2013 was another year in the books for hip-hop. And as always, we had the good, the bad, and Trinidad James’ freestyle. And with all other blogs, magazines, and publications ready to crown the king that ran the game this year, this piece is a little different. 2013 was interesting in the fact that we had some of our brightest stars putting the spotlight on each other, a little “I see you and I’m better than you, but I won’t exactly say your name.” We were primed for a good year with Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city taking us out of 2012. We were also treated to some very good albums, mixtapes, and EPs (looking at Pusha T, Jay Z, Kanye, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, etc.) We also had some projects who fell a tad short, but that was expected. But there’s one artist who if he had not staked his claim for Album Of The Year already, finished the job with a 360-reverse-tomahawk-slam in the year’s last hours. And that artist was Aubrey Graham.

Many people, fans and critics alike, were anxious to see how Drake would come back with his new album, Nothing Was The Same. After receiving projects like Yeezus, My Name Is My Name, and Magna Carta Holy Grail all claiming to be the best body of work in 2013, we, myself included, didn’t know how Drake would add to the pot. NWTS was in all forms a progressive album for Drake, taking all the braggadocio raps he was known for and adding a darker sense to it. Yeah, he was a tad emo. It’s Drake, he’s synonymous with being emo. But it wasn’t “Marvin’s Room” emo, it didn’t make you want to crawl in a corner with a bottle of Moscato thinking about “#Her”. On the contrary, it made you embrace your inner part time simp. And while many people swore the album was missing that one club banger, that one song that would ring off in the party, we looked up and “Worst Behavior” had us standing on couches screaming how no one supported us from the get-go. In my opinion, from top to bottom, Nothing Was The Same was the album of the year, but even in that sense, I wasn’t ready to give the year to “One Take Drake.” And then, “We Made It” dropped.

First off, I’m not sure what Southwest Atlanta swap meet Drake found Soulja Boy at, but I’m glad he did. I could picture Soulja in the booth talking off beat ON PURPOSE. I’m not sure if he listened to an audio book of Birdman’s “How To Talk That Talk On A Record” before laying his verse, but from that point on, every time I heard the song, it made me think back on the year that was and how I could look in the mirror and say, “N*gga, we made it!” But then I wondered why. Why would an artist wait literally to the end of the year to drop some heat like “We Made It” (and “Trophies,” who’s CDQ version hit the internet at press time)? It’s clear: why run the ball into the new year when you could go for it all on first down? It’s the reason why they have closers in baseball, and why they get paid as much as they do. By dropping these songs, Drake not only closes out the year with a bang, but he sets himself up for a run in first quarter 2014. Prior planning and preparation, to say the least. And yes, 2014 is going to see a surge from a lot of artists, potentially a new Kendrick album, a new Kanye album, and who knows what Hov is going to do. But I can say this: 2013 belonged to October’s Very Own. So congrats, Drake. Take your victory lap. And enjoy all those fixins’.