1. Fetti by Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y & The Alchemist
2018 was the year of musical collaborations and kicking off my list of the top albums of the 2018 is Fetti Roma, the collaboration between Hip hop's current underground holy trinity- Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs and producer Alchemist. These three have managed to climb the charts avoiding label promotions and scandals. Blending Curren$y's old school flavor and Gibb's gangsta style- this is my favorite album of the year. All three of these artists are certainly different from the other but all share the clout- avoiding taste of all around good music. Gibb's proves that he is currently one of hip hop's most talented lyricist combining pop culture references and street knowledge to every line he spits, while Curren$y paints a picture of classic cars, girls and everything the "Jet Life" has to offer. Connected to the smooth silky samples by Alchemist this album proves to have the best of all three worlds of hip hop.
Top Songs; "Now & Later Gators", "Willie Lloyd" and "Location Remote"
2. Noir by Smino
Chicago native MC, Smino isn't what people expect as my second best of the year. But, after literally listening to this album non-stop and without skipping songs- I have to give credit to where credit is due, Smino's introductory album was good but Noir showed us just how talented this young MC is. With his versatile voice and ability to blend Neo-Soul with rap, this album show's his artistry and attention to detail. His voice is literally all over the album- almost as a harmonic black Acapella group sharing hums, whispers and even squeaks. Noir is a good example for up and coming rappers who still appreciate story telling, production value and artistry.
Top Songs: Honestly all of it!
3. FM! by Vince Staples
Considering he's one of my favorite current artists this may or may not be favoritism! Regardless of the circumstances, Vince Staples is everything we need in hip hop currently! True to himself and telling it how it is this Long Beach MC is music's best kept secret. Taking on his third album, FM! shows the world a glimpse of a Los Angeles summer. Beautiful weather, beaches, house parties and rides on the Blvd. are nice however, Vince also displays the reality of it all. In LA the summer is nice, but the block is hot! Meaning when the temperature increases so does the violent crimes. Violent and gritty, just trying to make the most of what you got- FM! is poetic to the West-coast's nature and grind. Vince is the perfect narrator for this story with his dark sarcastic humor and ability to prove he's gangsta without the extra show or flashiness of it all.
Top Songs: "FUN!", "No Bleedin" & "Outside"
4. Isolation by Kali Uchis
Ah Isolation ! The world's introduction to Colombian-American songstress Kali Uchis. I've been following her since 2016 and I am ecstatic that she is receiving this much love and attention for 2018. Her debut album features everything we love from her: her voice, fashion and savageness. Isolation begins as a melodic breeze with enough instrumental quality to leave you in a total trance. Uchi's is the perfect blend of Spanish, Blues and R&B; with a voice relatively close to Amy Winehouse. Her beautiful soulful voice often contrasts the jazzy up-go beat of the background music, showing the world to not confuse femininity with weakness! Isolation proves that Uchi's is your favorite kind of woman; empowering, beautiful and not afraid to speak her mind.
Top Songs: "After the Storm", "Just a Stranger" & "Your Teeth In My Neck"
5.SR3MM by Rae Sremmurd
Fun, young, black and unproblematic- Rae Sremmurd are living the dream life! Many people still underestimate the talent of these two without acknowledging the success of ; Black Beetles and Beyonce's "Formation". Living their best life the duo created the third installment to Sr3mm showcasing both Swae Lee's amazing vocal skills and Slim Jxmmi's lyricism. My opinion of the modern day Outkast- showcasing that hip hop can be also euphoric and rock-n-roll. Collaboration between the two artists and extra help from Hip hop legend Pharrell makes this three part album the top of the top for 2018.
Top Songs: "Power Glide", "Chanel" & "Players Club"
6. Stokeley by Ski Mask the Slump God
7. Negro Swan by Blood Orange
8. Harder than Ever by Lil Baby
9. Astroworld by Travis Scott
10. Dicaprio 2 by J.I.D
All of the old heads can continue coming for this generation's idea of music. Mumble rap, drug references and consistent add libs- that's their only argument against our current state of hip hop. To each its own, is my usually calming personal response. However, lately I've realized that 2018 was shitty for a lot of things but, not for music! Music changes for both the better and for the worst. Some of these changes includes the growth of a Chicago MC, who has been grinding for years and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Changes of the worst includes the loss of a Pittsburgh white rapper with flavor. 2018 will be classified on its own as a year of triumphs, tributes and trouble ; but through all these troubles it will be considered an interesting year for hip hop.
1. Female Rap
No matter how many Doll's are in the industry, I am more or so excited of the amount of females attempting rap this year! It's about time Nicki Minaj is given a run for her money. With a Grammy nomination and media attention completely on her, Cardi B controlled 2018. Even Minaj held her own with her 2018 release of "Queen'. Another female artist making her name this year is Megan Thee Stallion. The Houston MC's debut EP "Tina Snow", is proof that raunchy is returning for women rap. Artistry is cool but the sex appeal and bad-assness that Lil Kim made us feel in the 90's is finally returning to hip hop. Bay Area's own Saweetie also climbed the charts with her hits Icy and High Maintenance. Other leading female rappers in the industry includes: City Girls, KashDoll, Kodie Shane and Rico Nasty.
2. Iconic Returns
Due to the industry's chaotic lifestyle, it is imperative that every artist takes a little hiatus. Regrouping and rediscovering helps certain artists further establish their positions as a rapper. Some say "absence makes the heart grow fonder", and 2018 proved that theory to be true. Returning officially this year is one of my middle school's favorite Lil Wayne with the "Carter 5". This album was in response to the all of the new fans of hip hop who forgot the reason why some of these new aged rappers started in the first place with an iconic feature from Kendrick Lamar in "Mona Lisa". Another middle school favorite making his return is the top freestyle lyricist of all time Eminem. Slim Shady returned with "Kamikaze" , Nas returned with "Nasir" and another icon of mine Ice Cube returned with "Everything's Corrupt". Both artists continued growing their platform by reintroducing everyone to why they are considered the best of the best.
3. Everyone Loves a Comeback Story
Artists took a lot of L's the previous two years. From demolished rap beefs to a laughable standing in hip hop culture, these artists were almost forgotten in the eyes of hip hop. After his controversial jail release, Meek Mill made it a point to return to 2018 on top. Which he did and in style! Releasing two top albums: "Champions" and 'Legends of the Summer", the Philly rapper reminded everyone that no beef is permanent and he's not that easy to get rid of. Another comeback of the year was Los Angeles' own Tyga. Becoming the youngest Kadashian/Jenner's boy toy left Tyga lost in the new era of hip hop. Luckily his release of the summer hit "Taste" is an homage to the Cali MC getting his groove back. Other chart dropping singles proves that Tyga has something in stores for everyone in 2019. Coming back to the scene after a long hiatus is underground favorite Earl Sweatshirt. The Odd Future alumni returned with classic collaborations with producer Alchemist, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples and his own album "Some Rap Songs".
4. Keeping it Short & Sweet
Music is finally being made with the idea of quality over quantity. Stripping away extra production costs, features and flashy promotional tactics- Artists have developed a new tactic to display their current musical projects. GOOD music dropped several albums this year including: the head man in charge Kanye West, Nas, Kid Cudi and Pusha T. One thing all of these albums have in common is a track list of only seven songs. This common theme has made its way throughout the rest of 2018, with many artists releasing projects with seven songs- some even less. The trend is surprisingly becoming a favorite of mine as it allows me to focus on the actual song beyond the numbers game. Projects with this trend are previously stated EP "Legends of Summer" by Meek Mill, "Nasir" by Nas and "Kids See Ghosts" by Kanye and Cudi.
5. Sound Cloud Lives
2018 said good bye to many of our favorite APPS- Tumblr, Vine and old school favorite My Space. Though sad, the deleting of the tools was necessary due to their low popularity. But, with the large amount of rappers transitioning to stardom, who would've thought that Sound cloud was the next app on the chopping block. The modern day Lime Wire for the gen x youth to search through unreleased music for free, Sound Cloud has constructed the careers of Chicago's Chance the Rapper, the late XXXTentacion and many more. For some odd reason the company almost shut down after stiff competition between Spotify, Apple Music and the overly priced Tidal. Due to Chance's ability to always recognize his roots, he made it his duty to save the fallen app. Other rappers continued using the streaming service thus elevating their careers such as Ski Mask the Slump God, Trippie Redd, Denzel Curry and Uno the Activist.
6. Kings & Queens of R&B
"I am the king of R&B !" The phase heard around the world muttered by fairly new music artist Jacquees. I'm positive he was not even aware of how much backlash he would receive by stating this on one Instagram video. This announcement made the world stop and think of R&B in our current standings. Comparisons between the older and newer generation sparked the bigger question "Who is the overall king of R&B ?" Bringing R&B back to conversations was a big power move of 2018. While everyone was arguing about the king of R&B, the new queen of R&B Elle Mai took over whit her chart topping single "Boo'd Up". Other waves of R&B were introduced in 2018 with sounds from Neo-Soul artists Nao, Blood Orange (Dev Hynes) and Brent Faiyaz.
7. Hip Hop on Screen
Light, Camera, Action ! Hip Hop has taken on a new stage in 2018. With the release of the iconic film "Black Panther" came TDE's "Black Panther" soundtrack. This album features a variety of black artists paying homage to first Black superhero movie. Awards for the movie are already stacking up but the most surprising ones of all are the Golden Globe and Grammy nominations for the soundtrack. Artists on the soundtrack are used to praise such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Sza. However additional artists on this project includes: fellow TDE members Reason, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock, artists 2 Chainz, Future, Travis Scoot, Vince Staples, Swae Lee, Khalid and The Weeknd are also currently in the running for award winning praise. Other standouts on the album includes Bay Area's own Mozzy and SOB x RBE.
8. Year of the Underdogs
It's about time that certain artists are getting the recognition that they deserve. 2018 saw the growth of many new upcoming artists. Some of these artists worked their asses off and finally got rewarded for it. Underdog of the year award goes to Deamville's own J.I.D. Grinding hard for years the East Atlanta artist caught J.Cole's attention in 2017. 2018 became his stepping stone as his project " DiCaprio 2" displays his craftsmanship and versatility. This album is pretty much on my top 10 album list of 2018. Another underdog receiving the recognition he deserves is TDE's Jay Rock. Ranking TDE is a difficult and pointless since Rock released "Redemption". This project proves Rock's rank among his fellow members and talent.
9. Collaboration Is Key
If there is anything that music taught me in 2018, it is that collaboration is key. This year we saw a lot of projects from husband and wife to mentors and men-tees and we even saw collaborations between long standing industry friends. These partnerships left us with the most memorable tracks of the year like "Sicko Mode". The "Astroworld" track featuring Travis Scott, Drake and soft vocals from Swae Lee was potentially the best collaborated song of the year. Some artists even decided to take their collaborations throughout their full albums. My favorite partnership of the year was "Fetti" by Freddie GIbbs , Curren$y and producer the Alchemist.
10. Rest In Peace
Certainly 2018 had its ups but also it had its downs! 2018 saw the lost of many musical icons from various generations. Losing the classic queen of soul Aretha Franklin , certainly left a empty feeling for the continuous of the year. Some deaths struck as a complete surprise. XXXTENTACION mounted his career by capturing a cult following via Soundcloud. His emo, vulnerable tracks left us all wanting more from the young rapper. Unfortunately, he was shot and killed in June 2018. At the age of only 20, he left us with his albums "?" and "Skins". Another huge lost in the hip hop community was one of my personal favorite Mac Miller. Brash; yet thoughtful, Miller was the perfect example of the late 2000's generational artists. Miller had the ability of finding ways to make music more personable and relatable. He had a knack for finding and co producing the best beats and channeling whatever he was feeling into his art. After releasing his final album "Swimming", Miller passed in September due to his struggle with substance abuse at the age of 26.