It’s hard to believe that 2013 is already ten years behind us, but time moves swiftly, especially when it comes to music and culture. Hip-hop is a big part of the music industry, where business and output can change very rapidly, especially when different genres are going in and out of fashion.
Regardless, it’s always great to take a look back and see what was changing the game a decade ago. Judging by the records mentioned below, a lot of what we see today coming out of the speakers can find their roots in these albums.
Although there were plenty of incredible albums to come out in 2013, there were a few that stood out as some of the very best. While a few were highly memorable as albums on their own, some played their part in kicking off the careers of some of the most prolific artists still around today— Migos. Need I say more?
Everyone is likely to have their own school of thought on the best albums to emerge from any given year, but there are a few that remain consistent and have stood the test of time. Here are some of the best hip-hop albums that we were blessed with in 2013.
The five best hip-hop albums released in 2013:
5. Rebel With A Cause – Ghetts
Ghetts is one of the best artists in the UK, without a doubt. The East London rapper has had the most natural and authentic career arc of all the grime generation rappers. Ghetts, unlike other legends from his era, such as Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and Skepta, consciously chose to reject making pop music even though it may have provided him with a much faster route to fame and more money.
Ghetts has always been a very conscious artist and has himself stated that he has always been a man of substance and wants his music to reflect that. His career arc is reflected in the different stage names he has acquired over the years. He began as a young angry MC Ghetto, the shortened it to Ghetts as a young man and blossomed into J Clarke when he was a man. Rebel With A Cause most definitely marks the moment the artist blossomed and became a true UK legend.
4. Because the Internet – Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino has always been an inexplicably talented artist. Whether you know him from his singing, rapping or acting, the rapper (real name Donald Glover) is a multi-faceted talent who has remained relatively low-key in the world of hip-hop. His music is not brash or braggadocious and does not play into any stereotypes.
Because The Internet is most definitely a concept album and musically explores how different African-American genres intertwine, from hip-hop and soul to rock and more, the project is a healthy fusion. Featuring artists such as Azealia Banks and Jhené Aiko, the LP features a lot of smooth vocals. Most definitely a highlight of 2013.
3. Wolf – Tyler The Creator
Odd Future’s Tyler The Creator is one of the most creative minds in contemporary hip-hop and draws on a vast, eclectic array of influences to bring us the amazing music he does. From the English rock band Czar to Japan’s Tatsuro Yamashita, his knowledge knows no bounds. With his beginnings in the LA rap crew Odd Future (often stylized OFWGKTA), Tyler The Creator was just one of the many ingenious musicians that Odd Future birthed.
Wolf was only the rapper’s second studio album, yet it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 89,000 copies in its first week. Wolf has a thorough range of features with 1990s artists, such as Erykah Badu and Lætitia Sadier, making appearances on the album. With unique beats and fresh and often humorous delivery, the rapper (real name Tyler Okonma) really delivered with this 2013 album.
2. Long. Live. A$AP – A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky is a somewhat controversial figure, to say the least. From his 2019 arrest in Stockholm for allegedly punching a fan in the face to his recent charges of assault with a firearm, it is fair to say that the artist has a fiery temperament.
Nevertheless, the Harlem native has made some great music over the years and Long. Live. A$AP is most definitely one of his most memorable projects to date. The record was Rocky’s sophomore album, and with it we got to see him shine properly as a solo artist.
Rocky’s debut album, Live Love A$AP was still sonically hinged to the music he made as part of A$AP Mob. The 2011 project had a lot of Aarab Muzik production on it, whereas Long. Live. A$AP saw the Harlem rapper begin to step out of his comfort zone to collaborate with new and exciting artists. With guest verses from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and SantiGold this 2013 album was exceptional.
1. Acid Rap – Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper rose to fame at a similar time to the likes of Tyler The Creator, A$AP Rocky and Yung Lean during the early 2010s. Coming out of Chicago, Chance The Rapper is often cited as the best Rapper of recent times to come out of the city.
Chance the Rapper (real name Chancellor Bennett) came up like most rappers through mixtapes. Bennett had an organic come-up in his hometown and was quick to appear on Chicago’s hip-hop radar. In 2011, he released his debut mixtape entitled 10 Day. The project made a lot of noise locally, as Bennett had tirelessly networked in and around Chicago in order to reach producers and fellow underground rappers prior to its release.
Following its local success, with over half a million downloads on DatPiff, he was named on Complex magazine’s ’10 New Chicago Rappers to Watch Out For’ list. Following this exposure and the success of his first mixtape, he was asked by Childish Gambino not only appeared on his sixth mixtape but also toured with him in 2012. The following year, Bennett released Acid Rap.
Acid Rap was lauded as one of the best and most creative hip-hop projects not only of its year but eventually of its decade. The album has been certified as diamond and had over one million downloads in its first month on iTunes. Acid Rap was partially produced under the influence of LSD, according to Bennett. Speaking with MTV News about hallucinogenic and the part they played in the creation project, Bennett disclosed, “It wasn’t the biggest component at all. It was something that I was really interested in for a long time during the making of the tape, but it’s not necessarily a huge factor at all. It was more so just a booster, a bit of fuel. It’s an allegory to acid, more so than just a tape about acid.” A must-hear 2013 album.