Best of 2013: The Hottest Jams of 2013

20. Rich Homie Quan
“Type of Way”
Still Goin’ In (Reloaded) (T.I.G)

“Type of Way” is the kind of song that feels like it’s over in about 30 seconds. Over its five-ish minute running time, Dequantes “Rich Homie Quan” Lamar keeps his promise never to stop going in, vocally pogoing like a mad 9 year-old off  2 liters of Code Red. His energy is infectious — so much so that if it comes on in a public setting and you don’t get into it, you will and should be judged.

19. Holy Ghost!
“It Must Be The Weather”
Dynamics (DFA)
The NYC-dancepop vets’ second LP was mostly met with a collective shrug from the blogosphere. Maybe it’s the demise of synth-pop. Maybe the sheen is off DFA since Uncle James retired. Maybe it’s the weather. Whatever it is, it’s unfortunate. In reality, the duo of Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel’s songwriting has never been stronger or more consistent. The aptly-named Dynamics’ best track is a harrowing, honest look at addiction, and while I don’t have (or wish to have) a lot of experience with hard drugs, the lyrics and storytelling are completely relatable and easily engender empathy. Musically, it sports the best kind of 80’s-influence replete with moody synths and impeccable reverb-dripped electric drums.

18. Drake
“Hold On, We’re Going Home”

Nothing Was the Same (YMCMB)
As solid as it is, the best of parts of Drake’s 3rd LP all felt a little familiar. It was hard not to feel that you’ve already heard its best tracks (“Own It,” “Started from the Bottom,” “Too Much”) before in previous iterations on previous albums. However, we’ve never heard the 27 year-old quite like this, as he tackled what amounts to a straightforward-ish dance track with the ease of a seasoned crooner. It serves as the most recent addition to Drake’s considerable array of talents and served as one of the biggest earworms of the year.

17. Future
“Sh!t” / “Bugatti” (w/ Ace Hood, Rick Ross)
Honest (Freebandz) / Trials & Tribulations (We The Best)
Though his long-awaited second LP disappointingly didn’t see the light of day, 2013 was a banner year for the 30 year-old ATLien. More than anything, it cemented the artist governmentally known as Nayvadius Wilburn as a complete artist — kind of like a five-tool MLB player (Heyward, Trout) or a true do-it-all NBA swingman (LeBron, Durant, George, etc). There are a lot of artists who can do a couple of things well, but very few can do everything that Wilburn can. His two most important tracks of the year (both produced by Mike WiLL Made It) — the agressive, direct “Sh!t” and the glossy “Bugatti” — highlight that versatility. If you need a hood track, he can do that. A big hook for the radio, he’s got it. He’s already proven capable of carrying an album by himself and being an excellent guest MC. Oh yeah, and he got engaged to FUCKING CIARA. Pretty decent year, indeed, but 2014 could be even better.

16. Oneohtrix Point Never
“Americans”
R Plus 7 (Software)
In the eternal Joel Ford/Daniel Lopatin debate (not quuuuuite Lennon/McCartney), I’ve always been #teamjoel. That said, even the staunchest Ford apologist has to admit what an incredible effort R Plus 7 is front-to-back. If you somehow missed it, it’s 40-plus minutes of beguiling, experimental electronic magic. Its ten tracks that vacillate wildly from moment to moment, leaving the listener little time to catch their breath, let alone make heads or tails of it. As the tracks are obviously meant to be heard together, it’s incredibly difficult to pick a favorite, but its glorious second track will do — highlighting the record’s fluctuating, challenging sound and adventurous spirit.

15. Majical Cloudz
“This Is Magic”
Impersonator (Matador)
Crushing. Uncompromising. Desolate. A lot of the adjectives that come to mind when one listens to the Montreal duo’s outstanding LP, Impersonator, are usually reserved for death metal, military conflicts, and visits to grandma’s house. Armed with soley Matthew Otto’s lonely synths and Devon Welsh’s unsettling voice and serious-as-a-heart-attack prose, the group conjures an ungodly wallop — the kind that reaches through your earbuds and tears at the stuff under your ribs.

14. Autre Ne Veut
“World War”
Anxiety (Software)
I think we can all agree that the world needs more tracks about the joy of moving on. We’ve got more than enough take me back/hole in my heart/my dog ran away sad sack balladry; we need more “no way you’re gonna be my baby,” PAPA’S MOVIN’ ON tracks. Nobody did it better this year than Arthur Ashin, who closed his excellent Anxiety with this powerful, damn-near spiritual break-up jam. After a fraught, anxious (see what I did there?) first half that mirrors the difficult, confusing task of moving on, “World War” unfolds into a quietly triumphant climax that nails the feeling of realizing that what you thought you couldn’t live without isn’t nearly as important as what you thought it was. And it feels sooooo good.

13. Ciara
“Body Party”
Ciara (Epic)

It’s hard to gauge whether 2013 was really a success for CiCi or not. On the one hand, “Body Party” was one of 2013’s most undeniable songs, keeping the 28 year-old in the pop culture zeitgeist for another year. That said, her highly-anticipated fifth album failed to offer much else — reinforcing her status as a pop music nearly-man, closer to the Cassies and Kellys of this world than the Beyoncés and Rihannas. That said, she’s still great for a single, and “Body Party” is as good an effort as anything since 2010’s unstoppable “Ride.”

12. Kelela
“Bank Head”
CUT 4 ME (Fade To Mind)
The LA-based, DC-native was my undisputed new artist of the year, and the highlight of her debut mixtape distills what a potent force she is. Restraint is often missing in pop music, and Kelela (né Mizanekristos) utilizes it to illustrate the visceral nature of longing and regret. It’s probably the most stellar pure pop song of the year, with every element working efficiently and in unison to serve the bleeding heart of the inch-perfect groove.

11. Gucci Mane
“Hell Yes”
Trap House III (1017 Brick Squad)
Gucci Mane is a modern-day Jim Morrison: a drug-addled, tortured genius who is beguiling, revolting, and inspiring  (sometimes all at once). He’s had an insane year. He released about 10 mixtapes, served time in jail, publicly admitted to a crippling long-term drug problem, filmed one of the most memorable sex scenes in years, and ended up back in a psych ward. He may not give a lot of interviews, but he openly sums up it all up here, sharing his overwhelming, ever-present dichotomies with the world: the triumph and the despair, the power and the weakness, the stuntin’ and the sadness. Even though it’s almost impossible to imagine, he tells you what it’s like being Gucci in this exhausted, croaked, auto-tuned love song. “Bitch it might be” the most illuminating song of his remarkable career.

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best Of '13, Featured

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