As we come to the end of yet another year, it's time to reflect on how far our chosen genre was been able to progress, and also on how many steps back it was forced to take thanks to the quality of the output this year. 2013 wasn't a bad year by any stretch of the imagination, but it had its fair share of disappointments, and I want you to discuss both your favorite and most hated moments of the year, in addition to you rfavorite and least favorite posts, in the comments below. Here, I'll even start.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR, BASED ON THE ALBUMS I ACTUALLY REVIEWED IN 2013: Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons To Die
Younge's instrumentals are even outstanding on their own. Still haven't listened to Apollo Brown's version, though. (I know, I know.)
MY SECOND FAVORITE ALBUM OF 2013:
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
Yeah, I know, not very creative with this choice, but fuck it, Killer Mike and El-P's collaboration grew on me significantly.
BEST GUEST VERSE:
Birdman, on Drake's “The Language”
A masterwork of minimalism. You have to listen to the words he's not saying. Which, given the laziness of the writing, are an awful fucking lot of words.
RAP CREW THAT HAD A PRETTY GOOD 2013:
The year began with Czarface, proof positive that Inspectah Deck should postpone his planned retirement (looking forward to the sequel, too) and the aforementioned Twelve Reasons To Die, cycled through a U-God album that was actually pretty entertaining, and ended with Method Man destroying something called an A$AP Nast's performance on the A$AP Mob's enjoyable “Trillmatic” (a made-up word that combines two other words, “trill” and “illmatic”, that also do not exist). Masta Killa fucked up the flow with his insistence on sucking all of the air out of the room with Selling My Soul, and that Raekwon album didn't quite happen, but hey, the Wu can still bring it when they want to.
RAP CREW THAT HAD A PRETTY GOOD 2013 THAT DIDN'T FUCK UP THEIR OWN TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY BY FORGETTING TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT SOMEHOW:
Kendrick Lamar's “Control” verse, his Grammy nomination for Album Of The Year, the crew's BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, and ScHoolboy Q's “Collard Greens”? As long as they don't fumble the ball, 2014 could be their year.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR THAT I DID NOT ACTUALLY REVIEW:
J-Zone – Peter Pan Syndrome
Yet. Did not actually review yet.
BEST MIXTAPE ARTWORK:
Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip – The Abstract & The Dragon
Whoever created that cover art, since I can't seem to find a name after a three-second Google search, should be commended, as it is pretty goddamn amazing. Which is why it's too bad that the actual project consists mostly of previously-released collaborations. Sigh. It's still pretty entertaining, though.
MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUM:
Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
You know when you meet one of your favorite (insert an expert in whatever field of your choice here) and praise his or her work, and they come across not only as bored of the subject matter, but bored by you as well, and you leave the conversation feeling foolish for ever caring that much in the first place? That. Especially if that person's entourage comes across as much more friendly, inviting, and interesting (*cough* Vince Staples *cough*).
MOST INFURIATING ALBUM:
Kanye West – Yeezus
Mostly because people putting together their year-end lists are still pretending that it's a good album instead of embracing their gut and dismissing it like any sane person should. Seriously, Yeezus is the worst: its experimentation is condescending at best and esoteric to a fault; at ten tracks, it's at least eight tracks too long; he sure as shit rushed a single to radio after that drop-off in sales during the second week of release, which doesn't help his cause; and 'Ye isn't doing himself any favors with that “Bound 2” video, either. Also, it's difficult to take the man's anti-sellout message seriously when you can fucking hear “Black Skinhead” during a commercial for Motorola.
DO YOU STILL THINK THAT JAY-Z'S ALBUM WAS MORE ENTERTAINING THAN YEEZUS?
Magna Carta...Holy Grail isn't that great (although it is much better than Kingdom Come, and you know it), but “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit” eats pieces of shit like Yeezus for breakfast, and that's even with a goddamn Rick Ross cameo.
MOST POPULAR READER REVIEW OF 2013:
One For All was the recipient of the most page hits of all the Reader Reviews this year. That isn't a fair statement, considering that I just ran a bunch of other submissions in December and there's no way they've been around long enough to rack up the same kind of numbers, especially as the One For All post ran in May, but it is what it is. The comments section got a little bit heated, thanks to an attempt at levelheaded critique of homophobic content in our chosen genre, but that's what I like to see: passionate people defending their opinions. Although Brand Nubian and their gay-bashing most definitely came down on the losing side of that battle, which is a statement that is not open to interpretation: if you feel that much hatred in your heart for the gay and lesbian community, then you're just an asshole at this point. What are they doing that affects your own personal life so goddamn much? And you know I'm right: fuck, I'm willing to bet that Sadat X and Grand Puba don't even really have much of an opinion on the matter anymore, especially today. Lord Jamar, though, yeah, he probably still feels the same.
THE ONE THING HHID READERS WILL FIND MOST FRUSTRATING ABOUT MY LIST:
The fact that it doesn't include a shit-ton of underground or lesser-known artists.
Sorry, folks, but I attempted to keep it limited to the projects I actually wrote about this year, except for when I didn't. And I didn't get to listen to nearly as many albums as I had hoped this year, mainstream or underground, due to personal issues and a complete lack of time in my day, so I can't promise that 2014 will be any different. But I'm still here, which should count for something.
Happy New Year from HHID. I'm going to take a short break, and I'll be back with new content fairly soon.