If you’re reading this, you’ve made it through 165 days of the 2018 calendar year. From double-disc releases to scathing rap beefs, midnight releases, and a five-album saga, 2018 has been an incredible year of rapper’s bringing their A-Game. To that end, some of the staff writers and myself have compiled our favorite top ten albums of 2018. The following lists reflect each writer’s personal taste. We invite you to weigh in accordingly.
- Cardi B – “Invasion of Privacy”
- Czarface & MF DOOM – “Czarface Meets Metal Face”
- J. Cole – “KOD”
- Skyzoo – “In Celebration of Us”
- Pusha-T “Daytona”
- Phonte – “No News Is Good News”
- Apathy – “The Widow’s Son”
- PRhyme – “PRhyme 2”
- Drake – “Scorpion”
- Jay Rock – “Redemption”
1. Cardi B – “Invasion of Privacy”: A no-brainer, she is definitely the biggest female rapper out now and her debut doesn’t disappoint and delivers the goods.
2. Czarface and MF Doom: “Czarface Meets Metal Face:” This combination looks cool on paper but sounds even better on wax. 7L, Esoteric and Inspectah Deck already have a solid record but including DOOM in the mix is absolute bonkers. Pure unfiltered underground dopeness from start to finish.
3. J. Cole– “KOD”: Mr. “Platinum-With-No-Features” returns with his 5th album and I must say I preferred this to “4 Your Eyez Only”, which to me was a snooze-fest. The reviews were mixed but it definitely has a lot of solid cuts on here and was more cohesive in my opinion
4. Skyzoo– “In Celebration of Us”: Skyzoo is never celebrated enough because he just doesn’t have that mainstream clout. He doesn’t need it either, he has found his lane and is riding it all the way. His 4th project is solid as ever. A lot of jazz vibes here mixed with modern styled boom-bap percussions but on top of that, his lyrics are sharp as ever.
5. Pusha T– “DAYTONA”: Pusha T seemingly broke through the seams with his 7 track project produced by Kanye. Surrounded by controversy (the art cover) and Kanye’s outburst, DAYTONA still came out solid with hard-hitting joints from start to finish. last words: If you know, you know!
6. Phonte –“No News Is Good News”: Phonte hardly disappoints and his sophomore project showed us just how much dopeness this man has in his body, from singing soulful tunes to kicking hard-hitting rhymes. While this was released 7 years after his debut, Phonte is still sharp as ever giving the listener gem after gem over soulful backdrops.
7. Apathy– “The Widow’s Son”: Apathy doesn’t let up on his 7th studio LP as he brings heavyweights such as DJ Premier, Pharoahe Monch, Pete Rock, Buckwild, Nottz, and others to help him craft the necessary backdrop for his off kathe cuff, gritty rap music. 14 tracks of pure boom-bap bangers, need I say more…?
8. PRhyme– “PRhyme 2” Preem and Nickle Nine show us why they are the most engaging producer/duos in the game now. No gimmicks just solid hip-hop from start to finish
9. Drake-“Scorpion”: While I still have reservations about this album, it still packed a lotta heat if we ignore all the filler joints.
10. Jay Rock – “Redemption”: After surviving a life-threatening motorcycle accident, TDE frontman returns with bombastic swagger on his 3rd studio album. He sounds refreshed and ready to take on the world. So many solid joints to choose from like Troopers, WOW Freestyle but “WIN” surely is a favorite. “OSOM” with J Cole is solid too.
Jericho Jackson – “Elzhi & Khrysis are Jericho Jackson”: Former Slum Village member Elzhi teamed up with Jamla’s producing heavyweight Khrysis and the result is a body of work that shows why Elzhi needs to be celebrated more in this rap game.
Assistant Editor: J. Mac McCarthy
- Pusha-T – DAYTONA
- Jay-Rock – Redemption
- Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
- Kid Cudi & Kanye–Kids See Ghost
- Royce 5’9″ – The Book of Ryan
- Phonte – No News is Good News
- J. Cole – K.O.D.
- Post Malone – Beer Bongs and Bentley
- Czarface & MF Doom – Czarface meets Metal Face
- Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
This year has been a wild scene in the music industry from “MAGA Kanye” producing six albums in the month of June to Maury like drama between Drake and Pusha-T. At ten we have Cardi B the stripper turned rapper who has been waiting on this moment her whole life and carpe diem’d the whole thing. Her debut was strong and potent with tracks from her hubby and crew and hard-hitting features Cardi B solidified her place in the rap game. Coming in at nine Czarface meets Metal Face as the two underground legends go bar for bar over heavily sampled instrumentals with flows that feel as smooth as butter. At number 8 we have the white Iverson of the rap game. The unsung hero that’s willing to carry his team on his back with harmonizing choruses and bars. In his sophomore debut, Post Malone proves that he’s not a one trick pony and is here to stay. At seven we have Fayettenams very own J.Cole. After his lackluster performance with “For Your Eyez Only”. Cole returns with a vengeance, a colorful album, and switch up in his flow. At number six we have perhaps the most underrated rapper of our time, Phonte. The rapper has a venomous flow on his takes of grown man rap. Top five alert. Royce the 5’9″ brings the heat and the rewind that shit bars on the “Book Of Ryan” which is so rich in emotions and he gets even more personal. “Kids See Ghost” is number four, Kid Cudi makes his return from a quite hectic lifestyle after two stints in rehab the rapper/singer hums his way through seven tracks of pure gold with the assistance of Kanye West. Nipsey Hussle represents Cali at number three after his long-awaited commercial debut. Nipsey will not only slap you, but his album slaps as well. At two the TDE O.G Jay-Rock finds his truth and gospel through “Redemption”. His flow has changed, he’s really rapping on these tracks and you feel his emotions on through 16 bars. And the winner is Pusha-T, my man. The 40-year-old rapper spits his vices over Kanye beats and killed it. Not only did he set the bar for the Kanye releases but he set up a mess for Drake and turned the industry upside down for a few weeks.
1. Evidence – Weather Or Not
2. Westside Gunn – Supreme Blientele
3. Pusha T – DAYTONA
4. Saba – CARE FOR ME
5. Elzhi & Khrysis – Jericho Jackson
6. Crimeapple & Big Ghost LTD – Aguardiente
7. Black Milk – FEVER
8. Phonte – No News Is Good News
9. Roc Marciano – Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose
10. ANKHLEJOHN & Big Ghost LTD – VAN GHOST
At number 10 we’ve got VAN GHOST, a collaborative tape between ANKHLEJOHN and prominent underground producer, Big Ghost LTD. Big Ghost also makes an appearance at number 6 with his album with Crimeapple on Aguardiente. He continues to put out quality work and is incredibly talented on the boards. He also makes great selections when it comes to his collaborative partners, and ANKHLEJOHN and Crimeapple are no different. Both are ferocious in their own special way. Crimeapple may mercilessly bombard you with vocabulary and Spanglish, while ANKHLEJOHN terrorizes you with his grimy street tales and menacing tone. Roc Marciano also continued his solid streak of albums with the sequel to his 2017 release, Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose. The sample choices for the production are excellent, and Roc’s imposing presence continues to reel me in every time. At 8 we have No News Is Good News by Phonte, a mature album dealing with visceral issues delivered eloquently by an extremely talented veteran MC. A must listen for any hip-hop head. Black Milk also dropped one of his detailed works to date in FEVER. Lavish production sprinkled with some potent Black Milk verses (always felt Black Milk was underrated as an MC). Elzhi & Khrysis come in at number 5 with their debut collaborative album, Jericho Jackson. The two go together like bread and butter. Elzhi is truly a wordsmith and a god-tier lyricist. At number 4 is Saba’s CARE FOR ME, an album detailing the loss of one of his best friends and his personal struggles to overcome it. A very emotional album that grips you from the start and is, in my opinion, Saba’s best release to date. Pusha-T also put out an album that’s arguably his best to date. DAYTONA is a hyper-sensationalized, materialistic and cocaine-infused joy ride that still manages to sound fresh after every re-listen. Supreme Blientele by Westside Gunn is the most recent album to drop on my top ten but was also the quickest to ascend in my top ten. I was instantly hooked by the Buffalo native’s follow up to his stellar 2016 release, FLYGOD. It is filled to the brim with brilliant production (thank you Daringer, Alchemist, Pete Rock, etc.) and countless wrestling references and skits. This is yet another must-listen for hip-hop heads. I would also suggest the same with the number 1 album on my list. It’s been a while since an Evidence solo project has dropped, and boy did he not disappoint with Weather Or Not. Varying emotional tones, great features, on point production, and TONS of quotables. What more could you ask for as a hip-hop fan? Evidence sounds sharper than ever as an MC. His calm, yet poignant delivery allows him to flawlessly vary his emotional state depending on the subject matter, perhaps coming off as braggadocios at one point, yet somber and reflective at another. “Weather Or Not” was a stand-out project in a year already chock-full of stand-outs.
- Black Thought – Streams of Thought Vol. 1
- Freddie Gibbs – Freddie
- Kanye West and Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
- Saba – Care For Me
- Pusha T – Daytona
- Jay Rock – Redemption
- Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
- Payroll Giovanni & Cardo – Big Bossin Vol. 2
- Various Artists – Black Panther The Album
- JPEGMAFIA – Veteran
2018 has been hectic. It’s been a whirlwind of releases from January to June with some releases still getting played as I type this. With the likes of the Black Panther Soundtrack, Daytona, and Freddie providing plenty of hit tracks and quotable lines for our timelines. Nipsey Hussle might have dropped one of the contenders for one of the best rap albums of the year with Victory Lap. Black Thought and JPEGMAFIA were some pleasant surprises respectively that found their way into my rotation. Hip-hop has been in a unique place this year as far as releases go and I welcome artists to keep challenging us to see what makes our playlists. Big Bossin Vol. 2 was the sequel we needed from Payroll and Cardo with its gritty street raps and clean production. Jay Rock gave everyone what we needed to hear with Redemption with a solid album all around and Kids See Ghosts was one of the best projects to come out of the Kanye rollout. All that with Saba holding down Chicago with the somber album that was Care For Me.
10. Flatbush Zombies – “Vacation In Hell”
9. Tink – “Pleasure & Pain”
8. Book of Ryan– Royce da 5’9”
7. Tierra Whack – “Whack World”
6. Kendrick Lamar – “Black Panther Soundtrack”
5. Teyana Taylor– K.T.S.E
4. Black Thought – “Stream of Consciousness Vol 1.”
3. Janelle Monae – “Dirty Computer”
2. SiR – “November”
1. Cardi B – “Invasion of Privacy”
A Girl Cried Red – Princess Nokia
Outside – Burma Boy
Starting at 10, we have the underground kings of rap, Flatbush Zombies. I became familiar with the trio during my interview with them through Brooklyn Magazine. The zombies depart from their usual tongue-in-cheek humor to deliver a more humanizing tone in their first studio-produced album. Meechy, aka Durt Kobain, mourns his fallen friend and grants us the privilege of peering into his healing. Juice’s lyrical acrobatics serve to please old & new fans alike, while Erick walked us through the interior landscape of each carved-out note. This being their first album in a studio, Vacation In Hell marks another success for the kings of the underground. At number 9, the newly independent artist Tink delivers her sexy, confident, dreamy bedroom EP “Pleasure & Pain”. Her first project since “Winter’s Diary 4” and since her departure from Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group label. Tink on this EP reminds us you simply cannot keep a bad bitch down. At 8, powerhouse Royce da 5’9” comes in with this haymaker of an album “The Book of Ryan”. With the delicate precision of an assassin and a boxer combined, Royce da 5’9” combines forces with the likes of Eminem, Boogie, J. Cole, Jadakiss, Pusha-T and more. Gritty yet tender around the edges, Royce da 5’9” was us through childhood memories, loss, and his ambitions. Breakout star, Tierra Whack, clinches the 7th spot in the line-up. A collection of one-minute vignette compliments with visuals, Tierra isn’t interested in anything except being herself. The 22-year-old Philly native delivers 15 tracks in 15 minute, proving there is power in brevity. “Whack World”, inspired by the 60-second limit of an Instagram video combined with song teasers, is a universe operating under its own rules of physics. I never thought I would have a soundtrack on a top ten, but in the same vein, I never thought I would see a rap artist win a Pulitzer. At number 6 is “The Black Panther Soundtrack”. The album is an amalgamation of ingenuity and success. With Kendrick Lamar at the helm, he brings together some of the best voices such as SZA for “All The Stars”, 2 Chainz & Future for “King’s Dead”, Khalid for “The Ways” and much more. Teyana Taylor’s 8-track album “K.T.S.E.” slides in at number 6. The Kanye-produced album is a tantalizing slow jam. At number 5, The Root OG, Black Thought doesn’t stop take a breath as his lyrics take lap after lap for five tracks. If Janelle Monae called herself a rapper, I would call consider her in my top 5 of all time, but here shes’s top 3. The pansexual, free motherfucker creates a lyrical tapestry of Janelle Monae beyond the ArchAndroid saga. I was a fan of SiR from his album “Seven Sundays” and so it comes as no surprise that his sophomore album “November” was my album of love and redemption in the winter. At the top, we have King of New York herself, Cardi B.