1. Chance the Rapper – Cocoa Butter Kisses – Taken from arguably the mix tape of the year, my personal favourite was Cocoa Butter Kisses, which seems to sum up in one track why the mix tape was seen as so important.
2. Rapsody feat Phonte and Jay Electronica – Jedi Code – Again, from a free mix tape, this was for me the peak of Rapsody’s year. A large scale collaboration with 2 of the best around, this reminds you of how good the rap group was. Maybe some Kooley High will follow in 14???
3. Jean Grae- Fuckery Level 3000 – You’re just going to have to buy the mix tape as this won’t work so well out of context. But this is basically Jean getting taken in by her boss who’s noticed her behaviour has changed. The rap is an insight into the neurosis of an assassin trying to get a bit of work life balance between her life, her day job, her assassin job and the impending apocalypse. I hope I got that right, it takes a few listens.
4, Lorde – Royals – Well it just was a track of the year. Kiwi Lorde has taken 2013 by storm, and there’s even a Raekwon remix if you can’t bear the original.
5. Talib Kweli – Violations feat Raekwon – Tough call for Kweli’s track of the year, was between this and Favela Love for me. But I preferred Gravitas as a bit of traditional Kweli. This was easily my personal favourite from Gravitas.
6. Mela Machinko – What You Want Me To Do (I’m Sorry) – Tricky pick between this, from the Hov Said It Best project, or Sing from the recently released 9am Blues.
7. Kanye West – New Slaves – So many to chose from from Yeezus, but this just pipped it over Black Skinhead, I am a God and Bound 2. And deliberately sandwiched between two joyous tracks!
8. Janelle Monae featuring Solange – Electric Lady – One of those you can’t help but do a bit of a dance to. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face after New Slaves god knows what will.
9. Valerie June – Twined and Twisted – Might be a bit of a mood killer but this is just beautiful really. Saw her earlier in the year and is a fine live performer too.
10. Jay Z – Open Letter – Ok, so not particularly a track of the year, but as a document of 2013 this is pretty relevant. Misguided, whatever, it was a glimpse into the Hov of old.