|Photo by Garret Born|
It was an especially difficult year to compile this list, as there were so many great hip-hop projects that dropped from all over the Twin Cities. Everyone involved in the local rap scene really seems to be pushing themselves to new levels, expanding on their older ideas or coming out of the woodwork with something new. Presented in no particular order, Gimme Noise whittled down the glut of records to our 10 favorites. Be sure to let us know in the comments what we got right and what we got wrong.
See Also: The 10 best Twin Cities punk albums of 2013
Lizzo - Lizzobangers
If it wasn't already blatantly clear that 2013 is Lizzo's year, go take another listen to Lizzobangers
. Twice topping Picked To Click
, the international tours, the spots on big local shows -- it all makes immediate sense when you pop in her debut record and hear her powerful voice pack a punch equal to Lazerbeak's giant horn stabs and drum pounds that quake underneath every track. She's adept at hard-as-hell fast rapping and gorgeously melodic singing, and has the songwriting chops to know what belongs where. If you're tired of the hype surrounding Lizzo, it's because you've never listened to her or seen her perform. Everyone who has is a convert already, and she's proven herself to be exactly the spark our scene needed. An unbelievably strong statement that warrants multiple listens. Lizzobangers
isn't just one of the best of the year; it's one of the strongest records from any Minneapolis musician, period.
Up Rock - Let That Bass Shake
Up Rock's second project continues their devotion to trunk-rattling bass, electronic grooves and smooth flows, and finds them tightening their unique formula and producing something considerably original. The album boasts some of the biggest low-end rumbles to emanate from the Twin Cities, and the beats consistently deliver both hard-edged hip-hop and underground rave vibes. MCs Dundee and Digie are veterans of local rap as members of the legendary Abstract Pack, but their flows and styles have evolved further still to compliment their futurist digital production work. Progressive and heavily dance-oriented, it's got the spirit of old school but comes off as strikingly new.
925ve - Three Numbers, Two Letters
Despite the countless hours that went into the creation of this record, it slipped under the radar when 925ve abruptly released it to Bandcamp with an announcement that it was their last. The combined efforts of Prizm, Iggz Flider, Tigre Cole and Brando make for a tightly realized rap album that dances around the margins of boom-bap leaning underground, which should satisfy traditional-minded heads while still making strides forward. Prizm's off-kilter flow meets Tigre's controlled cool in the middle and finds footing over beats that are crisp and subtly innovative, and the result is an understated local gem that will hopefully not go unappreciated.
Kaoz - Enter-Sextions Vol. 1 & 2
The conversations on sex and relationships Kaoz delves into over his two volume Enter-Sextions album range from enlightening to funny to disturbing, yet manage to be anchored by an elastic flow and a steady shake of bombast. It's an engaging listen that bounces all over the map, hitting humorous strides and pop hooks alongside dark subjects and weird cadences. There's nothing quite like it in the Twin Cities rap spectrum, both in terms of subject matter and execution. The album is introduced as a safe space to touch on difficult ideas, and if more artists opened themselves up in the way Kaoz has here, their work would be just as powerful.
The Lioness has a confident flow that gets her pointed lyrics across whether she hits a machine-gun rapid pace or a slowed sung passage, and her choice of beats gives her room to stretch her abilities across a wide range. Her message is one of empowerment for herself and others, which is expressed both through somber down-tempo tracks and brash big beat bangers. Lioness's impressive live style comes across on every track, and this project cements her place in the local scene as a consistently excellent rapper.