feature: afropunk’s best records of 2013

December 23, 2013

There’s no denying that 2013 was a great year for music. There’s been more dopeness than we can even keep track of. From hardcore to hip-hop to folk, 2013 was a year of new artists and old favorites creating challenging and unique art. So in no particular order, here are our favorites of 2013.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor


letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful

They used to come nearly daily, but these days game changing landmark punk rock albums seem to only show up every few years. Letlive’s The Blackest Beautiful is sure to inspire a wave of imitators, so let’s hope that what people imitate is their spirit of inventiveness and innovation.

Bells Atlas – Self-titled

One of the most unique albums of 2013 was also one of its best. Good when that works out. The Oakland quartet blends Afrobeat, indie pop, and disco for a sound unlike anything else. It’s rare that an album can be at once so fun, heartfelt, sexy, and smart.

Valerie June – Pushin’ Against A Stone

Since getting a taste of Valerie June’s latest in 2012, her debut has been awaited with baited breath. The album does not disappoint, delivering a folk album that feels nostalgic while sounding incredibly new.

CX KiDTRONiK – Krak Attack 2: The Ballad of Elli Skiff

The legendary producer and Atari Teenage Riot frontman returned in 2013 with an unclassifiably brilliant mess of noise, rage, and social commentary.

Black on Black – Let’s Get Cynical

This self-released EP from Lawrence, KS based Black on Black may not reinvent punk rock in its image, but it’s full of some of the smartest songwriting of the year. Each of these 6 tracks is an instant classic.

The Uncluded – Hokey Fright

Although Kimya Dawson and Aesop Rock have a long history of guesting on eachothers’ tracks, but they finally made it official with The Uncluded. Their debut record finds an unlikely middle ground between Anti-folk and indie hip-hop with an album about the cycles of life; at once funny, sad, haunting, and explosive.

Danny Brown – Old

Danny Brown’s long awaited followup to XXX delivers everything you expect from the visionary MC by subverting all your expecations.

Clipping – midcity

Noise rap trio clipping’s midcity came out in February but it’s finally caught fire the past few months. Deconstructed beats push through broken speakers for a sound unlike anything else in this world.

The Bots – Sincerely Sorry

The Lei brothers maybe be barely out of high school, but they’ve been conquering the road all year, performing with some of punks biggest names. Their EP on Fader performs the rare magic trick of capturing the energy and passion of their live set.

Jck Dvy – Lo-Fi

She’s known best as the singer of synth-pop duo J*DaVeY, but Jck Dvy reinvented herself this year as a lo-fi indie rock luminary with her double EP (and book). Stripped down, raw, and aggressive, Lo-Fi showcases some of the most personal songs Jck Dvy has ever created.