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10 Best Mixtapes of 2013

The absolute cream of the non-label hip-hop crop

Mixtapes

Courtesy of Rich Homie Quan; Courtesy of Chance the Rapper; Courtesy of Vic Mensa; Courtesy of Migos

In 2013, as has been true for the past few years, much of the best rap music came via free mixtapes posted to the various aggregating web sites (DatPiff, LiveMixtapes) that have sprouted up in response to what has become a booming cottage industry. Mixtapes are now where hit singles and real careers are birthed, and where established rappers return to prove they still have it. Here are our 10 favorites from this year. 

BY JORDAN SARGENT

Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap

Courtesy of Chance The Rapper

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Chance The Rapper, ‘Acid Rap’

Chicago's Chance the Rapper established himself in 2013 as the strongest new voice in hip-hop: cool enough for the teens, thoughtful enough for the old heads, pop enough to open for Lil Wayne, and with his street bona fides established by virtue of his coming out of Chicago's rap scene. On Acid Rap he recalls a number of the greats — young Kanye in lush sonics, Slim Shady in spastic flow, Kendrick in inquisitive worldview — but the full-length is precocious enough to make those comparisons feel like positive premonitions rather than millstones. Acid Rap’s scope is stunning both musically (the blending of soul and juke encapsulates his hometown) and lyrically — he deftly bounces from rapping about Chicago's murder rate to recalling hugging his grandma. Acid Rap is the start of something special. 

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