Amalgamation Mag’s Ten Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2013

For fans of Hip-Hop, these are Amalgamation’s Ten Best Projects of 2013 in alpha order – By Ural Garrett

Chance_the_rapper_acid_rapChance the Rapper – Acid Rap

If Chance the Rapper represents Hip-Hop’s future, the culture should then be in safe hands. Acid Rap features the most consistent beat choices one will hear all year. Chance’s lyricism rises to a level not heard in Chicago’s scene since the early days of Lupe Fiasco, thanks mainly to his morbid sense of humor that can transform to serious discernment at a moment’s notice.  Album highlights: “Pusha Man” featuring Lili K & Nate Fox and “Cocoa Butter Kisses” featuring Vic Mensa & Twista



DrakeDrake – Nothing Was the Same  

If Take Care was Drake solidifying himself as the official face of contemporary Hip-Hop then Nothing Was the Same is the Toronto native’s victory lap. The OVO Sound Records head gets even more introspective and feels quite comfortable whether he’s finding a newfound aggression on “Worst Behavior” or getting London’s own Sampha to collab with him on “Too Much.” Nothing Was the Same is Drake’s homecoming into Pop’s stratosphere. Album highlights: “Too Much” featuring Sampha and “Started from the Bottom”



Jay-ZJay-Z – Magna Carta… Holy Grail

For better or worse, Hov’s changing of RIAA rules regarding album sale calculations made Magna Carta…Holy Grail an event in itself. Jay’s twelfth full-length album again proves why he’s Hip-Hop’s most iconic figure. Magna Carta…Holy Grail may not be his best project to date but it’s solid enough to rise above a lot of releases this year.  Album highlights: “Tom Ford” and “F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” featuring Rick Ross



JColeJ Cole – Born Sinner 

Born Sinner, Cole’s second major label project, displays a sense of lyrical personality and manages to showcase the album’s colorful production. If there was any question of why Jay-Z found interest in this North Carolina native, one listen to “Power Trip” (featuring Miguel) should answer any cynics.  Album highlights: “Forbidden Fruit” featuring Kendrick Lamar and “Villuminati”



YeesuzKanye West – Yeezus 

Thematically and sonically bold as the title suggests, Yeezus is simply another fascinating masterpiece from Kanye West. On his most lyrically pessimistic project yet, the G.O.O.D. Music Records general treads uncomfortable ground to great effect. It also helps that Yeezus features the most inventive production one may hear all year (or for years to come) thanks to the forward thinking merger of industrial Rock, Dance Hall and Electronica, among other genres. Album highlights: “I Am God” and “New Slaves”


MatangiM.I.A. – Matangi 

Ms. Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam’s biggest challenge as an artist was finding that delicate balance between her indie “world town” sound and reluctant Pop star status post “Paper Planes.” While 2010’s Maya was an incredibly challenging project that polarized critics, Matangi is easier to digest yet maintains that clever off the wall feel of its predecessor. Who else could lend songwriting credits to the controversial WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange one moment then make Lady of Rage references in another?  Album highlights: “Warriors” and “Double Bubble Trouble”


nipsey-crenshawNipsey Hussle – Crenshaw 

It’s fairly obvious that Nipsey Hussle set a new independent standard through Crenshaw. The West Coast MC’s unique approach of selling a mixtape/physical CDs limited edition package even managed to catch the attention of Jay-Z who purchased 100 copies himself. Business model aside, Crenshaw stands proudly on its own merits thanks to dope beat selection and bars delivered in only a way Nipsey can.  Album highlights: “Checc Me Out” featuring Dom Kennedy & Cobby Supreme and  “4 in the Mornin”


PushaT_My NamePusha T – My Name is My Name 

Forgetting When the Casket Drops, Pusha T solely gives exactly what many wanted; a suitable sequel (direct or spiritual) to the Clipse’s classic Hell Hath No Fury. That menacing and direct delivery is backed by some of the most poignant street gospel available this year. Album highlights: “Sweet Serenade” featuring Chris Brown and “King Push”



Rapsody_She_Got_Game-front-largeRapsody – She Got Game 

Most of the time, the term “female MC” means only being “good enough” compared to the male-dominated field. One woman who’s been able to break that mold as a traditional spitter is North Carolina’s own Rapsody. Delivering one of last year’s best albums (Idea of Beautiful), She Got Game has the 9th Wonder protégé spitting enough bars to dazzle and amaze at every corner. While most women in Hip-Hop focus wholly on sex appeal, Rapsody effectively keeps things classy and intelligent.  Album highlights: “Jedi Code” featuring Jay Electronica & Phonte and “Feel Like (Love)” featuring Common


terrace-martin-3-chord-foldTerrace Martin – 3ChordFold

Anyone who wants to question Hip-Hop’s musicality in a traditional sense can be escorted to Terrace Martin’s phenomenal 3ChordFold. While many artists have used Jazz as an inspiration, Martin’s musical training in the genre gives him an advantage to create some of the smoothest music one will hear all year. 3ChordFold proves exactly why the Los Angeles native has been a “go to” producer for everyone ranging from Snoop Dogg to Kendrick Lamar.  Album highlights: “Get Away” and “You’re The One” featuring Ty Dolla $ign