The ten best rap lyrics of 2013

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Eric Gruneisen

Oh, what a year it's been for rap. Kanye reached new levels of originality, and kinda went off the deep end at the same time, Kendrick put every other relevant rapper on call, and Eminem came storming back. Although this past year was one that focused, in general, on the sonic qualities of rap more than lyric detail, it wasn't hard to find ten great examples of poeticism alive in music. Here are the ten best rap lyrics of 2013.

See also: The fifty best rap lyrics of all time

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Lil Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being II: A track-by-track breakdown of every simile used

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In the heady pre-Tha Carter III days, Lil Wayne understood language so intuitively that he could skip through convention and construction and arrive at an expression that made him seem like the only dude speaking in colors, while everyone else was stuck in black and white. That's why he was the greatest. And then people followed him and did it even better, while he got too big to care anymore.

See also:
- The 50 worst rap lyrics of all time
- The 50 best rap lyrics of all time
- The ten best storytellers in hip-hop


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The stories behind the rhymes: Jai Harris breaks down some of her best poetry

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Lil Fresh Sam

Jai Harris was a poet before she even knew it. Hmm...doesn't sound as good in the past tense, but in Harris's case, it really is true. She recalls going to a yard sale with her grandma when she was seven and buying a little book with a poem written on the inside. At the time, she didn't know what a poem was, but she emulated the style to write her own stories. For her, poetry comes naturally, and it shows on her new mixtape, Disconnected, Vol. 1, a collaboration with DJ Vudu Spellz, whose work on Ludacris's "Georgia" was nominated for a Grammy. And while Vudu Spellz's expert sampling provides much of the tape's soul, Jai Harris is the heart.

See also:
- Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: Rooke5 breaks down his best lyrics
- Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: MaulSkull breaks down his best lyrics
- Quote/Unquote archives


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Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: Rooke5 breaks down some of his best lyrics

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Stacy Manweiler

Rooke5 (aka Luke Whitrock) grew up in Loveland and Greeley, but he moved to El Paso, Texas, in the middle of high school. Though he has a self-described "southern twinge" to his personality and cites Kanye West as an influence (who isn't influenced by the omnipotent Yeezy), lyrically, he is far more attracted to the likes of Murs, Macklemore and Aesop Rock than Paul Wall, Mike Jones or even the Geto Boys. Musically, Whitrock admires Curtis Mayfield and Al Green, which shows in his taste for soulful production -- he hopes to eventually push boundaries in the way that one of his favorite musicians, the Weeknd, is doing now. With his new album Colossal Chronicles, whose release is being celebrated this Sunday at Cervantes', Rooke5 certainly pushes boundaries, but not in the ways you might think.

See also:
- Sunday: Rooke5 album release show at Cervantes', 1/27/13
- Fort Collins rapper Epoch When offers some lyrical insight into his GRIM state of mind
- MaulSkull breaks down some of his best lyrics


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Fort Collins rapper Epoch When offers some lyrical insight into his GRIM state of mind

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It's almost a shame when people as talented as Epoch When (aka Alex Koutsoukos) make an album as unflinchingly introspective as GRIM because it's almost certain to not get as much attention as it deserves, which is a lot. His lyrics, which tend to be dense and challenging, are consistently interesting and, at times, quite powerful. The Fort Collins-based MC is immediately reminiscent of Aesop Rock in his stream-of-conciousness style and abstraction, Atmosphere in his dry, tongue in cheek sense of humor and George Watsky in his flow and literariness.

See also:
- Saturday: Epoch When album release show at the Meadowlark, 12/1/12
- Logistixx of Drop Switch on his lyrics: "I wanna draw a picture in the listeners' mind..."
- Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: MaulSkull breaks down some of his best lyrics


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Logistixx of Drop Switch on his lyrics: "I wanna draw a picture in the listeners' mind..."

Categories: Quote/Unquote

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Facebook

Quote/Unquote is our periodic feature in which we hunt down noteworthy lyrics, examine the best lines and then get the story behind the song. This week, we got some insight from Logistixx of the rap-fusion group Drop Switch to find out what he had in mind while he was crafting his music.

In most of Drop Switch's music, the actual lyrics of Logistixx and singer Emma Wallingford take a back seat to the instrumentation of the group and the musicality of Wallingford's voice, but not in this case of "War In My Heart." When we first listened to this passage, the sound of the music was literally overtaken by the buzzing hubbub of a fictional city in our mind. This effect is punctuated by Logistixx's stop-and-go flow which perfectly mimics the mood of time-lapsed traffic or, perhaps, recollecting a day spent watching the bustle of the city from above. Logistixx says that painting a picture was the intention here:

See also:
- Joe Sampson: "You can say the stupidest shit, but if the melody's right, then it works."
- MaulSkull breaks down some of his best lyrics

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Joe Sampson: "You can say the stupidest shit, but if the melody's right, then it works."

Categories: Quote/Unquote

Quote/Unquote is our periodic feature in which we hunt down some awesome lyrics, examine the best lines and then get the story behind the song. This week, we unearthed a few gems from Joe Sampson from "Kill Our Friends."

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Gary Isaacs

For a certain type of music fan, most any song can be interpreted as a soundtrack directly commenting on your life -- at that exact moment. The lyrics are speaking directly to you and your situation with a spooky amount of accuracy and wisdom. The song is about you, even if it isn't, even if the songwriter was thinking of something completely different at the time, or thinking of nothing specific at all, least of all you and your problems.

See also:
- Jules Bethea-Rateliff and Joe Sampson talk about Kill Our Friends
- MaulSkull breaks down some of his best lyrics

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Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: MaulSkull breaks down some of his best lyrics

Categories: Quote/Unquote

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Mallory Messinger, Vixen Artistry
MaulSkull and Black Mask

See also: Meet Maulskull, the highly prolific Johnny Appleseed of underground hip-hop

Welcome to the revamped version of Quote/Unquote, our feature in which we hunt down some awesome lyrics -- or in this case rhymes -- and get the story behind the song. This week, we unearthed a few gems from MaulSkull of Black Mask and caught up with the rapper to find out a little about his inspiration. The best poets are ones that can see complexity in their subject matter and present it for what it is rather than trying to rationalize it. And on these two tracks, that's exactly what MaulSkull does.

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Quote/Unquote: "Wichita, CO" by Weather Maps

Categories: Quote/Unquote

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All right, how many times have you been bopping along, minding your own business, listening to some tunes, when all of the sudden, you'll hear a line in a song that instantly makes you do a double-take? You know, the ones where you keep rewinding the sucker, marveling aloud to no one in particular, "Wait, hold on...did he just...? Awesome!"

Yeah? Us, too, which is precisely what inspired Quote/Unquote, our occasional feature where we spotlight a few lines in a song that stuck out to us, be it a couplet, a quatrain or a few stanzas -- however many lines in takes to get the point across. This week, we're excited about a couple of lines from Places, the brand new disc Weather Maps will release Thursday, August 5, at the Hi-Dive. Get a sneak peak after the jump.

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Quote/Unquote: "Infant Arms" by Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story)

Categories: Quote/Unquote
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Todd Roeth
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All right, how many times have you been bopping along, minding your own business, listening to some tunes, when all of the sudden, you'll hear a line in a song that instantly makes you do a double-take? You know, the ones where you keep rewinding the sucker, marveling aloud to no one in particular, "Wait, hold on...did he just...? No way! Awesome!" Yeah? Us, too, which is precisely what inspired Quote/Unquote. Periodically, we spotlight a few lines in a song that stuck out to us, be it a couplet, a quatrain or a few stanzas -- however many lines in takes to get the point across. This week, "Infant In Arms" by Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story), an act who played its farewell show at the Bluebird a few weeks ago.

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