Top 100 Rap Songs of 2013
- In June, Drake randomly released 4 songs at one time: his and J. Cole’s “Jodeci Freestyle", PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Over Here”, “The Motion" with Sampha, and this banger by Atlanta rap trio Migos. This was the song that put Migos on the map, allowing them to have excellent promotion for their Y.R.N. mixtape. The track is one of Rap Genius’ 30 most viewed songs, coming in with 1.8 million views.
95. Logic "Nasty"
Produced by DJ Don Cannon, this wordplay-heavy track puts Logic on display for all to see. None can ignore Def Jam’s latest signee; the double entendres are abundant and the flow hits code red. Serving as his first single of the year proved to be a successful venture, gaining tens of thousands of views on Rap Genius and creating a platform for his Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever mixtape.
90. Mellow High ft. Domo Genesis "Yu"
- Domo Genesis constructs a catchy hook to bounce over Left Brain’s keyboard heavy production. The Odd Future duo of Domo and Hodgy Beats lay down dope bars with their usual uncensored subject matter of drugs, bitches and wolves!
“No New Friends” was the first single off DJ Khaled's Suffering From Success album. Produced by Noah "40" Shebib, the track features the usual suspects: Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne. A behind-the-scenes photo from this song's video shoot led to the ultra-famous ‘Drake Lean’ meme, one of the biggest memes of 2013! With an enthralling beat and a memorable hook, “No New Friends” was one of the most anthemic tracks of the year.
- “Lovely Day” is just one of those songs that makes you want to get up and dance, because it’s so upbeat and fun! Vic lays down some dope bars, with metaphors that carry across multiple lines, a reference to Lupe’s “Daydreamin’”, and a shoutout to his best friend, what’s not to love about this track?
- This rare 2 Chainz solo joint has banging drums, an infectious hook, and a great club vibe. Produced by Mannie Fresh, the cut from B.O.A.T.S ll #METIME sees Tity Boi travel from Cali to New Orleans in the space of 2 bars, party the night away, and encourage more twerking. What isn’t there to like?
- In an extremely personal ”Immortal”, Cudi details his inner struggles. Arguably the best song from Indicud, this track saw Cudi handle all duties, production included. The drums hit hard, the harmonizing is uplifting and the strings melt your ears. Even an Adam Sandler sample made its way into the joint!
- This playful track is about nothing at all, so who better to kill it than Q and Mac? Mac lays down a characteristically hilarious hook and switches flows and voices as the bouncy beat from Chuck Inglish changes up. Q does his high-energy Q thing and blesses us with a nice "FIGG SIDEEEEEEEE" to wrap it all up.
The fan requested “Control” response brought out Super Lupe for the second time and he was none too happy with the game. He called out multiple rappers while seamlessly changing flows and displaying classic Lupe lyricism. Oh yeah, and he made the song in just two hours!
One hit wonder or talented hit maker? That’s the question posed by Rich Homie Quan with his street anthem “Type of Way". The song propelled the relatively unknown Atlanta native into the spotlight and a top 50 spot on Billboards Hot 100 after it was caught up by the streets and shared around the Internet - even Michigan State’s college football team is using it as their team anthem!
- Joey & Primo take it back to the golden age on this boom bap-esque joint. The minimalist production fits Joey’s flow perfectly and enables his complex delivery and dope bars to shine. Functioning as the first single from “Summer Knights”, Joey drops some surprises; explaining his reasoning behind not signing a major record deal and that he does verses for free!
TDE newcomer Isaiah Rashad’s best offering of 2013 came with this infectious hook laden remix of his original “I Shot U Down”. Featuring fellow TDE spitters Jay Rock & Schoolboy Q, the hard drums and longer verses propel the track to new heights. If it’s anything to go by, we could be looking at a future addition to the Black Hippy quartet.
- Another collaboration between good friends J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar led to one of the top singles off of Cole's album "Born Sinner". While Kendrick does not deliver a verse on it, the hook he gives us still is soothing and paints the religious theme throughout the song. Cole delivers two solid verses, talking about religion, his inner struggle, and even saying why he dropped his album the same day as Kanye West. One more from Lil Cole!
- This is truly Tyler at his finest. From his beat to his bars, this track showcases Tyler’s supreme artistic talent. Oh, and there’s THAT VIDEO! The talk-rap, slow flow is personal and poetic. He combines crooning with curses effortlessly and elevates the track in doing so. The beat builds like a film. He even directed his idol Pharrell’s angelic voice on the bridge, with a melody Tyler created himself. Sonically this track was standout, and then he made that video and this became undeniably next-level.
- Perhaps the universal favorite from the album, this is a dark, entrancing look at the compulsive and haunting power of our past loves/infatuations. Like The Boy driving down Telegraph Ave, we can spend our time retreading the same roads thinking about “what ifs” and reminiscing about things lost – sometimes alongside the people with whom we lost them. But unless we decide to do something about all those lost things – whether to try again, or to walk away for good – all that wandering isn’t going to do us any good. Using Lloyd’s “Oakland” literally in the song, Gambino cleverly plays both rapper and listener creating and experiencing the track with us.
- The first single off Acid Rap, Juice was one of the big breakthroughs this year for Chance. The first thing that catches your ears is Chance’s sing-songy, cartoony flow which you can’t help singing along to (some jumping around is mandatory). But listen closely, and you get Chancelor’s dope bars: dense, great-sounding internal rhymes and clever Chicago references. As you’re headbanging through the verse though, you’re hit with that absolutely HYPE chorus that is guaranteed to make you lose your shit. What you’re left with is one of the catchiest, most memorable songs of 2013 and a high point in the spectacular year Chance has had.
- This Nothing Was The Same stand-out combines Drizzy’s loud, arrogant hook with even more flexin’ in his verses. DJ Dahi delivers with gritty, bass-heavy production deceptively containing no sample. Like many tracks on NWTS, Drake’s flow and the beat changes up across the song -- he even confidently borrows flow and bars from Ma$e’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” anthem. The music video stars his actual dad and uncles and contains his worst skit to date. Even with lyrics that playfully reference his famous Hot 97 freestyle blunder and remind us of his Degrassi roots, Drake manages to make one of the hardest bangers of 2013. Just accept that you’ll never get the timing right for that initial “.......WORST!”
- The leaps and bounds of growth that Earl Sweatshirt has experienced over the last several years can really be heard on Doris' standout track, “Hive.” Fueled by a bassline that gives the song that dark, Odd Future feel, Earl spits much more mature bars using his now polished signature flow. With the addition of a great hook from young Casey Veggies, the song was already fantastic. But then Vince Staples busts in with a ski mask and absolutely kills it. Did Vince renegade Earl? That's up for debate, but you can't deny that Shyne, and everyone else on the song, absolutely did their thing.
- When the MMLP2 tracklist was revealed, Love Game was one of the most heavily-anticipated tracks; everyone was envisioning a Renegade-level back-and-forth between Em and Kendrick. But the song turned out to be as left-field as possible. Backed by a quirky Rick Rubin-produced instrumental that could’ve come straight from the ‘50s (cheesy sample included), Eminem describes his time with an unfaithful woman in hilarious detail, while Kendrick emulates Em’s flow and raps about his experiences with the infamous Sherane. Although a largely comical song, Love Game still has a lot of great rhymes, with an especially phenomenal third verse by Em. Despite their bad experiences with women, Marshall and K.Dot let us know that they’re always going to be playing the game of love!
“Started From The Bottom”, produced by Mike Zombie, was the first single off Drake's Nothing Was The Same album. The track was released in February and peaked at #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It has since been certified 2x Platinum. Some may doubt if Drake really did ‘start at the bottom’, but with 2.2 million pageviews on Rap Genius and one of the catchiest hooks of the year, there is no doubt that this track was one of the biggest anthems of 2013.
- The lead single for Because the Internet is quintessential Childish Gambino, but is also a great showcase for the artist’s development over the last two years. It’s a good sampling of the album’s overall sound and texture. Gambino paints a great picture of how, if you don’t have someone you really care about beside you, you can be completely alone in a crowded room, to say nothing of dealing with the rest of the shit life throws at you. He both raps and sings exceptionally well and effortlessly here. Gambino also gave us a pleasantly metaphorical video to accompany the song and make us think even more.
- Two generations of Chicago hip-hop converge on this mixtape cut, with one artist already garnering national attention introducing another to the scene and re-introducing an OG from his city. Vic steals the show with an urgent and unforgiving verse, and Chance happily cedes the spotlight to him, restraining himself to an unassumingly spry and sing-songy verse; Twista, on the other hand, is not quite so willing to take a back seat, successfuly lacing the track with his trademark double-time bars. But amidst the aggressively fast raps of the trio, the hook has a contrastingly soothing melody that rounds out the entire production. This track firmly announces that hip-hop is once again Chicagoan.
- In a year of nervy choices that made business headlines around the world, Jay Z's boldest decision was actually a musical one. The only voice you hear during the first 1:19 of his new album's leadoff track is not Hov, but rather Justin Timberlake. This only manages to build anticipation, so that we are well-primed for the rapper's entry.
- And what an entry it is. His daughter's name is literally the first word out of his mouth, and with good reason. A post-fatherhood Jay is contemplative about the ups and downs of a personified fame, while admitting ultimately that he can't leave it alone. And lest we think he's lost a step, his patented wordplay is in full effect, with a pun on "pigeons" that puts today's coke-rappers to shame.
13. ASAP Rocky “1 Train” ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T.
"1 Train" is the cypher to end all cyphers. A$AP Rocky amalgamated a line-up without a single weak spitter, and they all did their worst to this Hit-Boy produced banger. It's impossible to pick who delivered the best verse here: was it the energized Danny Brown? the lovable braggart Action Bronson? the wordsmith Joey Bad? the hard-driving Big K.R.I.T.? Someone else? I can't decide, but I do know this: the track is flames
12. Schoolboy Q “Collard Greens” Kendrick Lamar
- A cut between two of Top Dawg Entertainment's main artists, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar came in to make a party banger just in time for summer. Schoolboy Q delivers a solid verse about his favorite things, (and how other people can't have them), before Kendrick comes in with that Español that makes this verse so memorable. The hook might be a little random, but the vibe it generates makes it infectious upon first listen.
- When word dropped that Daft Punk would be working with Kanye West on his new album, it was fair to assume it would result in a genre-blending song like Stronger. What we ended up with was indeed a blend of genres, but instead of electronic synths and filtered vocals, we got primal screams and distorted 808’s. Kanye is pissed off, but not the kind of pissed he gets about croissants or Jimmy Kimmel. No, Ye is fed up with people questioning his choices and he’s frustrated that nobody is taking risks anymore. And it’s palpable in this song, which represents the rebellious, IDGAF attitude that flows from both Kanye and Yeezus. Using few else but drums and vocal sounds you’d more likely hear exploring the Amazon than in Hip Hop, Kanye crafts an uneasy, raw instrumental that pairs perfectly with his blunt lyrics
- In classic J. Cole fashion, nearly everything on this track is done by himself. The smooth voice of Miguel helps out on a hook, but otherwise it is Cole’s world. The incredibly catchy hooks match up perfectly with his production and he drops plenty of relatable bars about a crush. This continuation of his 2009 song “Dreams” is about not only a girl, but also hip-hop and its impact on him - giving an already impressive song some duality. And much like the song sounds, its video felt like a short film as Cole literally does whatever it takes to claim his love. The 10th most viewed song on RG in 2013, fans spent a combined 7.5 years of time on this song page!
09. Drake “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” ft. Jay Z
- Drake crafts one of the most memorable tracks of 2013 with the outro to his third studio LP Nothing Was The Same. Boi-1da delivers on Pound Cake with a spacey Ellie Goulding sample as Drizzy paints the picture about what his life has been like while recording and making the album.
- The song isn’t finished there by any means. After two Jay verses, Drake comes back in for Paris Morton Music 2 and a perfect verse to remind us this is his song. The extra long PMM 2 verse is also very personal, looking back on the landscape of his career and perhaps how he’s no longer the same
My Name Is My Name is a stark minimalist creation and with the “No Artwork” cover, “Numbers On The Boards” is the centerpiece. Don Cannon & Kanye West create the spine with King Push on his super Lupe raps in between catchy samples. Push said all year he wanted to bring “that feeling back”, and “Numbers On The Boards” knocks harder than him thumping the wall with his fist. The lyrically enthralling track is jam packed with references and double entendres that takes you to Pusha’s dark underground hell in only a way he could.
“Bound 2” was an unexpected but wholly welcome ending to Yeezus. The song has sparked wide discussion: is it a rejection of the past 37 minutes? Is it a reassurance to fans about Kanye’s present musical identity? Is it a revelation about Kanye’s future? Who really cares? Kanye fans who hated Yeezus loved it and Kanye fans who loved Yeezus loved it. “Bound 2” is a weirdly endearing love song featuring classic Kanye flow floating over soul samples, topped with Charlie Wilson’s magical voice. What’s not to like?! Well, many would actually say “the video”, which was an overtly cheesy, green-screened, steamy motorcycle ride that not only made the world cringe, but also felt like the furthest thing from Ye’s aesthetic. But that was the point. Ye geniusly defied our expectations and used his prettiest song’s video as a commentary on the “wack” quality of American art and media that he feels should be banned. How very, New Slaves of him.
- Sequels to much-loved properties are rarely a good idea. For every The Empire Strikes Back, there are three Matrix Reloadeds. So when word leaked out that Em had recorded a follow-up to his epic 2000 story-song “Stan,” fans were nervous. After all, Stan died at the end, right? So what’s left?
- Plenty, as it turns out. Marshall turned a potentially bad idea into fantastic art with his imagining of Stan’s little brother Matthew (with the autographed Starter cap), now all grown up and seeking revenge. But just as the tale reaches its apex, the song switches perspective, revealing an intense look at Eminem’s self-doubts and anguish. Just before the end, he drops the biggest gem of all: his in-song tormentors are “just symbolic/Of not knowing what you had ‘til it’s gone.” The rapper himself may not know, but trust us, Slim, we do.
- This genre defining song starts with a dirty Nottz beat that makes you feel like committing a crime and quickly escalates to the feeling you’re part of one. The KRS sample serves as the hook and sounds of scratches fill the airwaves. Kings Push & Kendrick come through with menacing delivery and complex wordplay. While Terrence is neck deep in dealing, Kendrick is in the midst of consumption - the contrast is phenomenal, both MC’s affected by the crack epidemic in opposing instances. The insight into Kendrick’s story is rare, the Compton native always let us ride around his house but never let us through the front door. “Nosetalgia” is your 8ball on a Friday night, 4 shots of espresso every morning, and the In N Out double double you crave in LA. It’s dope.
Blood On The Leaves introduces a new piece into the emotional puzzle of Yeezus: remorse. The song is drowning in so many feels, it’s impossible not to catch some yourself. Kanye’s autotuned story of sadness begins atop the somber piano of the beautifully chopped Strange Fruit sample, but then the blaring horns and bass of TNGHT’s R U Ready burst through and all of a sudden that sadness turns to rage. By the end of it all you’re left with a modern day power ballad with enough autotune and raw emotion to make Future blush. Blood On The Leaves got to a bit of a slow start on Rap Genius due to lack of exposure pre-album release, but thanks in part to Kanye’s emotionally charged VMA performance the song is one of the most viewed Yeezus tracks on the site. The song’s instrumental has also become one of Producer Genius’ prized breakdowns, explaining the use of the song’s controversial Nina Simone sample and the origin of that beat drop. Can you imagine if Yeezus started off with this song, like Kanye originally planned? The world would have imploded.
”Six minutes, Slim Shady, you’re on”. After the novelty of a second Marshall Mathers LP began to wear off, Eminem got the buzz back by becoming the third MC this year to proclaim himself a god. This rapid-fire lyrical tour de force is laced with references to the first Mathers LP, sneak disses to some of his old buddies, and a 17 second stretch crammed with over 100 words. The Detroit native also broke Rap Genius the day "Rap God" was released, and has now amassed over 4 million page views
Proving himself in the booth was just the beginning for Slim. After criticism he lip synced on live television, Marshall Mathers showed up to the YouTube music awards and destroyed the hopes and dreams of every rapper alive when he performed the song live. It’s safe to say "Rap God" proved the internal rhyme mastermind is back on his Pharoahe Monch grind and nothing’s going to stop him.
02. Big Sean “Control” ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica
- You all knew this was coming. Big Sean delivered a 3 minute dope verse to open the track. Comparing his rapping skill to a baby's first steps and reminiscing on his grandfather, he manages to give one of the best verses of his career. For obvious reasons, we'll skip to Jay Electronica next. He too spit a clean verse about religion, while sneaking in TV and car references, and even mentioning his late grandmother, much like Sean did.
However, there was a 3rd feature to this monster track produced by No I.D. His name? King Kendrick Lamar. He came with one purpose: to assassinate the competition. The lyrical warfare was on for all to see and was full of levels. The Compton MC proclaimed he was both 2Pac's offspring and the King of New York, causing mass hysteria in hip hop’s homeland. But oh no, it wasn’t over yet. His braggadocio left mouths agape as he goes on to say he is as popular as the Beatles and placed his name up for one of the greatest MC's of all time. And yet there was more...he called out every hot young rapper - by their name, a rarity in Hip Hop (no sneak disses here!). Basically Kendrick manages to piss off every rapper and revolutionize the rap game at the same damn time. How about it?
"New Slaves" is best described as an “open letter” from Kanye West to the people - made into music. Produced by the Very G.O.O.D Beats crew, New Slaves is sonically simplistic yet still possesses melody courtesy of the droning synths. Frank Ocean assists on the outro, providing an amazing contrast to the aggressive tone used throughout the song, acting in a reflective manner. However from a lyrical standpoint it’s without a doubt one of Kanye’s greatest songs. He labeled verse 2 as the “best verse of all time” and with topics that range from modern day slavery to the fashion industry, and even America's prison system, it’s hard to disagree
The Chi-town native doesn’t just stop at the music. With a guerrilla marketing scheme fit for a military coup, Ye projected the track onto buildings in 66 locations across the world. It’s been 8 months since the song’s release and the significance of ”New Slaves is only just surfacing. Between the time of the song’s release and present day, the attitude of multiple industries has started to shift dramatically - would Jay Z and Beyonce have released projects with such unorthodox promotion methods if Kanye didn’t do it first? His movement, spearheaded with this peoples anthem, was made to inspire others to think in a similar light. ”New Slaves” invokes the power of free speech and brandishing the truth like an axe, Kanye challenges listeners to think outside the Matrix
Just as Mandela blew up the buildings and eventually became president. Contrary to popular opinion, sometimes you have to blow up the building.
— Kanye West
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- Historical context: what album the song's on, how popular it was
- The sample used for the beat — use WhoSampled.com and wikipedia as references