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The music year in review, Part I

Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part year-end music review post. Part 2, in which Chris will list favorite songs and albums, will drop Wednesday December 18th.

As 2013 comes to a close in a matter of – wow two weeks, I’m doing something new here, inspired by Virginia rapper Skillz’s year-end Rap-Up songs that were wildly popular. But I won’t be writing in rhyme, instead I’ll just share my thoughts on the year in music – or at least what I’ve listened to. Y’all know I stay in my old school bag, but I listen to some of the current stuff just to hear what’s out there. So without further delay, let’s talk about the year that was for music in 2013.

If 2012 was the year of trap rap, then 2013 was definitely strip club anthem season, and most of the best booty club bangers had one thing in common – Juicy J. Sir Juice showed the entire country how Memphis, Tennessee gets down with the Mike Will Made It smoker “Bands a make her dance” (which Rihanna loosely borrowed for the girls’ night out feel of “Pour it up”) as well as collaborating with Wale on two more skrippuh anthems (“Bounce it” and Clappers”).

From not being able to turn down ratchet vagina to motivating dancers to work their way up to the Big Face Hundreds, 2013 was the year of Juicy J, inspired strip club hits from the aforementioned Wale and Rihanna and a returning T-Pain, who’s got a hit on his hands with “Up Down” featuring B.o.B.

Justin Timberlake made a much-awaited return to R&B in 2013 with two albums – one of which I haven’t bothered to listen to. I loved the first installment of The 20/20 Experience so much, bad reviews of the second one scared me off of listening to it, but Timberlake’s star power showed that R&B really needed a lift.

Another Caucasian soul brother, Robin Thicke, had arguably the song of 2013 across the board with “Blurred Lines” featuring Pharrell and T.I. Some people felt the song was rapey, others felt it explored a dom/sub relationship, but whatever the case, you couldn’t escape it, especially once you got the right answer to the question “What rhymes with hug me?”

Kendrick Lamar pretty much is rap/hip-hop’s MVP for 2013 and it’s not even really close. Hot on the heels of his major label debut album achieving wild success, the Compton homeboy pretty much put everyone in the rap game on notice that this is a competition, not a tea party. Between his powerful verse on “Control” and a ridiculously venomous cipher appearance on the BET Hip-Hop awards, K Dot served notice that he’ll be here for a while and everyone else needs to step their game up.

If there was one person that fell off in 2013, as much as it pains me to say this…it was Kanye West. Yeezus to me was highly inaccessible compared to his previous five albums and I just didn’t get it. I’m not alone, but there are some people who feel like it’s one of his best. As his recent media tour suggests, Yeezy is somewhere we can’t fathom right now. Hopefully he comes back in 2014 with something stronger than what he offered this year.

Last, but certainly not least, Jay Z and Beyonce continue to lead the pack when it comes to new and creative ways to sell music and amaze their fans. If you recall, Jay released his latest solo album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, on Samsung Galaxy phones before distributing it in the stores, selling a million albums out of the gate. The album itself was meh, but the creativity behind it – the commercial announcing it, Jay actually Tweeting real stuff leading up to the release – it was genius. It was the PR move of the year until…

Beyonce’s fans are a devoted bunch – very much so. You could sense their mounting frustration with the stuff Mrs. Carter had leaked while doing a national tour. Then, much like the parent who has been teasing their kids about Christmas, Beyonce went ahead this past Friday morning and dropped a surprise self-titled album of 14 songs and 17 videos that really has the Internet going nuts, word to Paul Wall.

The early word on the album is that it is grown folks music – an album for feminists, mothers, women in tune with their sexuality and so on. She did this with no advance promotion, no warning, nothing. It’s amazing how Mr. and Mrs. Carter can be so private but still be on the cutting edge of marketing and light years ahead of everyone else in the music business.

All in all, 2013 was an eventful year in music. Be sure to stay tuned for Part 2 when I share my favorite songs and albums from this year. What was you favorite music moment in 2013? Feel free to leave it in the comments!

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