Although these artists didn't make the main list, they're not far behind those who did. We also decided to give two veterans a nod for their renewed solo efforts this year. Who else do you think should've been included?
Pusha T (Solo Career)
Juicy J (Solo Career)
However you feel about their stylistic approach, Atlanta trio and unofficial Versace brand ambassadors Migos became a hip-hop household name in 2013, releasing a successful debut mixtape (see below) and receiving co-signs from big players such as Drake and Gucci Mane. Whether or not they'll last remains to be seen, but they were undeniably popping this year.
Rich Homie Quan
Regardless of the type of way you feel about him, it can't be denied that ATLien Auto-Tune advocate Rich Homie Quan had a massive year. Other than his smash hit "Type Of Way", which Drake declared the "song of the summer", he collaborated with Jeezy, Meek Mill and Jim Jones and dropped not one but two successful mixtapes. As his career progresses, he continues to distinguish himself from fellow Atlanta crooner Future, and has assured us on multiple occasions that he'll never stop going in.
Hate him or love him, Trinidad Jame$ is another artist who became became a hip-hop household name in 2013, both for his image and his music. Not only has he toured extensively this year, his new 10 Piece Mild mixtape has done big numbers, and he's collaborated with Gucci Mane, Childish Gambino, ScHoolboy Q, Danny Brown and more. Say what you will about his musical approach, but there's no one quite like him in the game. For the record, he's not trying to take your fan base - he's just trying to keep his fam' straight.
Whaaat?! Other than his instantly recognizable ad-libs, Problem repped the West Coast with a vengeance this year, and his original Compton-bred flavor resounded throughout the rap game. There's also the fact that he's been embraced by veterans and heavy-hitters alike, among them T.I., Snoop Dogg, The Game, Chris Brown, Wale and Wiz Khalifa. Don't be mad 'cause he's doing him better than you're doing you.
By far the chillest member of the Funk Volume crew, Dizzy Wright officially made a name for himself this year, landing the "People's Choice" spot in XXL's 2013 Freshman class and releasing one of the year's more memorable projects (see below). Not only is his smoked-out wordplay incredibly on point and positive, he's managed to return to the roots of the genre while remaining progressive, and is backed by one of the most noteworthy independent labels in the game. The world will know his name soon enough.
Ty Dolla $ign
Ty Dolla $ign redefined R&B this year, presenting a refreshing if not drug-addled take on the genre while offering an immersive perspective on hedonism and sex addiction. His Beach House 2 mixtape (see below) was a summer highlight, featuring an all-star cast including Kevin Gates, IAMSU!, Wiz Khalifa, Chevy Woods, Trey Songz, Kirko Bangz, Juicy J, YG, Kid Ink, B.o.B, Chris Brown, Jay Rock, The Game and more. His singles "Irie" (featuring Wiz Khalifa) and "Paranoid" (featruing B.o.B.) were both huge.
The newest member of Taylor Gang shows strong promise.
Despite making XXL's Freshman list in 2012, ATLien rap crooner Future truly broke through in 2013, making dozens of guest appearances and releasing several strong singles of his own, as well as a solid crew project at the top of the year. Although his latest studio album has been delayed and renamed multiple times, he has everybody wondering what's in store. Plus he's honest.
Whether you love or despise him, Houston, Texas rapper JODY HiGHROLLER (AKA Drake's last new friend) burst onto the scene in a big way this year. Although his debut studio album NEON iCON has yet to drop, you'd best believe it'll cause a Versace shockwave when it does, with alleged features from Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Mike Posner and Drake, as well as production from Lex Luger, Skrillex and the Mad Decent family, among others. His new DJ Mustard-produced single "How To Be The Man" is currently in heavy radio rotation, and he was recently given his own show on Complex TV. You'll likely find yourselves surprised by RiFF in 2014.
New Orleans native August Alsina was another refreshing voice to emerge in R&B this year, successfully defining his own style while becoming a popular hook-man in the rap game as well. He released the solid Downtown: Life Under The Gun EP, as well as the well-received The Product 2 mixtape, which birthed the smash singles "I Luv This Shit Remix" (featuring Trey Songz and Chris Brown) and "Numb" (featuring B.o.B. and Yo Gotti). He seems poised to make an even bigger impact in 2014.
Real heads know Bronson should have made this list last year, but alas, the world slept. With the release of his solid Saaab Stories EP with Harry Fraud and the exceptional Blue Chips 2 mixtape with Party Supplies, Bronsolino cemented his position as one of the most original new voices in the game in 2013 (not to mention his collaborations with veterans such as LL Cool J, Fat Joe and Lloyd Banks). To those still making Ghostface comparisons – drop it. Action distinguished himself a long time ago.
Not only did Jhene Aiko successfully carve her own lane this year, she became the rap game's go-to songstress - her excellent Sail Out EP feature Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Vince Staples, and she appeared on such notable projects as Drake's Nothing Was The Same, Big Sean's Hall Of Fame and more. It's been a minute since we've heard an R&B artist mesh so seamlessly with some of the game's illest spitters, and the Los Angeles native shows no signs of slowing down. The release of her debut studio album Souled Out will undoubtedly be an event. Stay tuned.
Ferg is next up in the A$AP Mob, without question. "Shabba" and "Work" (as well as their respective remixes) were among the biggest cuts of the year, and he's definitely distinguished himself from Rocky, bringing his own unique flavor to the game. Although his debut project Trap Lord has received mixed reviews, we're confident the hood pope will continue to make moves in 2014.
Despite the perpetual delay of his extremely anticipated OXYMORON album, ScHoolboy Q made waves this year - "Collard Greens" and "Yay Yay" were without doubt two of the biggest singles of 2013. He's one of the most charismatic emcees to emerge in recent memory, and his loyal (albeit frustrated) fan base only continues to expand. We don't need to remind y'all not to sleep on Puffy - he's at the forefront of gangster rap revivalism. YAWK!
Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper killed 2013, plain and simple. He dominated the blogosphere after releasing Acid Rap, arguably one of the best projects of the year, and even branched out beyond the rap game, collaborating with critically acclaimed UK artist James Blake, for example. There was also his appearance on Lil' Wayne's "You Song", which was the strongest track featured on Wayne's Dedication 5 mixtape, in our opinion. His quirky, eccentric approach is original and infectious, and he seems prepared to dominate in 2014. Don't sleep.