#Bestof2013 – Top 10 Retail Albums [List]

Posted on December 31, 2013 by



The grand finale of 2013, the best retail projects to come out this year. People are becoming less interested in full retail projects.  Others even think that many artists’ mixtapes outperform the albums.  It is still the album that boosts the artist to the next level though.  It is a classic debut that sets an artist apart from the fellow mixtape rappers he came up with.  In 2013, we got albums from almost every major player in the game (except Weezy & Rick Ross) in addition to a wave of debuts.  Obviously, Kanye West’s Yeezus Drake’s Nothing Was the Same were great albums that should hold up well over time.  Kanye’s is not easy listening but I enjoyed it when it came out and I like it more today.  Jarren Benton dropped My Grandma’s Basement on Funk Volume and it is one of the best hardcore/horror albums I’ve heard in a long time.  Talib Kweli’s 2nd album of the year Gravitas is up there and California’s Skeme dropped a very impressive Ingleworld this December.  I highly suggesting picking up any of the albums mentioned here and want to hear your recommendations too!  Up next is the Top 10.


10. Statik Selektah – Extended Play

Includes one of the best verses of the year from Black Thought and amazing contributions from Action Bronson, Raekwon, Joey Bada$$ and more.  Statik Called in an army for rappity rap rapping over his characteristically dope boom bap.


9. Nacho Picasso – High and Mighty

Nacho’s album with Avatar is great too but High and Mighty allows him to step up and shine on his own.  With high profile production from Seattle greats Jake One & Vitamin D, DJ Dahi, frequent collaborator Raised Byy Wolves and “Duck Tales” produced by California’s League of Starz that needs HBK & Iamsu! on a remix, H&M is full of big records.  Nacho really gets to flex his lyrical skill and showoff his ability to create complete songs.  I think he will have a big 2014.


8. A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord

One of the most surprising projects of the year.  At a succinct 13 tracks, most of the fat has been trimmed already, leaving stand out singles “Work” & “Shabba” accompanied by some killer b-sides.  Ferg keeps his intensity high and his flows energetic.  His success means that A$AP is not a one trick pony and should be around for the foreseeable future.


7. Prodigy & Alchemist – Albert Einstein

Prodigy hasn’t sounded this good in years.  He really found a groove working with Alchemist and they were able to bang out this dark, grimy Albert Einstein.  Luckily, Alchemist got the connection to Roc Marci & Bronson because they lend some great guest verses AND there is a Mobb Deep reunion on “RIP” featuring Raekwon!


6. Freddie Gibbs – ESGN

The other day my homie was saying that there isn’t any gangster rap anymore, especially not at mainstream level, and my only response was to introduce him to Gangsta Gibbs.  Nobody is, or has been, doing that gangsta isht like Freddie Gibbs does and ESGN is brilliant.  Some guys in Gibb’s crew can spit, some not so much, but even a whack verse here or there can’t take away from the hardest release of the year.  After leaving CTE on seemingly amicable terms, things have taken a turn for the worse and Gibbs is going to have a lot to air out about Jeezy and the industry.


5. Childish Gambino – because the internet

This guy is so good at everything else he does that it shouldn’t be surprising that he makes music at this high of a level.  Having achieved so much success in writing and acting, of course he would translate his writing skills to a new art form.  Or maybe it would sound like most other actors turned musicians…  Whether you knew Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, would blow up like he did or not, you gotta give him credit as his album outsold most major releases AND certainly sounds better.  He is clearly having difficulty adjusting to his new roles and fame, which is understandable, but his ability to reflect on his life through his music is top notch.  He made music that connects to his fans and then delivered it in the most intimate settings – a listening party at a park in NYC, private concerts in houses around the US – giving the album that much more powerful of a message.  These guys on Gambino’s team are grinding so hard and it is paying off.


4. Boldy James & Alchemist – My 1st Chemistry Set

Alchemist has been busy this year making full projects with Willie the Kid, Prodigy, solo projects and loose tracks but my favorite is the album he put out with Boldy James.  A cohesive project with gritty street stories and some talented up and comers: Vince Staples, Bronson & Earl.


3. Pusha T – My Name is My Name

Can’t believe it is finally here, in 2013, Pusha T’s debut solo album!  He really went in and for the most part did away with the standard complaints about a lack of hooks/complete songs.  “King Push” is one of the hardest tracks of 2013 and sets the bar for the album off the bat.  He has radio friendly tracks that should appease hip hop heads too in “Sweet Serenade” “SNITCH” & “Let Me Love You”.  And he goes toe to toe with hip hop’s new king, Kendrick Lamar on “Nostalgia” while “Suicide” is a Malice verse or two away from being a Clipse classic.  The excess of features is somewhat expected from someone used to splitting the load with a partner but it does not diminish Push’s solo debut.  Kanye’s influence is all over the album and that’s a good thing.  Pusha T would probably be mad that this is #3 and not #1 but I am very happy with My Name is My Name.


2. A$AP Rocky – Live.Long.A$AP

It came out in January, so it may not be fair, but Live Long A$AP was my most listened to album in 2013.  There is something about A$AP Rocky because he just understands aesthetic.  He just makes music that sounds good and works on many levels.  His videos generally add to the overall vision as well.  Despite leaking a month early, Live.Long.A$AP. still sold quite well last January.  He has gone through a number of singles and still has some left to use.   As far as major label debuts, I think Rocky was able to strike a nice balance between what he needed to do for them and what he wanted to do for his fans and himself.  There are a lot of real bangers on here, couldn’t even pick a favorite.


1. Danny Brown – Old

I always knew that Danny Brown could rap but there was something about him, his voice or something else, that kept me from really getting into his music.  More than a guest feature would be too much so an album would be out of the question but whatever kept me from liking him before is gone now.  Old is a great debut and the best album of 2013.  Brown was able to tone down his voice without losing his charisma while he tells stories of growing up, meeting crack heads, going on tour and running to the store for groceries.  His interest in the European hip-hop and electronic scenes shines through very bright and helps give Old a refreshingly different sound.  If you had asked me, last January, what I thought the best album would end up being, I wouldn’t have said Danny Brown but that is exactly what I’m saying on December 31st.