With each passing year, the sheer volume of music to listen to is amazing. It can be a lot to handle, but the following are 2018’s Top Hip-Hop Albums so far (Hint: you will recognize some of them, but not all!):
J Cole, KOD
Dreamville‘s CEO draws palpable anticipation, and KOD delivers. It’s that next step of music from Cole and honestly, this project keeps Jermaine and Kendrick neck-in-neck for the race to this generation’s best emcee crown.
This isn’t the first tape to tackle issues that need addressing in a conceptual manner, but it is one of the best recent efforts to do so. Lastly, 1985-Intro to “The Fall Off” is a song of guidance that the next group of rappers need to take to heart.
Flatbush Zombies, Vacation in Hell
Flatbush Zombies are what happens when you use your distinct voice to actually spit some intriguing lyrics. There are plenty of artists who solely bank off of their sound to sell out venues and records, but this trio have earned the fruits of their labor by consistently delivering something pretty unique. To be honest, they kind of feel like the Gary Vaynerchuk of rap.
Their mix of homage to those before them and confidence in their own sound makes this album worth more than one spin. Don’t be surprised when this is an album of the year candidate.
Pusha T, Daytona
Pusha T carefully chose when to drop this project. There’s definitely growth from The Clipse‘s signature coke raps, masked with a 2018 paint job. The beats are pretty stellar. But honestly, while this definitely feeds that itch for new Clipse-esque music, it feels that this was dropped to fully prepare for this beef with Drake.
Pusha has all but won the beef and with these seven jams that will fit any summer party mix, he might be looking to win the summer as well. All hail the king.
Phonte, No News Is Good News
Phonte continues to deliver verbal acrobatics with ease, to the tune of soulfully smooth sounds no less. The sophomore album from the former member of Little Brother and one of the current hosts on Questlove Supreme contains a narrative about Tigallo and the phase of life he’s currently in.
This definitely goes under the category of grown folks rap, because it’s that everyman/everyday life kind of rap. There’s no fronting or acting like something he isn’t; Phonte gives you real life and we’re all better for it.
Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
Everyone has a little dirty computer in them and Janelle is here to help you realize it. While not the conventional rap album like those listed above, I would be remiss to not include this album. It’s too good.
You can dance to it. It makes you think. And most importantly, it should make you question the state of things around you after listening. Monáe has fully realized who she wants to be both artistically and personally. Luckily we’re all present to witness it and learn from it.
Kendrick Lamar/Various Artists, Black Panther: The Album
There’s only one way that you haven’t heard at least one song from this album: you’ve been hibernating and just woke up. This album accompanies the blockbuster film release of Black Panther and includes some of the best tracks of 2018.
Kendrick Lamar and the TDE crew did a fantastic job of creating songs that not only match the film but also enrich the world of Wakanda in musical form. With appearances from SZA, Jay Rock, The Weeknd and more, this project is a treasure trove of lyrics and beats cinematically executed.
I’d be foolish to think the above albums are the only albums you should check out. Below are additional albums that deserve your time and attention, because they likely will please your ears AND be in the running for some of the best music of 2018:
Jericho Jackson, Elzhi & Khrysis are Jericho Jackson
Logic, Bobby Tarantino II
Murs, A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable
PRhyme, Prhyme 2
DOOM & Czarface, Czarface meets Metal Face!
Robert Glasper x KAYTRANADA, The Artscience Remixes