Artwork by: Sk3ptic | Written by: Pat Bierut

In 2012, Kendrick Lamar and TDE ran Los Angeles, really putting the West back on the map (respectfully) for the first time in a long time. Nas won. Future brought autotune back (did it leave?). Andre 3000 made thirty more Gillette commercials and zero more albums. G.O.O.D. Music shrouded themselves in mystery as their compilation saw pushback after pushback. Amidst rising gun violence in Chicago, and in the rest of the country, Chief Keef and GBE dominated the midwest with their crushing, monotonous sounds. After a year like this, 2013 has a lot of potential. However, before we move on, let’s recap 10 of the year’s best rap albums. Let’s get started.

10.  Dom Kennedy – The Yellow Album


The Yellow Album flew under the radar big time, and I really don’t know why. “We Ball,” “My Type of Party,” “Been Thuggin’,” and “Lately” are enough to carry this thing as a HUGE party album. Joints like “Girls on Stage” and “Gold Alpinas” are so smooth. That, combined with Dom’s likeability and laid-back charisma, makes this thing such a fucking listenable album. I can’t overstate that enough. That word seems to have a negative connotation, and it isn’t fair. Hip-hop needs more dope, dependable artists like Dom.

Download: Sermon’s Domain

9. Future – Pluto


Don’t get me started on Pluto. If you haven’t become a fan by now, there isn’t much hope for you. All I can really say is that it’s kind of shocking: more than five years after T-Pain’s career (and autotune with it, or so we thought), was reaching critical mass, Future’s ass is using autotune to make street bangers. What is this? Post-trap? Who knows, who cares. Future’s spot in the game is unique right now. He’s really flipped autotune on it’s head in a way that no one has since 808s & Heartbreak, and that’s saying something.

Purchase: iTunesAmazon | Best Buy

8. Kanye West Presents G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer

Ah, yes. You may have heard of this album. Probably the most hyped release of the year, and easily the most mysterious, CS has many of my favorite songs of the year. “Mercy,” “New God Flow,” and “Clique” are obvious choices there, and for good reasons, but “The Morning,” “Higher,” and “The One” are also great tracks. However, a collection of dope songs does not a dope album make. Fair or not, that’s why Cruel Summer didn’t live up to the industry’s expectations.

Purchase: iTunesAmazonBest Buy

7. Rick Ross – God Forgives, I Don’t

GFID is held back by its filler, plain and simple. “Ice Cold” and “Touch’N You” bring this thing a SCREECHING hault. It isn’t fair! This album his some of the highest highs of the year and then Ross goes and throws this shit on it. Then, just to rub it in, he throws “Diced Pineapples,” a great song that accomplishes what those other two attempt ten times over, immediately after. And where’s Gunplay?! Plus “MMIV” is the weakest in the series yet. All that being said, though, the rest of the album really is great. “Pirates,” “Sixteen,” and “10 Jesus Pieces” are some of the best songs of his career.

Purchase: iTunesAmazonBest Buy

6. Smoke DZA – Rugby Thompson


Harry Fraud created some gorgeous noir-infused beats for this one (he does that all the time, but they were particularly strong here). DZA rides Harry Fraud beats better than almost any other rapper who’s jumped on them recently, and they ended up being one of the best team-ups of the year. You hear “La musica de Harry Fraud” drop at the beginning of these tracks, and you’re ready to walk around town blowing on a blunt, sipping a 40, and go nowhere in particular. Maybe sit on a park bench, maybe drive around at night with the windows down, getting lost and shit. Another highly listenable album.

Purchase: iTunesAmazonBest Buy

See you back here tomorrow for the top five.