The 25 Best Songs Of 2013
You can’t recap the year in albums and mixtapes without songs. 2013 was packed with all kinds of records that everyone couldn’t get enough of. There were songs that stayed on repeat like Drake’s “Started From The Bottom,” street anthems that echoed through neighborhoods like Meek Mill’s “Levels” and Billboard Hot 100 scorchers like Eminem’s “The Monster” that dominated radio play. Just like every year, the mixture of rising stars and veterans putting out excellent songs means hip-hop is continuing to prosper. So, come look back with us in The 25 Best Songs Of 2013.—Written By Eric Diep, Andrew Asare, Miranda Johnson, Emmanuel C.M. & Dan Rys
P.S. Since it’s Christmas and all, here’s a playlist of our list to soundtrack your family hangouts. Get the Eggnog.
Sage The Gemini, "Red Rose"
Who knew a song about an American pitbull could have had such an impact on the hip-hop community in 2013. Crafted up by HBK Gang’s Sage The Gemini, “Red Nose” had everyone shaking it since debuting on the rapper’s EP back in March. Not to mention the track’s seductive sway, which birthed a dance craze hitting everywhere from the Bay Native rapper’s home turf to the empire state. “And she gon shake it like a red nose.” Press play!—MJ
Kanye West, "Blood On The Leaves"
Mixing personal memories of a menacing relationship with the horrors of lynching for a record is often looked at as a blasphemous feat at first—but Kanye West made the combination work. Sampling Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” West’s “Blood on the Leaves” from his sixth studio LP Yeezus was a gorgeous metaphor of a failed relationship touted with bass, towering horns, and auto-tune effect reminiscent of 808s & Heartbreak.—AA
2 Chainz featuring Pharrell, "Feds Watching"
Chainz's sophomore solo set may not have lived up to the lofty heights that his first hit, but this song wasn't the problem; in a year in which Pharrell completely dominated all genres of music, this was an early entry for song of the summer that carried through under the radar. After debuting the track at Summer Jam, Chainz's ode to his snakeskin pants was everywhere for a couple months. Then there's the video, which somehow saw Chainz's wardrobe top itself three separate times as the greatest outfit of all time. Infectious and hilarious.—DR
YG featuring Jeezy And Rich Homie Quan, “My Hitta”
The lead single off YG’s debut studio album My Krazy Life, “My Hitta” helped burst YG back onto the rap scene. With the rapper now prepping to release the LP in March, YG continues his string of strong singles with "Left Right."—MJ
DJ Khaled featuring Lil Wayne, Rick Ross And Drake, “No New Friends”
Appearing on DJ Khaled’s seventh collaborative LP Suffering From Success, “No New Friends” helped bring in the summer. The track, which was originally supposed to be the remix to Drake’s “Started From The Bottom,” evolved into a whole new song and a hashtag that no one could avoid.—MJ
Pusha T, "Numbers On The Boards"
Pure, raw and uncut are synonymous with Pusha T. The G.O.O.D. Music MC’s single from My Name Is My Name displayed Pusha’s calculated lyricism has only gotten better over the years. With Kanye West supplying the beat, Pyrex P shows us he really breathes this hip-hop shit.—ED
Eminem featuring Rihanna, "The Monster"
Marking Eminem and Rihanna’s fourth collaboration, “Monster” reigned the charts in 2013. Claiming the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100, the track assisted Rihanna in tying with Michael Jackson for the third-most leaders in the Hot 100's history.—MJ
Rich Gang, "Tap Out"
2013 was the year that Future solidified himself as a bonifide all-star when it came to crooning near-unintelligible hooks that were nonetheless immensely enjoyable (see: "Bugatti," "Shit"). Wayne kicks things off with a verse that, while not the most original, was still entertaining, while Birdman carries the bridge to the only part that really matters, and the only part that keeps this song on the list: Nicki Minaj. Here's to nominating "Pull up in that you can't afford this / Only rap bitch on the Forbes list" for couplet of the year. That and, of course, that hook is infectious as hell.—DR
Kanye West, "Bound 2"
This song, sonically, was Kanye West telling the whole world to fuck off. On an album that made a lot of people initially say, "What the hell is Kanye doing?", "Bound 2" showed the doubters that he could still give them the soul-soaked laments that everyone wanted, he just decided not to. But that doesn't mean this song is a throwaway—the video might be more of one than the song itself—this is Kanye's introspection colliding with his self-doubt in a way that is eminently relatable to anyone with a pulse. Also, "Bound 3." Never forget "Bound 3."—DR
Meek Mill, "Levels"
There two things that are guaranteed when you watch Meek Mill live. For one, “Dreams And Nightmares (Intro)” will have you so hyped up that you’ll want to punch someone. For another, “Levels” gets you in that same headspace—only you’ll want bash anybody that comes in your line of sight. Pretty much—Meek’s “Levels” is the turn up banger of the year.—ED
Ace Hood featuring Rick Ross And Future, "Bugatti"
If you woke up in a new Bugatti, you would make a song about it too. Over Mike Will Made It's synths, Ace Hood delivers with "Bugatti." Turn up is the theme, as Future delivers another stand apart memorable hook with the nice assist from Rick Ross who delivers a solid verse. What's the actually depth and meaning of the song? Who cares because once base kicks in, you won't be able to contain yourself. Ace continues his streak of providing club bangers that get consistent spins on the radio.—ECM
A$AP Rocky featuring 2 Chainz, Drake And Kendrick Lamar, "Fuckin' Problems"
Whose crowning line is better: Rocky's "at least a nigga nigga rich!" or Kendrick's "girl, I know you want this di—"? Both get screamed at top volume at any show, and that's without even getting into Drake's verse smack dab in the middle. The only thing that could have made this better is if Chainz was able to weigh in with a punchline-laden ode to having sex with women. Tru.—DR
Rocko featuring Rick Ross And Future, "U.O.E.N.O."
Rocko had a hit on his mixtape Gift Of Gab 2 and a lot of people didn’t know it yet. Unfortunately, the Atlanta rapper was grouped into Rick Ross’ controversial rape lyric, sending his biggest street song into a whirlwind of debates and protests. Still, months after the media explosion, “U.O.E.N.O.” lives on as the track with an woozy and memorable beat. You can thank Childish Major for that.—ED
Kendrick Lamar featuring Jay Z, "Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe" (Remix)
"Hold up, Trinidad Jame$ in four weeks and now my album platinum and shit?" Kendrick says, announcing this remix with an incredulity that no one else sees his standing in the game. And then in his two fresh verses—bookending Jay Z—he proves it with the first of his many lyrical boasts that go after his contemporaries. Jay holds his own as well—"Sittin' next to Hilary smellin' like dank / Presidential pardon"—but when Kendrick starts assassinating guys to close it out, you really know whose song this is. King. Kendrick.—DR
A$AP Ferg featuring Trinidad Jame$, ScHoolboy Q, French Montana And A$AP Rocky, "Work" (Remix)
A$AP Ferg takes his 2012 underground hit “Work" and turns it into an all-star club banger. Ferg grabs Trinidad Jame$, ScHoolboy Q, French Montana and fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Rocky for a high energy bombastic record that will have your arms in the air instantly.—ECM
Eminem, "Rap God"
Eminem’s not just a “Rap God,” he’s a rap genius. In six minutes, he addressed critics, MCs, and all that questioned his super quick word delivery. With production from DVLP, “Rap God” served not only as possibly Em’s best single to date, but a stamp of approval as one of the most potent lyricist of hip-hop.—AA
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake, "Holy Grail"
With the help of Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, J-Roc, The Dream and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, “Holy Grail” served as perfect lyrical story of Hov’s tempestuous relationship with fame. However, Hov’s efforts in portraying this scarred relationship weren’t in vain. “Holy Grail,” made quite the impact on Billboard Hot 100 when it debuted at No. 8—becoming the second-highest charting single of 2013 and certified two times platinum by RIAA as of October 2013.—AA
Drake featuring 2 Chainz And Big Sean, "All Me"
Drake could have obviously held his own in “All Me,” but OVO’s finest dodged the cynical route and instead enlisted a little help from Big Sean and 2 Chainz. Sticking to the winning formula with production from Key Wane, what could have been one of Drake’s big moments turned out to be Big Sean’s highlight of 2013 as the track became one of his most celebrated verses of the year—that is until a certain Compton MC eclipsed his spotlight two months later (coughs) Kendrick.—AA
J. Cole featuring Miguel, "Power Trip"
A single off of the Roc Nation signee’s second studio album, Grammy-nominated “Power Trip” found J. Cole and Miguel up all night and lost in love. Rocking radio airways since debuting on Valentine's day, the lead single is one where we'll continue bumping in 2014.—MJ
Big Sean featuring Kendrick Lamar And Jay Electronica, "Control"
Was the whole song something memorable or is this all about Kendrick's verse? Everyone one will have different opinion, but the most important fact is six months after the song hit the Internet, its still a focal point for discussion. No song comes in recent memory that sparked more news, responses and debates. "Control” restored hip-hop’s competitive spirit. It's a song that didn't even make Big Sean's album, Hall Of Fame, also features very good verses from both Sean and Jay Electronica.
However, Kendrick's scene-stealing verse reverberated in rapper's minds everywhere to this day, especially his peers that he called out on the track. Thus, it propelled him to the top of hip-hop's target board. He easily showcased his lyrically ability and ferocity, opening up the doors to anyone who dares to challenge him.—ECM
French Montana, "Ain't Worried About Nothin'"
Before Miley Cyrus and a pet monkey Julius Caesar were any of his troubles, French Montana’s only concerns were two things: Molly and Aquafina—as his breakthrough anthem “Ain’t Worried About Nothin” dominated the clubs in 2013. The Rico Love-produced single from his debut album Excuse My French not only spawned a bunch of Instagram memes but also a remix from the twerk-happy Cyrus and a “Skeemix” featuring Problem, Dizzy Wright, Game, and Crooked I.—AA
Jay Z featuring Rick Ross, "FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt"
These two juggernauts, Jay Z and Rick Ross, know how to make music with each other. Look at records like "Free Mason," "3 Kings" and recent single "The Devil Is A Lie," the chemistry is undeniable. "FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt" off Jay's Magna Carta...Holy Grail album, the tone was set with a snippet of Pimp C's last interview before his death explaining youngsters' affinity for flashy lifestyles. The record bleeds bravado, as both rappers mimic this start-stop delivery over cool snares and a kick that gives the song the perfect bounce it needs. The trio of Vinylz, Boi-1da, and Timberland collaborate to deliver the perfect beat for both Ross and Hov to do what they do best. Rap about how much richer they are than you.—ECM
Migos went from a trio trapping out the bando to rap’s coolest guys that everyone wanted to fuck with. This year, Migos’ “Versace” blew up in hip-hop and pushed them closer to the mainstream. Drake would co-sign the record with a crazy over-the-top verse and several dozens of remixes showed their hit was too big to ignore. In October, Quavo and TakeOff premiered the official video for the song, which put their obsession with Versace in visual form. Here’s hoping 2014 rings in another style brand chant for us to recite to the rap world.—ED
Rich Homie Quan, "Type Of Way"
Rich Homie Quan broke through the Billboard Rap charts and made one of the year's most memorable anthems with "Type of Way." It dropped at the end of 2012 on his Still Goin’ In Reloaded mixtape, and proceeded to take over radio making Drake even saying in an interview with MTV News that he regretted not hopping on the song. Adopting the Auto-Tune falsetto made popular by T-Pain and updated by Future, Quan's sing-rap style mashed with his delivery worked wonderfully. The ATL newcomer delivered a catchy infectious hit that you can't help to repeat over and over.—ECM
Drake, "Started From The Bottom"
Drake’s rag to riches anthem was inescapable. While many questioned his idea of a tough road to success, Drake believed his story was relatable to the masses. "I just wanted to make it known that I did work really hard to get here and it wasn't just a fluke and it wasn't easy by any means," he explained to MTV News in February. However you want to classify what your bottom is, Drizzy made sure everyone was chanting his hook and acting cocky doing it. Started!—ED