With just three days left in the year, it’s about that time to countdown the year’s best and worst in everything. Being the music enthusiast that I am, I’m pleased that 2013 provided so many great hits from some of my favorite artists and a few new ones.
As I stated last year, an album to me qualifies as great when you can listen to it from beginning to end. Some of these albums had bigger hits than others, but overall each provided me with a soundtrack that was undoubtedly the best that I have experienced in a long time. In no particular order, check out my picks for 2013 below:
1. The 20/20 Experience (The Complete Experience) – Justin Timberlake
As a JT stan, of course I was super-geeked on March 19th and September 30th when both of these amazing albums dropped. Both albums have very different sounds (I personally prefer 2 of 2 to 1 of 2), but I love them equally. “Let The Groove Get In” and “Strawberry Bubblegum” from 1 of 2, and “Drink You Away” and “Caberet” featuring Drake from 2 of 2 are definitely the four must-listen-to tracks on these two albumsJustin OWNED 2013, and I’m so glad that he’s back on the musical scene.
2. Love in the Future – John Legend
From start to finish, this album just gave the warm and fuzzy feeling of love. As the fifth studio album from powerhouse John Legend, this is definitely one of my favorites. But no track speaks love louder than “All of Me“. Upon hearing it the first time, a lot of people deemed it their wedding song (I’m still a HUGE fan of “So High” leading me down the aisle in the future) but the musicality of the song is just absolutely beautiful. Other tracks to check out include Dreams, Save the Night and Angel.
3. Devotion – Jessie Ware
I discovered Jessie Ware while listening to Emily King’s Spotify radio station and immediately feel in love with her voice. The lead single “Running” displays the true strength and versatility of her voice.
4. Yeezus – Kayne West
It took me about three listens to really understand what Kanye was trying to do here, but I eventually came around. Ye is FAR ahead of his time, and this album displays that futuristic sound that he is always talking about. But even as he looks into predicts the future of music in tracks like “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead”, he still remains true to his sampling ways in “Blood on the Leaves” and “Bound 2“.
5. Avalanche – Quadron
I can’t exactly remember how I was put on to Quadron, but I’m so glad that their album was in heavy rotation this year. The album is listenable from start to finish, giving a very Indie-R&B type of groove throughout. “Better Off” featuring Kendrick Lamar, and “Avalanche” are two of my favorite tracks, with “LFT” being the perfect anthem for a night on the town with the girls. I’m really excited to see them in concert when they come to The District with Mayer Hawthorne in March!
6. The Electric Lady – Janelle Monáe
Can I tell you all how hard this album goes? I couldn’t even get through the entire live stream because “Givin’ Them What They Love” featuring Prince is such a TOUGH track. Like, you guys — it’s PRINCE! And that’s not the only feature she has on the album — but “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuing Erykah Badu, “Electric Lady” featuring Solange and “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” featuring Esperanza Spalding are all phenomenal. This is by far one of my favorite albums of the year, and she put on one HELL of a show as well.
7. BEYONCE – Beyoncé
Man, look. Beyonce came in the last 18 seconds of the fourth quarter, dropped this off and the kids went absolutely crazy. I think what I love most about the album is the powerhouse producers that she worked with. From “Blow” to “Yonce” to “Partition” to “Rocket“, each track shows versatility that we haven’t seen from Beyonce before, but was far from unexpected. Kudos to The-Dream, Pharrell, Timbaland, Miguel, Boots, Details and of course Mr. JT for a great job in writing and producing the album
8. Because of the Internet – Childish Gambino
I’ve always had a crush on Donald Glover, and I’ve been a fan of Childish Gambino since his first album Camp in 2011. This album flows effortlessly and gives his awesome perspective of how the world of the Internet has shaped our culture. “Sweatpants”, “Telegraph Ave.” and “Pink Toes” are just a few of the tracks are my absolute favorites.
9. Where Does This Door Go – Mayer Hawthorne
Another artist which I discovered on Spotify, Mayer Hawthorne has been on the music scene for a minute with his old-school, soulful sound. Throughout this album, you can really tell that he’s influenced by musical greats such as Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Smokey Robinson. The title track, “Where Does This Door Go” as well as “Her Favorite Song” and “Crime” featuring Kendrick Lamar are just a few of my favorites, but this album is yet another great easy listen.
10. Magna Carta…Holy Grail – JAY Z
I’m pretty sure I played this out the first day it dropped, but I couldn’t get enough of hearing the dramatic intro to the album with “Holy Grail”. While I personally think this album is substantively dense (just keeping it real), the features on this album are probably some of the dopest I’ve heard all year. “Tom Ford”, “FxckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt“, “Oceans” and “BBC” are just a few that I kept in heavy rotation.
11. Settle – Disclosure
I have to give major props for my home girl Tolu for putting me on to this dynamic duo. I can’t really describe it, but it’s this sort of two-step bounce that I do when I hear when “Latch” comes on and it’s just a wrap from there. Tunes like “White Noise” and “You and Me” are totally made for the club, but I love how their sound isn’t too overwhelming with EDM and still gives you an opportunity to groove.
12. Gloom – Marie Dalhstrom
I’ve got to thank my homie Michell Clark and the good people at Artistic Manifesto for putting me on to the wonderful sounds of Scandinavian songbird Marie Dalhstrom. Goodness gracious, this girl gives me the power of Amy Winehouse, with the sweet subtlety of Lianne La Havas, the emotion of Adele and a splash of Ellie Goulding. Listening to the entire EP reminds me of good ol’ soulful R&B, and I’m excited to see what she will bring in 2014.
13. My Name Is My Name – Pusha T
Hands down, this was probably one of my favorite hip-hop albums of 2013. I’ve been here for Pusha T since his days with Malice in the Clipse (grin-DING!), but it was great to hear his solo work again. As one of the lead artists on Kanye’s G.O.O.D Music label, Pusha had features on almost every track on the album. A few of the stand out tracks for me were “40 Acres“, “No Regrets” and “Nostalgia” featuring the homie K. Dot.
BIG Honorable Mentions:
- Nothing Was The Same – Drake
- Hall of Fame – Big Sean
- Days Are Gone – HAIM
- She – Alice Smith
What were some of your favorite albums of the year? Leave a comment below or tweet me!