Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best Projects Of 2013...Real Boy List

I told you the real boy list would be coming real soon. If you didn't check out the preview post which has my honorable mentions and stuff i really wasn't feeling too much, check it out here. The reason why this list is coming out "later" than other lists is because i wanted to wait until 2013 actually came to a close before deciding on a best of list. I still don't understand how you can have a Best Of list when the year isn't over. Anyways 2013 wasn't a great year for hip-hop. A lot of mediocre stuff was released. No instant classics were dropped in my opinion. A few years down the road, a couple may be retroactively considered classics but there are none at the moment. Instead of hating on the year i'll just let you read what i feel were the best 10 projects of 2013.

10. Roc Marciano- The Pimpire Strikes Back

Like many people i have been sleeping on Roc Marciano for way too long. He had a career revival with 2011's Reloaded album and i've been meaning to check it out but just never got around to it. i loved his feature on Pouches of Tuna with Action Bronson but i was still putting off listening to him for some reason. I randomly saw The Pimpire Strikes Back for free on some website and decided to finally give him a listen and i was surprised in a good way. Because he is a New York rapper and he had that Flipmode Squad association i automatically assumed Roc to be some typical New York rapper where it is just bar after bar after bar. Little did i know he is some slick pimp rapper who can flow his ass off. I can't tell you how many time i've replayed The Sacrifice to the point where it prevents me from listening to the entire project sometimes. Since he is already a vet, i'm not expecting Roc to have a 2 Chainz-like revival this late into his career but as long as he keeps making some heat, there won't be a need to. Although Roc has bars when it comes to the production he needs to team up with Madlib and let him produce everything on a project.

9. Vince Staples & Larry Fisherman- Stolen Youth LP

I'll say it again and again, my favorite new rapper that i discovered in 2013 has to be Vince Staples. It doesn't happen too often that one verse can make me check out an artist but his verse on Hive did just that. There was a grittiness to it that you just don't hear nowadays. I know the Chief Keefs, Lil Durks, and Fat Trels of the world bring violence into rap but they don't do it like Vince. The formers do it in a way where its shoot first, ask questions later. When you hear Vince Staples, you hear a kid who is self aware and socially aware and understands why he needs to act in violence. That shit is believable. He isn't some ignorant kid shooting a 9 but rather someone who has an actual reasoning for his actions. What i liked about this project is that it brought us into his world. He told us stories about his father going to jail for being a dope dealer, getting raised by a single mother, his own experiences selling drugs, and wisdom beyond his gang infested years. The tracks i liked the most were the ones he had no features on: the Intro, Guns and Roses, Stuck In My Ways, Thought About You, and the Outro were my standouts. The features really brought the project down with the exception of the Schoolboy Q one, Back Sellin Crack. The Ab Soul one was cool but it wasn't my favorite and i can live without it. If you didn't know, Larry Fisherman is the name Mac Miller uses when producing and i have to say, he did his thing. He surprised me with the production skills for sure. Maybe that's what he needs to stick to but that's my opinion. I liked his production work on this more than i liked his album Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Looking forward to Vince in 2014, get him on that XXL cover.

8. Varth Dader- Tice Nitties

This album has been out for a while and i still don't know anything about Varth Dader beyond his/their music. I still don't even know if it is a group, one person, or a collective but goddamn, this project was fresh. The best part about the album is that it is Name Your Price on their bandcamp page. You can be a cheap bastard like me and get it for free or pay a price for it because this project is worth your money. I first found out about Varth Dader on the DEHH youtube page via beezy430, shout out to the crew. When i searched him/them on youtube i found Forever Omnipresent and was hooked. I checked out the rest of the project and the first track was on some more goddamn stuff. The first half of the song sucked but once that beat changed up and he said "I forgot to turn the swagger off before I went to sleep, next morning i woke up with six naked Puerto Ricans up in my sheets," I knew it was my shit. The project was a little long for my liking but my favorites off of it were Angel Dust and Clones. Those 4 that i mentioned are the ones that i play the most. The rest of the album is cool and i definitely listen to them all but i don't go searching for each one when i have nothing to listen to. If it's on i listen, if it's not, then i don't.

7. Run The Jewels

The self titled debut of BFF's El-P and Killer Mike is needed in 2013 and beyond. It is some hard hitting rap that gets straight to the point and is bound to cause some riots. If you're a fan of Big Sean you probably won't like this. If you're a Wale fan, no disrespect, but you probably will be turned away because the bass hurts your ears and the music makes you feel like you don't have enough testosterone. It's not like I listen to this album (released for free btw, shout out to Mike and El-P for that) every day front to back but when i do listen to it, it gets a good week in the rotation. The thing with these guys is that you don't have to be a fan of their work to enjoy their music (maybe El-P). I am in the belief that once you hear these guys, whether solo or together, they make such good music that you will become fans. Not only is it some music that will cause some riots and make your neighbors hate you, but you'll learn something from the duo. They sprinkle knowledge in there that makes you want to look further into the issues being spoken about. If you call yourself a rap fan but don't listen to Killer Mike or El-P then don't call yourself a rap fan. It's cool if you don't like it but you have to at least listen to them. I can't wait for another Run The Jewels project and solo projects from each individual. Where's that Despot album at though?

6. Kevin Gates- The Luca Brasi Story

This Kevin Gates mixtape is a late bloomer for me. It was released back in February I believe but i did not start messing with it heavy until late December. The track i was feeling for the longest time was Paper Chasers. Whenever i listened to the rest of the project, the trap sound was just too much for me to take seriously. Then i stopped being an elitist and started appreciating that trap sound again and gave this listen another go around. Even though the auto tuned sound is heavy throughout the 20 plus track mixtape, it doesn't get on my nerves like Future does for some reason. Gates knows how to not sound like a pussy when rapping with autotune. And he can make those songs for the ladies as well and i was feeling them. Neon Lights, Arms of a Stranger, and Around Me are heavy in the rotation. Instead of sounding like a dying cat when using autotune, Gates uses it to get that emotion out of him and it works. Then after writing his trap love ballads, he can become that dude on the corner that has chicks working for him armed with hammers while selling that arm & hammer. Then he'll ice pick your knees if he feels the need to take matters into his own hands. I went in expecting to hate this project but i was way wrong and now became a fan of the dude. I never thought i could ever take a dude making a love ballad in autotune seriously but lo and behold, it happened. Looking forward to what he does next.

5. Big Krit- King Remembered In Time

Anyone that has read the blog knows that Big Krit is my dude so of course i was excited to hear that he was coming out with this mixtape. The previous project he released was his debut studio album, Live From The Underground, which was cool but it didn't capture me at all like it did his other four mixtapes. Although i ended up loving 4eva N a Day, it definitely took several listens for me to come around to it and i feared it was going to be the same for this self titled project. Needless to say i didn't have that same problem with this and i loved it. The production has toned down on the classic southern beats, although he still has bangers with My Trunk (where trinidad James did his thing) and How U Luv That with Big Sant. The production on the mixtape was generally very soulful with enough bass in there to make the trunk knock and Krit is matching his great production with improving lyricism. When i say lyricism i don't mean just being able to rhyme words in a dope way *cough Slaughterhouse* but rather the combination of dope to the point lyricism with stories and subject matter. I mean did anyone else notice how tracks 12-15 were all related and i guess you could throw in the Bigger Picture into that mix. Just absolutely amazing to me and Krit is without a doubt the best producer/MC in the game right now. If he was just a spitter he would be dope, if he was just a producer he would be beyond dope but he combines the two so well. Can't wait until Cadillactica comes out. Everyone needs to support this man.

4. Azizi Gibson- Ghost In The Shell

For me, this project came out of nowhere. I would not have heard of the dude or his music if it wasn't for the homie putting me on to him this past summer. For those that don't know, Azizi Gibson is signed to Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder Label. That's really all i know about him to be honest other than he grew up around the world because he was an army brat. Getting right into it, my favorite track is the title track, Ghost In The Shell. I guess you can say that is his most serious/introspective track and you could hear in the music that he was letting us listeners into his world. Despite all the tracks not being on the same level as the title tracks, they were all dope. It was an interesting and entertaining listen. He seems like he is all over the place with his stories but at the heart of it all he wants to do is get famous, stack paper, and make romance with the finest of women. Azizi's a character and that's the great thing about Brainfeeder. Flying Lotus gives his artists complete creative control over their music and product is stuff like this. Who knows if Azizi would have gotten his small number of listens without the support of Brainfeeder. He is someone i'm definitely keeping an eye on. I will be anticipating his next project and will be having big expectations for it.

3. Chance The Rapper- Acid Rap

I should have seen this coming but for some reason i didn't realize that Chance is a polarizing rapper. Either people love him or they hate him. Personally, i love the guy's music. I really liked his 2012 release, 10 Day, and that got me anticipating his second project. I feel like people that hate him can't stand his voice. That was my problem at first too because that was really annoying to no end but once i got past that and just started listening to his music, his voice not only became a non-issue but it became one of the more appealing aspects to the music. There's only a couple tracks on here that i don't like which are the intro and a few in the middle of the tape but other than that i love the rest of them. Chance has managed to differentiate himself from other rappers in 2013 at the age of 20. It isn't just because he spits bars and is "bringing rap back," but rather Chance is bringing a whole new style mixing melodies, flow, and meaningful lyrics into one package. He is far from a great singer but he sounds good on his hooks. His adlibs are annoying but they get stuck in your head to the point where you have to play the songs the minute you get back to your computer. Chance is going to be a force to be reckoned with and is one of the flag bearers for the new wave of hip-hop artists coming up.

2. The Underachievers- Indigoism

I don't even like every track on The Underachievers' debut project but the ones i do like, i play A LOT. I probably went back to these songs more than any other throughout the whole year. There's something about their spirituality talking that gets me everytime, i don't know what it is. I pretty much listen to at least one song of theirs every day and it has not gotten old whatsoever. AK and Issa are some interesting artists because they are direct products of the internet age. With what they talk about, i can't see how they have any chance of getting radio play therefore they must rely on tours to make money. Like Azizi Gibson, they are signed to Brainfeeder and their creative control is seen in the type of music they put out. This was actually the first of two mixtapes that UA released in the year and apparently they have an album in the works for 2014. I can't even explain why i like the tracks so i'm being lazy and you gotta take my word for it. Just listen to the damn thing and form your own opinion. P.S. I'm praying to God that Issa and AK don't break up because they will probably be doomed if that's the case.

1. Mr Muthafuckin eXquire- Kismet 

This one is slept on and its a damn shame too. I first caught wind of Mr Muhafuckin eXquire when i saw his 2011 mixtape, Lost In Translation, pop up on the best of... lists so i checked it out. It was cool for me but i wasn't vibing with it. Although the Huzzah remix was the one though. I checked his other tapes and wasn't too impressed with it so he was kind of out of sight out of mind for me. Then I heard eXquire on that El-P track, Oh Hail No, and it was like a revelation for me. I had to keep tabs on my dude again but when Kismet dropped i admit that it wasn't in the rotation at first. Once it did get in the rotation however, it didn't leave. I was listening to this everyday. The dude is deep, has left field beats, and can ride those beats like its no ones business. This isn't everyone's cup of tea so it's one of those love it or hate it projects but if you love it you LOVE IT. He drops lines like "9 chains on my neck, you can weigh my pain," or lines like "can't sell records, too much complexity." Then the next song will be I Was Drunk When I Wrote This and brings the party right back. He's got the new morning anthem with Illest Niggaz Breathin which I play every morning along with So Fresh, So Clean. He's got the women stories with Cherry Raindrops. He'll talk about love with Vanilla Rainbows. He's got the fuck society track with Chains. Paper Hearts is my shit. eXxx Studio is a great way to  end the project. I enjoyed this project thoroughly and this was the one i played the most front to back. He looks like he's making a push for radio play because he dropped the Mr. Muthafuckin and is going just by eXquire right now so i hope he can make it. If we can hear his stuff on the radio, that would be an amazing change of pace to what we have been hearing between all the swag rap and the i can't control my emotions rap. Support the dude.

There you have it. If you're wondering why i may have some more What? choices in my top 10 it is because 1) they were my favorite projects of the year and 2) if you wanted to see Yeezus or J Cole or Jay Z or Pusha T on the list you can literally go to any other person's list and see them. I'm trying to give these dude's some shine and put a new audience onto them because if i liked them odds are that there are other people who liked or will like them too. Let me know of any comments, questions, or vulgarities you have at the list and i'll get back to you.

Big Boy's Favorite Projects of the Year (no order):
Rich Homie Quan >>>> everything else

The Ill Fashionista's Favorite Projects of the Year (no order):
Kevin Gates- The Luca Brasi Story
Trinidad James- Don't Be Safe (I am aware it was 2012)
Chief Keef- Finally Rich
Drake- Nothing Was The Same
Kendrick Lamar- good kid M.A.A.d city (I am aware it was 2012) 

The Girlfriend's Favorite Stuff of the Year (no order):
The Lumineers- Ho Hey
Passengers- Let Her Go
Eminem feat Rihanna- Monsters
Lorde- Pure Heroine (forgot to put that on the real boy list)

Lil B- Where The Game Began

Lil B- I Own Swag

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