The best rap beats of 2013

Page 2 of 3

10. M.I.A. - "Bad Girls" (Danja) The thing that sticks out about Danja's "Bad Girls" beat is the strong Mid-Eastern aesthetic, and that alone is enough to make the track one of the most unique tracks of the year. Where many songs have attempted to pull off a similar effect, "Bad Girls" takes more authentic elements of regional world music and incorporates them into a song that is still purely hip-hop. When the beat takes off at the beginning of M.I.A.'s first verse, it's a powerful moment, and the intensity doesn't let up until the song is over.

9. The Underachievers - "Root Of All Evil" (Mr. Bristol) On the strength of a menacing piano melody, Mr. Bristol created an instrumental with an unbelievable pocket to rap in. The great strength of this beat, beyond the sound selection, which is masterful in it's cohesion, are the places where the individual sounds enter and exit the music, perfectly accentuating the flows of the two MCs. Yes, there's an art to creating an instrumental for its own sake, but this is rap; if it doesn't work well with lyrics, it doesn't do much good.

8. Mac Miller - "Goosebumpz" (Diplo) You rarely see an artist opt to use one of his bonus tracks as a single, but it's clear why Mac Miller did for "Goosebumpz" on Watching Movies with the Sound Off. As enthralling as the track is, it sticks out like a sore thumb on the decidedly moody album. To be fair, though, there aren't many albums on which the wonky "Goosebumpz" would have fit in. Using an obscure, Balkan hand-clapping sample and the seldom-used but frequently effective bird chirping, Diplo created one of the year's most original beats.

7. Drake - "All Me" (Key Wane, Noah "40" Shebib) Key Wane's beat would actually be relatively ordinary if not for an exceptionally well executed, distorted vocal sample that provides the most intriguing melody throughout and blends seamlessly with the subdued synthesizers and snappy drums. Near the end, the beat goes through an unusual tonal change, highlighted by what sound like video game sound effects, but it totally works. The whole thing does, even the Azis Ansari sample that kicks the track off.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Noah Hubbell