1. Pusha T – Daytona
A flawless album.
Helmed by Kanye’s production, everything was just perfect.
Lyrics, delivery, punchlines and birthing one of the coldest beefs of 2018 against Drake (not that Eminem vs. MGK nonesense), Pusha outdid himself.
This is what pristine hiphop in its purest form should sound like.
The Grammy nom is an icing and I hope he gets it, but we all know how the Grammy’s work.
2. Saba – Care For Me
There’s something good about Chicago and the way it gives us unforgettable musicians from Common, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Mick Jenkins, Noname and now Saba.
Care for me was as emotive as Kanye’s 808’s.
He talked about loss, and his family, and struggles and he flexed plus that special Chicago flavor pioneered by Chance and Vic Mensa.
Very decent project.
3. Royce Da 5’9 – Book of Ryan
What’s not to love about Royce.
His pen and his tongue is sharper than any emcee’s out there.
On Book of Ryan, he wrote and rhymed about his family, growing up, the little things we take for granted as brotherhood and friendship, looking out for each other and I could picture everything so picturesque.
Book of Ryan was the album I related to and enjoyed the most in 2018.
It’s a long album but there are no skippable tracks, plus Eminem is featured here too.
J.Cole with an unforgettable and emotional verse.
4. J.Cole – KOD
Mr. Platinum with no features.
Lest I forget, did I mention Obama is jamming to this?
5. Lupe Fiasco – DROGAS WAVE
I have a personal bias for Lu.
Some of you already know that but Lupe is not on this list merely because I like him.
I think he may have another classic on his hands with DROGAS WAVE.
He already does with F&L, The Cool and T&Y.
This was a concept album.
Built around the story that some West African (some say they were Igbo) slaves, took their destiny into their hands and instead of being sold as slaves, committed suicide by drowning themselves in the Atlantic and founded an under-water kingdom from where they wreaked havoc on slave ships en route to the Americas and the Caribbean.
This is supported by historical fact.
This album is heavy stuff and deep and filled with metaphors.
Only the elitist mind would appreciate it, but Lupe also makes it easy by infusing trap elements, wordplay and rhymes like his life depends on it.
“Mural Jr” and “Happy Timbuck2 Day” are my favorites.
If you’re a fan of poetry and academic lyricism, you’d love this album.
6. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Cardi showed she wasn’t just a one minute wonder with the success of “Bodak Yellow”.
Invasion of Privacy is a solid debut, and from the get go when you press play and your eardrums are introduced to the opener “Get Up 10”, you know she’s for real.
Her Bronx flavor and funny persona permeates the whole album and you can’t help but love her.
Plus she’s got arguably the most popular record of 2018 with “I Like It’ which even Obama listed as one of his favs.
You go girl, Cardi did great with this one.
7. Apollo Brown & Joel Ortiz – Mona Lisa
Apollo Brown’s beats slap, and they’re soulful when necessary.
And then Joel’s Rhymes have never been so on point.
I used to think Joel Ortiz was the weak link on Slaughterhouse, but he cleared my doubts.
Royce Da 5’9 makes an appearance too. This would be my underground album of the year.
8. Meek Mill – Championships
The only album that I fell in love with from the get go.
Damn, Meek! Kid just came out of jail and dropped a very solid, surprise effort on us.
No skippable tracks and then there’s that Jay Z feature which I’m going to share next year on one of those #PoetryTuesday sessions.
Used to pay just a casual attention to Meek, but he gave me my Made-You-Look moment of 2018.
9. Noname – Room 25
I have loved Noname from 2016’s “Telefone”.
I still do.
And “ Room 25” is equally brilliant.
The girl who whispers her raps.
Started as a slam poet and graduated to open mic performances and now a rapper in her right.
Speaks about sexuality, blaxploitation and has flexed with other Chicago wordsmiths like Chance, Mick Jenkins and Saba (Something good is coming out of Chicago besides the violence).
Such a self-aware artiste and practically has the rap quotable of 2018 with these lines:
…”My pu**y teaching ninth-grade English
My pu**y wrote a thesis on colonialism
In conversation with a marginal system
In love with Jesus”…
If you want to listen to Noname, don’t start with Room 25, I repeat don’t start with Room 25.
Go get the Telefone album first, otherwise, it would be jumping the gun and putting the cart before the horse as you may just not understand.
10. A$AP Rocky – TESTING
Who flexes more than Rocky?
Who’s more fashion conscious?
Cocky, braggadocious and damn oozing so much swag?
The answer: Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye.
King of the A$AP Mob.
“Testing” was my fun album of 2018.
Everything A$AP Rocky does on screen, he does it in music too, or is it the reverse? Lol.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS/ DECENT RELEASES OF 2018
1. Skyzoo – In Celebration of Us:
Rhymes for days, Skyzoo is an underground king.
2. The Carters – Everything Is Love:
Jay and Bey really did it.
All those collabs over the years between them only confirms this.
They got chemistry.
3. Phonte – No News Is Good News:
Been Waiting for Phonte to drop since 2011’s “Charity Starts At Home”. Didn’t disappoint at all.
4. Kanye West/Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts:
Kanye and Cudi re-ignited their chemistry since “Day N’ Night”.
Very brilliant album.
5. Cupcakke – Ephorize:
An entire album about sex and sexuality and still sounds fresh.
Ladies got a thing to say about the subject.
If there’s an award for most vulgar and R-Rated album, Cupcake’s “Ephorize” should get it.
6. Logic – Bobby Tarantino II & Young Sinatra IV:
Is Mixtape Bobby better than Album Logic?
And he had a Number 1 with a mixtape after last year’s also number one album.
Just stop all these talks about retirement.
We know you just love to rap.
Only guy who gathered the entire Wu-Tang Clan on a song.
Bragging righths huh?
7. Brockhampton – Saturation III & Iridescence:
The concept of a hiphop boy-band never sounded so good.
8. XXXtentacion – ?:
Rest In Peace X.
Infused with so much soul and anger.
Ying and Yang.
9. Black Panther: – The Album: Diversity of sounds.
Kendrick and friends really went in.
10. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter V
I listened to this album out of respect for Weezy’s art.
2018 Lil Wayne is no longer the Lil Wayne of “Tha Carter III” or even “Carter IV” I fell in love with.
At some point, the album sounded dated, and dusty.
But then, this is an album that ought to have been released like 3 years ago, so I understand.
Still a decent release, emotional and sentimental.
Written by Epsi Gabriel