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SNL’s Biggest Hip-Hop Performances of 2013

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Kanye West’s latest SNL performance was a huge success, debuting two new songs and creating a new sense of excitment for his new album, Yeezus, set to release later this year. Here’a look back at some of the greatest SNL performances that hip-hop has given us this year.

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean was already slowly becoming a rising star in the eyes of the public at the time of his SNL premiere. He broke the standard SNL rules of performance creating a beautiful and soulful performance. Rather than going for larger-than-life, as most musical guests do, Ocean sat on a chair and let the music speak for itself. His most notable performance of the night was “Thinkin About You” which showcased his true musical capability in a completely swoon-worthy rendition.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

While this performance came right on the heels of “Thrift Shop” success, “Can’t Hold Us” quickly proved that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis weren’t going to be the one hit wonders that some naysayers predicted. The duo brought an incredible amount of energy and excitement to the stage and proved why they were quickly rising to the top.


Rihanna’s “Diamonds” got off to a rough start by being performed in front of a green screen. It tended to look very low-budget and downright absurd, but Rihanna soon redeemed herself with her soulful ballad “Stay”. Rihanna showed that she’s more than just a stage performer and that she has the pipes to back it up.

Kendrick Lamar

It’s standard tradition that when a new artist makes they’re SNL debut that it’s a disaster, see Lana Del Ray and Ashlee Simpson. Apparently Kendrick Lamar didn’t get the memo because he showed up and showed out.  “Swimming Pool (Drank)” quickly proved that the hyped surrounding the young artist is undue and even made a name for himself in the digital short YOLO.


Grammy-winning Miguel easily wooed his audience with his performances of “Adorn” and “How Many Drinks”. The screaming guitar and sultry vocals proved why he is an award winning artist and his punk-rock version of “How Many Drinks” showcased his versatility as an artist.

Kanye West

Not only did Kanye release two stellar new songs during his performance, but “New Slaves” was one of the best directed musical segments in the history of SNL. Kanye may not be everyone’s favorite artists, but he’s got talent. And SNL only proved that.

Justin Timberlake

They should probably just make Justin Timberlake a permanent addition to the cast of SNL. Not only did he join the five timers club, but he gave a delightful musical performance as well. His performance of “Suit & Tie” was solid and his hosting was easily one of the best this season.

Mackenzie is an Alabama native attending NYU and studying Journalism and Dramatic Literature. She hopes to one day live in London and write for the BBC.