2014 is almost upon us and it’s
time to reflect on the year that
was. Now is the time we look back
to see who accomplished what,
who had monster years, and who is
finishing off the year strong
heading into 2014. Below is a list
of 8 people in hip-hop who made
the most of the year 2013.

Charlamagne tha God

Charlamagne went from being just
another member of Power 105.1’s
“The Breakfast Club” to the biggest
name in hip-hop radio. Tha God’s
rise was solidified when Kanye West
went to the morning show, turned
to Charlamange, and said, “ask the
questions you want to ask because
that’s what the people really want
to see. They want to see you go up
against me”. Charlamagne has made
a name for himself for asking the
questions no one else wants to ask,
being brutally honest  being
over the top. When he’s not asking
the questions we all want the
answers to, he’s talking about how
he wants to suck a fart out of
someone’s butt and making people
laugh on their way to work. He’s
become known as the man who
made Lil Mama cry on air and
someone who’s outlandishness,
brashness, and disregard for
typical media questions has turned
him into a fan favorite. His
outspokenness landed him on MTV
2’s “Guy Code” as well as his own
show “Charlamagne and Friends”.

Ty Dolla $ign

The Atlantic Records signee
followed up his successful “Beach
House” mixtape with “Beach House
2” this year which produced the
smash single “Paranoid”. His ability
to sing allows him to create a
unique sound similar to that of a
Future or T-Pain but with different
content and more vocal range. Ty
landed the help of fellow Atlantic
Records lablemate Trey Songz on
this project and eventually
announced that Wiz Khalifa signed
him to Taylor Gang. Ty Dolla $ign
is currently promoting “Paranoid”
and given his uniqueness, he could
become a serious problem on
hooks. 2013 was his breakout year
and it will be interesting to see how
he follows up in 2014.

Justin Timberlake

Although some may not consider JT
hip-hop, I’m including him in the
conversation. Justin Timberlake
returned from a hiatus and
released the highly acclaimed “The
20/20 Experience”. He pulled a
genius move in getting Hov on “Suit
and Tie”. Timberlake knew he
would get the Top 40 and pop
stations, however getting the assist
from Hov ensured he would also be
played on stations like Hot 97 and
Power 105.1. The album was a
work of art, a combination of
melodies that seem to mesh and
breed new melodies to create a
unique sound we have not heard in
a while. Timberlake followed this
up with the sequel (Part 2) which
was also a strong project. In
addition, let’s not forget his
performance with N’Sync at the
VMAs. JT returned in full form in
2013, delivering two albums,
putting his name back on the map,
and throwing his name into the
conversation of “the greatest ever”.

Chance the Rapper

How many rappers that were
unknown last year toured with
Eminem, worked with Lil Wayne,
and landed a feature with Justin
Bieber this year? Uno. Chicago’s
own Chance the Rapper. After
releasing the introspective, drug
infused, and creative “Acid Rap”
mixtape, Chance saw his career
blow up. To say the least, Chance
the Rapper is refreshing. His voice
and rhyme scheme is unlike
anything else in hip-hop and the
young emcee has gotten co-signs
from almost everyone. Chance the
Rapper is proving he’s versatile
with features on songs for James
Blake and most recently Justin
Bieber. If Chance can use these
opportunities to connect with
people outside of his current fan
base and expose himself to a
broader market, the sky is the limit
for him.

Drake

Despite not putting out an album
until September, Drake made noise
throughout the entire year with
songs like “No New Friends”, “The
Motion”, and the remix to the
smash “Versace”. Drake than went
on to put out one of the best
albums of the year in “Nothing Was
the Same”. He also became the
global ambassador for the Toronto
Rappers, launched his OVO Sound
record label, and recently
announced a joint venture with
Jordan. Oh, and he’s involved in
charity, building a recording studio
in an underserved Philadelphia high
school. All in a year’s work.

Kendrick Lamar

This one is pretty simple. Control.
Control. Control. Kendrick changed
the hip-hop landscape with his
brash outspokenness on his
“Control” verse and kept his name
at the top of the hip-hop
conversation. He also just received
a Grammy nomination for “GKMC”
to top off the year. Kendrick found
a way to stay in people’s minds and
become one of the most talked
about artists of the year with most
of the attention coming from a
single verse.

The Game

Game stayed on top of his music
game (no pun intended) by signing
to Cash Money and releasing his
“OKC” mixtape. He also appeared
on his own reality show “Marrying
the Game” showcasing the family
life most fans don’t get a chance to
normally see. In addition, Game
founded The Robin Hood Project,
an incredible cause where he
donates to families and charities in
need with his own money. The
recipients have been families of
victims of violent crimes, tragic
accidents, and the homeless. Game
gave his fans the quality music he’s
become known for while also
inspiring and motivating others to
give back.

Jhene Aiko

Jhene went from being relatively
unknown, to being known just for
the chorus on Big Sean’s “Beware”,
to touring with Drake. Aiko finished
off 2013 as strong as she possibly
could have, touring with Drake on
his “Would You Like a Tour” across
the country and releasing her EP
“Sail Out” which has been met with
positive acclaim. Aiko’s
introspective, smooth, and serene
sound are not usually heard from
female singers and provides
something unique among female
singers.

Written by: Mike Epstein
(@michaelaepstein)

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