2013 was one of the best for Chicago Hip Hop, as demonstrated by the “mainstream” attention that our city’s up-and-coming artists like Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap and Vic Mensa’s INNANETAPE got and the general great reception they immediately received. To say the least, our list of the Dopest mixtapes of the year features their releases but it also showcases other projects from other SaveMoney members, Rockie Fresh, and King Louie. These are 13 “tapes” on this list of what we liked this year.
Check out the full list below.
Alex Wiley – Club Wiley
Club Wiley lands on this list thanks to Alex Wiley’s great delivery and overall solid production. The debut mixtape features notable appearances from the likes of Chance The Rapper, GLC, Freddie Gibbs, Vic Mensa and Action Bronson (among others). Some of the songs that stick out the most are the remixes like “Earfucked” which draws its beat from Arctic Monkeys’ “Are U Mine?”, and his “Spaceship II” is formidable re-imagining of the Kanye West classic. His vocals range from chill to ferocious and his sound draws a lot from Rock, giving a refreshing face to a genre that can typically be stuck between either music that’s “simply violent” and that meant to get you to “turnup.”
Caleb James – The Jones
One of many SaveMoney men to land on our list, Caleb James’ The Jones was “cool” from beginning to end. Drawing from his earliest influences, James was able to give the Hip Hop and R&B sound of the 90’s a modern spin for his mixtape. Songs like “Flexin’ ” and “6AM” are perfect examples of contemporary versions of 90’s-era music done right.
Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
No offense to any of the other entries on this list, but this was the easiest pick for this list. His lyrics varied from the nostalgic (“Cocoa Butter Kisses”) to the critical (“Pusha Man”) to downright plain ol’ “feelgood” stuff (“Everybody’s Something”). The young rapper demonstrated why his voice was a force to be reckoned with and proved all the hype was worth riding out. Chance’s Acid Rap was nearly perfect with a sound that drew from Jazz, R&B, Soul and classic Hip Hop to help usher in a new era for Chicago music and Hip Hop in general.
Dally Auston – The Wood
Dally Auston’s The Wood is actually my favorite project that released this year. The SAVEMONEY member’s early 2013 project still gets plenty of play at our offices for many reasons. Not only does Dally take us through a nice little journey, but he brings along Smoko Ono, Saba, Vic Mensa, Jean Deaux, Joey Purp, Kami De Chukwu, Brian Fresco, Hippie Dream, and C-Sick to the project. If you haven’t been acquainted with Dally, don’t worry. You’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the near future.
Ibn Inglor – NEW WAVE
Ibn Inglor released his highly anticipated project, NEW WAVE, earlier in September. The new project got plenty of national attention and for a good reason. Ibn is definitely lined up to be one of the next big names to make it out of Chicago. Stream/download NEW WAVE below.
King Louie – Drilluminati 2
After Jeep Music, King L decided to go back and hit us with that old King Louie flavor on Drilluminati II. With Drilluminati II, King Louie gives us exactly what we wanted after last year’s Drilluminati. Aside from Lil Herb, you won’t see any other features on the project. Stand out tracks on here are “Tony” and “Hella Band$”.
Martin $ky – TIME(LESS)
Martin $ky is another Chicago artist that has been making a name for himself out of Chicago and his project, TIME(LESS), solidified that buzz. Tracks like “Polaroid,” “Track 01,” “Pearl Gawd” and many others make this project something worth checking out. Stream/download TIME(LESS) below.
Rockie Fresh – Electric Highway
Rockie Fresh’s first project under the MMG imprint was released almost a year ago to the day. Electric Highway is a solid edition to Rockie’s growing catalog and solidified his spot in the MMG crew. Stream/download the new project featuring tracks like “The Lights,” “Superman OG,” “I’m Wit It” and many others below.
Scheme – Pocket Full Of Pesos
Throughout the years, the meaning of putting out a “mixtape” has really changed. Nowadays when an artist puts out a “mixtape”, you can bet that the project is more than likely a free project. Scheme and DJ Scend teamed up to give us an actual mixtape with remakes and remixes in english and Spanish. Pocket Full of Pesos is definitely one to take a listen to, especially if you understand Spanish. Scheme takes us on a small journey of what he has been through, what his favorite food spot is after hours, and what his ultimate wish for his grandmother would be.
Spenzo – In Spenzo We Trust
Spenzo’s track “Wife Er” is one of the biggest songs in the city right and it was featured on his debut project, In Spenzo We Trust. Spenzo kept his buzz alive throughout the year leading up to the release of the project by releasing a new song or video almost every other day. You are sure to find some more tracks you will enjoy on In Spenzo We Trust below.
Vic Mensa – INNANETAPE
Vic Mensa is yet another SaveMoney member to be featured on our list, but his inclusion more than justified thanks to a mixtape that delivered on all fronts. The man’s unique delivery style (rapping against the beat, sometimes) needs no getting used to but it sure is cool to focus on how it makes a difference. Songs can be sunny and soulful like “Orange Soda” and “Lovely Day,” or they can be trippy like “Tweakin’ (feat. Chance The Rapper)” and “Yap Yap.” Plus, “Fear & Doubt” is one of my favorite songs of the year and don’t even get me started on Joey Purp’s verse on that. Post Kids These Days Vic Mensa looks/sounds as promising as we could have ever imagined and hoped for.
Phero – The FIve Columns
Phero’s The Five Columns is technically more of an EP than a mixtape, but we felt it was too strong of a project to leave off of our year-end list. You can stream the 6-track project (one bonus track) that only features one special guest (Scheme) below. You won’t be disappointed.
theWHOevers – Ridin’ Waves
theWHOevers had a hell of year in 2013. One major reason was due to their release of their Ridin’ Waves project. J. Arthur and DotKom continued to give us that fresh sound, perfect to jam to on those summer afternoons with Ridin’ Waves. The project is perfectly mastered and should be on everyone’s list.