Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums



9. Chance the Rapper
Acid Rap
(Independent)

Everybody's somebody's everything. Nobody's nothing. Everything's good. These are the takeaways from Chance the Rapper's sophomore mixtape Acid Rap released this past spring. Full of subversively positive, distinctly introspective and often profound observations from a highly charismatic unsigned 20-year-old, Acid Rap is one of the best releases this year. Songs like "Pusha Man," "Lost" and "NaNa" offer silky smooth backdrops against which Chance and guests like Action Bronson and Childish Gambino meld wordplay and suaveness. Dilla fans will likely appreciate his reworking of Slum's "Fall In Love" on "Everybody's Something" featuring BJ the Chicago Kid.

Make no mistake about it, if you enjoyed the breath of fresh air that was Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Acid Rap is your assurance that this next generation of rappers is approaching the mic with a decidedly more progressive idea of what the art form can be. Rather than simply reiterating the violent narrative plaguing Chicago's youth with stories of shootouts and machismo, Chance raps about the overwhelming fear he and his peers have, and pleads for your empathy. This, an open admission of living under the constant threat of victimization and the psychological consequences, is the furthest hip-hop has ever drifted from it's escapist roots, and is a testament to a new maturity these young rappers bring to the table.

The mixtape ends on an explicit proclamation of love between Chance and his father over a quick phone call before jumping into the celebratory "Everything's Good (Good Ass Outro)." Indeed it is, and hip-hop is maybe in better hands than ever. (Michael Warren)