempo. Here, Alchemist continues his great sample work while Willie pimps and strides to his debut. Not much is covered lyrically here but Willie is a strong stylist certainly influenced by Roc Marci.
- Skyzoo – Ode to Reasonable Doubt & Band Practice & The Penny Freestyle Series Part 2
- AG Da Coroner – Crushed Grapes
Rappers wear dresses today. Appreciate the fuck out of AG because he decides to rhyme and masculinate the mic properly. No pauses on this EP. REVIEW HERE
- Bronze Nazareth – Blenders
The greatest crew in Hip Hop today is The Wisemen and Bronze leads them. As he produced the amazing thematic soul of Phillie’s Welcome to the Detroit Zoo and prepares the full length for Willie The Kid, he gives us leftovers that include the classic “Malcolm X Manuscripts,” the blues anthem, “Hanging On,” and the word bending “Blenders.” Bronze Nazareth has been this writer’s pick as greatest lyricist since 2006 and these quick songs rejuvenate that reaffirmation.
- Undeniable -5 Finger Discount, Volumes 1-5
Omnipotent and Sinnagi perform. They perform. All styles, sounds, manners and ways and they reach peaks everywhere on these 25 songs. O7 has a classic voice and Sinnagi has a perfected conversational technique. Vol. 1-5 REVIEW HERE
- FAME LABS (feat. DARKIM BE ALLAH, MASTER K-BAR & VENGE MILZ) – Live At The Lab: Take 2. Training Camp
Darkim leads the most stripped down gutter, street, NYC shit out there. All the techniques and beats we need without all the appropriations of today’s waviness. Ideal Hip Hop. DARKIM FAME LABS FEATURE INTERVIEW HERE. SINGLE REVIEW HERE. EP REVIEW HERE.
- A-Alikes – Us Against Them
If you Original and love your people and this Hip Hop then you know how vital A-Alikes music is. An EP so good it begs for an LP. The best EP of 2013. Why? REVIEW HERE
- Rapsody – She Got Game
Rapsody continues to excel as her writing and vocal agility are increasing to match the 9th Wonder bangers she ills over. REVIEW HERE
Sunset Park, that’s where I’m from, where the Ricans are dirty. And prolific in anticipation as Sunblaze, in preparation for his Dirty Rican LP has released a stockpile of early work that when mined reveals an MC that would have been signed five years ago if real niggas existed. Intensity, love for the craft, breath control, ingenuity with wordplay and concepts, the battle fixed mixtapes may only be a prelude to an LP that can offer insight into my own roots. Strictly for the Underground Vol.1 REVIEW HERE
- Chris Rivers – Wonderland of Misery
The mixtape that displays a son with all the skills of his legendary father. However, the true honoring that BIG PUN’s son, Chris Rivers, offers is finding his own content and unique ideas to share. Wonderland of Misery has prime of examples of all the aforementioned. REVIEW HERE
- Joey Bada$$ – Summer Knights
Joey Bada$$ is as precocious as the MC teens of the 80’s and 90’s. His cadence is brilliantly of the Doom obsessive rolling technique that keeps verses going endlessly in ill monotony and rewind wordplay. With a strong crew in Pro Era, we still have not heard the depth of his mentals but soon come. REVIEW HERE
- Teraban (Dom Pachino, Bugsy Da God & Chapelz)
Killarmy’s Dom Pachino’s greatest move the last five years musically is mentoring and building up Bugsy Da God. On this original mixtape, all three MCs charge through with the martial arts theme music. REVIEW HERE
- Brother Hood 603: Arewhy – Warlock Unleashed & Thanos – Unmixed
Arewhy and Thanos are physical brothers that produce and MC reppin Sunset Park. They are blessed with an obsession for Hip Hop and immediate gifts these mixtapes begin to highlight. Arewhy is superb at song writing concepts and developing track by track whereas Thanos may be one of the most diverse producers jumping from rugged Boom Bap (i.e. Sunblaze’ “Lions Approach”) to the big beat 808 hardcore of Genesis of LXG (i.e. “The Crown”). The diversity is so broad it includes styles one would hate but often will be addicted to. AREWHY INTERVIEW HERE
- Pete Rock & Camp Lo - 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Pt 2
The trilogy of RZA, Pete Rock and DJ Premier have been relatively silent as all their children have made great to good to average work. With 25 tracks produced by Pete Rock, it must be noted and at least half of the LP is Pete Rock at his illest thick drum, rightly mined sample form. Camp Lo’s flow never left and appears here with age and bass. REVIEW HERE
Countless albums absorbed and there is more worth because the secrets to make good music have been known just as the trends to make hit pop shit are available. Kasim Allah, one of the most talented poets on the mic offers a diverse Living Mathematics LP to show and prove it all (Review HERE). Truemaster’s Master Craftsman is an viciously dusty Wu-Tang crate with verses from Wu (i.e. RZA, Raekwon, Ghost, etc.) and Wu Fam (i.e. Killah Priest) that are not constricted by the assumed stupidity of the listener as they would and still do post Wu-Forever. The Goondox’ Welcome to the Goondox is a respectable hardbody beat album by Snowgoons with nice PMD verses that missed Erick Sermon for a rudimentary but aggressive Sean Strange. Black Milk’s No Poison No Paradise is another powerful music experiment in live drums and funky loops but lyrically cannot contend with the vast, vast Detroit lyricism available. Still, all Black Milk works are crucial to beatmaking developments. Automatik Greatness, reps Heaven Razah’s GGO with his debut LP, produced by Su Preme, with Rapoliticz and succeeds. On the mic, he is a direct battler with principles of honor and loyalty as armory and is an MC to keep an eye on. Boldy James gets innovative digital funk from Alchemist for My 1st Chemistry Set and his distinctively voiced drawl is worthy of note despite limited content. Ransom’s The Proposal, produced by Statik Selektah, ives a rugged soundscape for an MC who is rising with strong concepts. Cappadonna’s Blaq Death is respectable banger music though Stu Bangas and Vanderslice are often too far on the Heavy Metal side of beatmaking cadence. A cadence where every track is a stabbing break as opposed to a funk/soul’d groove and the hooks are not melodic but ruthless noise meshes. Blaq Poet doesn’t surpass the total product he had with DJ Premier produced Tha Blaqprint but still shows he has a concrete character that rocks nicely. As the Godfather of merit, Once Upon A Crime, Kool G Rap is a pure legend and shaving Necro’s weak clone showing (sadly advocated by G Rap’s teaming) G Rap excels. The tracks are standard fare but they are virtually all of higher tempos that let G Rap teleport to the motherfuckin’ 90’s.
- Zagnif Nori – The Meridian Gem
Zagnif Nori ushers the Noble Scity click into the supreme LP of righteous mission and uplifted banner of warriorship. As they have mastered the soulful Boom Bap sound RZA founded and Bronze expanded, the Noble Scity click have set clear markers on evolution to profound originality lyrically and musically. INTERVIEW HERE. REVIEW HERE
- Roc Marciano – The Pimpire Strikes Back & Marci Beaucoup
The great MC stylist of the day and one of the premiere beat innovators today, Roc’s experimental works here will be strength arguments that power his legacy further after the incredible Marcberg and Reloaded LPs. REVIEW HERE
- Starvin B – Be Like Water
Starvin B has never rhymed like any other element but water. It is never pure water as he mixes anything he wants to from flows, ideas, comical oddities into his blend. Still, Be Like Water is part of one of the great careers this era will ever hear. REVIEW HERE
- Symmetry – Cell Therapy
Symmetry of Canada’s Shing Shing Regime is an impeccable craftsman. While rare MCs deliver deep rhymes, Symmetry literally can write his flow proper. As his dexterity is up to par, the verses ride on Tha Professor’s tracks with astonishing smoothness. The sleeper album of 2013. REVIEW HERE
- Awon & Phoniks – Return To The Golden Era
Phoniks is one of today’s most precocious beat makers and has the purity Boom Bap is founded on from the snare to the sample. Awon, using his past as a theme, paints ill ol’ portraits with unfadeable real time ethics – an MC’s MC. REVIEW HERE
- Endemic – Terminal Illness 2
A beatmaker of the supercharged Primo loosie school, he has the most livest producer compilation album of the year as he offers the most concentrated selection of today’s greatest lyricists worldwide. REVIEW HERE
- Kid Tsunami – The Chase
Kid Tsu has a true talent for the refined track of complete fullness and thickness. His The Chase LP is a debut but his beatmaking skills are aged with productions of fulfilled concept songs from greats and legends. REVIEW HERE
The work has been immense for Hieroglyphics Crew and these are the best of their many works this year. Their music solidly stays at a peak of lyrical showmanship and techniques with commentary and insights continually expanding and experimentations more daring and successful. THE KITCHEN REVIEW HERE. FIRST LIGHT REVIEW HERE. DELTRON 3030 REVIEW HERE
- Planet Asia - Durag Dynasty LP, High End Clothes EP, Abrasions LP w/ Gensu Dean
Loads of product Asia worked well on the Alchemist productions of basic Boom Bap on Durag Dynasty but reached his lyrical best on Gensu Dean’s beats on Abrasions. ABRASIONS REVIEW HERE
- Reks – Revolution Cocktail
The most conditioned, athletic MC on the court scoring conscious ideas here, chooses another set of pounding beats. REVIEW HERE
A short LP that runs through her resume of techniques, commentary and powerful vocal and lyrical dexterity. REVIEW HERE
- 7 G.E.M.S. (Tragic Allies & Tragedy Khadafi) – Golden Era Music Sciences [BONUS: PARANORM & PURPOSE - Life Outside The Frame]
Tragic Allies willingly embrace Boom Bap traditionalism and with Tragedy Khadafi, their arrogance is supreme. Estee Nack shines on this album with vocalization variegation from Dancehall to verse dexterity. There must also be amended mention of the other great Tragic Allies work of 2013: Paranorm dominates with a flow that waters through Purpose’s consistent break boom snaring that is pure addiction. 7 GEMS REVIEW HERE
- JMega the God – Niggaz iz Kingz Forever
With some of the strongest and longest collections release, LA’s JMega builds on street shit to powerful effect—revealing the potential for full-fledged album arranging. REVIEW HERE
- Czarface [Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric] – Czarface
Not the ideal equivalent to Inspectah Deck but with Deck being a poor beat selector 7L tracks make it memorable enough. Deck gets uptempo tracks and is one of the greatest flowing lyricists on them. REVIEW HERE
- J-Love & Whyz Ruler – He Exists [Bonus: J-Love – Pardon My Intrusion]
The workhorse of 2013, J-Love’s five LP flood in November comes after another army solo, Pardon the Intrusion. With so much to absorb, 2 solo J-Love albums (Flood Gates & Not Designed to Quit ) along with debuting Gee Dubs on the Hands On Ice LP and Prince Original with the One Life to Live, the immediate surprise is Whyz Ruler’s He Exists LP, also all produced by J-Love. An MC of depth, mission and battle brawl skills, Whyz Ruler defeats the misnomer that J-Love is just throwing out collections of bangers as He Exists is a cohesive work reppin East New York, Brooklyn to the utmost. HE EXISTS REVIEW HERE. PARDON MY INTRUSION REVIEW HERE
10. Shaz Illyork – Deadstock Revival
“Always on the scenery looking around…” Shaz Illyork is a shaman nomad of the Mecca of Hip Hop-NYC. An album that captures precisely the 90′s peak of the elements with his experiences, rejuvenating that journey as a new father with greater cause. With a raspy hoarse vocal that compound snares tracks he has chosen the best collection of B-Boy breaks this year. The tracks are not mere breaks shaved lonely but have greatly distinct musical fill outs as the 2013 classic sample–Goldenchild’s horn on”Chopper.” Shaz’ Hip Hop dilemma will always be what element to dominate in. Tomorrow it may be his graf roots. This year it is the Deadstock Hip Hop NYC Boom Bap he has helped revive. INTERVIEW HERE. REVIEW HERE.
9. Woodenchainz – 1982
On his “Final Act” of 1982, Woodenchainz tells us the tallest building in his town is the hospital. An MC of obsessively precise enunciation with resultant magnitude and a producer of extra ordinary proper drums souled to the highest measure. It is a needed story he shares out of a cipher that has lost its simple ethic of hard work and living wage. So when 1982 Woodenchainz shares his life he chooses family over Art so his art we receive is family to us. We need to welcome this story so well told of his immediate reality and its macro Reaganite trickle hell influence on all of us. INTERVIEW PROFILE HERE. REVIEW HERE.
8. Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons To Die
Ghostface Killah has been a part of classic albums his entire career. His skill set is as diverse and high ranking as anyone ever. All individual Ghost albums will have a place in peoples’, including this writer G, arguments for his GOAT status. Over the emerging band Adrian Younge amazingly commands through themed storyworks, Ghostface Killah adds a notch of diversity that goes in the accomplishments archive as Ghostdeini: Wizard of Poetry does. High pitch fluctuations, soulful lyric hurting, battle flair, spiritual insight and compassion and next level dexterity are still unmatched as Tony Starks is resurrected here. Twelve Reasons also led to the best live show this year–no glitz but classic story grits and grime. REVIEW HERE
7. Lord Jessiah – G.O.D. Grounds Of Detroit
The Black folk of Detroit are not to be martyrs in the cause of Soul. And yet they are. They are the epitome of the sacrificed today as our people have always been. As their city is bankrupt and the greatest cultural add on in the last 50 years, Hip Hop, has Detroit’s eminem as their rap god, the tragedy is the ultimate concession of misappropriation. Aka some bullshit but the grounds of Detroit deserve the honor for elevating Hip Hop the last ten years. Filled with diverse and strong impacting Black culture epitomized by Sun Tzu Cadre, Lord Jessiah’s leads with innovative beat making and distinct MCing that is the year’s immediate martial score. Lord Jessiah is a producer that actually has new Boom Bap fueled by basslines that crunch and drums that boom in a unique and refreshing way. INTERVIEW HERE. REVIEW HERE
6. Shake C – America, Inc.
Shake C is a wizard of techniques filled with a heart of compassionate fires, intimate stories and revolutionizing commentary. Shake C as MC is a classic non-fiction novel who has published America, Inc. His verses end when the blood is dry and constantly has one of the greatest producers of this decade offering him pages of sound. America Inc is the most potent commentary of today’s hypocrisy and told through an everyman perspective with superhuman rhyme abilities and marvel beats soul’d to melodic peaks. This is an album that makes it thematic commentaries known yet has more than enough time to allow Shake to experiment wildly with double time techniques, verse structures and various topics and tales. INTERVIEW HERE. REVIEW HERE
THE ESSENTIAL MC: SPIT GEMZ
The Fvck the Radio & End The TV LPs are contributions that will be historically known as the official genesis of Broken Home Crew’s legacy. A legacy that also came with Aye Wun’s dynamic quick EP, The First Letter, Eff Yoo’s charismatic Bodega Businessman, Tek Bully’s rugged Bully Shyt. Spit Gemz has no real competition on the mic except himself. With these works filled with classic lyrical showcases of technique and content as “El Estudiante,” “Tell-Tale Heart,” “Graffiti Everywhere,” and “Corner Stores In Heaven” Gemz is an MC that is listened to for inspiration, introspection and pure entertainment. Gemz still is soon to deliver that perfectly arranged thematic LP. The spread of high quantities of music over collections as FTR and ETT absolutely make the listing of greatest albums a more daunting and incomplete exercise. Together, these albums make Spit Gemz the essential MC this year. FTR REVIEW HERE. ETT REVIEW HERE
As track shells, the instrumentals on Awakening are all strong but none classic (as lone instrumentals). Once Napoleon verses his instrument upon them, their tempo is realized timely, the snares punctuate vowels, the high hats pace vocal cadence right and the bass drums groove together with his complex yet calmly delivered flow. Napoleon’s debut presents an MC complete persona and intended legacy written immediately. It is one of a learning man steeped in a dominance of sight, able to capture observances of immediate actions and wider epochs. When versed through his natural gift of tempered flow, his complexity, word coupling is effortless, making melodies of assonance and consonance are all uncanny relaying understanding beneath the surface brilliantly. Napoleon Da Legend is a rare MC that honors the details of his name in the mere launch of his depth with Awakening. INTERVIEW HERE. REVIEW HERE. PREMIERE VERSE HERE
One of the greatest lyricists of all time, Killah Priest must have a career with one double album. Only Killah Priest has the visual wording and epic emphasis to match the beauty of say, the operatic lore of “Visionz” This LP is the epitome of the worth of a unique MC great. About one to two handful of beats altered from good to stronger would make this a classic. However on this list everything this writer has heard above it are works with the most minor of flaws, something a double LP by one MC over 2 hours of song can ever be expected to achieve. What PWOWR is-just one of the longest deep vocal literature epics from one of the greatest lyricists of all time. It is a classic of novelty proportion in any real collection of depth. REVIEW HERE
London is skewed to me. A motherland of this American putridness and flourishing waters of supreme lyricists nourished by Herc. Is it skewed or the motherfuckin truth?! Devilishment reigns and it doesn’t born but allows great Original men to rhyme aggressively against it. Cyrus Malachi has been the most premiere I’ve heard as if the struggles are so universal he merely is another immigrant warrior in my playlist as Razah of Medina or KRS of Pelan. With Black Athena Cyrus has versed a classic lyrictext that continues his topical diversity and social/spiritual insight with an even greater wordplay and vocal dexterity. This is an album you can play in 2050 with honor and pride for the depth and talent that still existed in this day. For now, it is a classic in every expectation I expect when a record’s impact and notoriety are irrelevant because Black Athena is filled with the statistics that mortals cannot match and sadly may not ever even appreciate. The Expressions EP serves as additional nutrients to the catalog with experiments for the great, cleverness and daring. REVIEW HERE
Phillie is the brother you may be honored to know. The one that has a Soul that dominates in all hells as it bridges the spirits of ol’ generations past. His logic is pure even when his actions are not because his intent is filled with love. Phillie is the lyrical reality of the Soul that Bronze Nazareth samples. And when Bronze finds the understanding, the tracks get the culture of a peoples’ brother who merges inside the songs. Phillie is that tiger/Black man that Katt Williams speaks of and this Detroit Zoo we are welcomed to is filled by street Soul’s greatest MC. I have had the privilege to live with this album for over a year and know it is a treasure as Pac’s catalog is stationed near for gutter emergency. Phillie never says a line but performs each one enriching it with his punctuations, pitch changes, pauses of pacing and fluctuations of smoothed intensity and emotive ruggedness. Bronze produces impeccably, furthering the theme, livening his drums in unison with the bars and giving soul vocals that duet Phillie. Your life? I don’t know. Phillie reminded me my story has honor and these songs are a score that is timeless in my collection with names of greats and GOATs in the running to be played–no. Performed soulfully. INTERVIEW HERE. INTER-REVIEW HERE
1. KA – The Night’s Gambit
The classics that cannot survive the era that signified the genre’s best. In Hip Hop? No overt drum breaks and no immediate work to adrenaline rush the crowd to the floor or provoke the vicious head bop strut. It innovates without any care for convention or the desperation of a gimmick. It surpasses last year’s classic Grief Pedigree in unified theme unfolding as a score, lyrical dexterity in word choices, double entendres and unique detail, song structure experimentation, crate sampling depth and precision quotes.
KA has perfected a grit that is in the school of Rakim via GZA through its proponents as Prodigy and been resurrected with the training and camaraderie of Roc Marciano. Today, KA’s work is recognized as highlighting grit in a way others don’t allowing him to be sandwiched among pseudo-innovators/absolute pop trenders (i.e. Yeezus) giving the latter shit the former’s deserved glory and earned place among the greats. By veering away from mere power drum sampling and break making, KA has rejuvenated the nature of crate digging, accelerating/re-igniting the beauty of the find that impeccably imbues the insight. As a lyricbook, The Night’s Gambit is extremely short, concentrated and highlights the MC as a writer, one who cultures the idea and chisels the verse around it. Musically, the arrangements are exceptional and embrace KA’s temperaments and as he intended, highlight his punchlines and parlay the dread of pain whilst funneling the sun of hope his verses often dawn into.
With The Night’s Gambit, KA is in the iron works of offering innovation with a respect for preservation, a preservation of this music’s idealistic intentions of reflecting our past and offering our hopeful visions. INTERVIEW HERE. REVIEW HERE “OUR FATHER” SINGLE REVIEW HERE
Medina aka Brooklyn is the largest home of legendary MCs and greats are born daily. My home continues daily but they do not all receive their just due. The worst of 2013 was the lack of support for Sav Killz Spitkicker fund. The sickening truth is that it will be dismissed as Sav Killz not having the talent or hustle. As an analyzer of his entire catalog and building with the God in the middle of his hustles in this badly clothed city, Sav Killz is a sufferah of the times. An MC that is pure hardcore violent empowerment on the mic and can be developed to make LPs of experiences and ideas unique to the Art and untold to the masses. This Hip Hop music is filled with artists and its concepts of hustle favor the wack who brilliantly network and the fake who wine and dine our fantasies. It doesn’t include reverence for Hip Hop’s rare everyman hardbody toughness that raised boys to men, niggas to God, Gods to Nations of them with supreme families, man, woman and child. Yes, the power of ideals in a culture designate its level of counter to the matrix. So start here: Sav Killz is an MC. Listen. Peace God.