Here is the list of my favorite albums of 2018! I apologize for the delay but nevertheless, I present to you my favorite 10 albums of the year 2018.
Honorable Mention: Backward Books 2 – Azizi Gibson
This year’s honorable mention is Backward Books 2 by Azizi Gibson. Azizi Gibson is a relatively new artist in the world who I can definitely see making an impact in the future. Azizi Gibson paints himself as a colorful character with his covers along with sampling dialogue that is based on anime. Azizi Gibson is another incredible example of mixing rapping, singing, and speaking into exquisitely crafted yet highly entertaining songs. In addition to being vocally talented, Azizi Gibson excels at generating tones for his songs. In songs such as “Rain” and “New Wavy” there is a playful side showing off what he can do, however, songs like “Night Crawler” and “Polidicks” give off an emo-rap vibe as a stark contrast to the rest of his work. With this year’s top lists being very difficult to come up with since 2018 was a great year for music, Azizi Gibson taking 2018’s honorable mention is a huge compliment in my opinion and I hope you give him a chance in 2019.
10. DiCaprio 2 – J.I.D
J.I.D is the newest artist on this list and his name deserves the utmost respect after the release of DiCaprio 2. This album channels J.I.D’s talents to create novel sounds, flows, and styles that can rival some of hip-hop’s current heavy hitters. J.I.D even goes as far as to recruit artists such as A$AP Ferg, Joey Bada$$, and his own mentor J. Cole. Songs like “Westbrook”, “Off Deez”, and “Just Da Other Day” are just a sample of the preponderance that J.I.D can create in the studio. In 50 minutes and 14 songs, J.I.D shows prowess in every way imaginable. J.I.D adapts to match each beat and will even match the level of energy that his guest features bring to the table. I think the DiCaprio 2 is a great way to start of this year’s list as J.I.D sets the standard as the first entry. 2019 is the year that I believe J.I.D will become a relevant name in hip-hop and he unquestionably earns it.
9. Black Panther The Album- Kendrick Lamar
Black Panther was a movie that surprised a majority of critics and box-office projections alike. Disney put ten years into their Marvel cinematic universe dubbed the MCU and it shows with the release of Black Panther. However, setting the wonderful visuals and performances by Chadwick Boseman and Anthony B. Jordan aside, Disney gave Kendrick Lamar permission to create the soundtrack for the film. Realistically, Disney giving one of the most prolific hit-makers the chance to create a soundtrack for what would become one of the highest-grossest movies of all time sounds like a dream, yet it surely happened. And that’s without mentioning that the album is uncensored too. Kendrick Lamar recruited a plethora of artists to help cultivate this masterpiece while still giving it a well-balanced pace throughout its 14 song duration. Black Panther The Soundtrack also features a diverse collection of sounds with the song “X” being one of the most hype-inducing songs of the year while “King’s Dead” has resulted in becoming a meme adored by many. With Kendrick Lamar pushing SOB X RBE into the world with their song “Paramedic!” there is realistically no way this album isn’t a top ten release of 2018. I can only hope that Disney decides to give this concept another chance when Black Panther 2 inevitably comes out in the future.
Link to article
8. KOD – J. Cole
Conscious rap is an interesting sub-genre in hip-hop mostly because it’s so hard to abide by. It wouldn’t make sense for a conscious rapper to preach a message and then go against their very words. J. Cole has been one of the most interesting rappers recently as he’s become a complete 180 of what he used to be. J. Cole used to have great features and many noteworthy hits, however, since the release of 2014 Forest Hills Drive he’s become a solo artist in almost every way. Doing a majority of producing and writing has allowed his lyrical expertise to be flaunted on each album since 2013’s album Born Sinner. J. Cole has never been a bad rapper and he’s never been a simple one either. Albums like KOD serve as a warning message to those who consider giving into their demons in exchange for fulfilling their wildest dreams. J. Cole wants to help others by showing that you can be your best version without selling your soul for drugs and money. However, he knows it’s not an easy temptation to resist but he provides a clear way to resist by using KOD as a message to all those who ponder. KOD is a conscious rap album disguised as a trap album in some parts, and these “hits” allow J. Cole to convey his message through deception. Regardless if J. Cole and I have the same views on his album, I think it deserves its spot on my list for being such a remarkably executed conscious rap album.
7. Kamikaze – Eminem
2017 saw the release of Eminem’s highly debatable album Revival which was met with fairly average reviews that even split a good amount of his fanbase. Unfortunately, for Eminem, he has a legacy to uphold and an average album at his age is something he won’t stand for. Refusing to be the Star Wars: The Last Jedi of hip-hop, Eminem decided to board his plane and crash it straight back into the rap game. After being the end of many jokes since the release of Revival, Eminem takes it all too personally and attempts to go after a majority of his critics. From music reviewers to “mumble rappers”, Eminem leaves no stone unturned in 2018. The name Kamikaze is fitting because if Eminem’s career is really on a decline and this album could potentially be one of his last, he of all people would rather go out with a bang instead of slowly fading away. It is also worth mentioning that this album is the reason the MGK vs Eminem feud came to be throughout the year. With Kamikaze and “Kill Shot” being wonderful releases from Eminem this year, I don’t think he has any plans to leave the game anytime soon and he fully intends to bring us with him throughout his journey.
Link to article
6. DAYTONA – Pusha T
DAYTONA didn’t capture my interest that much at first but this album grew on me after discussing it with some close friends. Pusha T was the first release in Kanye West’s 2018 “Wyoming Sessions”/”Cruel Summer” projects. DAYTONA features production from Kanye West and shows Pusha T at his best. “The Games We Play” and “What Would Meek Do?” are some of my favorite songs on the seven-track album because they give Pusha T’s lyricism time to shine. An album shrouded in controversy due to its cover and the eventual escalation of the feud with Drake would have to catch people’s attention and that’s exactly what it does. Pusha T saved some of his best ideas for this album and it shows. The Pusha T and Kanye West duo proved to be one of the best albums of 2018 as it gave both a chance to display what they truly excel at. I hope Pusha T can recreate the magic that went into crafting this album in the future.
5. Swimming Mac Miller
Swimming is the last album from Mac Miller, however, it is also one of his best pieces of work to date. If his single “Self Care” wasn’t enough to make you look into this album, I highly implore you to do so. Whenever an artist passes there tends to be a renaissance in their work. This resurgence provides fans with a chance to connect once again with the artists they adored, or even allow new fans to be created due to viva voce. While nobody expected Mac Miller’s passing, Mac Miller was always aware of his lifespan. Swimming is essentially Mac Miller’s goodbye project to the world. Mac Miller discusses his life and the problems he had growing up into the man he was, however, throughout the lyrics Mac Miller seemingly closes up loose ends and prepares himself for the short future he had left. This idea is very unsettling and depressing to most, but Mac Miller doesn’t view his end as such. Mac Miller constantly battled with substance abuse and he clearly knew he could never be free of its grasp on Swimming. Being in and out of sobriety would only perpetuate the problem he had and sadly the drugs took over on September 7th, 2018. While the world may have lost a lyrical genius, Swimming remains as his last testament to the world and deserves its rightful spot on my list.
4. Ye – Kanye West
While Ye isn’t Kanye West’s best album, it does bring a genuine sound that hasn’t been heard from Kanye West in quite some time. His first release since The Life of Pablo had some living up to do, and unfortunately, it doesn’t hit every note but that doesn’t mean this album is bad in any way. Ye is limited by its length which only gives Kanye West seven songs to show off his competence but he does make the best of those seven tracks. “I Thought About Killing You” is one of my favorite intros to an album and this fact is amplified if you watched his release party live stream. After Chris Rock gave a small speech about the brilliance of Kanye, the album started with the slow-starting yet explosive song. After the beat switches and the song comes to a close, Ye takes you on an emotional journey throughout Kanye West’s brain. His thoughts and ideas are the focus of the album as he discusses topics of mental health, relationships, and the future. Ye is also home to my favorite song of 2018, “Ghost Town” which is enough to land the album in a top five spot. “Ghost Town” is the amalgamation of love, life, and progress as 070 Shake, Kid Cudi, and PARTYNEXTDOOR team up to create this beautiful song. While Ye wasn’t Kanye West’s best work, it’s far from being his worst project in 2018.
Link to article
3. KIDS SEE GHOSTS – Kid Cudi & Kanye West
Kid Cudi and Kanye West really outdid themselves in 2018. Whether it’s their glorious team up on Kanye West’s song “Ghost Town” or their first collaborative album KIDS SEE GHOSTS, the duo had 2018 in the palms of their hands. KIDS SEE GHOSTS starts off with the explosive yet lovable “Feel The Love” and ends on the slow yet positive “Cudi Montage”. The album itself feels like a love letter to the genre that made them so successful but in the process took many things away from them. With both Kid Cudi and Kanye West having to battle depression and other mental health issues throughout the years, their comradery shows throughout the short but sweet seven-songs. “Reborn” is the absolute best part of the album as it gives not only Kanye West his usual space to vent and rap, but also gives Kid Cudi full power of the chorus and bridge that brings the song into a higher plane of excellence. If the rumors are true and KIDS SEE GHOSTS isn’t a standalone album, I will happily see what’s in store in the future.
Link to article
2. Artificial Selection – Dance Gavin Dance
Throughout the year there was a majority of non-hip-hop albums that caught my eye, however, one that stood above all is Artificial Selection by Dance Gavin Dance. This album was my #1 going into writing this list and after a much needed internal struggle, I was able to place this album in its rightful place as #2 on the list. Artificial Selection is one of the more refreshing and colorful albums to come out of 2018 in my opinion. Their singles were a huge driving force when it came to me listening to this album because of songs such as “Midnight Crusade” and “Care”. Dance Gavin Dance did an exceptional job at using their singles to draw potential listeners in even if I was already looking forward to this album. Hardly anything bad can be said about this album. This album is high on my list mostly due to personal connections and feelings that this album gives me with every listen. But please listen to this album if you haven’t already, I can guarantee that you can at least find one song on Artificial Selection that you’ll like.
Link to article
1. Redemption – Jay Rock
I cannot lie when I said that I slept on this album until a few months ago and therefore regret that decision every time I listen to any song off this album. Jay Rock used to be an artist I would listen to because he’d usually be featured or featured Kendrick Lamar on their albums. “Money Trees” from Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is one of my favorite songs and that’s mostly due in fact to Jay Rock’s incredible contribution to the song. On Redemption Jay Rock really makes a name for himself in my mind as he takes his wordplay and delivery to another level throughout the 14 song duration of the album. Jay Rock proves on this album that he is one of the few modern rappers that can perform well with or without guest features. Since the album has seven features ( “WIN” features Kendrick Lamar but he isn’t credited) on 14 of the songs, Jay Rock has to carry his weight by himself on half of the album which results in some great personal and endearing songs. However, the features that Jay Rock brings to this project are wonderful choices to compliment his refined style and rhythm. Redemption once again sees the meme-filled “King’s Dead” which drops the Kendrick Lamar feature from Black Panther The Soundtrack. “OSOM” is a song that I especially love as it gives J. Cole yet another song to shine on in 2018 outside of his KOD project. “Wow Freestyle” is also a major highlight for Jay Rock as it gives him and Kendrick Lamar about three minutes to rap some of their finest and catchiest bars in the freestyle style. I never expected myself to consider Redemption my favorite album of 2018 let alone a Jay Rock album at that but he gave Redemption his all and should be commended for doing so. Jay Rock truly surprised me with Redemption and I cannot wait to see what else he has in store for us.