In 2013, only seven rap hits topped the Billboard Rap Charts. This was largely in part to the rapper-producer duo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who spent a whopping 29 weeks atop the chart. As rap continued to evolve and diversify, a wide range of artists and styles were keen on making their mark on the genre. Trap music remained a dominant subgenre while drill began to take shape. Artists like Future and Chief Keef made significant contributions that shifted the course of the culture.
A new generation of rappers also emerged, with artists like Joey Bada$$ and Young Thug gaining recognition for their innovative styles. Additionally, Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap placed him at the forefront of Hip Hop stars to watch. 2013 also saw Jay-Z reaffirming his legend status with the iconic album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, which expectedly housed impressive rap hits. Furthermore, during this period, the internet started playing a pivotal role in the promotion and distribution of rap music. Artists were releasing more and more mixtapes, and building online fan bases. So by all accounts, 2013 was a notable year for rap hits to further push into the mainstream.
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Psy - “Gangnam Style”
This beloved K-Pop offering had first topped the Hot Rap Songs chart for eight weeks in 2012. Eventually, it was dethroned by Flo Rida’s “I Cry.” However, it made a re-entry for one week in 2013, becoming the first of seven rap hits to top the chart that year. Despite its brief reappearance, the track’s impact was still strongly felt across the globe for a long time after it left the top spot. “Gangnam Style” remains a significant part of pop culture, helping to unleash a massive K-pop wave across the globe.
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Eminem - “Berzerk”
“Berzerk” was released as the lead single from Eminem’s eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The song marked a return to the classic, raw rap style that drew direct influence from the Beastie Boys. Meanwhile, the lyrical content felt reminiscent of Eminem’s earlier albums. “Berzerk” heavily sampled Billy Squier’s 1981 track, “The Stroke,” and this rock-inspired sound gave the song a unique and energetic feel. ‘Berzerk” was a commercial success, debuting and peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also sat atop the Hot Rap Songs chart for one short week in September 2013.
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Eminem - “Rap God”
“Rap God” is a landmark rap track that showcases Eminem’s unparalleled lyrical skill, complex rhyme schemes, and overall rap talent. The song was released as the third single from his album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. Eminem reassured fans of his incredibly fast and intricate delivery on “Rap God.”
Most notably, the song contains one lengthy verse that lasts for over six minutes, making it one of the longest verses in Hip Hop history. “Rap God” also received widespread acclaim from critics, and became a commercial success, peaking at number seven on the Hot 100 chart. The song topped the Hot Rap Songs chart for one week.
Macklemore And Ryan Lewis - “Can’t Hold Us” Ft. Ray Dalton
“Can’t Hold Us,” by rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis featured vocals from Ray Dalton. The track was released as the second single from the duo’s album, The Heist. It is known for its energetic and anthemic sound, driven by a powerful beat and uplifting lyrics. The song’s high energy, triumphant feel, and catchy melody made it a party favorite. Furthermore, it became one of the biggest rap hits of 2013. Macklemore’s rapid-fire verses are complemented by Ray Dalton’s soulful and melodic chorus, creating a dynamic and memorable contrast. “Can’t Hold Us” achieved widespread commercial success, reaching the top spot on both the Hot 100 chart, and the Hot Rap Songs chart. It stayed on top of the rap chart for a staggering 14 weeks.
Jay-Z - “Holy Grail” Ft. Justin Timberlake
“Holy Grail” was released as the lead single from Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed twelfth studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. On the track, Jay-Z and Timberlake seamlessly blend Hip Hop and pop elements, resulting in a timeless classic, and one of the most memorable rap hits of 2013. Timberlake delivers an emotive chorus while HOV lays some hard-hitting bars, balancing out the track. Besides its commercial success, “Holy Grail” also received critical acclaim. Additionally, the song was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, winning in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category. It enjoyed a good performance on the charts as well. The song peaked at number four on the Hot 100. Furthermore, it topped the rap charts in August, September, and November of 2013, for a total of twelve weeks.
Eminem - “The Monster” Ft. Rihanna
“The Monster” was one of the standout rap hits of 2013. The song was released as the fourth single from Eminem’s 2013 album. The timeless track features Rihanna’s emotive and powerful chorus, balanced out by Eminem’s introspective rap verses. “The Monster” was also a commercial success, and peaked at number one on the Hot 100 chart. It topped the rap chart as well, for an impressive nine weeks.
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Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - “Thrift Shop” Ft. Wanz
“Thrift Shop,” the fun and catchy track by the rapper-producer duo became a monumental success. The chart-topping tune was also the longest-running of all the rap hits of 2013. The track was the most successful song from their Grammy-winning album, The Heist. “Thrift Shop” was released as the fourth single from the album, and immediately achieved critical and commercial success.
The earworm hook also contributed to the song’s widespread appeal, and Macklemore doubled down by delivering fun and memorable verses. Moreover, the song’s horn-driven and upbeat instrumental complements the playful and carefree nature of its lyrics. At the 54th Grammy Award ceremony, “Thrift Shop” won Best Rap Performance, as well as Best Rap Song. It topped the Hot 100 chart, as well as the Hot Rap Songs chart. It stayed on top of the rap chart for 15 weeks, and additionally, came out on top on the year-end Hot Rap Songs chart.