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Top 50 Rap Songs of 2013

By

10. Migos, feat. Drake – "Versace (Remix)"

drake-versace-remix.jpg
Every year, there's that one song that every rapper must freestyle over. 2013 produced two such songs: Rocko's "U.O.E.N.O." and, to a greater degree, Migos' "Versace" remix. The Zay Toven beat is equal parts minimalist and boisterous. Drake made everyone forget about the other 6,347 remixes.

 

9. Lupe Fiasco - "Animal Pharm"

Lupe Fiasco is looking more like a pariah than a messianic figure these days. But one thing the Chicago MC can always count on is his laser tongue. Watch how swiftly he cuts through the droning Atoms for Peace melody on "Animal Pharm," his rich imagination careening through the track, not a single bar wasted. The song nods to George Orwell's Animal Farm, which predicted societal upheaval. Not that Lupe would ever predict societal upheaval: "Like a slow gun fighter gun -- unfired."

8. Tree - "The King"

Tree - Sunday School II
© Creative Control

Royalty has long been a hip-hop playing card. On "The King," New Orleans rapper Tree takes his turn on the throne, graciously saddling a syncopated beat. King him now.

7. Jay Z - "Oceans"

© Roc Nation
The swirling waves, the coiling narrative, the stone-cold vocals from Frank Ocean could have made this the best tack on Watch the Throne.

6. A$AP Ferg - "Work"

asap-ferg-work-cover.jpg

The most infectious street anthem of the year.  

5. Kendrick Lamar, feat. Jay-Z "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)"

© TDE
Both men approach the podium standing up straight. Jay Z is calm and confident. Kendrick Lamar is armed with two stellar verses. The competitive air yields a product worthy of repeated spins. The listener wins.

4. Run the Jewels - "Get It"

© Fool's Gold
For all their presumed differences, El-P and Killer Mike play off each other nicely. "Get It," a highlight from their stellar EP, finds them comfortable bragging their ears off. The beat has an otherworldly, futuristic vibe. Run the Jewels knocks throughout, but I keep coming back to this song.

3. Pusha T - "Numbers on the Boards"

Pusha T - My Name Is My Name
© GOOD Music

It starts with the beat. It's sparse and steely, and by the time Pusha T's voice comes on, you're already hooked. Maybe because Pusha is cognizant of the omnipresent competition, he's sharp and focused throughout. One of the most vicious anthems of the year.

2. Drake - "Worst Behavior"

Drake is simultaneously aggressive and playful on Nothing Was the Same standout, "Worst Behavior." The boasts are far more memorable than the body-catching posturing on "Headlines." Motherf***ers really should have loved him.

1. Kanye West - "New Slaves"

© Def Jam
Bonus points for projecting your face across 66 buildings. Marketing genius aside, "New Slaves" encapsulates the best part of Yeezus -- Ye's ability to rail against corporations via a corporate medium. It also sports the most focused lyrics on the album, with rhymes worthy of a "Hip-Hop Quotable" column in The Source.
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