2013: A Year Of Hip Hop & R&B In Review [Video]
Jay Z, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake (twice), Eminem, Wale, French Montana, Lil’ Wayne, J. Cole, Drake. These are just some of the heavy hitters of the hip hop and r&b game to release a project in 2013. We have had surprises, and new rules brought to us throughout the year, those that changed the landscape of the music business for the future. We’ve also seen the beginning of a new sound movement in New York City, and some new artists emerging on the scene, giving some hope to the future of both hip hop and r&b.
The year started off with a tease. Beyoncé, recovering from the birth of her baby was going to make 2013 her year, with what we didn’t know, all we knew is that she was going to be everywhere. Pepsi commercials, Super Bowl halftime show, documentary on HBO filled the first quarter of the year. She’d continuously keep us talking through her Tumblr page. Then came the Mrs. Carter Tour. No new single (other than the leaked “Standing On The Sun,” “Grown Woman” and the controversial “Bow Down,” which later became “Flawless”), yet she put on a show with her greatest hits. All of which lead to the surprising, unannounced, and most successful album of the year on Friday, December 13 at 12a.m.
While Beyoncé may have perfected it, her husband Jay Z started the trend by surprising us with a treat during game 5 of the NBA Finals. In a random Samsung commercial, Hova decides to show us himself in the studio with his friends. Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Pharrell… wait… Rick…Rubin? Next thing you know BOOM. Magna Carta Holy Grail, July 4, 2013. Only available on Samsung android phones. What? Samsung bought 1,000,000 copies of the album to download, before it was officially released. #NewRules indeed. The RIAA had to rewrite the way they recognize album sales due to his move.
While his friends were surprising us when we lease expected it. Kanye West or should I say “Yeezus” decided to go another unconventional route. Walking through New York City on a nice cool night, you could have just walked past a random pop up video of his single “New Slaves” projected on the sides of buildings. With no official single, he let the social networks do the work for him, as these pop up sites were the only way to get a preview of the new album. Upon release (which was a battle between himself and J. Cole on the same day), fans and critics wondered the direction, with its eclectic sounds and non-traditional beats. All in all it allowed for some of the greatest rants in history, as we all look for the answers.
After a brief sabbatical in which he co-starred in a few movies, Justin Timberlake joined up with Timberland (whom with Pharrell had a great comeback year), to release not one but two albums with the 20/20 Experience parts one and two. Part one was a continuous masterpiece of extended songs, and great r&b music. The second seemed a little rushed, but two albums in one year after seven years isn’t a bad consolation prize. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long for the next project.
When talking about r&b, Robin Thicke is as pure as can be, no matter the color of his skin. Yet, he went a different direction with the help of Pharrell, and moved a little more into the pop world with his new album Blurred Lines. This took the singer to new heights never achieved, and even allowed for Miley Cyrus to get a few free pumps at him at the MTV Awards.
Drake lead off a big year by releasing a four new songs on July 22, also announcing his upcoming album Nothing Was The Same. Trying to prove he is worth all the hype and status in the hip hop game he released possibly his best album so far in his young career.
Another legend in Eminem decided he wanted to bring Slim Shady back one more time as he released the Marshall Mathers LP 2. Back with the blonde hair, he bursted back on the scene with a Beastie Boys influenced track titled “Berzerk.” He then proved once again his lyrical prowess with the single “Rap God.” He also showed he can still work the pop charts with “Monster,” in which he teamed up with Rihanna for another successful hit.
The future legends weren’t the only people left making an impact in 2013. Artists such as J. Cole, Pusha T, Big Sean, and Wale also showed they can hold their own in the genre with good albums, that showed the evolving culture of the genre which was once laced with more ringtone singles than actual content.
Thanks to Kendrick Lamar, he ruffled some feathers in New York City by calling himself the “King of New York” although he’s from California on Big Sean’s street single “Control.” This allowed for a early 2000’s flashback with an onslaught of freestyles coming from Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Papoose, and more in response to the claim that the city had gone soft and too commercial in their music.
Nipsey Hussle released a mixtape titled Crenshaw. Good project overall, but he made news selling 1,000 copies for $100 each. 100 of those copies were bought by none other than Jay Z, who had his surprise earlier in the year.
2013 also brought us some new artists. We also saw a growth in artists such as Sevyn Streeter, Mack Wilds, Tiara Thomas, August Alsina on the r&b side. In hip hop we saw a resurgence of the new, New York, and were also introduced to lots of talent with Bodega Bamz, Action Bronson, Chance the Rapper, Rapsody and Audio Push.
2014 is looking to be a year where some of the younger artists begin to prosper, and make an impact on their own. We may not see anyone in either hip hop or r&b top the numbers Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake did, but we will continue to see more balance, good music, and most importantly more surprises in the next year.
Happy New Year!