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The Best Songs of 2013 (So Far)

35. Kendrick Lamar f/ Jay-Z "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Remix)"

Album: N/A
Producer: Sounwave
Label: Top Dawg,Aftermath,Interscope

Forget everything that comes after Kendrick Lamar's bare-boned declaration—"Y'all can keep the numbers/I'm more than another statistic, my nigga/This courtesy of Compton"—because the importance of this song (really, why it's on our list) lies not in the lyrical fortitude of either Lamar or Jay-Z, but in the song's deafening symbolism. The remix captures an important moment in rap history: when a student surpasses his teacher. Jay-Z and Lamar arise from similar hells—drug-ravaged 1980s Bed-Stuy and late-90s Compton, a metropolis defined by gang strife—so their pairing is a welcome listen. And by song's end you're wondering: Did Kendrick just outrap Jigga? (Yes, for those keeping score). Despite the original track, which appeared on Lamar's poetically haunting debut good kid, M.A.A.D. City, not needing a re-up, the song soars—Lamar hungry and biting, Jay-Z oozing steely cool. Every now and then a song is bigger than its parts. This is one of those songs. —Jason Parham

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