Top 50 Rap Songs of 2013

Here are the best rap songs of 2013. 

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Ace Hood – "Bugatti" (Feat. Future & Rick Ross)

You know that feeling you get when you wake up in a spanking new Bugatti and the soft leather gently kisses your skin as you stretch your arms, and then a trio of multi-racial models squeegee your third eye? If you did, you too would yell "I woke up in a new Bugatti" 55 times over a beat which Mike WiLL made.

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Eve - "Wanna Be" (Feat. Missy Elliott & Nacho)

Eve's Lip Lock was light on the type of bite we've come to expect from the "pitbull in a skirt." Rescued from the rubble, however, is this hardboiled bop spunky enough to soundtrack The Real Housewives of...Some City.

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Juicy J - "One of Those Nights"

© Columbia

"One of Those Nights" is a Weeknd party and Juicy J sounds like the guest who tells the most ridiculous tales but keeps everyone laughing. Their chemistry is good as gold. No weak moments here.

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2 Chainz - "Feds Watching"

© Def Jam

The concept of looking fresh even if the alphabet boys are watching is typically an aside in rap. "Feds Watching," from 2 Chainz' sophomore album, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, turns it into a full-blown concept. It works, in spite of Tity Two Necklaces' limited flow. Chainz gets his brag on over Pharrell's gaudy drums. As if to underscore the song's carefree attitude, the music video deviates from an industry standard to feature several dark-skinned black women. Oh, and it turns out feds are watching, after all. Timely soundtrack.

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French Montana - "F*ck What Happens Tonight"

French Montana is good for moments of unintentional comedy. But on this Mavado-blessed rocket from Excuse My French, he manages to come off as authentically ignorant. An all-star cast of Ace Hood, Scarface and Snoop Dogg take cues and deliver chilly performances.

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Joell Ortiz - "Outta Control"

 Compton prince Kendrick Lamar amusingly crowned himself the "king of New York," which made more than a handful of Big Apple rappers angry. The first one out the gate was Slaughterhouse's Brooklyn knight Joell Ortiz. He clapped back at K. Dot with what is now the best "Control" reply in existence. Yaowa.

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Schoolboy Q, – "Collard Greens" (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)


 Schoolboy Q--no stranger to drug-themed songs--pays tribute to edible greens, while his Black Hippy comrade Kendrick Lamar breaks out into Spanish.

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Rich Homie Quan - "Type of Way"


Three things:

1. The Michigan State football team danced to "Type of Way."

2. Drake declared it "song of the summer."

3. Rich Homie Quan was the funniest name of 2013. I don't have the stats to back this up, but I can confirm that no one has ever said "Rich Homie Quan" with a straight face.

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Notes to Self - "Nobody"

It's 90s-inspired without sounding 90s-inspired.

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J. Cole - "Power Trip"

J. Cole - Power Trip
J. Cole - Power Trip.

J. Cole's sleepy flow meet Miguel's smooth vocals on "Power Trip," the lead single from Born Sinner. 

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The Underachievers - "Philanthropist"

The Underachievers (Issa Dash and Ak) follows the same raw, east coast blueprint as Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era. "Philanthropist" is from the excellent opener to their mixtape Indigoism.

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DJ Khaled - "I Wanna Be with You" (Feat. Nicki Minaj)

DJ Khaled fooled everyone when he "proposed" to Nicki Minaj on camera. Everything made sense after "I Wanna Be with You," the wedding song, surfaced sporting a tough Nicki Minaj verse.

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Young Jeezy - "R.I.P." (Feat. 2 Chainz)

The title fooled me. When I first came across "R.I.P." I was expecting gun talk and body bags. Nah. Instead, we get a bonafide smash in which the target of deadly assault is the club.

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Kevin Gates - "Twilight (War with God)"


 Kevin Gates is the kinda guy you want to pick for your 5-on-5. You just get the feeling he's the type to stand his ground and smack the brow off a jerk's face if it came to that.

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Big Sean, feat. Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica – "Control"

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar. (Photo © Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

"Control (HOF)" had every rapper in the game thinking up words that rhyme with "Kendrick." Lamar used the track to call out his peers, bemoan mediocrity, and declare himself the greatest emcee of his generation.

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Bangladesh - "Buy" (Feat. Pusha T, 2 Chainz, etc.)


"Buy" is an exquisite paean to conspicuous consumption built atop a sample of The Knack's "My Sharona." Producer Bangladesh hasn't had a beat this haunting since "A Milli."

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Roc Marciano - "The Specialist"


A New York rap aficionado's dream pairing: Roc Marciano and Pete Rock. Yes, it's as gritty as you might expect from these two.

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Jay Z - "Open Letter"

In which Jay-Z takes on everything from his recent Cuba controversy to his new UMG deal. "Hear the freedom in my speech. Got an onion from Universal, read it and weep," brags Hov on the blistering Swizz Beatz/Timbaland beat.

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R.A. the Rugged Man - "Definition of a Rap Flow (Albee 3000)"


Rugged Man breathlessly runs through a searing performance on the thumping "Definition of a Rap Flow (Albee 3000)." Think Twista meets Eminem.

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Chance the Rapper - "Chain Smoker"

Chance the Rapper - Acid Rap
Chance the Rapper - Acid Rap.

You could make a strong case for nearly every track on Chance the Rapper's excellent mixtape,

Acid Rap. "Chain Smoker" is the one that captures Chance in his essence: the rubbery singing, the melodic flow, and his ability to deliver a barrel of ideas with a touch beyond his years.

. "Chain Smoker" is the one that captures Chance in his essence: the rubbery singing, the melodic flow, and his ability to deliver a barrel of ideas with a touch beyond his years.

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Ka - "Knighthood"

Ka - The Night Gambit
Ka - The Night Gambit. © Iron Works

Ka sure knows how to make an entrance. "I ain't sure how I made it" is how he starts "Knighthood." For the next 200 minutes, he then attempts to explain the unexplainable. By the end of the song, you have more questions than answers. Ka reassures you: "I ain't sure how I made it. To tell the truth, I really don't know." Did you really expect him to...

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Dyme-a-Duzin – "New Brooklyn"


It's the slick drums. It's the respect for culture. It's Dyme-a-Duzin's age-advanced demeanor. It's the way he rolls up a multi-layered love letter to the borough, its icons and cultural landmarks in the doting video.

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Astro - "Crazy"

Brooklyn's Astro raids Snow's closet for inspiration, breaking out into patoi for a shot of ol' skool, storm-the-floor sweaty fun on the dusty "Crazy" -- a brilliant mix of sick pen game and well-honed mic skills.

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Earl Sweatshirt - "Whoa"

© Sony

Earl Sweatshirt's hairline is making a comeback, as is his old flow. The magic here is in how Earl maintains a connection to early Odd Future sound, while simultaneously promising something more. If this doesn't get you excited about

Doris you're probably a Kenny G fan.

you're probably a Kenny G fan.

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Black Milk - "Sunday's Best/Monday's Worst"


Two bangers for the price of one. The Sunday is throwback jersey. The Monday side is suit and tie. Together, they constitute a knockout outfit.

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Pusha T - "King Push"


"King Push" was the perfect song to anchor . Like Marlo Stanfield, the character who inspired Pusha's album title, the GOOD rapper doesn't demanding respect; he takes it: "All that's missing is a dash - difference between me and Hova."

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Run the Jewels - "Banana Clipper"

90s-inspired braggadocio over a modern beat. Mike's quotable "I move with the elegance of an African elephant" alone is worth the price of admission (free).

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T.I. - "Memories" (Ft. Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., Kris Stephens)

 T.I. and co reminisce on the good times with the women from their past. It's a warm, cuddly tune — the beat leaves plenty of pockets for the emcees to maneuver. The song was left off T.I.'s Trouble Man because of sample issues.

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Drake - "Hold On, We're Going Home"

A burst of pure pop goodness, with delicious vocals and a warm disco-soul-house soup underneath the syrup.

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Kanye West - "Bound 2"

Kim Kardashian Topless

"Bound 2" is a dreamily adorable record that redeems Yeezus from its own devices. The most Kanye West experience on an album that contains so few.

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Kevin Gates - "4:30 AM"

© Universal

Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates works in an area of rap that will henceforth be known as "D-boy blues." On "4:30 am," a standout from

Stranger Than Fiction, Gates runs one helluva brainstorming session. He packs everything under the trap sun into 2 minutes and 47 seconds: loyalty, regrets, sex, paranoia, betrayal. "Stab wounds from an old friend," he cries, his voice choking on the words. Equal parts guttural bark and emotive drawl—Future's recipe in Gucci Mane's kitchen.

, Gates runs one helluva brainstorming session. He packs everything under the trap sun into 2 minutes and 47 seconds: loyalty, regrets, sex, paranoia, betrayal. "Stab wounds from an old friend," he cries, his voice choking on the words. Equal parts guttural bark and emotive drawl—Future's recipe in Gucci Mane's kitchen.

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Drake - "5 AM in Toronto"

© Kevork Djansezian/Getty

What keeps Drake up at 5 a.m.? Claims that he's falling off? Snarky tweets about his wardrobe? Doesn't matter. As long as his flow is this vicious, he can wear all the Cosby sweaters he wants. History has shown that angry rappers make good music. I'll take Pissed off Drake over LL Cool Drake eight days of the week.

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Tech N9ne – "Fragile" (Feat. Kendrick Lamar, ¡MAYDAY!, Kendall Morgan)


 Kendrick Lamar made a habit out of Renegade-ing every rapper who dared pay him for a verse. Every. Single. Rapper. "Fragile" is the highlight of Tech N9ne's Something Else and one of the finest hip-hop collaborations of 2013.

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Dizzy Wright - "The Flavor" (Feat. SwizZz)

Dizzy Wright tips his hat to vintage hip-hop on "The Flavor," alongside Funk Volume label-mate SwizZz. This appears on Dizzy’s aptly titled tape,The Golden Age

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Mr. Muthaf--kin eXquire – “Noble Drew Ali”


Mr. eXquire's bread and butter is the ability to sound genuinely, ridiculously, terrifyingly menacing. "Squirting urine on my adversaries" are not the words of a man who wants to buy you dinner.

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Eminem - "So Far..."

Marshall Mathers LP 2 Cover
© Shady Records/Interscope

Critics had a ball trying to decode the arrière-pensée of The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Was it the tale of a grown man married to his childhood or an attempt to confuse Stans into buying the same album twice?Whatever. There's no confusing Eminem's heartfelt ode to Detroit on the endlessly comical "So Far..."

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Prodigy - "Imdkv"

Prodigy is in a small group of relentlessly intimidating rappers. He could rap about buying donuts and make it sound like a death threat. And in true Bandana P fashion, every line on Albert Einstein is a mean mug. "Imdkv" is an immediate standout, with Alchemist's hardbody beat and P's slick talk.

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De La Soul - "Get Away (The Spirit of Wu-Tang)"


Hip-hop awoke the sleeping tiger. With its first single since 2004, De La Soul blasts rap's state of affairs. The Rubik's Cube-inspired video is pure magic.

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Lee Bannon - "YG & A"


 Lee Bannon, who has tracked hits for the likes of Trinidad James and Joey Bada$$, gets his time in the sun with this bonafide head banger, "YG & A."

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Danny Brown - "Float On"

Danny Brown - Old
Danny Brown - Old. © Fool's Gold

On Old's riveting coda, Danny Brown ponders the complicated, codependent relationship between fame and drugs. It perfectly captures a sentiment that took Kid Cudi three albums to articulate.

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


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.

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Lupe Fiasco - "Animal Pharm"

Animal Farm, which predicted societal upheaval. Not that Lupe would ever predict societal upheaval: "Like a slow gun fighter gun -- unfired."

, which predicted societal upheaval. Not that Lupe would ever predict societal upheaval: "Like a slow gun fighter gun -- unfired."

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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.

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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.

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A$AP Ferg - "Work"


The most infectious street anthem of the year.  

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


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.

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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.

knocks throughout, but I keep coming back to this song.

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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.

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Drake - "Worst Behavior"

Drake is simultaneously aggressive and playful on standout, "Worst Behavior." The boasts are far more memorable than the body-catching posturing on "Headlines." Motherf***ers really should have loved him.

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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.