Wow. What a year 2013 was. And look how fast it went too. So much shit went down... lots of crazy, ugly, stupid stuff. But in the midst of it all, it was quite an AMAZING time for music. Albums were unexpectedly solid and repeat worthy. Music videos blew us away. And all those epic songs you just couldn't get out of your head and since they were so good, you weren't really trying to. I think I will always appreciate 2013 for all the great music it gave us. We may not all see how good it was right now but trust, years from now when we look back, you'll be like "Damn, 2013 was a pretty good year for music too." Don't let Miley Cyrus' twerking, pancake ass ruin a whole year for you.
I was quite the busy body last year, so most of my time was spent offline. I know you could tell with my lack of writing and posts-sorry! But I managed to still catch wind of some great music and played it just as much as the rest of you. For this annual Top Releases post, I decided to split it up in 4 different categories: Albums (from major recording artists), Mixtapes/EPs/Independent Albums, Songs, and Videos. Why? Cause it's organized, that's why. And as always, these selections are based on my own preferences. Not statistics, cosigns, or anything else that had nothing to do with whether or not I actually ended up liking it. These are my favorite releases that I felt were just so groundbreaking, I would be an idiot to not give it props. And the list is in no particular order. Okay, this is a long ass intro. Onto the list.
Click below to see my selections!
+ Beyonce/(Self Titled)
Let's just get this one out of the way. Beyonce ended the year, and probably some careers, in the most epic way possible. On December 13th at midnight, she dropped her latest solo album, which is self titled. And when I say "drop", she like lowkey dropped off her album to iTunes and was probably like, "Midnight, muthafuckas.", then walked away. And it's not like she just dropped a full album of music only. No, this is a visual album. Meaning, a video for every song and some bonuses. *Screams uncontrollably*
Like you guys, whether you're a Bey stan or can't stand her, you have to admit that this was probably one of the most important moments in 2013 and will be one of the most important moments in the history of music. I could do a ten page essay on this album and its release but I won't in this post. And the music is really amazing. It's very personal and Bey actually had a lot to do with the writing of the songs which is something I've been wanting from her for a long time. Lowkey, this album motivated me not only as an entertainment industry professional, a young black woman, but just as a fucking human being. Damn... she did that.
+The Weeknd/Kiss Land
After some of Abel's prior projects, which I thought were just incredibly weak, I was on the verge of giving up on The Weeknd, completely. When Kiss Land first dropped, I didn't even rush to check it out. I was not excited for it at all. And then the opportunity to listen to it presented itself and I pressed play. I LOVE this album!!! Like I had to go through the bullshit of Thursday and Echos of Silence to finally get some good music from The Weeknd?! Apparently so. And I guess it was worth it. Abel really pushed the boundaries of his own artistry and it seems that he was determined to show us that he wasn't just some one-noted, drugged out artist. Best examples of that are songs such as Belong To the World and Wanderlust. Stylistically, those songs showed that The Weeknd has so much more to offer and I think that is what really made this album a great one for me. Plus vocally, Abel sounds amazing. I definitely played this album all the damn time after I listened to it the first time.
+Drake/Nothing Was The Same
Similar to his fellow Canadian, The Weeknd, Drake made us go through two alright albums until we got this epic album. Whenever someone asked me what I thought of this album I said, "This was the album we were suppose to get right after So Far Gone." Yes, Drake has had great success since that mixtape but I felt like there was a decline in his artistry afterwards. Things are looking up now after NWTS. This album is cohesive, touching, and just hard as fuck. Like Drake and his team went in and I feel like the OG Drake fan in me has been reborn. Some of my favorite Drake songs ever are on this album, such as Worst Behavior and Furthest Thing. And All Me, how could I forget that one. I hope Drake continues to stay true to himself and what he's about because when he does that, he creates some amazing shit.
"M.I.A coming back with power, power!" This album was sooo necessary! M.I.A is the type to spit some real life shit and wisdom to you as she has you breaking a sweat from all the dancing you're doing to her music. Matangi was strong, fun, in-your-face, and pure dopeness. I don't think it got the proper response it deserved because a lot of what was being said in this album went over people's heads. I highly encourage everyone to listen to this album if you haven't already. And if you're still having trouble understanding the depth of this album and why it's so necessary, look up the lyrics and read it like a book. Like Beyonce's album, this album motivated me and woke me up. Get into it people!!!
This was a great discovery for me last year. While trying to figure out with Aaron Miller (aka Boss Of Nova) was up to I found out he was in a trio with two fellow Nashville producers, Aaron C. Harmon and Jordan Reyes called BASECAMP. At that time they had their single, Emmanuel, out and it was getting rave reviews. When the four song EP dropped, it was no surprise to me at how amazing it was. Like I stated in my original review of the EP, "The music is a concoction of electronic, Hip Hop, and pop soulfully sewn with amazing lyrics and melodies." Yeah, it's only four songs and I wish there were more, but this is truly a dope project. It honestly reminded me of how versatile and beautiful music can be, especially in this day and age.
LAYLA's Yellow Circles EP is the perfect boost of sunshine and compassion we all need sometimes in life. This was probably the last EP I discovered last year and I'm glad I did because it truly ended the year for me so well (of course besides all the Beyonce hoopla). "Yellow Circles is sweet, meaningful, powerful, and oh so easy to enjoy.", as I raved in my original review which was written right as I discovered and indulged in the EP. These four songs can evoke so many meaningful and positive emotions in anyone. This EP is definitely for anyone looking for something else to enjoy outside of the average "indie pop" we get hear in the states. Don't even front, artists overseas be good as hell. Hopefully we get more greatness from LAYLA this year.
+The Nostalgic Label & others/NWTS C/S
I really got into chopped and screwed music last year. It wasn't really my cup of tea before than unless it was done a little in a Drake song or something. Which is probably why I really fuck with this chopped and screwed take on Drizzy's latest album by some of Houston's rising stars including, Sir CRKS, Jay Smith, Brandeauxx, and OG Steve. They did every song on the album, did Drake's loose track The Motion, and added their own interludes. It was done so well and the presentation of the project was clean as fuck. This project is really impressive and I love how they all came together to create this. Dopeness with lean poured all over it.
+Marian Mereba/Room for Living Remixes
I did not like Marian Mereba's Room for Living EP. I thought it was one noted and actually quite boring. And I really wanted to like it because I think she is a great talent but it was just not working for me. So when I got word about this remix project she was doing and she getting some of the dopest producers and artists in the city [Atlanta] to remix her song, I didn't really rush to the computer to listen to it. I think I listened to it like a month later, honestly. But I beat myself up for not rushing to listen to it because it's sooo dope. It's like these producers gave the EP a blood transfusion. They brought those songs to life and killed it, if that even makes sense. Loved the featured artists as well, especially my ladies Miloh Smith and India Shawn. What this remix project showed me was that Marian needs to work with these producers a lot more and not just for some remixes. And she really is a dope singer, rapper, and songwriter but even the most talented need a little something to truly showcase that talent. And I have listened to this remix project a lot... like "5 times a week" a lot.
+Lorine Chia/Naked Truths
When she dropped Naked Truths for streaming on SoundCloud, I was on it like white on rice! I saw Lorine Chia perform during A3C and she wasn't the most exciting performer but her music was ill. So when Naked Truths dropped, I was on it, pressed play, and I indulged in it. This project has so many vibes and it's so relatable and thought provoking. She's a dope songwriter. There is honestly a song on there for everyone and she managed to make this album very cohesive, which is something I always appreciate in a project. Till this day, I listen to this album over and over again. I think I'm addicted to it.
I know this project oh too well and what it took to get it to be the great piece of work that it is. Vice Haus really showed how effortlessly Forte is able to convert emotions and experiences into songs that move you and overall, into a really dope conceptual project. Vice Haus was very much about his flaws, failures, and insecurities yet he was able to turn you up, get you motivated, and maybe even shed a tear. Like having it based on vices, it being a seven song EP in reference to the Seven Deadly Sins-I thought that was a step up in Forte's creativity. The Vice Haus Deluxe (the re-release) was amazing too and he gave the concept of the original project new life. I love Vice Haus and I'm excited to see if Forte can bring it with the next project.
This was an artist and producer project where KABY and producer Nathan Zensen collided and created some Holistic Ear Remedies Etc. I live for projects like these because without fail, they work! The artist and producer are able to get into a zone and mix their styles together and get a dope result. Zensen's production is a lot different for most of the production I have heard KABY on but I think KABY fits this production really well. HERE is light hearted and fun, yet you still get that in-your-face, high energy from KABY which I love. I really enjoyed this one and I think both KABY and Nathan killed it. I need for them to work together more.
+Casey Veggies/Life Changes
If you're not a fan of Casey Veggies by now, you're smoking the wrong dope. This is his best project ever, as it should be since it's his latest (besides the one he just dropped with Rockie Fresh which I am yet to listen to). But I love this project because the progression he has made as an emcee is incredible! Like I wish I improved like that in my own life! Casey went the fuck in on this mixtape. He's learning to not just hop on a beat and say some slick shit. He's creating songs which express emotions and grab your attention better than ever. I was tremendously impressed by Casey and it's a shame he is not getting the correct amount of attention and cred' that he deserves-which is a whole fucking lot.
+Gueringer the 13th x T Deezy/Paris, Japan
Paris, Japan is on my list for similar reasons as to why I included Life Changes. Gueringer The 13th's progress was well showcased on this project. And T Deezy's forever dope production got to shine as well. This project is hard as fuck. They didn't just randomly name the project after two international places, but they really were inspired by the cultures and sonically infused it throughout the project. These two prove that there are truly young rappers and producers who deserve the titles of "artists" because they are putting an effort to not just give us a .zip file full of songs but to give a great body of artistic work. I commend Gueringer and T Deezy for Paris, Japan and I hope they continue to challenge their comfort zones and create some dope shit.
+Atu/Pictures On Silence
Last year, I got really into the work of producers, from EPs to mixes and one that I really enjoyed was Atu's Pictures On Silence. He used samples from songs that I knew instantly and have always loved. The songs had all different levels of energy and vibes which created some ill dimension in the production. I just think that Atu's interpretations of the songs he sampled were really dope. I listened to this project repeatedly because I truly appreciate the sonic beauty of it. Good shit, people!
+Chance the Rapper/Acid Rap
I'm not even gonna lie, I hopped on the Chance the Rapper train a little late. Pardon my tardiness. But this is one train I will probably be on for a while, especially with a project like Acid Rap in his cateloge. I honestly thought this project was gonna to be about acid trips and getting high on shrooms for like 15 songs or something, it's totally not. Chance is another great explain of a young artist who is aware of what's going on and is able to artistically interpret it all. I was blown away by his talent and creativity throughout this project. Also by how open he is as an artist and he's one of the artists that you do actually want to hear their story because they tell it so well. I totally understand all the hype about Chance, the kid got the juice.
Other Honorable Mentions:
Money Makin Nique/Guyana Gold
Naj Murph/The Buffet
A lot of great songs dropped last year in all genres. Some showed that artists wanted to give people the unexpected, others showed a very raw side to the artists. And quite frankly, some just turned us the fuck up. The list consists of songs that surprised me, hype me up, moved me, and just couldn't get the fuck out of my head. I thank these artists for really not giving a damn last year and giving us their all.
+Beyonce/Bown Down (I Been On)
+Jay Z/Tom Ford
+The Weeknd/Belong to the World
+Miloh Smith/Come Alive
+Money Makin Nique/Funny Guy
+Jhene Aiko/Comfort Inn Ending
+Skye Townsend/Pineapple Diet
+Kaytranada ft. JMSN/All We Do
+Chris Brown ft. Aaliyah/Don't Think They Know
+Lana Del Rey/Young & Beautiful
+Rich Homie Quan/Type of Way
I am a very visual person and I live for amazing and mind blowing videos, which we got plenty of in 2013. I saw shit that I didn't even know was possible in a music video. I saw simple concepts become so powerful and attention grabbing. I mean, I really have to hand it to the directors these days that work with these artists because their interpretations of artists' music nowadays is extradonaire. And I have to commend the artists as well for being more and more invovled in music videos and short films and gaining the power of visual interpretation as well. I don't know what to expect this year except for visual greatness. Below are some of my favorite music videos and short films from 2013!
+Tyler, the Creator/IFHY
+Lana Del Rey/ Tropico
+Childish Ganbino/Clapping for the Wrong Reasons
+BANKS/This Is What It Feels Like
+James Blake ft. Chance the Rapper/Life Round Here Remix
+Toro y Moi/Rose Quartz
Well in conclusion of this long ass post that took me FOREVER, 2013 may have been shitty for most of us in our lives but at least we had some pretty amazing music to get us through it. I am so excited for 2014 and all that the music world has to offer. I'm praying it will just shit on last year, that would be so so so SO dope. But yeah, one to the next one. ^_^
p.s. I can't even flex, I was too lazy and in a rush to finish this post that I did not add links for you all to check out everything I listed. If you would like to check out some of these projects, songs, and/or videos, please hit up my nigga Google.com. If Google can't find it, no one can, feel me?!