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The year the men dominated: Top 15 Albums of 2013

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15. Doris - Earl Sweatshirt: Earl has matured a lot since being sent away by his mother for his own good...allegedly. Doris is a fantastic album with insanely sick beats. You have to be in a certain kind of mood to listen to an album this gritty but there’s real beauty in this kind of pain. Best tracks: “Chum” & “Sasquatch (feat. Tyler, The Creator)”.

14. Nothing Was the Same - Drake: Drake typically disappoints me with his albums. They usually get lost in the cacophony of whining and drunk voicemails and phone calls. So I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to get through this album with a smile and resolved to listen to it more than once. Instead of crying over the attention fame has given him, he seems to finally be accepting what he pretends to dislike. This side of Drake is much more enjoyable. Maybe he’s got less to bitch about as he gets older. Best tracks: “Worst Behavior” & “The Language”.

13. Born Sinner - J.Cole: Despite being completely overshadowed by one verse on “Control,” Born Sinner is a worthy sophomore effort from J. Cole. He traded some of his “I’m new to this” charm for the kind of braggadocio usually reserved for the likes of Jay Z and Kanye. It served him well on an album that seemed to get stuck between lament and aggressive cockiness. Best tracks: “She Knows” & “Let Nas Down”.

12. Random Access Memories - Daft Punk: Between Random Access Memories, Gaga’s performances of “Do What You Want” and American Hustle, the 70’s came back unexpectedly in 2013. Another comeback for the ages, Daft Punk dropped this musical gem and let the world rejoice in the smoothness of it. The entire album feels like a rich hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire, staring into the eyes of the person you’re about to bang. Best tracks: “Lose Yourself to Dance” & “Doin’ It Right”.

11. Wolf - Tyler, The Creator: What an obnoxious, irritating genius Tyler makes. Away from music, he’s a blustering douche bag that lives to piss the masses off. Put him on a track, however, and he knocks it way out of the park. Wolf gives us yet another astonishing look at the deeply disturbed and eloquent mind of Wolf Haley. He’s a master of beats and his guttural delivery of rhymes makes for a heartfelt piece of work. Best tracks: “Colossus”, “Domo23” & “IFHY (feat. Pharell)”.

10. Magna Carta Holy Grail - Jay Z: As one of my favorite rappers in the world and my idol, I wasn’t entirely impressed by his latest studio effort but as far as 2013 goes, MCHG was bold effort for a rap mogul who really doesn’t need to try anymore. The effort put into the overall package and production of the album shows just how much Mr. Carter still cares about the music. Most of the album is filled with infectious beats and clever one-liners. The man can still make hits and for 2013, that’s alright with me. Best tracks: “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit (feat. Rick Ross)” & “Crown”.

9. Pure Heroine - Lorde: I applaud Lorde for bringing serious, thought-provoking lyrics and music into the mainstream. Yes, “Royals” is overplayed but that doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant. The entire album is a deep look into the agonies of being a female teen in America. It tends to blend together at times, but perhaps that was the point. Being young can be monotonous. Best tracks: “White Teeth Teens” & “400 Lux”.

8. The Great Gatsby Soundtrack - Various Artists: I think this is the first time a soundtrack has made it onto one of my lists. It’s just that good. One could argue that this soundtrack should had never been associated with the movie it was created for but you can’t deny what a fine compilation it is. The 20s influence fused with modern music is clever and undeniably fun. Best tracks: “Bang Bang (will.i.am)”, “Love is Blindness (Jack White)”, “100$ Bills (Jay Z)” & “Heart’s A Mess (Gotye)”.

7. Bitter Rivals - Sleigh Bells: There’s something about Sleigh Bells that reverts me back to the angry, rebellious teenager from yesteryears. Because of the shift in musical tastes, Sleigh Bells has become unbridled party music, rather than the head-banging noisemakers people associated them with just three short years ago. In truth, I barely ever pay attention to the lyrics of a Sleigh Bells song because I’m too busy shaking my ass while putting my freshly-laundered clothes away. Though the lyrics have matured over the years, in reality, this is hype music at its finest. Best tracks: “Young Legends” & “Bitter Rivals”.

6. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - Eminem: Sometimes nostalgia works, sometimes it doesn’t. In Eminem’s case, it excelled. He brought back the memories, the emotions and even the controversy that propelled the first Marshall Mathers LP into the limelight. This kind of rawness and anger is rarely seen in hip-hop anymore, because every word we speak is policed by social media. But when has Em ever cared? He’s offensive and he uses that to keep people talking and buying. Best tracks: “Love Game (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” & “So Much Better”.

5. Matangi - M.I.A.: Every time I listen to M.I.A., I feel like I’m vibrating off into space. Her music is refreshing every time she releases something new, but this particular album made me sit up and pay attention. The lyrical content of her music is always consistent but the production went above and beyond. Best tracks: “Y.A.L.A.” & “Double Bubble Trouble”.

4. ARTPOP - Lady Gaga: There were numerous pop stars this year claiming their new albums were “personal” or “deeper” and “darker, but only Gaga’s album truly delved into her personal history. We learn a lot about how she sees herself, her falling in love, her fears, her triumphs and most importantly, how she became who she is today. This is Gaga’s best work to date. For the first time, she’s not trying to be someone else because she’s finally good enough. Best tracks: “Swine”, “Venus” & “Mary Jane Holland”.

3. Yeezus - Kanye West: When this album dropped, I wasn’t entirely sure how to react because it was the exact opposite of anything I was expecting from West. The production on this album is out of this world, solar system, universe etc. West proves that he can do almost anything he wants to do. He knows he produced a pristine album, which is why the lyrics lacked a little something. This is a man who isn’t really into making music anymore, but look at the magic he can still whip up. Best tracks: “Black Skinhead” & “Blood On the Leaves”.

2. BEYONCÉ - Beyoncé: While every single female in 2013 was struggling to keep up with their male counterparts, Beyoncé came and threw a wrench into the entire machine. Not only did she mindfuck every person on the planet, but it was truly worth it because the self-titled album is her best effort in several years. The “visual album” aspect of BEYONCÉ elevated what would be a pretty good album into legend status. The woman gave us a video for every song on the album and then some. She’s a genius because how many times has a music video made us love a song even more? Best tracks: “Mine (feat. Drake)” & “Pretty Hurts”.

1. The 20/20 Experience (1 & 2) - Justin Timberlake: The comeback that overshadows all comebacks. Timberlake completely demolished the competition this year in terms of hype, sales and pure nostalgia. But not only that, he brought us the kind of dance/R&B fusion album that only he and Timbaland can come up with. While part two was infinitely better than the first part, both made up a truly phenomenal album that will resonate for years. Best tracks: “Let The Groove Get In” (Part 1) & “Only When I Walk Away” (Part 2).

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