1. Ka – The Night’s Gambit
I’m saying that this album is the best hip hop album of the year primarily due the idea that there’s nothing in hip hop this year, that sounds close to this. Just like with Ka’s sophomore LP “Grief Pedigree”, Ka has this ability to bring the listener into a whole new world separate from what we’re used to hearing from hip hop nowadays. He’s also really great at painting pictures of pain and struggle in the hood. And you really hear his drive to overcome this struggle in songs like “30 Pieces Of Silver” and “I’m Ready”. Plus, the production is so cinematic, you feel like you’re watching and 80’s crime flick with Al Pacino starring. Hands down the best hip hop album this year for me.
2. Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons To Die + Apollo Brown Tape
I’m putting this album at number 2 specifically because of all the amazing things it has going for it in terms of the accessories. Not to mention, it’s the most cohesive I’ve heard Ghostface sound on an album in years. I think what really works is the fact that they were able to put together a really good concept album. Adrian Younge really brought out the best in Ghost with his production. Plus as I said with the accessories, the album was released with a deluxe version that had the album’s instrumentals, a special themed comic book, and an exclusive cassette tape of the awesomely produced Apollo Brown version "The Brown Tape" of the album (Now available on CD and Digitally). Everything about this project was so dope!
3. Roc Marciano – Marci Beaucoup
Now this is a project that I’ve definitely been anticipating but I was initially just hyped over hearing Roc Marciano's production , because I thought he wasn’t going to be rapping on it, however when I found out he was going to rap along with the other feature emcees, I got even more excited. This project has some of the sharpest lyrics and beats from Roc Marci, it’s just really hard to overlook. From the time the album starts, the 1st song is just razor sharp and just leads into another razor sharp track, just showing the amazing sequencing that this album boasts. It really sounds like Roc took his time to carefully craft this project. This album more reminds me of Marcberg for its sharp approach in sound. The music is strong and keeps you intrigued from track to track without losing much attention. It’s just a really raw project, and Roc adds to that by bringing some of his swiftest vocal delivery on each track. All of the feature emcee’s on that project also fit in well with Roc’s style of production, so it becomes a win win on all fronts. Dopeness!
4. Denmark Vessey & Scud One – Cult Classic
The true strength of this album is in the concept / subject matter and how well it was executed from the perspective of a very unique and intelligent emcee. Denmark and Scud One deliver one of the most creative albums of the year. I also was really intrigued by the album’s skits, they were able to find some really impactful soundbites of Preachers that fit in well with the story. From the beginning of the album, the music sounded like something unique I knew I would be in for listening to. "Cult Classic" definitely delivered.
5. Prodigy & Alchemist – Albert Einstein
All I know is that Prodigy sounded really dope on this project, This was another edition to Alchemist's stellar producer contribution in 2013. The music definitely kept my interest and Prodigy sounded like the OG from the early Infamous days.
6. Willie The Kid x The Alchemist – The Masterpiece Theatre EP
Although this project is not technically an Album, I just felt like it needed to be on this list on the strength of its cohesive sound. I really enjoyed Willie’s intricate rhyme approach and he’s certainly become one of my favorite emcee’s in hip hop today. Alchemist, delivers as usual with the beats and this just adds more emphasis on why I recognize his as Producer Of The Year. I can’t begin to say much about how I enjoy his production. One of the great producers of our time, the same goes for Willie as a lyricist.
7. YC The Cynic – GNK
This album kind of crept up on me. I’m really glad that YC took the time to put together an official album with producer Frank Drake. His content and subject matter is strong and definitely thought provoking. This is not an album you just listen to in one shot. It truly takes some more listens and attention to the lyrics to get the real gist of this project.
8. Oddisee – The Beauty In All / Tangible Dream
One of the reasons why this album made my top 10 list is more due to the Tangible Dream bonus project than “The Beauty In All” instrumental LP. Now don’t get me wrong, the instrumentals are truly high quality and the 1st track on The Beauty In All really sets the tone on really quality level for the rest of the album. But “Tangible Dream” although announced as a bonus mixtape, really sounds like an album to me. I really think Oddisee is a superior emcee in compliment of his amazing production work. He may not have the most intricate rhyme patterns but he does have a clever way of saying things that really provoke thought in the everyday working class persons mind. You can clearly hear the maturity in his production as well as his rhymes with his recent releases. This one just enhances that development.
9. Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise
I definitely enjoyed where Black decided to take this project. I’m really big on concept albums and seeing Milk elevate to this type of thinking musically was really refreshing. His production has continued to evolve into a lane of his own with each release and his approach as a writer has matured as well. You can definitely hear this on "No Poison No Paradise", my favorite tracks are Deion’s House, Sunday’s Best, Monday’s Worst, and Money Bags, but there are a lot more musical treats on this project.
10. Yancey Boys – Sunset Blvd
Overall, I felt this was a really great year for Michigan Artists, and Detroit of course was one of those major cities that produced a lot of great music. This Yancey Boys album, featuring rappers’ Frank Nitt and Illa J was produced entirely by the legendary J. Dilla, and is one of the best projects I’ve heard involving Dilla since his passing, post “The Shining”. Frank Nitt and Illa J deliver in a groovy way with their raps and bring in a really dope host of guest artists to go along with Dilla’s soulful production. The album kind of reminds me of the Slum Village Fantastc Vol days, just a really fun flowing cool out vibe. A really nice listen from beginning to end.