21. Lupe Fiasco – “Bitch Bad”
One of the most important songs of the year. Form, function and fashion meet and a discussion began allowing Lupe to add another positive stripe to his legacy as an artist who continually stirs the pot.
22. Kendrick Lamar Ft. Jay Rock – “Money Trees”
Kendrick didn’t get out-rapped by his TDE cohort. But, lord have mercy, Jay Rock’s delivery and details are second to none. Bonus points to K.Dot for making a quick slang term without even attempting to.
23. Flatbush ZOMBiES – “Face Off (L.S. Darko)”
Give them time and the ZOMBiES could be invading more iPods.
24. Jessie Ware – “Running”
Jessie Ware’s rocking with a Neo ’80s sound with a dash of Sade? We’ll have all of that; thank you very much. Her departure from dance music served her well here and on the rest of Devotion, her debut album.
25. Grande Marshall – “2-3 Shidd”
Philly’s got talent that’s floating right below the radar but ready to blow. And when it pops, Grande’s name will be one of the first mentioned.
26. Lake Street Dive – “Bad Self Portraits”
We’ve heard a lot of music. A lot. However, we can’t recall falling head over heels for any bad quicker than we did Lake Street Dive. The only thing we can request from this quartet is that they please release more material in 2013. Did we say “please”?
27. Nas – “Loco-Motive”
Many thanks are in order for Nas’ direct acknowledgement of the “trapped in the 90s n*ggas.” Descriptive, vivid, and unmistakably New York, “Loco-Motive” is Nas doing what he’s done better than every other rapper for the past 20 years.
28. Frank Ocean – “Lost”
There are few things worse than corrupting something, or someone, you hold dear. Sullying something as pure as love is akin to adding baking soda or lactose to the snow white stimulant Frankie’s gal whips up in the kitchen on this bouncy standout from Channel Orange.
29. A$AP Rocky Ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T. “1 Train”
Every rapper that bloggers used to like before they gained national fame gets busy on this one, and Hit-Boy shows that he has more than stadium-ready, glossy beats in his diverse arsenal.
30. Shy Glizzy – “Money Problems”
From the simple, earworm, hook to the naked honesty, the Southeast DC youngin’ defines the well-worn phrase “keeping it real.”