2013 has been an exceptional year for rap album releases.  Some were hot, while others were far from it – cold as Antarctica. Still overall, there were plenty of releases to be proud of, no questions asked. Below, you’ll find my ‘MIA’ (or called it in) list as well as my top 20 rap albums of 2013. This excludes mixtapes and previously released material FYI.

1) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Eminem set out to prove he’s still the illest MC, epitomized by his vicious performance on the epic “Rap God”.  Ultimately, Eminem accomplishes his task of affirming his ‘god status’, soundly following up his pivotal 2000 album.  There is no “Stan” or “The Real Slim Shady” this go-round, but there are plenty of triumphant moments.

Recommended Spins:

“So Much Better”; “Survival”; “Berzerk”; “Rap God”;  “The Monster”; “Love Game”; “Headlights”

2) Kanye West - Yeezus
Def Jam

Lately, Yeezus has made its way back into my playlist rotation, which I may have denied that happening back in June.  While I was always on board with Yeezus, I also acknowledged its ‘issues’.  Even so, there is a wealth of worthwhile listens, led by “Black Skinhead”, “Blood on the Leaves” and “Bound 2”.  Is there an argument for the number one spot? Definitely!

Recommended Spins:

“Black Skinhead”; “I Am A God”; “New Slaves”; “Blood on the Leaves”; “Bound 2”

3) Pusha T - My Name Is My Name
Def Jam

Pusha T’s debut album was one the most underrated efforts commercially.  Don’t let its commercial fortunes dissuade you though – this is a rock solid album.  If you want frank, real talk, Pusha Tis your man and this is your ‘jam’.  Like Eminem, he gets a worthwhile assist from Kendrick Lamar.

Recommended Spins:

“Numbers On The Boards”; “Sweet Serenade”; “Hold On”; “Who I Am”; “Nosetalgia”; “S.N.I.T.C.H.”

4) Drake - Nothing Was The Same

Three albums and EP in, ain’t nothing changed with Drake; he’s still one of the hottest, most creative MCs in the game.  The quality of Nothing Was The Same remains consistent, even if it fails to supersede previous juggernauts Thank Me Later or Take Care.  

Recommended Spins:

“Tuscan Leather”; “Started From The Bottom”; “Wu-Tang Forever”; “From Time”; “Hold On, We’re Going Home”; “305 To My City”

5) J. Cole - Born Sinner

Perhaps J. Cole should be higher than number five – it was a consistent, enjoyable album by all means.  J. Cole played up the concept of being a ‘sinner’ and details his shortcomings throughout the effort.  Furthermore, the material and the production is more than satisfying.  Oh and yes, Kendrick Lamar also stops by on Born Sinner.

Recommended Spins:

“Land of the Snakes”; “Power Trip”; “Trouble”; “Rich Niggaz”; “Forbidden Fruit”; “Let Nas Down”; “New York Times”