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Top Five Most Disappointing (But Still Good) Hip-Hop Albums Of 2013

This is all pulled from a piece I just wrote for positvexposure: rHip-Hop in 2013 has been a rvolatile entity, often coming way out of left field (Yeezus, Run the rJewels, Money Store) or from rsome drug-induced rhypnotism (Delusional Thomas, Because the rInternet, Acid Rap). And ramidst one of the most interesting and, dare I say, unique, years hip-rhop's ever had - we have rthese five releases. Now these releases aren't bad (although a few?rteeter between sub-par and rjust plain average), and it may be even a bit unfortunate that they rwere released this year, but rthey rare all undeniably not what we were expecting - despite their rfinal reception.
Magna Carta... Holy Grail

Last on this list, and my favorite of the five, is the twelfth studio album by one of the
greatest rappers of all time. Less of a disappointment and more forgettable than
anything else, ...Holy Grail provided us with plenty of enjoyment over the summer,
sporting energetic fun tracks such as ?Tom Ford," ?FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,? or the
titular track ?Holy Grail,? featuring Justin Timberlake. But as the immediate allure of
the Samsung deal and the anti-marketing marketing campaign trend sparked by
Kanye West (carried on by even Beyonce this past month) wore away, tracks such as
?La Familia? or ?Part II? seemed increasingly unnecessary and the others didn?t seem
to do much in the way of presenting naysayers or new fans with the prolific yet
insightful material Jay Z is capable of.? Of course this isn?t true for the extremely well
made songs such as the now iconic ?SomewhereinAmerica? or the brilliant ?F.U.T.W.?
and ?Heaven,? but the moments of insight found on ?Nickels and Dimes? or ?Jay Z
Blue? were too sparse. This release is still absolutely worth listening to and falls just
shy of the rapper?s upper shelf of releases.
4Earl Sweatshirt

Now don?t get me wrong, Doris is a solid album - arguably the best on this list (even
though I prefer MCHG) - and a great studio debut...but was it what we wanted after
Earl? As Odd Future crashed onto the scene a few years back, no one was more
applauded than the young Earl Sweatshirt and his effortless ?99 era Eminem technical
abilities. His stream of consciousness style writing to his tangents about anything and
everything from eating applesauce with Asher Roth to raping women and killing cops -
made it was an energetic, charismatic and fun release. Doris?is a lot more self-
absorbed. It?s an album Earl made for himself - to exorcize any remaining demons
after his trip to Africa or try to be taken more seriously or try and live up to the
staggering expectation caused by his hiatus - and because of those reasons it's kind
of a...drag. But despite the dreadful allure that hangs onto every thudding beat on
tracks like ?Hive?? or ?Guild,? that otherwise look great on paper, there are still
creative and entertaining moments of brilliance on here like with the almost sappy (for
Earl) ?Molasses (ft. RZA)? or his random associative rhyming done right on ?Whoa.?
There?s also ?Chum? - one of the strongest personal odes released this year. But,
along with these moments of progression, there are definite missteps in exemplifying
certain eccentricities or quirks that make Doris seem a lot more bulky than it actually
3J. Cole
Born Sinner

There are plenty of reasons to be disappointed by Born Sinner, but none of them have
to do with it being a bad album. It?s definitely a solid release, as strong as, if not
stronger, than his studio debut Cole World: The Sideline Story, but for many people it
affirmed the belief that J Cole may have started to stagnate a bit. Whereas Cole World
was marketed and commercialized to an extent that it detracted from many of the
album?s records, Born Sinner?was supposed to be a return to form of sorts - promising
us a concept based around the seven deadly sins and the previous high quality of his
early mixtapes. It?s a more coherent release for sure, being immensely better
produced and cohesive. But the execution of many ideas, from the long winded ?Let
Nas Down? (which is beautiful due to many aspects not having to do with Cole) to the
overall idea of a ?born sinner,? fell flat. There shouldn?t be room for terrible punchlines
about autism or mentioning that one girl that didn?t fuck with him when he wasn?t big,
or half-baked racially charged tirades when you?re trying to be taken seriously. Cole?s
skill for songwriting is present on tracks such as the great single, ?Power Trip? or the
Kendrick Lamar assisted ?Forbidden Fruit? but when my favorite track is a short
interlude, there?s a disconnect that?s hard to ignore (?I mean billionaires that laugh at
Hov money? is still a favorite of mine though). If Cole focuses less on the gimmicks
and strives to improve his numbingly one-note and uncreative content of late, he?s
sure to bounce back from this ?slump.? Where?s that mixtape with Kendrick Lamar??
2Joe Budden
No Love Lost

Throughout his career Budden has struggled to find a middle ground between the
success of his deeply introspective yet highly relatable - almost dubbed ?emo rap? -
brilliance on the Mood Muzik releases and the more commercial attempts to break out
with his group, Slaughterhouse, or with solo releases. He can?t seem to escape trashy
production that?s either too generic or too muddled and this just repeatedly leads to
projects that don?t emphasize the talent he does possess as a rapper and, simply, a
writer. He?s devolved from somehow managing to ?wear his heart on his sleeve yet be
enigmatic to simply an unwanted and merely tolerated Twitter presence. There?s a
sense of lethargy and stagnancy and at this point I have more hope for J Cole.
Nothing Was the Same

From the horribly misleading title to the fantastic marketing leading up to its release,
Nothing Was the Same is somewhat of a paradox. Drake, coming off of Take Care, an
incredible showcase in style, vision, and songwriting, had a great couple years
following its warm reception during which he displayed an vast increase in technical
rapping ability as well as hints at even more creativity. Promo tracks leading up to the
release of this?LP, such as ?5AM in Toronto? or ?The Motion,? showcased both
spectrums of Drake?s style, including the much greater focus on rapping. There was
also an even more refined approach to the content - an air of dismissiveness rather
than trying too hard. However, much of this was nowhere to be found on Nothing Was
the Same, and, instead, we received a middling modest effort - no where near worthy
of being a follow up to?Take Care. The standout tracks, from the cool and polished
single ?Started From the Bottom? to the unique ?Wu-Tang Forever? or comically
ignorant ?Worst Behavior? and the southern swagger laced ?The Language,? will be fan
favorites for a long time. However, even the tracks that seemed to resonating when
the album initially dropped, like the impeccable produced ?Pound Cake (ft. Jay Z)? or
?Furthest Thing,? are all just too safe for an artist such as Drake. Take Care made a
point in proving his artistic talent and the promotion leading up to this album did the
same in establishing him as a reputable rapper as well as just a staple in current hip
hop, but Nothing Was the Same did little to affirm that notion. Regardless, just as with
the rest of the albums on this list, it's worth a listen and features many enjoyable
moments. ???Rememba? Moffukka...??
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