Just like last year, the rules for this year’s list are simple. One song per artist/album. These are my favorite songs from the year 2018. This list was cut from about 50 songs so even the 18th place song is still a high recommendation. Only songs from January 1st – December 31st.
This is America – Childish Gambino
Following 2016’s R&B, funk, and soul album Awaken, My Love!, Donald Glover decided to take a stance politically and used his expertise and artistry to paint the current situation of America. Tackling the problems with guns, violence, and discrimination in the country proved the be quite the task but Donald Glover somehow pulled it off with the music video. Unfortunately, that is what makes this song an honorable mention. This song is easily a top five song, however, the music video is the reason why it works so well. The music video for “This is America” gives more insight into the song and the message it is trying to deliver. So while this is my honorable mention I must admit that it is one of the best songs of 2018.
18. Top Down On Da NAWF – Migos
When Culture II came out earlier this year I was thrilled by the number of great songs on the album. Unfortunately, these songs fell out of my rotation save “Top Down On Da NAWF” and “White Sand”. However, “Top Down On Da NAWF” was a song I really enjoyed listening to and would often play it every day before school. With the song taking a slower and more melodic tone than others, it highlights Quavo’s singing and gives Takeoff and Offset to shine with their short but sweet verses. I told myself when I first heard this song in January that I would have to include it on my list. So with Migos taking the 18th spot on my list, I can finally stay true to my promise.
17. Fullest – cupcakKe
It is very difficult to describe cupcakKe. She often is disregarded when it comes to rising stars, however, if cupcakKe creates more songs similar to “Fullest” I can see her earning her spot on the charts. “Fullest” has one of the greatest beats of 2018 and cupcakKe matches its exuberance with ease. While hip-hop generally only considers a handful of female rappers to be “good” and “memorable”, cupcakKe breaks this barrier completely. Just like Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye West’s “Monster”, cupcakKe brings a new and refreshing style to the genre. If “Fullest” is just a hint of the potential that she has moving forward I think cupcakKe will be a huge name moving forward into the next year.
16. Lovely – Billie Eilish ft. Khalid
Another rising star in the music industry is Billie Eilish who released the wonderful song “Lovely” this year. While Billie Eilish has a phenomenal voice on her own, she invites Khalid to create a unique blend of their two distinct voices. “Lovely” creates a sound that is grand and powerful thus allowing these two to show their chemistry and talent. This song reminds me of some of Lana Del Rey’s work, however, the youth that these two singers bring is incomparable to similar ballads. I hope these two work together in the future and perhaps we could see another album from Billie Eilish in 2019.
15. FABRIC – BROCKHAMPTON
It’s very difficult to talk about Brockhampton without mentioning the removal of Ameer Vann in May. Ameer Vann played a crucial part in the group and was by far my favorite member, however, their first album without him introduced us to a very different Brockhampton. While Ameer Vann was one of the most prominent members in previous work, his removal gave Brockhampton a chance to reinvent themselves. “FABRIC” is a great example of the evolution of the group. Bearface who usually did closing tracks on previous albums was given a chance to shine once more on this album. “FABRIC” is the closing track to their album iridescence and allows almost every main member to shine except for Matt Champion. With Brockhampton’s excellent producers, “FABRIC” completes the story of the first chapter in their new life perfectly. Brockhampton once again proves that they are the future and I cannot wait to see what that future holds.
14. Audio – LSD
2018 saw the creation of the electronic-pop group LSD which is comprised of Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo. These three artists are very well known on their own and their collaboration over the year was a great surprise to see. “Audio” is perhaps the year’s summer anthem as it features top-notch production from Diplo and the combined voices of Sia and Labrinth filling the song. While the lyrics aren’t all that special, the song really shines when it allows these artists to work as one solid unit. I cannot wait to see what the group has for 2019 as I firmly believe that they have what it takes to be a powerful group in the music industry.
13. Watch – Travis Scott ft. Lil Uzi Vert & Kanye West
With the promise of Astroworld on the horizon, the hype would only be matched by Travis Scott’s best song of the year. “Watch” has Travis Scott recruiting Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West to give some fun verses on a very memorable beat. While this song unfortunately never made it to Astroworld, Travis Scott did not fail to release one of his best songs last year.
12. Champion – NAV ft. Travis Scott
Last year I said that NAV wasn’t the best rapper, nor should he be and that statement still stands today. NAV shines when he has another artist to work with and “Champion” proves that idea. “Champion” is yet another song where NAV discusses his fame and success, however, bringing along frequent collaborator Travis Scott results in a fun anthem for 2018.
11. Mona Lisa – Lil Wayne ft. Kendrick Lamar
When Lil Wayne released Tha Carter V, there was a fairly sizable amount of hype surrounding it. With Lil Wayne having released his last album in 2013, Tha Carter V had expectations to meet. With a majority of the album being forgettable but fun tracks, one song that stands out the most on the album is “Mona Lisa”. With Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar discussing deceptiveness and betrayal in their romantic-lives, “Mona Lisa” ends up becoming one of the most powerful and thoughtful songs of 2018. While it is not a banger or even a hit, “Mona Lisa” stands as a testament to the concept of storytelling in hip-hop. Storytelling was a huge part of the genre in the early decades, however, bringing it into 2018 with two of the greatest rappers of all time is a great way to revitalize the element that has been a huge factor in the genre’s success.
10. CLOUT COBAIN|CLOUT CO13A1N
Denzel Curry brings consciousness to hip-hop this year with his album TA13OO. The album covers a plethora of topics from suicide to love in an effort to present his perspectives to listeners. In doing so he released “CLOUT COBAIN” which ties fame, success, mental health, self-destruction, and Kurt Cobain together. Denzel Curry acknowledges the difficulties of achieving fame while still retaining his humanity and stability. Fame has led to many deaths in the world and Denzel Curry refuses to end up as another name on the list. Kurt Cobain notably is a member of the “27 Club” and as Denzel Curry is approaching his 27th birthday in a few years his worries are understandable. Denzel Curry doesn’t want to die nor does he want to travel down the wrong path, in “CLOUT COBAIN” Denzel Curry knows exactly how to stay on track in the coming years.
9. I Was Never There – The Weeknd
Times have been tough for The Weeknd recently. Failed relationships have taken an obvious toll on him and subsequently his music. However, out of the ashes out sadness and depression, The Weeknd released his latest EP titled My Dear Melancholy. On this EP we were treated to many tremendous new songs by the heartbroken artist and “I Was Never There” is one of them. In this song, The Weeknd teams up with Gesaffelstein to create one of the most pleasant sounding tracks this year had to offer. While The Weeknd birthed these songs out of pure sadness and pain, his work will not go without praise as he once again made one of this year’s best songs.
8. Paramedic! – SOB X RBE
The soundtrack for Black Panther undoubtedly surprised the world when it came out in 2018. Kendrick Lamar crafted such a powerful and catchy album that broke all expectations upon release. A major reason for this album’s success is the release of “Paramedic!” by SOB X RBE. This group is fairly new to the hip-hop world since they only started in 2016, however, within two years they had already caught the eye of one of the most prolific artist’s of all time. “Paramedic!” gives a strong introduction to the group as they swiftly glide across the beat with Kendrick Lamar providing the chorus. This song is definitely the best song to come off the album and has informed the world of SOB X RBE as they continue to put out solid music.
7. Lucky You – Eminem ft. Joyner Lucas
Eminem came into the year with his emotions prepped and his words ready as he took his complaints to the microphone on Kamikaze. Eminem teamed up with Joyner Lucas to wage the war on talentless and ungrateful rappers. This song was also the first time I actually liked Joyner Lucas and would like to see him perform like this more often. Eminem continues to work on his rapping speed and once again shows his prowess as a wordsmith. In his attempt to set the younger generation in their place, Eminem sets a new standard when it comes to making clapback tracks.
6. Sin – Young Thug ft. Jaden Smith
Young Thug is a prominent figure of the hip-hop industry. Whether it’s from his unique lyrics and overall style to his unusual flows, Young Thug always brings some level of excitement when he releases a new project. This year’s EP titled On The Rvn, put Young Thug’s typical hype level on a higher plane with the song “Sin” featuring Jaden Smith. With Jaden Smith and Young Thug being two of my favorite artists, their eventual collaboration would have to be great. However, saying that “Sin” is great would be an understatement. “Sin” gives Young Thug and Jaden Smith an opportunity to shine and play off of each other while being supported by a beat by London on da Track. If this is what Young Thug and Jaden Smith can do together, I cannot wait to see what they can do again in the future.
5. Self Care – Mac Miller
2018, unfortunately, was the year that Mac Miller would pass away at the age of 26. Before his untimely death, Mac Miller released his final album titled Swimming. On his final project, Mac Miller seemingly made peace with his demons while still acknowledging their haunting effects and eventual return. “Self Care” is a chance for Mac Miller to right his wrongs as he attempts to give life a new chance. However, Mac Miller would only have a little over a month left before passing away. “Self Care” was Mac Miller’s final plea for change and acceptance during the short time he had left. Mac Miller was an incredible artist and I’ve loved following him throughout the years, however, while his physical presence is gone his music shall live on forever.
4. Midnight Crusade – Dance Gavin Dance
Dance Gavin Dance surprised me more in 2018 than any other artist or band. “Midnight Crusade” was their first single from their latest album Artificial Selection. I have high regard for this album and that mostly stems from this song. “Midnight Crusade” is a beautiful masterpiece of a song that can be enjoyed for long-time fans of the band or even newer fans such as myself. Artificial Selection is the first album to come out since I’ve been a fan of the band due to hearing some songs from their 2016 album Mothership. Dance Gavin Dance really took 2018 by surprise with the release of “Midnight Crusade” and ultimately their eighth album.
3. Praise The Lord (Da Shine) – A$AP Rocky ft. Skepta
While A$AP Rocky’s album Testing was met with mixed reviews, it produced one of this year’s greatest songs. “Praise The Lord” is a spectacle in every way imaginable. A$AP Rocky is at his highest point on this song and it only gets better when English rapper Skepta joins the track. With a fun beat that’s made from panpipes, and the duo putting out their best talent, this song was destined for success. Along with the “A$AP Forever REMIX”, A$AP Rocky had a great year for hit songs and Testing is to thank for these hits.
2. Reborn – KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Deciding between “Reborn” and “Ghost Town” is almost impossible. Kanye West and Kid Cudi created the two best songs of 2018 and deciding which one was better than the other was an impossible task.”Reborn” is a very Kid Cudi centered song while “Ghost Town” is prominently Kanye West’s song (since it’s on his album). On the soulful and beautiful “Reborn”, Kanye West pours his heart into his verse on this song while Kid Cudi sings the rest of the song perfectly. I cannot recommend this song enough and it could potentially even be considered interchangeable with “Ghost Town” as the number one spot.
1. Ghost Town – Kanye West ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR, Kid Cudi, & 070 Shake
My #1 pick for the best song of 2018 has to be “Ghost Town” by Kanye West on his 2018 album titled Ye. “Ghost Town” is a work of art that sees Kanye West enlisting long-time collaborator and best friend Kid Cudi along with 070 Shake who’s a newcomer that I absolutely adore. “Ghost Town” is the perfect song for the year as it is the personification of growth and maturity. With Kanye West realizing he’s getting older and his life won’t last forever, his “torch-passing” to artists such as 070 Shake is very admirable as he is preparing these young talented individuals for success. Whether or not that was the true meaning of “Ghost Town”, Kanye West once again shows how important he truly is in the music industry and that is why this is my favorite song of 2018.