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Swagazine’s Picks: Top 10 Beats of 2013

It’s that time of the year again.
With every blog out there putting out their lists for top songs, albums, breakout artist etc. I decided to make a list as well. But I thought you’ve probably already looked at pitchfork’s Top Songs of 2013 list (which has “Hold On We’re Going Home” as #1 lol), and you’ve probably already seen that just about every Music publication on the planet is listing Yeezus as top Album of 2013, so I decided to pick something that maybe you haven’t considered. So here is Swagazine Weekly’s list: The Top Ten Beats of 2013.10. Sweet Dreams – Joey Bada$$

OLD SCHOOL.
With Rap music becoming one of the most popular music genres, and with many beats starting to take on Pop song forms, sometimes it is refreshing to listen to some old school Hip-Hop style stuff. If this is what you’re looking for, Joey Bada$$ is the guy for you. This young New York rapper has taken on an old school sound that is best displayed on this bumpin track “Sweet Dreams” from his album “Summer Knights”. Check it out.

9. ODB – Danny Brown

Now we all know Danny Brown might be a little on the totally-fucking-nuts side, but we’ve always enjoyed what he brought to the table when it came to Rap music. In this ermmmm…. “unorthodox” song, the beat resembles some Arnold Schoenberg twelve-tone shit and is absolutely bonkers. But of course, thats why I love it. This beat is perfectly reflective of Danny Brown as an artist, makes you feel like you’re on drugs, and suits his flow so perfectly. With the verses seemingly all over the place, the catchy hook plays as an added bonus to look forward to. Take a listen.

8. Hive – Earl Sweatshirt

The Odd Future collective (especially Tyler and Earl) have always been praised for the minimalistic style instrumentals that they brought to the table. On Earl’s debut mixtape, the world was exposed to his incredible lyricism that stood out on top of the minimal, but sometimes haunting, beats. This year, on his debut album “Doris”, the production was for the most part totally different from just about anything Earl’s ever been on, let alone Odd Future as a group. However, on “Hive” we get a taste of some of that minimalistic but haunting sound that was on his first mixtape, yet it still brings a new tonality that lets it fit in perfectly with “Doris”. As a beat it suits Earl’s intricately twisted lyrics and monotone voice to create an incredible overall song.

7. Slater – Tyler, the Creator

I’ve always been a huge fan of Tyler’s production style. His Jazz fusion influences have always served as a stark contrast to his dark lyrical content and iconic deep voice. In this beat, Tyler combines a rolling snare and hi hat driven drum loop, a poking synth lead, and screeching strings to create this creepy minor beat that brilliantly matches Tyler’s tone and voice. However, shortly after the halfway point, the beat comes in with some beautiful jazz electric piano chords that suddenly change the feeling of the song to match Frank Ocean’s vocals. “Slater” is a great example of Tyler’s artistic abilities.

6. Let Nas Down – J. Cole

DAT TRUMPET.
The multi-talented Jermaine Cole, a producer of this beat, uses this jazzy-beat as an homage to the great Nas. Sounding like a beat you might hear from Nas, yet still serving well for J. Cole, this beat is a brilliant combination of styles to hit home the idolization message and story that this song presents. The bombing drums and sombre trumpet make this beat an awesome instrumental, and J. Cole’s bars over top of it make this an incredible song.

5. Lost – Chance the Rapper

This jazzy beat falls in on Chano’s 2013 mixtape “Acid Rap”. Combining a smooth jazzy guitar sample, some soothing keys, and a beautiful flute part, this beat has a wicked romantic-jazz feel to it. The jazz feel isn’t the only thing that makes me love this beat, it’s the combination of all the elements stated above put on top of a trap drum beat is what gets me. The 808 kick, trap hi hat, and snapping snare give this beat an incredibly original trap-jazz fusion sound that makes it a stand out in 2013.

4. Numbers On the Board – Pusha T

Kanye strikes again.
Produced by Yeezus himself, this rolling-bass driven beat takes us back to the beauty of minimalism that I love. Essentially just bass, drums, some weird percussion, and some vocal samples, this simple beat almost forces the listener to rock their head. I mean, you just can’t help yourself. I dare you… listen to this beat without bobbing your head. More importantly, the effective minimalism of this beat puts Pusha T’s incredible lyricism in the spotlight to create an incredible song.

3. Crawl – Childish Gambino

This beat goes hard… so hard. With many calling “Because the Internet” one of the best albums of 2013 (despite coming out in December), this song starts the album off incredibly. Combining a number of different instruments and elements, this grand beat is a huge banger. With all the vocal samples, the smashing cymbals, the big string sections, and the keys, this beat has a lot in it that all work together seamlessly. However, this beat is not just one hype banger the whole way through. This beat takes us from a booming intro, to a toned down vocal sample chorus, to a verse section, and so on. We even get a cello breakdown part way through. All in all, this beat is an incredible work of art.

2. Hold My Liquor – Kanye West

“WHY NOT BLACK SKINHEAD!?”
“WHY NOT NEW SLAVES!?!?”
“WHY NOT BLOOD ON THE LEAVES!?!?!?!?”
“YOU AINT GOT THE ANSWERS!!!!”

Okay hear me out on this one. “Black Skinhead” was a close second for me (along with “I’m In It” actually); the drums and vocal melodies make it a great beat. IMO “New Slaves” was more lyrically impressive than anything else; I felt like its beat wasn’t all that exciting. “Blood On the Leaves” was two pretty great samples, but I felt like they were out of place considering the concept of the lyrics vs the “Strange Fruit” sample. In my mind “Hold My Liquor” was the stand out beat on “Yeezus”. The grand synths, the airy ambient pad sounds, the screeching snare-hit sound, and the growing distorted bass sequence, all work to create an incredible build-up to the synthesizer solo that finishes off the song in incredible fashion. The dynamics of this beat, the personas portrayed by the songs features, and the over-all grand feel to it make it one of the best beats of the year.

1. Tuscan Leather – Drake

“But you were lol-ing about pitchfork calling ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’ the song of the year??”
-True

So yeah, we all laugh at Drake once in awhile (stay tuned for a great essay on why), but we can’t always deny him, or Noah ’40’ Shebib (Producer), of his talents. This beat is absolutely phenomenal. This instrumental takes sampling to a whole new level, as 40 takes Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”, plays it backwards, pitches it up, and warps it to make three amazing beats. This can’t really even be classified as one beat, it is essentially three different ones all linked together with one sample motif. As the first track on “Nothing Was the Same”, this instrumental sets the bar insanely high for the rest of the album, and is perhaps one of Drake’s best songs, lyrical deliveries, and above all, instrumentals ever. As a result, this is undoubtably my Top pick for beat of 2013. Listen and enjoy.

Thank you. Happy New Year

Honorable Mentions:
(these ones you can look up on your own)

Long Jawn (Outro) – Shad
– A six minute jam that puts Rap God to shame as far as six min beats go

Devil Is A Lie – Rick Ross
– A great horn sample beat with awesome club banging trap drums. Even though this beat barely made it into 2013, it is still worth and honourable mention

Bad Guy & Evil Twin – Eminem
– Even though I was thoroughly skeptical of MMLP2, I must admit, Eminem deliverd. These were two of the stand-out beats on that album.

Pound Cake – Drake
– Another simple beat that utilizes an airy Ellie Goulding sample but still gives off a great Hip-Hop vibe.

Worldstar – Childish Gambino
– A trap beat that samples Ableton’s metronome and then breaks down into a jazz outro. It’s just too awesome.

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