2010 to 2019 was a great time in music. Hip Hop became the powerhouse in the space and we saw a lot of big moments. We saw the first billionaire in hip hop, we saw the biggest song of all time come and take the world by storm, We even took some losses that shook us to the core. However even when the chips were down we were able to regroup and keep going to new heights.
2018 was a very saturated year in music where there was no way possible you heard and digested every body of work. I have tried to take down what I can and what I think matters. These picks are what I felt left an impact as well as made strides in advancing the lane of hip-hop.
THE CARTERS “EVERYTHING IS LOVE”
Jay & Bey together on one album — nothing else is left to be said.
Travis $cott “ASTROWORLD”
The third installment to the La Flame solo collection was a masterpiece. It made great strides and will stand the test of time.
Vince Staples “FM!”
This is Vince Staples’ classic and his best body of work.
6ix9ine “DUMMY BOY”
The sophomore project from the biggest troll in hip-hop definitely didn’t miss. However, his legal situation has left his career in shambles. Hopefully, he can get back on the scene and get to that plateau he says he is on.
This is his second album, and it is a lyrical masterpiece. The Dreamville rapper flaunts his skills and makes sure you know he is here to stay.
This is the first collaborative effort from Trouble of the Duct Tape Mob and Ear Drummer’s General Mike Will Made It. It’s the first major release and he didn’t disappoint. With features coming from the 6 via Drake and The Weeknd on “Bring it Back” and “Come Thru,” respectively. He solidified his street appeal and even created his lane on the radio. The project also got a relaunch with added songs and a remix to “Kesha Dem,” the club banger that added Offset of the Migos.
21 Savage “i am > i was”
After a lackluster first project, in my opinion, 21 Savage came out swinging with this body of work. The album has him as the sole artist on all tracks, but once the intro plays through and J. Cole blesses the record, I realized I was in for a treat. Childish Gambino, Travis $cott, Yung Miami of the City Girls, and Project Pat are just a few major contributors to the album. This is honestly a certified classic in his catalog.
Benny “Tana Talk 3”
The latest chapter in a series started over a decade ago by Benny from the Griselda Records team is a big drop for sample-based New York drug rap. The name may not ring bells, but he and his comrades are the biggest team out of the tri-state area. A couple of amazing bars with gutter beats tailored by Derringer, the in-house producers, and The Alchemist, and you have Black excellence.
Jim Jones “Wasted Talent”
The Dipset Veteran dropped this collection in the spring and I haven’t stopped going back to it. Anyone who grew up in the early 2000s couldn’t help but be influenced by The Diplomats, and over the years, Jim Jones has gotten better with age on the rap side. It’s the tailored sound you want from the Harlem rap group along with experienced bars and notable features like Jadakiss, Mozzy, and YFN Lucci. This was definitely one of the best albums this year.
Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs, & The Alchemist “Fetti”
While all the members of this album dropped heat this year, they got together and created magic after talking about it for quite some time. Curren$y is the underground king and has given us so much music. He found the time to get beats from The Alchemist and rip them, then send them over to Freddie Gibbs for him to demolish them. It’s only right it’s in the conversation for album of the year.
REASON “There You Have It”
Safe to say if TDE is stamped on the packaging, it’s a certified hit. Top Dawg does not co-sign any garbage and this project is a true hit. With a flip of “Drive Slow” to a duo of songs that intertwine with a story, the rookie didn’t let any listener down. He even stated that all of the beats on this project were pulled from YouTube. This album is a testament to the power of the internet and the hard work it takes to become a success in rap.
Jay Rock “Redemption”
Classic, classic, classic. This album is everything I didn’t know I wanted from Jay Rock. When the initial single “Win” came out, I had a feeling that this album was going to be crazy. With that type of presence in a song, you have to be in a different kind of space to create this level of heat. From the introspectiveness to open up about having a record deal, going broke, to almost losing your life in a motorcycle crash, we all rejoice in the fact that Jay Rock’s hard work is paying off. We also appreciate the fact that he set the foundation for TDE so many years ago.
Nipsey Hussle “Victory Lap”
As his first official album, Nipsey played the game correctly. Upon dropping in February, it was an early pick for album of the year. Everything about this album was calculated and put together with perfection.
Pusha T “Daytona”
The best album from the Kanye West attempted chokehold on the rap game. Drug-infused raps with Ye beats have been a staple since the late ’90s. With KING PUSH being one of the most talented wordsmiths we have heard and the fact that he made Drizzy Drake look like a clown this summer, this album is only eclipsed by one other project.
Meek Mill “Championships”
The stars all aligned and the stage was set for Meek Mill to have a classic come out this go ’round. After being released on bail after a “probation violation,” the Philly bred rapper has unleashed a piece of art. With features from JAY-Z, Rick Ross, Cardi B, and Drake amongst a host of others, we revel in the praise he is receiving as it is well overdue. The content, beat selection, and bars make for a listening experience not matched this year.
When you think of quintessential music out of Spartanburg County there is one quartet that has flown quietly under the radar. The ClassMatez are a 4 man team that usually dedicates their time to the background of music focusing on the writing and producing aspect. However in 2016 they decided to create a body of work to showcase that they can be a force on the front end as well.
While the world is in awe of the big release of Cardi B’s debut album, there was a sophomore project that came out as well from the Flatbush Zombies, hailing from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. The trio unveiled Vacation In Hell, a great piece of modern hip-hop creations. The group consists of Meechy Darko, Erick Arc Elliot (who doubles as their main producer), and Zombie Juice. This body of work is everything you want from a New York hip-hop trio. There are bars, great beats, bars, melodies, and oh, did I mention bars? Sonically, it’s easy on the ears. It’s great riding music, as well as a piece to re-listen to and find new gems. There are elements of horrorcore spread throughout, reminiscent of The Gravediggaz and early Three 6 Mafia. The title is a major factor, but once you look past what are essentially just words, you will be rewarded. Features on this album showcase their taste in more than just hip-hop music. Portugal. The Man was a standout along with Joey Bada$$, Bun B, and Jadakiss.
While the album’s title doesn’t match the cover art or bars, it can be perceived as an oxymoron. The guys aren’t afraid to touch on emotional points as they rap about family and dark times, such as the death of A$AP Mob founder A$AP Yams, who was mentioned a few times throughout the album. There is even a song dedicated to him performed by Meechy Darko, revealing that he was with Yams the moment he passed away. They have been recorded in the press run leading up to the release that it has taken them two years to complete the album. The wait definitely paid off. This project is a step above the predecessor 3001: A Laced Odyssey. The meticulous calculations created a beautiful medley of sounds and lyrics that create a 19-track stroll through the mind of today’s youth. My personal standouts, which were difficult to narrow down, are “Headstone,” where the song utilized classic hip-hop titles to create verses and bridges; “Ask Courtney,” in which member Meechy Darko starts the song with the line, “Love hurts. Ask Courtney, she killed Kurt…,” eluding to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s romance before his untimely suicide; and “The Goddess,” where they write verses about the woman of their dreams.