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The 25 Best Albums Of 2013

Kid Cudi, Indicud

Label: Wicked Awesome, GOOD, Republic

It’s still surprising to see Kid Cudi’s rise to fame. From being introduced to rap fans as Kanye’s hooksmith to growing into one of G.O.O.D. Music’s flagship artists, Cudder created a lane for his druggy and ambient music. After experimenting with rock in WZRD, the now independent artist treaded familiar territory with his latest album Indicud. Produced and written mostly by Cudi, the best moments come in his collaborations (Michael Bolton, Haim), as well as songs that show him in his zone (“Burn Baby Burn,” “Immortal”). While new fans might not fall in love with this, the lonely stoner wins over his dedicated fanbase through a wide range of songs that are pretty excellent.–ED

Freddie Gibbs, ESGN

Label: ESGN

Freddie Gibbs makes it very clear that he wants to separate himself from Jeezy and CTE. Calling ESGN “the definitive Freddie Gibbs album,” the 19-track project is authentic street raps that aren’t for the weak hearted. In typical fashion, Gibbs is technically at his best, weaving in everything from clever pop culture references to hard gangster narratives to displaying his impeccable cadence. Though the Gary, IN. native is aiming for crossover success, it doesn’t take away from ESGN’s obvious steps forward in that direction.–ED

Tech N9ne, Something Else

Label: Strange Music

Not a lot of rappers can achieve the milestone that Tech has done. On his 13th studio album, the self-described King Of Darkness delivers his best attempt for mainstream appeal in Something Else. There’s plenty for everyone here: dark emotional songs (“I’m Not A Saint,”) trap hyphy bangers (“Dwamn”) and radio-friendly cuts (“See Me”). Despite the fact that Tech is exploring heavy metal rock with his Therapy EP, you can always count on him for a solid hip-hop album.–ED

Kevin Gates, Stranger Than Fiction

Label: Bread Winners Association

Welcome to the big leagues, Kevin Gates, we hope you’re here to stay. With a series of lengthy and descriptive mixtapes under his belt, Gates’ Stranger Than Fiction was the best installment of cinematic rap that 2013 had to offer, with Gates hanging his storytelling cap on the same mantle as guys like Ghostface Killah and Nas. Gates doesn’t tell a story so much as he bleeds it, with cutting tales like “4:30 A.M.” and “Tiger” so emotionally raw that it can leave a listener stunned. And then there’s a track like “Thinking With My Dick,” which features Juicy J and makes you feel like the world isn’t all that bad. It’s just a little…strange at times.—DR

2 Chainz, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time

Label: Def Jam

B.O.A.T.S II: Me Time was the follow up to 2 Chainz’ 2012 Grammy-nominated LP, Based on a T.R.U. Story. The album peaked at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard 200 with features from Pharrell Williams, Fergie, Drake and Lil Wayne. Although 2 Chainz’ sophomore album earned the No. 21 spot, it did include noteworthy singles such as “Fork,” “Feds Watching” and “Used 2″ that had a video reuniting the Hot Boys.—MJ

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