Best Hip-Hop Album of 2013 (Mainstream)
The great thing about these awards is that they're not math equations. This isn't about stats and numbers - if so we could just look at the Billboard charts and call it a day. But this is music, and music is about soul and feeling and all those other intangibles. So while Mac Miller's Watching Movies With the Sound Off might not have been the year's top-seller, something about Mr. Miller's music made fans once again turn out in droves to proclaim their love for WMWtSO. We're guessing that in addition to Mac's constant low-key charisma, a big part of what people loved about this album is that Miller really stretched and expanded his sound. The young kid from Pittsburgh is a force to be reckoned with.
J. Cole - Born Sinner
Love him or hate him, Drake is one of the biggest names in hip-hop. Period. And like all big names, Drizzy can be polarizing. But more than any album he's done to date, Nothing Was the Same was the project that made even the haters (ok, some of the haters) admit that he put together a hell of a project. From guilty pleasure bangers like Worst Behavior to huge pop hits like Hold On We're Going Home and of course one of the anthems of the year, Started From the Bottom, NWTS combined some more genuine musical exploration with easy replayability. Hip-hop will continue to debate NWTS for years, but as far as we're concerned, Aubrey Graham made a great album. Deal with it.