The 25 Best Albums Of 2013

Wale, The Gifted

Label: Atlantic Records

Wale’s The Gifted was arguably his best work to date. The MMG signee had big supporting singles like “Bad” and “LoveHate Thing,” which held much stain on the charts, even ruling the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 100 during his release date. The D.C. spitter shows considerable amount of progress as an artist and will only go higher from here. —MJ

Danny Brown, Old

Label: Fool’s Gold Records

After a two year hiatus from his breakthrough mixtape, XXX, Old finds a sharper and more patient Danny Brown delivering a strong cohesive concept project. Old still features Danny’s drug-filled rockstar tales but shows his maturity and constant battles with his past. The 19-track album is split in two sides, reflecting on Brown’s past, his present and his nightmares, showcasing his honesty and depth as a writer.–ECM

Jay Z, Magna Carta…Holy Grail

Label: Roc Nation

When Jay Z drops an album, he makes sure people stand up and take notice; with Magna Carta…Holy Grail, he did just that, partnering with Samsung for an album release that made first effort since Watch The Throne went platinum within a day and instantly soundtracked everyone’s Fourth of July barbecues. And it has its share of big songs—”FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” has one of the best beats of the year, “Holy Grail” was a massive radio smash, and “BBC” was one of the slept-on songs of the year. But despite its obvious success, it marks the second album in a row where Jay rapped about his Basquiats. Mothafuckas can’t rhyme no more, ’bout crime no more, but there can be a little more variation in subject matter than that.—DR

Earl Sweatshirt, Doris

Label: Tan Cressida, Columbia Records

Doris is Earl Sweatshirt’s first full-length album for Columbia Records and his official return to music. Doris find Earl forgoing the violent lyrics that was a signature of OF in its early days and shows his well rounded skills as a MC. The production is mostly dark and menacing yet never unsettling. It’s not always focused and takes extremes at times, but it fully shows his rapping ability as he effortlessly stacks his words, vividly illustrating every details of whatever story he wants to get across.–ECM

J. Cole, Born Sinner

Label: Columbia, Roc Nation

After a two year hiatus, J. Cole gifted hip-hop heads with his sophomore LP Born Sinner. The project that features guest appearances from Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, and TLC served as the follow up to Cole’s 2011 debut Cole World: The Sideline Story. As a current gold LP and previously with the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 100, which beat out Kanye’s Yeezus for first week sales, Cole’s second studio album should be at the top of everyone’s year-end list.—MJ

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  • DubiousStatus

    Where the hell is BetterOffDead?! yeah technically you could say it’s a mixtape, but still one of the strongest releases this year

    • Eric Diep

      Stay tuned for our mixtapes tomorrow …

  • dmdmdmdmd

    Ace Hood- Trials and Tribulations is missing from this list

    • Trey Arline

      They, like the rest of the world, probably forgot it probably existed at all.

  • G

    c’mon XXL stop feeding into the bullshit

  • Trey Arline

    Recovery was widely praised? LOL. MMLP2 was good though, and so is Drake’s album.

    Yeezus takes my personal best album this year, regardless of genre. One of the most creative, wild, inventive, jarring, uncomfortable, uncompromising, courageous albums in YEARS. Love it or hate it, no one is doing what Kanye West is doing or even going to attempt to do. You don’t have to have lyrical miracle, try hard nonsense to make good music and he does just that. I know it’s probably not gonna be people’s first choice on this site, but it is what it is.

    • 2012Industry1

      I agree with you other than, yeah Recovery was widely praised when it came out, and it wasn’t a bad album, just commercial, which some Em fans despise! Yeezus is the best Rap Album this year though.

  • Mike Van Orden

    I don’t think I’ve seen a list that is half terrible and half right on the money like this. Somehow you redeem your asinine choices by getting the most important albums of the year up on here. But Big Sean, French, MCHG, and Indicud should not even be touching this stuff. Get outt here with that. Danny Brown was my album of the year. NWTS, MMLP2, Yeezus, Run the Jewels, all great as well.

    • Pretty Boy (Phd)

      indcud 10X better than nwts and its not even that great.

      • Mike Van Orden

        haha, cute..real cute

        • Christopher Scott Nesbitt

          Indicud was better than NWTS. I wouldn’t say 10x better, but to say that Indicud doesn’t deserve to be on the year end list is ridiculous.

          • Mike Van Orden

            thus why opinions about music are purely subjective. Critical consensus don’t back up what you’re saying one bit though. Indicud is not an album people will remember years from now. NWTS is, plain and simple.

          • Spitticus

            wait so how does what people remember make something good, people could never hear an album from an artist and that wouldn’t change that it could be one of the most amazing albums ever made. And yes, Indicud was a great musicial composition. NWTS was a CD full of songs for people to sing along with that they can easily relate to themselves because it’s about basic thinking and emotion.

    • icon kain

      That’s your opinion. And i have one too. Danny brown was lame as hell. and so was yeezus. MCHC and big Sean was that fire too.

  • brainiac

    Knock Madness. Better than half the albums on here

    • Trey Arline


    • Mike Van Orden

      you might actually be right but only because half the albums on here are terrible and it’s not hard to be better than a terrible album. Knock Madness was aight, repetitive horrorcore beats and Hopsin keeps takin’ shots at mainstream artists to get publicity and it seemed daring at first and now it’s clear it’s just a marketing ploy. You have to actually be better than the people you are dissing for the disses to not start ringing empty.

    • adam

      knock madness was prob the most hyped up disappointment this year

  • John Gary

    Where the hell is Acid Rap?

    • lui


  • 2012Industry1

    I just don’t think Pusha T album was THAT good though. I think in time people will have their HYPE subside and realize it’s not that good. I like most of your list though, which is more than I can say for most I’ve seen thus far. Cole should have been higher, and i’d replace Cudi with Black Milk.

  • adam

    what a fucking joke this is just a popularity contest i bet they didnt even listen to the albums, tyler the creater, 2 chains album of the year? come on

    • Infinite8

      2 chainz album! BOATS!!! IS STRAIGHT TRASH!!

  • Guesty Guest

    I lol’d when I saw Wale’s album. XXL just wants to avoid any death threats lmao.

    • DJ Blak Boy

      LMAO exactly!

  • Evan

    You Forgot Starlito & Don Trip’s Step Brothers Two…

    • Eric Diep

      Damn, yeah, that album was pretty great, but there were others just slightly in the running for this list

  • real talk

    I hate to say but, Yeezus probably will be considered album of the year. Simply, because of it’s mass appeal. I.E: several movies and products used Kanye’s beats in their backdrops during the year. I have several albums off this list. Some were good in that moment that they were released, and some had longevity. But to say Drake had the #! album of the year is…BULLSHIT. Dude can rap…sure, but this hip hop, and that’s the problem. He sings more than he raps! Ain’t that the same reason niggas turned on Ja Rule?

  • C G
  • Danny Ryan

    i think mmlp2 should have gotten one nothing was the same sucks

    • Eric Diep

      ‘Ye did just call Drizzy a rap god!

      • leto-el

        it doesn’t make him one though

  • godlike1

    7 albums on this list are good.. the rest are absolute trash only a wannabe would ever consider to purchase.. xxl sold out to the max rewarding trash if its a radio masterpiece aka sold out souless mainstream wannabe music

    • Eric Diep

      Which albums were the ones you liked?

  • DC95

    My Name is My Name – Album of the Year!

    • Infinite8

      Pusha T is straight killin with the lyrics on this My Name is My Name!!!

  • Tyrone

    Carrie Underwood is where its at niggas

  • Tyler Durden

    Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City is still better than all these albums… True Shit !!!

  • Aaron Minicudi

    HOF?? really? HAHAHAHAHHA

    • Infinite8

      I like Big Sean, but this Hall of Fame album was straight TRASH!! Control was the best song not on there!! just sad! I was rooting for Big Sean too. Oh well maybe next album!

  • Aaron Minicudi

    gambino really!? that literally JUST came out………

    • Eric Diep

      It delivered. We had a long debate about including that on our list.

    • Infinite8

      Childish Gambino album is pretty tight though. I was pleasantly surprised.

    • leto-el

      What’s your point exactly? Yes, it just came out. It doesn’t take away from the fact that it was one of the year’s best albums.

  • Ramon Rojo

    HOLD THE FUCK UP they gave Tyler a L but his album is one of the Top 25 of the year, 0 credibility

    • Eric Diep

      Other albums have Ls too. In the grand scheme of things, even those lower rated ones were more solid than the rest

      • T-Rock

        That doesn’t make any sense at all.. 3 months ago we said this album sucks and is pretty wack… but now at the end of the year it’s actually much better than the one we said was incredible 5 months ago…. This is more degrading to journalism than BuzzFeed

  • Dane


    also you putting The Gifted on here is just a cute way to pretend you’re better than complex

  • W.W
  • Jermaine

    I hope this is in no particular order

    • icon kain

      you need to read. they said that in the article



  •!/thedeusexmakina [J. B. cyruz]

    Okay so I checked out most albums on that list because I thought I’m an open-minded people. Most of that shit is terrible, I think. Strange, Eminem, and Kno/CunninLynguists have ruined average Hip-Hop for me. I can’t listen to 90% of that list. That simply isn’t good music to me. XXLame.

  • Can I Live?

    this seems less like the 25 best rap albums of the year and more like a list of 25 rap albums that just happened to come out this year, it makes no sense

  • ayy lmao

    You can tell they trolling with this list when you see French Montana, Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Kevin Gates album on here.

    • icon kain

      Not Gates. He speak for the street. So if your not from there u wont undertstand his message or the motive behind the message for that matter

      • ayy lmao

        lol no.

  • TheZigZagMan

    I should of known better about how these lists are by now.

  • guest

    man my top 5 destroys all of these 5. welcome to forever- logic 4. knock madness- hopsin 3. trunk musik returns- yelawolf 2.MMLP2- eminem 1. because the internet- childish gambino

    • leto-el

      ALBUMS. Not mixtapes.

  • J_Sleazy

    XXL is kissing Drake and Kanye West’s assess so hard, they probably left hickeys on their assholess.

  • chiefgreen

    YEEZUS dope!! hate if you want its like sunlight to superman. only gives him more power! i think son of sam should have made it. its kind of like a tech n9ne album but krizz is WAAAAYYYYY smoother with his singing. doris i don’t think was that great. sounds just like he was free styling the whole time. if i can find it I’m gonna cop because the internet. Gambino is the shit!!! plus community is my show. jan 2 2014!!!

  • Coroner

    Fuck this list. “My Grandma’s Basement” and “Dirty Gold” is on my TOP 10!

  • Seweryn Kloska

    Where’s Hopsin’s “Knock Madness”?

  • Ben Carter

    wish they’d just post a freaking list so we didnt have to scroll through

  • Ben Carter

    hahahaha drake? LoLLLL. don’t kid me. and how does tyler and french get in there?

  • joe

    this list sucks so bad but it doesn’t surprise me… good shit puttin run the jewels on here though (that DID surprise me lol)

  • stumpish

    how the bloody hell did I get to the end of this list without seeing “Something Else” by Tech N9ne???

  • Barrack Odrama ImdatboyHussien

    nwts is one of those albums where you just let it play you dont have a favorite but every song has a meaning to you it was def #1 and mmlp was one of those damm this thing is nice while riding with ya boys and is def #2