Another year down, and another year overflowing with good, solid music. Twenty-thirteen started with a bang due to releases from A$AP Rocky, Local Natives, Nosaj Thing and Pusha T (to name a few). As the year wore on, mixtapes began flooding in from the likes of Tsu Surf, K Roosevelt, HS87, and come March, the prodigal son returned; Justin Timberlake. Over the next couple months, we received two disappointing efforts from the Young Money regime, Lil Wayne and Tyga. Let us skip ahead to the summer, and even being halfway around the world, that wasn’t going to get in the way of me enjoying one of the most dominant Hip Hop summers. The fall kept the ball rolling with a London Grammar’s long awaited debut, a couple follow-ups from The Weeknd and 2 Chainz, plus a less then stellar third instalment from the Maybach Empire. We topped the year off with a strong sophomore effort from Childish Gambino and a surprise album from Beyoncé. This was a substantial 365 days of music, I can only hope the next 365 produce nothing less.
25. Gold And Youth – Beyond Wilderness
On last year’s list we had Cold Speck’s debut project which came out on Canadian label Arts & Crafts Records. This year, that same record label has found another debut album from one of their artists on AHM’s list. Gold And Youth reside in both Vancouver and Toronto, and have made Canada proud with their first LP. Their mixture of dreamy melancholy vocals, texturized drums and retro synths make for a dark but rather uplifting vibe.
24. PartyNextDoor – PartyNextDoor
Fresh out the Toronto music scene, PartyNextDoor signed with Drake’s OVO Sound record label this year. The self-titled debut works along the same lines as The Weeknd does, but the sound has a more upbeat approach. Not to mention his flow has a punch to it, teetering on the edge of Hip Hop. The future should be looking bright for this young heartthrob, especially if his company has anything to do with it.
23. Ryan Leslie – Black Mozart
After a debacle with iTunes, R Les decided to release his new album independently through his website. Black Mozart has a unique sound, completely different from his previous projects. This was the first album that had outside producers on every track. The normalcy sees Leslie producing 99% of his own album. Read a full album review HERE
22. The Weeknd – Kiss Land
The Canadian dreamscape painter lands lower on the list based on the fact I know he can do better. The three mixtapes released before Kiss Land all surpassed this project. Nevertheless, still a concrete album, incredibly ominous, as i’m sure you’ve come to expect.
21. Shout Out Louds – Optica
Usually I find myself listening to a Shout Out Louds record all the way through a few times before I pick out my favourite tracks. The difference with Optica is I have a hard time putting my finger on a preferred track. This is an album that works better conceptually, and I find myself listening cover-to-cover every time.
20. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
Toro Y Moi came back strong in 2013 by following up the successful Underneath the Pine. This being his third LP, it infuses all the chillwave soul and funk you’ve come to love and expect.
19. Mac Miller – Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Mr. Miller showed a lot of growth with this album, especially in terms of sound diversity. We know he can navigate a soundboard and the odd 808, but he reached new, mature levels of creativity with WMWTSO. Read a full album review HERE
18. MS MR – Secondhand Rapture
I had been waiting on this album for almost three years, so needless to say it’s been in heavy rotation all year. The duo from New York released “Hurricane” back in 2010, which would later be their lead single for this debut album. If you’re a fan of Florence + The Machine/Lana Del Rey, you’ll enjoy MS MR.
17. Local Natives – Hummingbird
This serves as these Silver Lake natives sophomore album. While I found their debut (Gorilla Manor) somewhat lacklustre, Hummingbird strikes a nerve right off the bat and continues on to be a well-rounded project.
16. HS87 – All I’ve Ever Dreamed Of
Hit-Boy is the leader of this group of talented rappers and producers. Hits Since 1987 dropped this as a free project and it sounds like it should cost a pretty penny. Bangers, anthems and posse cuts make up this well-produced, well-featured compilation tape. Download the album HERE
15. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (1 & 2)
After a seven year stint between solo projects, JT dropped two full-length albums in the same year. His sound has matured, and while he hasn’t lost that sultry vibe, the projects have diversity amongst them.
14. Childish Gambino – Because The Internet
While 2011 was Bino’s coming out party to the mainstream world, 2013 was his induction to “talked about often in the online Hip Hop community.” Glover did something a little different with Because The Internet, turning it into more of a concept album with stories and interludes
13. Gilbere Forté – PRAY
I remember earlier this year a buddy and I were down in Portland and we heard this Hip Hop track with a Fiona Apple sample. Who knew the owner of that track would end up on the Top 25 Albums list. Read further and download the album HERE
12. London Grammar – If You Wait
I had been waiting on this album for quite some time, and if you stayed up to date with the mixes, i’m sure I made it quite obvious. This London trio exploded onto the scene with their debut album and I expect great things from them.
11. A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP
Rocky went from giving away his album for free to winning BET Awards for a collaboration with Drake, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz in the span of two years. The fashion-forward rapping entrepreneur didn’t waste any time climbing the ladder, and this record here played a big role.
10. Kanye West – Yeezus
Any year Ye drops an album, you can almost expect him to end up on 90% of the ‘Top Albums’ list, how he places is subjective. Yeezus was a successful experiment from the Chi-Town mogul. Read the full album review HERE
9. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
The French boys had a tough task to accomplish; follow up Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. While they may have played on a lot of the same elements that brought the aforementioned together, they infused enough creativity to keep it interesting. Read the full album review HERE
8. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
King Push decided early that 2013 would be his year. After signing with GOOD in 2011, we were all looking forward to his debut LP with the super-label. The most impressive thing about MNIMN is the distinct line drawn between Kanye influence and originality. While it may have been easy to cross it, Push stuck to his guns.
7. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
The boys from Brooklyn have come back with another record full of scars and stories that carry a realistic relatability that resonates with the listener. And while there may be standout tracks, the entire project flows like chapters in a novel.
6. Jay-Z – Magna Carta…Holy Grail
Hov soared to new heights this past year, broke barriers, and made a damn good record at the same time. What MCHG may lack in concept, it makes up for in anthems, bangers, club hits and dazzling production. Read the full album review HERE
5. Los Campesinos! – No Blues
While is saddened me to see Los Camp was no longer under the Arts & Crafts label, it doesn’t take away from the fact they may have created their best album yet. No Blues is the Canadian indie rockers 5th LP, and easily one of the most diverse.
4. J. Cole – Born Sinner
Jermaine Cole was not only on the pedestal for the underground world, but the mainstream Hip Hop world was waiting on Born Sinner like kids wait on Christmas. Without hesitation, Cole brought the heat in every aspect with this album, especially conceptually, not to mention he produced almost the entire project himself. Read the full album review HERE
3. Daughter – If You Leave
With only three years under their belt as a band, the trio from London made 2013 their year, signing with 4AD Records and releasing a successful debut LP. If You Leave has the kind of energy and raw emotion that bands with 5, 10, 20 years of experience would have a hard time mimicking. Read the full album review HERE
2. Drake – Nothing Was The Same
The long-awaited third studio album from Canadian rapper Drake picked up right where he left off with Take Care. You get that same honesty and vulnerability with a little more capitalization in the concept department. The beats, the rhymes, the hooks, the features; it’s all part of the recipe that earns Aubrey Graham a top spot on the list.
1. Volcano Choir – Repave
The number one spot on AHM’s list goes to the raw creativity of Justin Vernon and Collections of Colonies of Bees, aka Volcano Choir. These top albums lists are and should be subjective, and while all the 24 aforementioned are all solid albums, Repave tapped into something personal for me. Read the full album review HERE
There you have it, AHM’s Top 25 Albums of 2013. It’s not an easy list to create, it usually begins with 40-50 albums and I cut down from there. I’d love to hear what your favourites were, so stop by and leave your Top 5 in the comment section below.
Happy New Year,