Hey what’s up everybody, it’s been roughly six months since I hit you guys with my list of favorite albums of 2012. I feel that 2013 has been a very good year for music so far, so good in fact that I feel I can give a mid-year list of some of my favorite albums that I have came across and featured on Embassy: Interactive. These are the albums I still keep in constant rotation and/or were executed the best in their respective field in my opinion.
I admit there are some very notable albums missing from this list; Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience”, Bilal “A Love Surreal”, Kid Cudi’s “Incudid” and Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge’s “Twelve Reasons To Die” are some that stand out the most. While these weren’t bad albums at all, in fact they are very solid pieces of work, they just didn’t keep my attention long enough. I do still suggest purchasing them if you’re a fan and having them in your collection. And now with no further adieu, here is my list of my favorite albums midway through 2013 in alphabetical order.
Sidebar: Some of these projects are available to be streamed for previewing and are also downloadable completely free. I suggest taking full advantage on getting some great music. Also an hour long mix will be provided with selected songs from this list for free downloading soon.
Action Bronson – Saaab Stories
The witty and charismatic Action Bronson has been a model of consistency when it comes to his outrageous lyrics for a couple years and 2013 looks to be the year Bronson’s star will truly shine. As one of the featured 2013 XXL Freshman feature recipients (he REALLY should’ve made 2012 but…), Bronson’s scene stealing guest appearances and the momentum of his project “Rare Chandeliers” produced by Alchemist lead to the anticipation of the follow up project “Saaab Stories”. “Saaab Stories”, a 7 track EP produced entirely by Harry Fraud not only added another trophy into Bronson’s discography, but also gave him a legit mainstream worthy hit single with “Strictly 4 My Jeeps”. There’s no way I see this song not being on at least NY radio rotation nor do I see Bronson slowing down anytime soon.
Favorites: No Time, Strictly 4 M Jeeps, Seven Series Triplets feat. Prodigy and Raekwon
Although producer Antman Wonder’s instrumental EP “The Present” was released late December, I chose not to include it on my Favorite Albums Of 2012 list due to me wanting to sit and absorb the project. Fast forward to June and the EP is still something I play on a regular basis. Wonder is definitely one of my favorite producers on the rise and one listen to “The Present” explains why. The EP featured Wonder showcasing his talents as not just a producer but as a musician, and also his insane talent to replay music by ear versus typical sampling methods. His awesome interpolation of DJ Premier’s produced “Bring It On” is certainly all the selling point I would need for this. Wonder is slated to release his instrumental LP “Memories Of The Fewture” this year and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Favorites: The Wrath, Heroin Flavored Cocaine, Bring It On (Interpolation)
Click Here to Listen/Download: Antman Wonder – The Present
Big K.R.I.T. – King Remembered In Time
K.R.I.T for me has always been an artist that is easy to support and root for. This even occurred when I felt that his talent hadn’t matched his output. The same issues I’ve experienced with J. Cole’s music are what I’ve had with K.R.I.T’s, but I do believe K.R.I.T is more ahead of the curve as an overall artist. I believe those problems will all be in the past based on the excellent project “King Remembered In Time”. K.R.I.T completely hits the bulls’ eye with this project and it is easily one of my favorite Hip-Hop albums of this year so far. His production on the album is as strong as ever, and his ability to mix introspection and uplifting song concepts and throw in something for people to party to made this an easy choice to add to this list.
Favorites: My Trunk feat. Trinidad James, Banana Clip Theory, Life Is A Gamble feat. BJ The Chicago Kid
Click Here to Listen/Download: Big K.R.I.T – King Remembered In Time
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Here is a confession from a former closed minded music listener. Please don’t judge me lol. The album “Random Access Memories” was my first time ever listening to an entire Daft Punk album. Even though I worked for years at a music store, was familiar with their music being sampled, yep… never listened to a single album. I liked “Random Access Memories” so much that I needed to hear what I missed out on and was able to get access to their discography and purchased albums that I needed in my life. The lead single “Get Lucky” featuring Pharrell Williams will be remembered as an audio reminder of 2013, and the album’s mix of synth instruments and live instrumentation as a whole will remain in my ears for a long time.
Favorites: Lose Yourself To Dance feat. Pharrell Williams, Get Lucky feat. Pharrell Williams, Motherboard
Durag Dynasty – 360 Waves
Being a longtime fan of Durag Dynasty’s most familiar member Planet Asia and the albums’ producer Alchemist, seeing the album cover art work (easily my favorite since Action Bronson & Alchemist’s EP “Rare Chandeliers”) and being notoriously known via Twitter for representing all things durag related, it would be easy to call bias on having this album listed in my favorites so far. However, this album is really, really a sick piece of work. Not only does Alchemist provide Planet Asia, Tristate and Killer Ben with some very gritty production, the guys go completely ape shit over every track given. Vintage Cali Hip-Hop is delivered on “360 Waves”.
Favorites: Fish Meat feat. Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Spiral Event feat. Evidence, Yasir Arafat
J. Period – Rage Is Back Mixtape
Producer/DJ J. Period provides my favorite mixtape of the year so far with “Rage Is Back”. “Rage” serves as the soundtrack for the novel sharing the same name by best-selling author Adam Mansbach and pays tribute to the history of Hip-Hop in New York City. J. Period cleverly and seamlessly weaves new tracks from artists such as Nas, Black Thought, Common and Sean Price set to some NY Hip-Hop classics such as “Sound Bwoy Bureill” and “N.Y. State Of Mind”, showcases some new talent and also provides excerpts of the book as well. This is easily a must have for any true Hip-Hop fan.
Favorites: Black Thought – Rage Is Back, Nas – Street Dreams (J.PERIOD ReFix), Homeboy Sandman – Coral Reefs
Click Here to Listen/Download: J. Period – Rage Is Back
Jarell Perry – Simple Things
Jarell Perry swiftly hit my radar last year after hearing his single “Healing” along with his impressive covers of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Lately” and an acapella of Usher’s hit single “Climax”. Keeping the momentum going Perry steadily released more quality singles and began making guest appearances on the tracks by Apollo The Great, Locksmith and Thurz. The album “Simple Things” followed and Perry’s distinctive vocals and album producer Hassan Johnson’s array of synths and instruments created pretty much flawless chemistry.
Favorites: Awkward, Healing, All Aboard
Click Here to Listen/Download: Jarell Perry – Simple Things
Marco Polo – Newport Authority 2
Producer Marco Polo hit the mark with the accuracy of Hawkeye on “Newport Authority 2”. This project alone has me super anxious to hear Polo’s follow up project “PA2: The Director’s Cut” dropping in July. Polo’s production along with DJ Shylow’s mixing skills perfectly blended the music of Hip-Hop legends Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and Das Efx with current mainstays Lil Fame of M.O.P., Torae and Ruste Juxx, as well as gave shine to some artists on the rise like Midaz The Beast, Big Gutta and Jayshawn to rock over this cohesive and amazingly produced project.
Favorites: Double eXXecution feat. Torae & Ruste Juxx, What’s Wrong feat. Rakim, Stand Up Remix feat. Tragedy Khadafi, Lil Fame, Adrian Younge and The Delfonics
Click Here to Listen/Download: Marco Polo – Newport Authority 2
Quadron – Avalanche
I’m actually mad at myself for not being familiar with the music of Danish duo Coco O and Robin Hannibal bka Quadron prior to the premiering of their single “Better Off” featuring Kendrick Lamar. The duos’ sophomore album “Avalanche” is a soulful musical experience and Coco O’s voice perfectly complements Hannibal’s production. So far this is my favorite R&B album of 2013, but Chrisette Michele’s latest release “Better” could even share this spot with “Avalanche”.
Favorites: Hey Love, Better Off feat. Kendrick Lamar, Avalanche
Ryshon Jones – In Theory
Last but definitely not least comes the album “In Theory” by Ryshon Jones. Released in January after experiencing a few delays with the release date I can definitely say the wait was worth it as “In Theory” is my pick for my favorite Hip-Hop album of 2013 and the best put together album in terms of cohesion and sequencing since Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City”. No hit or miss punch lines or forced singles will be found on “In Theory”. The level of introspection, realism and hunger exhibited on “In Theory” is not only refreshing but I think very impressive given the fact he was only 21 during the time of completion and shows a world of knowledge well beyond his years.
Favorites: False Reality feat. L.atasha A.lcindor, Her Remedy feat. CIDNINJA, Power Of Inspiration feat. Benny Love
Click Here to Listen/Purchase: Ryshon Jones – In Theory
I hope you get some new favorites and help make some of you new fans of some of these artists featured on this list I provided. I fully expect that there will be some new changes once I post the entire 2013 favorites in December. With new releases from Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Schoolboy Q, Eminem, Tony Touch, Amel Larrieux, Hiatus Kaiyote, Pusha T and a slew of others set for release later this year, there’s going to be nothing short on a lot of great new music to enjoy. Until next time.