2018 In Review

Updated: Jan 18, 2019

The year came and went with the expected pitfalls and triumphs, but also with a plethora of vibrant, genre re-defining music. It was not, however, without a number of listless releases. The beginning of the new year coincided with the release of Migos’ Culture II, a dud of a release that began a year-long trend of unnecessarily lengthy projects. February brought us Lonzo Ball’s questionable, halfhearted venture into the music world, as well as Tekashi 6ix9ine’s horrendous attempt at music, Day 69. One of 2018’s sweetest surprises, The Black Panther Soundtrack was released in the same month, a delicately cultivated soundtrack helmed by Top Dawg Entertainment and Kendrick Lamar. March releases were relatively uninspired, with albums from Rich The Kid, Tory Lanez, The Weeknd, XXXTENTACION, and Lil Yachty. Yachty, if you’re reading this, please mend your relationship with Burberry Perry and deliver Lil Boat’s deserving successor. Phonte’s No News Is Good News lays claim to one of the year’s most hidden gems in “So Help Me God.” April picked up steam, with highlights including Saba’s lyrical dexterity on Care For Me and The Flatbush Zombies’ top-heavy Vacation In Hell. I was accompanied by Care For Me over spring break, and Saba’s words danced through my head during long tours of East Coast college campuses. “BUSY” seemed apropos, my mind and body weary from numerous visits. J. Cole’s KOD and Post Malone’s Beerbongs and Bentleys were two of rap’s biggest chart-toppers of the year, though neither were particularly engaging. May kicked off one of the most prolific, headline-filled, and release-heavy summers in recent history. Pusha-T ignited the fire that was his month-long feud with Drake on his album closer, “Infared,” Playboi Carti’s Die Lit, his exercise in reductive minimalism, was one of the strongest offerings of the year, and ASAP Rocky’s TESTING was his venture into Hip-Hop experimentalism, and one of the most unjustifiably hated albums of the year. “Purity” brought out a lyrical tour de force from Frank Ocean, pop-culture’s darling recluse, filled to the brim with lavish tales of nights at the Mercer and Brut champagne. Rae Sremmurd’s Sr3mm was inexcusably long, and may have destroyed any notion of a Swae Lee solo career. Then came June. In regard to Kanye West’s five-album run, ye was his weakest offering yet, Nasir was instantly forgettable (save the sole highlight, Simple Things”), Kanye and Kid Cudi turned back the clock on their hauntingly beautiful collaborative effort, Kids See Ghosts, and Teyana Taylor’s KTSE was overlooked. Not to be forgotten, Drake released his highly-anticipated seventh solo album, Scorpion. In a rush to bark back at Pusha-T’s attack of his character on “Infared,” Drake altered the entirety of “Side A” on Scorpion, feigning tough-guy bravado to counter Pusha’s verbal tirade. Scorpion, much like every other Drake release, came with its share of great songs, but was ultimately hindered by filler tracks. Rap took a respite in July after a tumultuous June, but Future, Meek Mill, and Denzel Curry all dropped projects. Meek’s EP flew under the radar and presented a concise body of work, with highlights in “Millidelphia” and the Miguel-featuring “Stay Woke.” The opening days of August brought us Travis Scott’s eclectic magnum opus in Astroworld, and the late Mac Miller’s morose introspection on his final LP, Swimming. Nicki Minaj released Queen, her lackluster attempt at reclaiming her fleeting relevancy, which coincided with her timely feud with Travis Scott and various members of the Kardashian clan. September brought Quarterthing at the top of the month, Joey Purp’s sophomore effort, and one of my most anticipated releases of the year. His vicious approach to rapping that he came to realize on his first LP was absent here but was replaced by the bouncy sound native to Chicago dance music. BROCKHAMPTON also released iridescence, their first album after their departure from lead vocalist Ameer Vann. Iridescence brought a plethora of new sounds, but lacked the organic grit found on the boyband’s first three albums. Juice Wrld and Future, for some reason, released their nearly unlistenable collaboration album in November, along with Gunna and Lil Baby’s extravagant Drip Harder, Quavo’s lengthy Quavo Huncho, and Mick Jenkins’ Pieces Of A Man. Lil Peep released his posthumous Come Over When You’re Sober Part 2, a worthy follow-up to Part 1. Vince Staples dropped FM, his ode to Los Angeles radio stations during the summer months. The project showcased the talents of many West Coast artists, including a tease of Earl Sweatshirt’s impending third album, to release in later in the month. “New earlsweatshirt” and “Brand New Tyga,” were highlights. As the year came to a close, releases began slowly decreasing in quantity, with rappers gearing up for 2019. 21 Savage’s I am > I Was was an immediate highlight, a sonically diverse project from Atlanta’s most sinister rapper. J. Cole delivered one of his best guest verses of the year on the album’s opener, and “out for the night, pt.2” features a hidden Travis Scott feature over devilish, ominous synth patterns, providing for a Rodeo-era Travis Scott verse.

In 2018, amidst political turmoil and a variety of tragic events, rap artists delivered a bountiful amount of music. Some left me yearning for an artist’s old attention to detail (Kanye West), and some left me thrilled with a positive change in career trajectory (Earl Sweatshirt). Below are my top 15 albums of 2018, in order. Contributor Trevor Blanc’s are listed below as well, in no particular order.

- Eli Mundy

Eli's Top Albums of 2018

1) Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs

2) The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

3) Playboi Carti - Die Lit

4) Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts

5) Travis Scott - Astroworld

6) Young Thug - On the Rvn

7) Blood Orange - Negro Swan

8) Pusha T - Daytona

9) ASAP Rocky - TESTING

10) Saba - Care For Me

11 Lil Baby and Gunna - Drip Harder

12) Amine - OnePointFive

13) BROCKHAMPTON - iridescence

14) Top Dawg Entertainment - Black Panther Soundtrack

15) MIKE - War in My Pen


Trevor's Top Albums of 2018

A$AP Rocky - TESTING

Playboi Carti - Die Lit

Leon Bridges - Good Thing

Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts

Amine - ONEPOINT FIVE

Jon Batiste - Hollywood Africans

Benny Sings - Beat Tape

Thutmose - Man on Fire

Rico Nasty - Nasty

Jeff Goldblum - The Capitol Studio Sessions