Top 200 Hip-Hop Songs of 2013


Article by Alloyius Mcilwaine

Welcome to Cultures Clothing’s “Best of Hip-Hop in 2013” wrap-up article – featuring the Top 200 Hip-Hop Songs of 2013!  I received a lot of positive feedback when I published my 2012 wrap-up piece, so I decided to do this article annually!  I tried to sift through as much music as humanly possible to present you with the best that this year had to offer.  However, before we get to the list, I have a couple of disclaimers:

I LOVE Hip-Hop, but I’m also very critical of it.  If I’m going to be honest, I tend to dislike the majority of the commercial rap currently on the market (for legitimate reasons that I’ll expound on later).  So, outside of a few exceptions, you’re not going to find a lot of that kind of music on this list.  Having said that, I’m not one of those underground Hip-Hop fans that just hates all commercial artists regardless of the quality of their music.  I believe that line of thinking is extremely closed-minded and asinine.  The only way to truly have an informed opinion about the music is to judge everything on a song by song basis.  For example, I’m not a fan of Rick Ross AT ALL.  I think he’s a fraud with a good taste in production and limited talent.  In spite of that, “Poor Decisions” by Rick Ross ft. Lupe Fiasco & Wale made this list.  It’s a solid Hip-Hop song, and Rick Ross actually had (somewhat of) a positive message.  Furthermore, I think that the “Started From The Bottom” song by Drake is terrible.  However, “From Time” by Drake ft Jhene Aiko ALMOST made the list because it’s a relatable song that has a lot of honesty in it (despite some of Drake’s false bravado).  At the end of the day, I just thought that there were better songs that deserved more recognition.

In general, the reason why I dislike a lot of the commercial music is because of the dumbed down content.  I have this crazy conspiracy theory where I believe that the record companies decided to gradually dumb down mass-marketed music over time.  By doing this, they wouldn’t have to work as hard to create a hit record.  It makes sense from a business perspective.  If the consumer is willing to accept anything that you give them, then your business will have an easier time pushing off products with lower standards of quality.  Whether on not my theory is true, it is a fact that we’ve now gotten to the point where we (as a culture) celebrate mediocrity.  The Grammy committee nominated 2Chainz (formerly known as “Tity Boi”) for one of the highest accolades given in music last year.  And recently, record companies were fighting over the right to sign Trinidad James after he created one of the most ignorant songs in the history of mankind (“All Gold Everything“).  Yes, the song has a catchy beat…but it’s borderline minstrel show (especially if you watch the video).  The song is so bad that my sister and I thought that it was a funny parody track.  I was laughing hysterically until someone told us that it was a real song *CRINGE*.  Seeing these things frustrates me to no end, because I see all of this high-quality music being ignored to champion sub-par nursery rhyme music.

But fear not Hip-Hop fans.  I’ve pain-stakingly comprised one of the most legitimate Hip-Hop lists that you’ll find anywhere on the internet.  I refuse to celebrate mediocrity in my publication.  I take pride in that fact that I’m providing a platform for fans to be able to discover high quality music (with incredible lyricism and amazing production).  I realize that there are some of you out there that flip through lists like this and completely dismiss them if you don’t see your favorite artist on there.  However, if you do that, then there’s a chance that you’ll miss out on something that you might actually like.  So here’s the Hip-Hop Litmus Test.  Listen to the three songs posted below:

“Own Appeal” – Oddisee

“Unbreakable Me” – Reks

“A Christmas F**king Miracle” – Run the Jewels (EL-P & Killer Mike)

These are but a few of the dope Hip-Hop songs released in 2013.  I would definitely recommend checking out this list if you liked at least one of the tracks posted above.  If you didn’t like any of those songs, then we probably have vastly different opinions about what Hip-Hop is.  Either way, I hope that the majority of you enjoy this article.  Apologies in advance if I omitted any songs that legitimately deserve to be on this list.  It’s next to impossible to hear everything that came out this year, so there are bound to be some tracks that I over-looked.  Please leave me a comment if you can think of any songs that I left out.  I’m looking forward to checking out your suggestions.  So, with that said, enjoy the list below.  Hopefully this article will introduce readers to some dope artists that aren’t getting nearly enough recognition:

Top 200 Hip-Hop SONGS of 2013 (In No Particular Order)

1) “One Life” – Epidemic

2) “If I Could Sing” – Qwel & Maker – BEST HIP-HOP LOVE SONG OF 2013

3) “The Quest(ion)” – ScienZe – BEST HIP-HOP MUSIC VIDEO OF 2013

4) “HOPE” – Phora

5) “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” – Run The Jewels (EL-P & Killer Mike)

6) “Own Appeal” – Oddisee

7) “Unbreakable Me (Live Acoustic)” – REKS – Best Acoustic Hip-Hop Track of 2013

8) “BURGUNDY WHIP” – MED, BLU & MADLIB ft. Jimetta Rose

9) “Nite & Day” – Marco Polo ft. Big Daddy Kane

10) “Black Diamonds” – Natti (of CunninLynguists) ft. Jason Coffey

11) “Titanic” – Jazz Addixx

12) “The Process” – Oxygen ft. Dr. Becket & Emskee

13) “Don’t Run From Me” – Jarell Perry & Locksmith – BEST HIP-HOP & R&B COLLAB OF 2013

14) “Eulogy” – Tanya Morgan

15) “Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst” – Black Milk

16) “Hip-Hop Head Count” – Biologic

18) “So High” – Paranom & Purpose

19) “Could It Be”  – Co$$ ft. Blu, Denmark Vessey and Sene – BEST POSSE CUT OF 2013

20) “Best Worst Day” – Supastition – BEST STORY-TELLING HIP-HOP TRACK OF 2013

21) “We Will Make It” P.R. ft. Cise Star (CYNE) & Blu

22) “Quicksand” – Yancey Boys (Illa J + Frank Nitty) & J. Dilla feat. Common & Dezi Paige

23) “Thumper aka Caped Crusader aka The King James Diversion” – Binary Star

24) “3 O-Clock” Marco Polo feat. Organized Konfusion (Pharoahe Monch & Prince Po)

25) “Time To Ponder” – 7 G.E.M.S. (Tragic Allies + Tragedy Khadafi)

26) “Sun Shine” – Doppelgangaz

27) “What You Need” – Moe Pope & Rain

28) “Tears For Uriah” – CYNE

29) “A Rainy Day” – Raekwon

30) “Tender Greens” – Durag Dynasty

31) “Push Thru (Marco Polo Remix)” – Talib Kweli ft. Curren$y & Kendrick Lamar

32) “Lake Effect” – Qwel & Maker

33) “They Don’t Know”  – Blame One & J57 ft Akie Bermiss

34) “LIFE” – Thomas Prime & Tiff The Gift ft Akin Yai (CYNE), Awon & Dicap17

35) “Love Is Blind” – Co$$

36) “Built Pyramids” – NORE aka PAPI feat. Large Professor

37) “Unorthodox” – Joey Bada$$

38) “Deep” – FATNICE

39) “Old School Love” – Lupe Fiasco ft Ed Sheeran – BEST FEEL GOOD HIP-HOP SONG of 2013

40) “The Ocean” – Epidemic

41) “Savagely Attack” – Czarface ft. Ghostface

42) “Charlie Brown” – ScienZe ft. Blu

43) “The Banana Clip Theory” – Big K.R.I.T.

44) “Jason Statham” – Has-Lo

45) “Barbituates” – Doppelgangaz

46) “Excursions” – Lewis Parker ft. John Robinson

47) “You Were The Shit (In High School)” – Cage

48) “Good Things Die” – Ugly Heroes

49) “Acid Rain” – Chance The Rapper

50) “SLRIII (Round of Applause)” – Lupe Fiasco

51) “The Mahdi” – The Underachievers

52) ”Watercolors” – Fatnice ft. Charlie K

53) “Another Galaxy” – Natti (Prod. by Kno of CunninLynguists) – Best Hip-Hop Beat of 2013

54) “The Last Stop” Fate feat. Blu

55) “Divine People” – Shing Shing Regime

56) “Chai Latte” – Shirosky ft. Awon, Thomas Prime, White Rain and Mini Lee

57) ”Monochrome” – L’Orange & Stik Figa

58) “Jedi Code” [Prod. by 9th Wonder] – Rapsody f. Phonte & Jay Electronica

59) “Microphone Phenomenal” – Paranom & Purpose

60) “Learn Truth” – R.A. the Rugged Man ft. Talib Kweli

61) “Masterful” – John Robinson & Kyo Itachi

62) “Michael” – Sadistik – BEST HIP-HOP DEDICATION TRACK OF 2013

63) “Catch The Beat” – Man of BOOOM

64) “Yeezus Was A Mortal Man” – Oddisee

65) “Alone” – L’Orange ft. Blu – 2013 Hip-Hop Producer of the Year (L’Orange)

66)  “Love Again” – Co$$

67) “Broken Pendulum” – Qwel & Maker

68) “Life Is A Gamble” – Big K.R.I.T.

69) “The Apple & The Asp” – Has-Lo

70) “Congratulations” – Common ft Cocaine 80’s

71) “Critical Thinking” – Meyhem Lauren

72) “Stone Like Me” – L’Orange & Stik Figa feat. Has-Lo – 2013’s Rising Star of the Year 2013 (Stik Figa)

73) “Human Mic” – Talib Kweli

74) “Dyslexic” – LMNO (produced by Evidence)

75) “Holy Visions” – Zion I ft. Fashawn

76) “Rolling Thunder” – Action Bronson

77) “The Healing” – Thomas Prime ft. Landon Wordswell

78) “No Waves” – The WHOevers ft. The Netherfriends

79) “Pressure” – Elzhi

80) “Dayz Go By” – Paranom & Purpose

81) “Come Here” – Talib Kweli ft. Miguel

82) “Authentic” – Kid Tsunami Feat. Bahamadia

83) “Men Of Honor” – 7 G.E.M.S. (Tragic Allies + Tragedy Khadafi) feat. Relentless

84) “Power of Thought” – Denmark Vessey

85) “The Fear” – Mantra

86) “Not For Nothing” – Koncept

87) “Dwindlen Books” – Raw Poetic – Best Experimental Hip-Hop Song of 2013

88) “He Say She Say” – Clear Soul Forces

89) “On & On” – SoulChef ft. Landon Wordswell

90) “What’s Love” – Torae ft. Pharoahe Monch

91) “Nina” – ANTHM

92) “Be Yourself” – Shuko ft. Blu

93) “Gauteng” – Asheru ft. Raheem Devaughn

94) “Midget Cough” – Action Bronson x Party Supplies

95) “Monday To Sunday” – Epidemic

96) “Different Kind Of High” – Benny Freestyles

97) “Summer Breeze” – Slum Village

98) “Day In The Life” – Joey Bada$$

99) ”Prey” – Epidemic & Dreamtek

100) ”Whole Life” – A-Alikes ft. M-1 (of Dead Prez)


101) “Lesson Iz Done” – uMang

102) “Spraying My Pen” – K-Os ft. Saukrates & Shad

103) “Get It” – Run The Jewels (EL-P & Killer Mike)

104) “Woodwalker” – RA Scion ft. Mark Shirtz

105) “Long Walkers” – Qwel & Maker

106) “We Movin” – AZ

107) “Dancin In The Rain” – A.G.

108) “Bird’s Eye View” – Statik Selectah ft. Raekwon, Joey Badass & Black Thought

109) “Super Ninjas” – The Almighty (Canibus, Planet Asia, Cappadonna, & Nino Graye)

110) “Day In My Decade” – Has-Lo

111) “They Die by Dawn” – The Bullitts Ft. Yasiin Bey, Jay Electronica & Lucy Liu

112) “Nuff Said” – Raw Poetic (of Panacea)

113) “Rise of the Black Suits” – Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge

114) “Love Me” – Koncept f. Lollybone

115) “Make Up Sex” – Substantial ft. Deacon the Villain

116) “Abracadabra” – Qwel & Maker

117) “Men Are Mortal” – Homeboy Sandman

118) “Champion Of The Block” – MidaZ the Beast

119) “Summer Madness” – Phora

120) “When It Rains” – Dag Savage ft. Aloe Blacc

121) “Animal Pharm” – Lupe Fiasco

122) “What’s Wrong” – Rakim

123) “Rhyme of the Year” – Nino Bless

124) “Visionz” – Killah Priest

125) “All For Sale” – Masta Ace

126) “Long Drive Home” – Ugly Heroes

127) “Death Sentence” – Prodigy ft. Roc Marciano

128) “B. Dawk” – Reef the Lost Cause

129) “Loud Enough” – Moe Pope & John Robinson

130) “Give Em Eff” – Julian Malone

131) “On One” – Qwel & Maker

132) “Nosetalgia” – Pusha T & Kendrick Lamar

133) “Ladies & Gentlemen” – Pete Rock & Camp Lo ft. Talib Kweli

134) “Gettysburg” – Willie the Kid & Alchemist

135) “Art Imitates Life” – Talib Kweli ft. Black Thought & Rah Digga

136) “Dag, Philly Too” – Homeboy Sandman w/ El RTNC (formerly Rthentic RTNC)

137) “Stay Focused” – uMang

138) “The Maven” – K-Rino

139) “Before The Sunset” Blame One & J57 Ft Exile

140) “Smoke Rings” – L’Orange and Stik Figa

141) “Don’t Front” – Eminem

142) “Illest In Charge” – Klaus Layer ft. Blu

143) “Iwantweback” – Jean Grae

144) “90’s Baby” – Phora ft. InDJnous

145) “How You Livin” – Kenji The Wise

146) “Babies” – Fatnice ft. Charlie K

147) “City in Amber” – Sadistik Feat. Lotte Kestner

148) “EL ESTUDIANTE” – Spit Gemz

149) “F.A.M.E.” – Freddie Gibbs ft. Daz Dillinger & Spice 1

150) “Job Well Done” –  Run The Jewels (EL-P & Killer Mike)

151) “Take It There” – The WHOevers

152) “For The People” – Spectac & Shakim

153) “The Beginning” – Fashawn

154) “Kill the King”  Sadistik Ft. Deacon the Villain (of CunninLynguists)

155) “G.U.R.U.” – Marco Polo ft. Talib Kweli, DJ Premier

156) “City Rising from the Ashes” – Deltron 3030 ft. Mike Patton

157) “Jambalaya” – Rapper Big Pooh (Prod. by 9th Wonder)

158) “Is Happiness Just A Word?” Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks) feat. Yes Alexander

159) “Truth” – Ill Bill (Prod. By Pete Rock)

160) “Open Letter Remix” – Jay-Z ft. Common

161) “Thought Process” – Black Thought (of The Roots)

162) “Give It Up” – Koncept ft. Reks

163) “Catchin’ The Vibe” – Quasimoto

164) “My First White Girl” – The White Mandingos – Funniest Hip-Hop Song of 2013

165) “30 Pieces of Silver” – Ka

166) “Crisis Music” – Canibus

167) “Invincible” – Ghettosocks ft El Da Sensei

168) “Rap God” – Eminem

169) “Control” – Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica

170) “Thank You” – Busta Rhymes ft. Q-Tip, Kanye West, Lil Wayne

171) “Poor Decisions” – Wale ft. Lupe Fiasco & Rick Ross

172) “Favela Love” – Talib Kweli Featuring Seu Jorge

173) “Continue” – Clear Soul Forces

174) Sadistik (Feat. Cage & Yes Alexander) – Russian Roulette

175) “Space Mountain” – Koncept ft. Tanya Morgan

176) ”Cage Ish” – Epidemic & Dreamtek

177) “Run” – Dice Raw

178) ”Money Matters” – J-Live

179) “Reflections From The Porch” – Qwazaar

180) “The Dangerous Three” – R.A. The Rugged Man ft. Brother Ali & Masta Ace

181) “The System Gotcha” – KRS ONE

182) “Where’s the Exit?” – Illogic & Blockhead

183) “Human In Disguise” – Mr. Green & Benefit

184) “What Is This Loneliness” – Deltron 3030

185) “Savages” – Marco Polo ft. Slaine, Celph Titled, and Ill Bill

186) “Chiseled Masterpiece” – Illogic & Blockhead ft Lionesque

187) Peroxide” – MED (aka Medaphoar) & Blu w/ Madlib feat. Dam-Funk

188) “Bad Guy” – Eminem

189) K-Def ft. Insight, Has Lo & Kaimbr – Riot Material

190) ”Global” – Bahamadia ft. Neb Luv & Spontaneous

191) Before Midnight (RMX)” –  L’Orange & Stik Figa ft. Rapsody & Castle

192) “Lyrical Fitness” – Fatnice

193) “I Stand Alone” – Robert Glasper Experiment ft Common

194) “How We Do” – Epidemic (HexOne + Tek-Nition) & Dreamtek

195) “Ring The Alarm” – Divine ScienZe ft. Blu

196) “Expectations (Croup Remix)” – Supastition ft. Shylow

197) “Life We Chose (Mobb Deep Remix)” – Havoc (of Mobb Deep) feat. Prodigy (of Mobb Deep)

198) “Piece of Peace” – Illogic & Blockhead

199) “Seven Series Triplets” – Action Bronson & Harry Fraud feat. Prodigy (of Mobb Deep); Raekwon (of Wu-Tang Clan)

200) “Mass Hysteria” – Rapsody


And just in case you’re wondering, here are my “Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2013” (in No Particular Order):

  • Qwel & Maker – Beautiful Raw
  • Epidemic – “Somethin’ For Tha Listeners”
  • Paranom & Purpose – Life Outside The Frame
  • L’Orange & Stik Figa – The City Under The City
  • Blame One & J57 – Walk In The Sun
  • The Doppelgangaz – HARK!
  • Oddisee – The Beauty in All / Tangible Dream
  • 7 G.E.M.S. – “Golden Era Music Sciences”
  • “Run The Jewels” – Killer Mike & EL-P
  • Sadistik – Flowers For My Father

Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs of 2013 (At The Halfway Point) – by Alloyius Mcilwaine

Every December, I do a “Hip-Hop Year in Review” article showcasing the Top 100 Hip-Hop songs of the year.
Every December, I do a “Hip-Hop Year in Review” article showcasing the Top 100 songs of the year.  June 15th (my birthday 8) ) has come and gone, marking the halfway point in the year…so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to look at what Hip-Hop had to offer so far.  I decided to create a “Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs Of The Year” list to showcase the best singles created in the first half of the 2013.  Truth be told, this has not been a great year for Hip-Hop up to this point.  Things may pick up as the year progresses, but as of June 2013, there are only a few albums that have stood out to me (including “Beautiful Raw” by Qwel & Maker…my current front-runner for “Hip-Hop Album of the Year”).   However, after doing some digging, I have come up with enough songs to create a legitimately solid Top 50 list…featuring artists ranging from Big Daddy Kane & Rakim to Joey BadA$$.


Before I present this list to you, I have to do a bit of a disclaimer.  Some of you might come across a list like this and get upset because you don’t see songs from some of your favorite commercial rap artists like A$AP Rocky, Drake, and Kanye West.  I have friends that legitimately hate all artists that get radio airplay and won’t even give their music a chance (because the majority of commercial rap is terrible).   I’m not that kind of person.  I DO think that the majority of commercial rap is terrible, but I try to judge everything on a song by song basis so that I can develop a more informed opinion.  Case in point, a song featuring Rick Ross made it onto this list, and I usually cannot stand Rick Ross.  However, after listening to the “Poor Decisions” track (that he did with Lupe Fiasco & Wale), I thought that he actually had something relevant to say.  I try to create these lists without any bias.  My only real requirement for making my “Best Of” lists is that you impress me.  I love creative, soulful, thoughtful Hip-Hop with solid production & great lyricism.  The songs that made the list are the songs that exemplified this and impressed me the most up to this point in the year. So, without further adieu:

At The Halfway Point – Top 50 Hip-Hop Songs of 2013 (In No Particular Order)

1) “Long Walkers” – Qwel & Maker:

2) “Nite & Day” – Marco Polo ft. Big Daddy Kane:
3) “What You Need” – Moe Pope & Rain:
4) “Love Is Blind” – Co$$:
5) “Push Thru (Marco Polo Remix)” – Talib Kweli ft. Curren$y & Kendrick Lamar:
6) “Charlie Brown” – ScienZe ft. Blu:
7) “Sun Shine” – Doppelgangaz:
8 ) “Built Pyramids” – NORE aka PAPI feat. Large Professor:
9 ) “Savagely Attack” – Czarface (7L & Esoteric and Inspectah Deck) ft. Ghostface: 
10) “Life Is A Gamble” – Big K.R.I.T. ft. B.J. the Chicago Kid:
11) “Congratulations” – Common ft Cocaine 80’s:
12) “Acid Rain” – Chance The Rapper:
13) “LIFE” – Thomas Prime & Tiff The Gift ft Akin Yai (CYNE), Awon & Dicap:
14) “Good Things Die” – Ugly Heroes (Apollo Brown, Verbal Kent, Red Pill):
15) “Summer Breeze” – Slum Village: 

16) “Dag, Philly Too” – Homeboy Sandman w/ El RTNC (formerly Rthentic RTNC):
17) “Without You” – 7 G.E.M.S. (Tragic Allies & Tragedy Khadafi):
18) “Learn Truth” – R.A. the Rugged Man ft. Talib Kweli:
19) “Unorthodox” – Joey Bada$$:
20) “Rise of the Black Suits” – Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge:
21) “Divine People” – Shing Shing Regime:
22) “Masterful” – John Robinson & Kyo Itachi:
23) “Holy Visions” – Zion I ft. Fashawn:
24) “Nina” – ANTHM:
25) “Be Yourself” – Shuko ft. Blu: 

26) “Spraying My Pen” – K-Os ft. Saukrates & Shad:
27) “Poor Decisions” – Wale ft. Lupe Fiasco & Rick Ross:
28) “Mandingo Rally” – The White Mandingos:
29) “Open Letter Pt II” – Jay-Z ft. Common:
30) “Lake Effect” – Qwel & Maker:
31) “Barbituates” – Doppelgangaz:
32) “Love Again” – Co$$:
33) “Long Drive Home” – Ugly Heroes (Apollo Brown, Verbal Kent, Red Pill):
34) “Loud Enough” – Moe Pope & Rain ft. John Robinson:
35) “Bird’s Eye View” – Statik Selektah ft. Raekwon, Joey Badass & Black Thought:
36) “Banana Clip Theory” – Big K.R.I.T.:
37) “If I Could Sing” – Qwel & Maker:
38) “Come Here” – Talib Kweli ft. Miguel:
39) “What’s Wrong” – Rakim:
40) “Space Mountain” – Koncept ft. Tanya Morgan:
41) “Visionz” – Killah Priest:
42) “Expectations” – Supastition ft. Shylow:
43) “Ring The Alarm” – Divine ScinZe ft. Blu:
44) “Make Up Sex” – Substantial ft. Deacon the Villain:
45) “Animal Pharm” – Lupe Fiasco ft. Thom Yorke:
46) “Day In The Life” – Joey Bada$$:
47)  “When It Rains” – Dag Savage ft. Aloe Blacc:
48) “Men Of Honor” – 7 G.E.M.S. (Tragic Allies + Tragedy Khadafi) feat. Relentless:
49) “Hip-Hop” – Wyclef:
50) “Art Imitates Life” – Talib Kweli ft. Black Thought & Rah Digga:


Honorable Mention

“Canarsie High” – Ill Bill
“360 Waves” – Durag Dynasty
“The Maven” – K-Rino
“BBQ (Family Reunion Remix)” – Substantial
“Best Worst Day” – Supastition
“New School, Old School” – Classified
“My First White Girl” – The White Mandingos
“Give Em Eff” – Julian Malone
“We Movin” – AZ

BEST Of HIP-HOP in 2012! by Alloyius Mcilwaine


-Artist Of The Year
-Group Of The Year
-Producer Of The Year
-Rookie Of The Year
-Verse Of The Year
-Album Cover Of The Year
-Slept On Album Of The Year
-Disappointment Of The Year
-Top 101 Songs Of The 2012
-Video Of The Year


Artist of the Year (2012): Homeboy Sandman

-I’m sure that many of you are surprised by my choice for “Hip-Hop Artist of the Year (2012)”.   Your surprise is justifiable.  After all, Homeboy Sandman IS a bit of a dark horse pick.  He doesn’t have the biggest name or the biggest industry buzz.  In all actuality, your average Hip-Hop fan has probably never heard any of Homeboy Sandman’s music.  On the flip side of the coin, you have a talented young artist named Kendrick Lamar who has gained major mainstream success over the past few years.  The majority of the Hip-Hop sites and magazines are going to give this year’s title to Kendrick, because of the tremendous hype behind his hit singles (“Cartoons & Cereal”“Swimming Pools”, & “The Recipe”) and his popular major label debut album, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City”.   
However, while Kendrick Lamar is a legitimate contender for “Hip-Hop Artist of the Year”, I couldn’t think of anyone who produced more high quality music this year than Homeboy Sandman.  And that’s what this accolade is all about.  It’s not about the hype or the popularity of the artist.  It’s about who consistently put out the highest quality of music in the calendar year.  As I was putting together my list for the “Top 100 Hip-Hop Songs of the Year”, I noticed that Homeboy Sandman had more songs on the list than any other MC or group.  In my humble opinion, “Couple Bars” & “Rated Ours” were two of the top ten hip-hop songs released in 2012.  He also released a solid “B” grade album “, “First Of A Living Breed“, two EPs (“Subject: Matter” & “Chimera“), and had guest appearances on several dope tracks…including “The Great Escape” by Blu & Exile,  & “Reloaded” by Substantial (also featuring Javier Sparks).
Here are some of my favorite tracks that Homeboy Sandman released this year:
-“Couple Bars”:

-“Rated Ours”:

-“Watchu Want From Me”:

-“Mine All Mine”:

-“Not Really”:

-“The Miracle”:

-“Illuminati”:                                                                       -“4 Corners”:                     -“Sputnik”:                                                                         -“Unforgettable”:                                                            -“Brown”:

I’m sure that many of you will disagree with my choice, but if you objectively listen to the tracks that I posted above, I believe that most of you will agree that he was a legitimate choice. His music may not be for everybody.  He’s a “think outside of the box” type of artist.  He won’t always rap in the cadence that you expect him to.  He won’t always say the things that you expect him to say.  However, he will consistently supply you with thought-provoking music and layered metaphors.  He’s carved out his own little niche in Hip-Hop, and I think that he’s comfortable doing his own thing outside of the major spotlight…but he does deserve attention and recognition for what he has accomplished.


Group of the Year (2012): The Doppelgangaz

2012 has been a slow year for Hip-Hop groups in general…especially when compared to 2011.  Panacea’s album “Midnight Morning Africa” was originally supposed to come out this year, but the release was pushed back to 2013.  CYNE and Cunninlynguists only released one song a piece in 2012.  People Under The Stairs didn’t release any new music (that I heard about), and neither did Ugly Duckling, Blue Scholars, Common Market, orGiant Panda.  The Chicharones released an album, but I was disappointed by the overall product (even though it had a few really dope songs on it). We were halfway through the year, and the only dope group release that I came across was the “Detroit Revolutions” album by Clear Soul Forces (released in March).  And then someone introduced me to The Doppelgangaz…a relatively new Hip-Hop group based out of Orange County, NY.   The first song that I heard was “NY Bushmen” off of 2011’s “Lone Sharks”album.  Soon after hearing this song, I learned that these guys produced all of the beats that they were rapping over.    I was immediately impressed.  It’s one thing to produce a dope beat.  That in itself is impressive.  It’s another thing to produce a dope beat, and they proceed to create a dope Hip-Hop song back rapping over it.
After purchasing the “Lone Sharks” album, I searched around the internet to see what else these guys produced, and discovered that they released an album called  “Beats For Brothels Vol. 2” on June 19th, 2012.  The press release for the project described the album perfectly:
Beats For Brothels, Vol. 2 is an enigma of sorts. A unique structure comprised heavily of instrumentals and decorated with the Ghastly Duo’s vocals interspersed throughout the project.”

Towards the end of the year, The Whoevers put out a dope album called “The Red Tape”, Typical Cats put out their album entitled “3”, and Wu-Tang Clan & The Lox collaborated to release the surprisingly solid “Wu-Block” album.  And of course, Clear Soul Forces were in the running for their album that they released earlier in the year.  What separated The Doppelgangaz from the rest of the pack was the fact that they made music videos for a good majority of the songs from the album.  Here are a few of those videos:

A poster on the Hip-Hop forum said it best when he said that these guys have “whimsicle personalities”.  Seeing these guys act silly on their videos really added to the experience of the album…and it gave them a leg up on the competition.   I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing more from the Doppelgangaz in the near future.


Producer of the Year (2012): Alchemist

The “Producer of the Year” title was basically a three-way race between Apollo BrownEL-P, and Alchemist.  Apollo Brown produced the sleeper hit of the year, “Trophies” (a collaboration with OC), as well as some notable singles from artists like Has-Lo & 7even:Thirty.  EL-P produced two albums that garnered a lot of high praise in 2012, includingKiller Mike’s “R.A.P. Music” album and his own fourth solo album, “Cancer 4 Cure”. And then there’s Alchemist.  Alchemist wins the title this year because of the sheer number of quality instrumentals that he produced in 2012.   He produced 5 tracks on “Vodka & Ayahuasca”, the sophomore album from hip-hop duo Gangrene (a collaboration between Alchemist & rapper/producer Oh No).  Alchemist also did a joint project with Action Bronsonentitled “Rare Chandeliers“, a concept album called “Russian Roulette” (where he used samples from Russian songs for every track), and two fully produced mixtapes.   It’s a feat in itself to produce that much music in a year, but he was also amazingly consistent.  There’s a saying that says “quality over quantity”, but Alchemist gave us both this year…and that’s why he takes the title of “Producer Of The Year (2012)”.


Rookie of the Year (2012)/Mixtape Of The Year (2012): Joey BadA$$ – “1999”

Joey BadA$$ is one of those cats from this new generation of MCs that eases my mind when I contemplate the future of the Hip-Hop genre.  In a time where talentless, minstrel show clowns like Chief Keef have gained major mainstream success, Joey BadA$$ made a name for himself by creating nostalgic,  Golden Era-esque Hip-Hop. It seemed as if the 17-year old Brooklyn native came out of nowhere with the video for his hard-hitting  single “Survival Tactics” (from his debut project, “1999″).  

After the video went viral (it now has over 1,500,000 views) Joey BadA$$ became the embodiment of the resurrection of 90’s era NY Boom Bap.  While “Survival Tactics” was the track that brought Joey BadA$$ mainstream attention, I believe that he shines brightest on a song called “Waves”.  On this track, the Progressive Era MC displays an amazing amount of maturity (especially for his age), and showcases his stellar story-telling ability.  The “1999”mixtape as a whole really does harken back to the 90’s…even using throwback samples from artists like J Dilla (R.I.P.) and Lord Finesse. Although there are a couple of filler tracks on the album where the braggadocious rhymes can get a little tiring, the project as a whole is a very impressive.  Hopefully, more up and coming young MC’s will follow Joey’s lead, and use advanced lyricism as a platform to gain major success.


Verse Of The Year (2012) – Verse 1 of “Lamborghini Angels” by Lupe Fiasco

“With a circle on the floor he compels them to be pure
Pulls the beast out of his heart then impales it on a sword
Writes a prayer on some paper and then he nails it to the door
Just the good of you may enter by the mercy of the lord
Listen not to what he speaks, that’s been the cursing of his cause
A seduction of his senses by the devils he adores
The unholy has him hostage and his soul is now at war
Follow not his secret knowledge it will bring you no reward
Shun him while in public disallow him from your stores
Have no part in his affairs ‘less his pestilence be yours
Make scoundrels of the righteous and virgins into whores
But we must still pray that his colour will be cured”


Album Cover of the Year: “Magna Carta” by Melanin 9



Slept on Album of the Year (2012) – “The Idea of Beautiful” by Rapsody

I considered “Trophies” by Apollo Brown and OC for this title, but if you look across the internet at the various underground hip-hop forums (and even on huge sites, you’ll see that most people have this given this album a lot of high praise.  It’s sad to say, but you really don’t see as many people talking about “The Idea of Beautiful” by Rapsody.   In fact, when I posted about this album on, there were more than a few misogynistic responses to the post.  To give you PC versions of some of the responses, some of the posters were saying things like “women can’t rap”, and “there aren’t any talented female MCs”.  It really showed me that even in 2012, Hip-Hop still has some major gender issues to get over.  Rapsody tackles many of these issues on this album.  She also touches on subjects like the loss of innocence in today’s youth, and her personal experiences in past relationships.   “The Idea of Beautiful” really is an amazing piece of work from start to finish.  The future looks bright for 9th Wonder’s newest protege.  Hopefully in the future, people will stop judging her as a “Femcee”, and respect her for what she’s doing as simply a “Dope MC”.


Disappointment of the Year (2012): The Canibus vs. Dizaster Battle:

Most of you reading this article already know about the Canibus vs. Dizaster battle, but let me just give a quick summary for those of you that didn’t hear about it or see it.  Basically, battle rap champion Dizaster challenges battle rap legend Canibus to a battle.  Canibus accepts the challenge, and they set a date for a live pay-per-view event.  The hype machine basically bills the battle as the Hip-Hop version of The Rock vs. John Cena…so it becomesTHE Hip-Hop event of the year.  So the battle gets here, and Canibus comes in with his arm in a sling…which itself was puzzling.  Dizaster spits some sharp, but predictable lines, and Canibus spits a couple of rounds full of sub-par bars…before conceding the match in the third round. After conceding the battle, Canibus whips out a notebook (saying that he wrote all of these battle rhymes, but didn’t have time to memorize them), and then famously begins to read battle rhymes out of the notebook.  The whole thing was just absolutely embarrassing and really confusing.  Honestly, as a fan of Canibus, I was kind of heart broken.  I didn’t mind him losing…it was the way that it happened that really bothered me.

Canibus is undoubtedly, in my mind, one of the greatest lyricists of all time.  However, like many people with genius level talent, I think that he might be a little off (or maybe bi-polar).  I think that Canibus’ main problem is that he just doesn’t have a strong support system.  It seems as if he has had many chances over the year to blow up, and every time he gets one of these chances, he does something to shoot himself in the foot.  Mind you, I’m not talking about the LL Cool J beef.  What he did there was 100% justified.  I’m talking about the random squabbles that he gotten into over the years, and the various decisions that he’s made that hurt his career.  For example, this battle with Dizaster could have been a HUGE boost for his career…and it could have put him back into the spotlight.  After conceding the battle, Canibus said that he had been trying to memorize his rhymes for three whole weeks, and that he just couldn’t remember them all.  This automatically raised an eye brow for me.  I said to myself “you had FOUR MONTHS to prepare for this battle…why did you start preparing for it just three weeks ago?”.   And it’s not as if he had gotten to the point where he couldn’t write battle rhymes anymore.  Just a year prior to the battle, he had some scathing words forJoe Budden and Royce Da 5’9 on a track called “Joey Cupcakes”.  He also wrote a dope track called “The Art of Yo”, with some incredibly aggressive lines that I assume were directed at Math Hoffa.  So it’s not as if Canibus was incapable of battling…he just wasn’t prepared.  He hadn’t done live battle rapping in about 15 years, and apparently he thought that 3 weeks was enough time to prepare for someone who had been battling live consistently for at least the past few years.  And he had no one in his corner to say, “look man…maybe you should focus on this battle for the next few months instead of recording and touring”.  The whole thing is just…sad.

And now, Canibus announced that his next album, Rip the Jacker II, will be his last.  I can only hope that he goes out with a bang.  I’ll always be a fan of his music, and I would still put his Top 25 best songs up against the majority of MCs out there, but this battle definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

My Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2012 (In No Particular Order):

1) “Home Is Where The Art Is” – Substantial
2) “First Of A Living Breed” – Homeboy Sandman
3) “3” – Typical Cats
4) “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them” – Blu & Exile
5) “Skelethon” – Aesop Rock
6) -“The Idea of Beautiful” – Rapsody

7) “Detroit Revolutions” – Clear Soul Forces

8) “Trophies” – O.C. & Apollo Brown
9) -“Magna Carta” – Melanin 9
10) “Control System” – Ab-Soul
Honorable Mention:

-“The Red Tape” – The Whoevers

-“A Dream Deferred” – Skyzoo
-“Cancer 4 Cure” – EL-P
-“Beats For Brothels Vol. 2” – The Doppelgangaz
-“Good Kid Maad City” – Kendrick Lamar
-“Black Boy Radio” – Actual Proof
-“The Final Adventure” – MURS & 9th Wonder

-“Monochrome Skies” – Epidemic

-“Concrete Soul” – Beneficence

-“Fillin’ In The Potholes” – Robust
-“Reporting Live” – Journalist 103
-“Self Sacrifice” – Mello Music Group
-“The Purpose Of Confidence” – Purpose & Confidence
-“NY2BE” – Reap ‘n Chillow

-“Rare Chandeliers” –  Action Bronson & Alchemist

-“MA-DOOM: Son Of Yvonne” – Masta Ace & DOOM
– “Quarter Life Crisis” – Quatermaine
-“Straight, No Chaser” Reks & Statik Selektah
-“Lasting Impressions” – uMaNg
-“Wu Block” – “Wu Block
-“Exalted” – Blue Sky Black Death & Nacho Picasso
-“Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album by Lupe Fiasco


Top 101 Hip-Hop Songs of 2012 (In No Particular Order)
1) “Couple Bars” – Homeboy Sandman
2) “Umoja” – Substantial
3) “The Book of Soul” – Ab-Soul
4) “Get No Better” – Clear Soul Forces <–Vid of the Year Nominee

5) “Cartoons and Cereal” – Kendrick Lamar
6) “Puzzling Thing” – Typical Cats
7) “Rendezvous” – The Whoevers
8 ) “Scandalous” – J.R. & PH7, Brokn Englsh & St. Joe Louis
9) “Don’t Be Jelly” – Blu & Exile
10) “Happiness Is” – ScienZe & King I Divine ft. Sene, Blu, & Britain Parker <–Collaboration of the Year (2012)
11) “Grown Up” – Danny Brown <– 2012 Hip-Hop Video of the Year
12) “Waves” – Joey Bada$$ <–Vid of the year nominee

13) “Rated Ours” – Homeboy Sandman
14) “What’s The Hurry?” – Stann Smith ft. P3
15) “Anotha One” – Apollo Brown & O.C.
16) “What Am I” – The Doppelgangaz
17) “Ready to Roll” – Oddissee
18) “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)” – Lupe Fiasco
19) “Daughters” – Nas
20) “Dunky Fividends” – Styles of Beyond ft. Apathy
21) “Blue Window” – Elzhi
22) “Make The Money” – Macklemore
23) “Black Jesus” – The Game ft. Cool & Dre
24) “Jakob Ladder” – CYNE ft. Substantial
25) “Rear Window” – Dice Raw
26) “Check My Resume” – Substantial
27) “Kind Of Love” – Rapsody ft. Nomsa Mazwai
28) “Stars Shine Brightest (Remix)” – CunninLynguists ft. ST
29) “Congregation” – Talib Kweli ft. Black Thought & Ab-Soul
30) “Swimming Pools” – Kendrick Lamar
31) “9-24-11” – Action Bronson & Party Supplies
32) “God” – 7even:Thirty ft. Laurie Walker
33) “Cherry Wine” – Nas feat. Amy Winehouse
34) “Stay Golden” – Epidemic

35) “The Formula” – Apollo Brown & OC

36) “Bitch Bad” – Lupe Fiasco
37) “For Lack Of A Better Word” – Theory Hazit
38) “Goodbye” – J.R. & PH7 ft. Phonte & Median
39) “Me And My Old School” – Big K.R.I.T.
40) “Get Together” – MURS & 9th Wonder ft. Rapsody
41) “The Full Retard” – EL-P
42) “Zero Dark Thirty” – Aesop Rock
43) “Day One: A Song About Nothing” – Mac Miller
44) “NonFiction” – Rapsody ft. Raheem Devaughn & Ab-Soul
45) “A Few Of My Favorite Demons” – JR & PH7, Brokn Englsh & St. Joe Louis
46) “When The Last Leaf Falls” – Small Pro ft. Has-Lo
47) “Vision of Excellence” – Purpose & Confidence ft. Cormega & Estee Nack
48) “Church Rmx – Slum Village f. Skyzoo & Focus
49) “Survival Tactics” – Joey Bada$$ x Capital STEEZ
50) “Satisfaction” – MHz (Copywrite + Camu Tao + Jakki Da Motamouth + Tage + RJD2) feat. Slug (of Atmosphere)
51) “Way Out Way In” – Oddisee
52) “Take Me Back” – Pac Div
53) “We Don’t” – Zion I ft. The Grouch & Eligh
54) “The Pain” – KnowMads
55) “A Man” – Blu and Exile
56) “Burn It Down” – The Chicharones
57) “Mourning in America” – Brother Ali
58) “Woman” – Children of the Night
59) “ZZZ Top” – Aesop Rock
60) “The Crown” – Typical Cats
61) “Never Break Me” – AWAR ft. Evidence

62) “Look What We Have Here” – Skyzoo

63) “Form Follows Function” – Lupe Fiasco
64) “Secretary” – Mello Music Group Ft. Has-Lo & Oddisee
65) “Whatchu Want From Me” – Homeboy Sandman
66) “The NoteB.O.O.K.” – D-sisive
67) “Slash Gordon” – MURS & Fashawn
68) “My Window” – Wax Tailor ft. Elzhi & Aku Naru
69) “Footprints” – Sene
70) “Funeral For A Killer” – MURS & 9th Wonder
71) “Mine All Mine” – Homeboy Sandman
72) “Streamline” – Damu the Fudgemunk ft. Raw Poetic
73)  “Whole Wide World (Remix)” – The Dopplegangaz ft. Apathy
74) “All Real” – Beneficence ft. A.G. & DJ Kaos
75) “Manhattan” – ANTHM
76) “Re-Load” – Zion I
77) “Backboards” – Sene ft. Blu
78) “Apply It & See” – Del the Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought
79)  “Drivin’ Round” – Wu Block ft. Masta Killa, Gza & Erykah Badu
80) “Chum” – Earl Sweatshirt

81) “Vodka & Ayahuasca” – Gangrene (Alchemist + Oh No)

82) “Black Out” – Ghostface Killah (of Wu-Tang Clan), M.O.P. (Lil’ Fame + Billy Danze), Pharoahe Monch (of Organized Konfusion)

83) “Mighty Morphin’ Foreskin” – Captain Murphy
84) “Drones Over Brooklyn” – EL-P

85) “The Miracle” – Homeboy Sandman

86) “Stop The Press” – Brother Ali
87) “The Game Changer” – Saigon ft. Marsha Ambrosius

88)”Black Boy Radio” – Actual Proof

89) “Weightless” – The Illz
90) “Decisions” – Ka
91) “This Generation” – MURS & Fashawn
92) “A Queen’s Story” – Nas
93) “Fly Away” – Talib Kweli ft. Jessica Care Moore
94) “M.A.R.S.” – Cormega, Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Saigon

95) “Gold Soul Theory” – The Underachievers

96) “Mach One” – Planet Asia

97) “Lines” – Big Boi ft. A$AP Rocky & Phantogram

98) “Red Eye” – Unfukwitable f. Ruste Juxx, Reks, Reef The Lost Cauze, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Nutso, Midaz

99) “Rivers of Blood” – Wu-Tang Clan and Kool G. Rap

100) “Free The Robots” – Capital Steez (R.I.P.)
101) “Lamborghini Angels” – Lupe Fiasco
by Alloyius Mcilwaine, Cultures Clothing Co.