2018 has been an amazing year for rap music on all ends of the spectrum. With so much content being thrown at us on a daily basis, it can be real easy to let some gems fly by our ears, especially when it comes to the underground.
Many have spoken on the album run (“The Wyoming Sessions”) that Kanye West made this past June, but have overlooked the string of Big Ghost LTD collaborative albums that have been released this year, including: VAN GHOST with DC native, ANKHLEJOHN, and Aguardiente with Jersey MC, CRIMEAPPLE. Big Ghost’s incredible year will be capped off with a collaborative album with the one and only, Ghostface Killah, entitled The Lost Tapes, set to drop on October 5th.
Instead of playing “catch up” at the last minute, I’m gonna try and help you guys get a head start. Here are ten albums (aside from the two I mentioned above) that your ears need to hear before the year is out.
[D] A R K A N G E L by Sleep Sinatra
Sleep Sinatra is someone who I’m just becoming familiar with, however, the Lincoln, Nebraska native has been at this for years. [D] A R K A N G E L is one of three projects Sinatra has dropped this year, the other two being XMXTHXST (AMETHYST), and most recently, SANCTUARY. On [D] A R K A N G E L, Sinatra graces us with socially conscious lyrics over some lo-fi, jazz influenced instrumentals. It’s a solid album to unpack and a solid entry in Sinatra’s catalog. Features include Stik Figa, Recognize Ali, and others.
Follow Sleep Sinatra here
Purchase [D] A R K A N G E L here and stream below:
Dogfood by AA Rashid
Many know AA Rashid, who hails from Brooklyn, as an educator on various religious, social, and philosophical topics, including the Kaballah, freemasonry, etc. You may have also heard him on the outros of Westside Gunn’s FLYGOD and Supreme Blientele. Rashid is very potent MC with a lot of knowledge to drop. His latest album, Dogfood, is a shining example of his talent and ear for the culture. The album is produced almost entirely by DirtyDiggs, whose fleeting jazz instrumentals match Rashid’s aesthetic beautifully. Here is a description of the album from AA Rashid himself:
“This album is a blueprint for the future to demonstrate the method in which to maintain a sense of permanence in time while using a medium which has no permanence. Art is the initial task of Hip-Hop. We are to mimic “The scenery” of the environment no matter how harsh and then we beautify it with verbal paintings. I wanted to simulate the feeling of heroin in the veins of a Jazz musician who lost or sold their instrument and was left only their voice to express them selves. Jazz is perhaps one of the first forms of popular American music. African American pain pushed through a historical time line of experiences to arrive here. The journey from a slave ship to a space ship required a sound track this is it.”
Follow AA Rashid here
Stream Dogfood below:
Paraffin by Armand Hammer
The dynamic duo of billy woods and Elucid are back once again, following up the apocalyptic, ROME, released in 2017. Paraffin displays an unapologetic perspective of being black in America. It is undeniably gritty and a somber reminder of our unforgiving society that continues to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. The off-kilter rhyme patterns delivered by the duo fit the grating, yet lush, production to a T. Production is handled by August Fanon, Kenny Segal, Ohbliv, and others, including Elucid himself.
Follow Elucid here
Purchase Paraffin here and stream below:
Street Farmacy by Rome Streetz & Farma Beats
Street Farmacy is legitimate musical heroin. The hard knocking, vile production from Farma Beats provide an appropriate canvas for Rome Streetz’ narcotic-twined bars. It’s a short but sweet listen that will satisfy the cravings of any starved fan of mafioso rap. Rome raps very raw, yet sounds smooth as ever as he dives into tales of his upbringing and street life. Features on the project include Mooch, Rigz, SmooVth, Magno Garcia, Flashius Clayton, and Daniel Son.
Follow Rome Streetz here
Follow Farma Beats here
Purchase Street Farmacy here and stream “Nasal Drip”, “Kobra Klutch” and “Tax Free” below:
Backyard Boogie by Fly Anakin & Ohbliv
If aren’t familiar with the growing Richmond, VA rap scene…you should get in tune. Backyard Boogie is a great place to start. Fly Anakin can truly rap his ass off, and Ohbliv stays consistent, further proving the case that he is one of the most talented underground producers of this decade. Fellow Richmond representatives, Big Kahuna OG, Henny L.O., and Koncept Jack$on make appearances on this album, along with other notable underground acts including Al.Divino, and the previously mentioned ANKHLEJOHN.
Follow Fly Anakin here
Follow Ohbliv here
Purchase Backyard Boogie here and stream “Thug Bachata” below:
Oil Change by Trapo
Trapo hails from Madison, WI and doesn’t get nearly the amount of attention he deserves. After dropping Shade Trees in 2016, Trapo is gearing up for the release of his next album, Ford 4 Door (release date TBD). Oil Change serves as a prelude to Ford 4 Door. On Oil Change, Trapo weaves his coated, introspective lyrics with some very jazzy, sometimes neo-soul, instrumentals, discussing his frustrations with the industry, being independent, and everyday life situations. Although it’s meant as a prelude, it makes for a very solid project that you should peep before he releases his album.
Follow Trapo here
Stream Oil Change below:
Orpheus vs. The Sirens by The Hermit and the Recluse (KA & Animoss)
KA is truly an MC like no other. Although his quiet, deliberate delivery alone is enough to separate himself from most rappers, it’s his poetic and cryptic lyrics that place him in an upper echelon of MCs. Orpheus vs. The Sirens is another incredible entry in KA’s catalog, which already includes acclaimed works such as The Night’s Gambit and Honor Killed the Samurai. Teaming with the underground beatmaker, Animoss, the two formed, The Hermit and The Recluse, and created an in-depth body of work that embraces aspects of Greek mythology to form metaphors for KA as an MC, as well as struggles of growing up in Brownsville. Do NOT let this album slip under your radar.
Follow KA here
Follow Animoss here
Purchase Orpheus vs. The Sirens here and stream below:
Duffle Of Gems by Vic Spencer
Duffle Of Gems is one of three projects Chicago MC, Vic Spencer, has put out this year. The other two are Spencer For Higher (with producer SonnyJim), and A Smile Killed My Demons, an exclusive album that you can only purchase via Vic, directly through his PayPal account. Duffle Of Gems is a fourteen track album with no features, and serves as a great highlight of Vic’s skills on the mic and the ability to hold his own throughout an entire album. His villainous personality shines brightly on this project and holds your attention throughout. If you’re already familiar with Vic Spencer, you know he rarely disappoints…that statement still rings true with Duffle Of Gems.
Follow Vic Spencer here
Purchase Duffle Of Gems here and stream below:
Kommunity Service by $Ha Hef
$Ha Hef’s style is a perfect blend of East Coast boom-bap and trap music, and very reminiscent of his affiliates, Da$h and Retch. His latest release, Kommunity Service, is a great showcase of that style. It’s a head-knocking album that rightfully fits the definition of “hard”. $Ha raps with a tone so grimy that it sounds like he’s spitting directly in your face (literally). If you’re looking for a dark, straight out of the mud type of album….this may be the project for you.
Follow $Ha Hef here
Stream Kommunity Service below:
Son Of G Rap by .38 Spesh & Kool G Rap
Rochester, NY native, .38 Spesh, and rap legend, Kool G Rap, team up for one of the most solid collaborative albums of 2018 in Son Of G Rap. It’s a brilliant showcase of New York rap music with countless musical gems to offer, featuring production from all-time greats such as Pete Rock, The Alchemist, and DJ Premier. Son Of G Rap will most certainly capture you with it’s gritty street vibes as Kool G Rap, expectedly, keeps it consistent, in what feels like a passing of the torch to .38 Spesh. The features are insane, and include rappers such as AZ, Cormega, N.O.R.E., Freddie Gibbs, Benny, and others.
Follow .38 Spesh here
Follow Kool G Rap here
Purchase Son Of G Rap here and stream below: