Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Freeleases

Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Freeleases
As our recent list proved, hip-hop mixtapes have long been an easy way for rappers to get their rhymes to fans cheaply and easily. But in the digital era, releasing EPs, mixtapes and even albums for free has become a simple strategy for getting music to fans quickly and easily, regardless of genre. To avoid rating EPs, compilations and mixtapes against each other, we've assembled Exclaim!'s picks for the best free releases of the year in alphabetical order, below.

Top 10 Freeleases of 2013:


With Naked, Toronto-based Andreena serves up a take on R&B that feels fresh yet familiar. Free-to-download Naked is a 22-track indie debut that recalls Aaliyah-era R&B mixed with modern day urban soul sensibilities. The multitalented Andreena deftly leverages her skills as lyricist, pianist and vocalist to create an intimate project that feels raw, layered and sensual, all at once. (Ryan Patrick)

For Professional Use Only

Although Abraham Orellana (aka AraabMuzik) began his career producing tracks for slick-ass rappers like Cam'ron, Fabolous and Juelz Santana, the songs that make up For Professional Use Only find the Providence, RI DJ mimicking electronic music's ebb and flow structure. Mixing skeletal beats with meat-grinder rhythms, AraabMuzik's latest mixtape contains some of his leanest and most graceful compositions yet. (Daniel Sylvester)


At times spare and haunting, at others head noddingly inviting, producer and Yeezus collaborator Arca's 2013 single-track mixtape &&&&& (for indie label Hippos in Tanks) was the perfect follow-up to his past two EPs, Stretch 1 and 2. &&&&& is what Oneohtrix Point Never and the Haxan Cloak's offspring might sound like in 2020; it's the sound of electronic music's future, today. (Stephen Carlick)

Death Grips
Government Plates

From canceling high profile festival appearances for no apparent reason to beefing with (and eventually getting dropped from) the major label they never should have signed with in the first place, it's easy to think of shit-disturbing trio Death Grips as more clickbait than band. The sudden release of new album (NOT a mixtape, before you call us out) Government Plates, however, is a welcome reminder of why we paid attention in the first place, another divisive 35-minute headache from the best hate-filled dystopian noise-rap crew out there. (Josiah Hughes)

Curse of Consciousness

With one foot in the now-exhumed grave of late 90's metallic hardcore (à la Indecision or Buried Alive), and another in Rise and Fall's more sinister sound, Discourse brought to life a sound as disorderly as the chaos expected from the year 2000 on this freely available EP courtesy of Mayfly Records — and secured themselves a record deal with Closed Casket Activities. (Bradley Zorgdrager)