As 2018 comes to a close, I can say it was a great year for hip hop and the culture! We were blessed with so much dope music! At one point I have to admit; it became hard to keep up with projects that seemed to be dropping almost every week.
Rap definitely made its presence known in 2018! Even movie soundtracks were curated or produced by hip hop artists. From Black Panther, The Grinch, Creed II, to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse just to name a few.
There were also amazing podcasts, shows and interviews that were impactful for hip hop culture. From Joe Budden’s Podcast and his deal with Spotify. To his new revolt show “State of the Culture”. Genius also brought their ‘A’ game with dope interviews, By: Rob Markman just to shout out a few. We were even serenaded early on this year with great rap and r&b albums that set the tone for what was to come!
In the era where music is dominated by streaming, singles and the life expectancy of a record depleting quickly after release due to competition, there were albums that managed to standout for me. These albums became my soundtrack to 2018!
It was difficult to come up with my top 2018 rap list, but I was able to get it done! I selected these albums due to the following: the great content, lyricism, replay value, catchy hooks, flow, cadence and the cohesiveness of the album. I separated my top 20 rap albums into two categories: mainstream rap and lyrical/underground rap. They are not listed in any particular order.
By no means am I saying rappers cannot be lyricists, but I found it easier to separate my list this way to show the rap albums that were radio played vs. the ones that were more for the streets, streamed by die-hard fans or most likely overlooked due to so much content being released this year.
I will briefly cover why the top 10 mainstream rap albums made my list. I would have gone into the other albums selected, but I could go on forever! Next year my goal is to review albums/movies/tv-series’ throughout 2019, so by the end of the year there is no need for me to cover why I selected those projects. 😈🎙
Pusha be that dude that is always bringing his lyrical skills to every project. He is always criticized for his songs being about drugs, but he always manages to do a refreshing new take on what he calls luxury street rap! His lyrics use drug references and metaphors to tell a story, he is always bringing those bars, punchlines and double entendres. This year he made waves with his diss track that was aimed at Drake, “The Story of Adidon”. We all know who took that “W” in that battle, if that is what you want to call it given Drake never responded! Yes Drake still dominated the game as he aways does, but Push proved why he is an OG in the rap game. Pusha-T’s album was short with only 7 tracks, but it worked in his favor. I replayed the album like 3 times and I still have his album in rotation. The lyrics, cohesiveness and Kanye’s production/samples were on point! Definitely the best project from all the G.O.O.D Music releases that dropped this year next to Teyana’s. Congrats to Push on his Grammy nomination well deserved!
R.I.P Mac! Hip Hop lost Mac Miller this year, still can’t believe he is no longer here :(..He blessed us with a beautiful and soulful album! It’s like he foreshadowed that this would be his last album. A lot of his songs in this album were very personal about self care and growth. My favorite track on the album, 2009 just gets me every time! The lyrics are simple, but the melody is so melancholy. You can tell it was created with feeling. Overall I loved the album for being very introspective, the soulful melodies, positive message and the dope live instrumentation! Wish he could have been here to celebrate his Grammy nomination!
TDE’s new signee definitely proved why he was chosen to be part of the camp! I was happily surprised at how dope this project was. The track Situations with the Usher ” U Don’t have to Call” sample was crazy!!! Overall the production and samples were great! Enjoyed the storytelling, he went in with his street lyricism and dope punch lines!
Dreamville label did their thang this year! Cozz’s second album Effected had an old school LA vibe, it makes sense he is from South Central so he had to represent! Loved the production and sonically it was wavy. This is one of those albums that each track you can just play in your car, have it on replay and just vibe to it!
KOD dropped early in the year, April to be exact and each song I still have in rotation. The KOD tour was amazing! I love that J. Cole interacts with his fans, explains the backstory to his lyrics and speaks on the significance of each song. I have been lucky enough to see him perform live twice and every time it is a dope experience! I can honestly say his body of work and personality bring his albums to life! He is this generations best Rap performer! Once again he delivered a solid project. He used trap beats to show his versatility and that lyricism can still be done on those type of tracks. He also delivered a positive message to the youth about mental health, lust and drug use/abuse. Again with no features only Kill Edward lol!
Jim Jones beat me to the punch and created a dope concept that was based on one of my all time favorite movies ‘A Bronx Tale’. He sampled scenes from the movie which I loved! He managed to bring that New York grittiness back in this album. In the era of trap beats it was refreshing to hear that old school NY sound. Jim Jones pulled it off nicely!
Once again another Dreamville project that went hard! J.I.D is one of the rappers I consider to be in the newer generation era of rap. He gives me hope rap and hip hop will be alive for years to come! Even though he has been in the rap game for about 8 years give or take, I feel he has started to reach the fame and recognition in the mainstream that he deserves! This album definitely puts him on the map and shows off what he has to offer! Can’t wait to see him evolve as an emcee! His flow, cadence and lyricism are on another level!
Denzel has easily become one of my favorite rappers of this generation. His dark production, lyrics and sound is something I gravitate towards. Especially being a horror fan and hip hop lover! Denzel is reminiscent of the 90’s horror-core era! Taboo was a mixture of a dark and light side of Denzel Curry’s wicked mind! Even his visuals for “Clout Cobain” was dark, but he delivered a great message. I won’t do any spoilers so check out this album and his music video if you haven’t done so!
Bas another Dreamville signee who dropped a unique sounding album. It had an exotic vibe to each track. Of course my favorite track was one of the singles, “Tribe” ft. J. Cole. As mentioned J. Cole killed every feature this year and this is no exception! This album has a relaxing feel, poetic lyrics and wonderful melodies! Bas style of rap reminds me a bit of Wale, so if you are a Wale fan and never heard Bas check him out!
I admit I been sleeping on the Griselda camp, but better late than never! Glad I was put onto this album. The GxFR crew: Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher are bringing back that gritty, drug/gangster rap! This album is the definition of pure lyricism, punchlines, dope production and great storytelling! Benny lives up to his rap name! It’s surgical rap each word cuts you like a blade, he is a dope spitter! The rest of his crew had dope albums this year as well!
This year Meek literally made it to the championships! He was released from prison and dropped an album that was inspired by his situation and experience in the prison system. From beginning to end you can hear and tell this project was highly influenced by his prison time and how it affected his relationships. He used his voice to speak on issues about mass incarceration that is targeted toward the black community, black on black crime, the gang mentality used to keep the black community controlled, police brutality, fake friends, street PTSD and of course his trap bangers. He proved that even in your lowest moments you can rise and come back stronger! This album is proof of that!
2018 Best Verses/Lyrics:
To change it up a bit I wanted to also share my top 10 favorite verses/lyrics of 2018. As mentioned there was so much dope projects that dropped that I might not have mentioned here, but it doesn’t mean they were forgotten. This list might included verses/lyrics that might not have made it to my list of best 2018 albums.
I thought in this section I would also include my favorite verse from a poem I wrote this year and performed it at my first open mic.
‘3’ By: G Lyric:
“Anubis vibes, I’m a jackal
Not easily rattled
Fuck the forbidden apple
Knowledge freed me from these shackles
My brain on a different channel
Always see things from a different angle
Obsessed with three’s, pyramids and triangles”
- Janelle Monae – Django Jane:
“Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it
Y’all can’t ban it, made out like a bandit
They been tryin’ hard just to make us all vanish
I suggest they put a flag on a whole ‘nother planet
Jane Bond, never Jane Doe and I Django, never Sambo
Black and white, yeah that’s always been my camo
It’s lookin’ like y’all gon’ need some more ammo
I cut ’em off, I cut ’em off, I cut ’em off like Van Gogh”
- Black Thought – Twofifteen (whole song he goes in!):
“Who the technical culprit? I don’t mess with no vultures
I’m electrical voltage, not the regular dosage
Too obsessive compulsive, I’m a fuckin’ explosive
Mixed message in a bottle, I left with the postman
I’m that arachnophobia, black petroleum
Ceremoniously holy when at the podium
Even though it’s hotter than weapons-grade plutonium”
- Pusha-T – The Games We Play:
“This ain’t for the conscious, this is for the mud-made monsters
Who grew up on legends from outer Yonkers
Influenced by niggas straight outta Compton, the scale never lies
I’m two-point-two incentivized
If you ain’t energized like the bunny for drug money
Or been paralyzed by the sight of a drug mummy
This ain’t really for you, this is for the Goya Montoya
Who said I couldn’t stop, then afforded me all the lawyers
The only kingpin who ain’t sinkin’
Chess moves are made, my third eye ain’t blinkin
Stay woke, nigga, or get out”
- Canibus – The Odds (Both albums were lyrically amazing!! that is why he is my #1 fav MC):
“Hypnotized by the magic practice
Pragmatic practicalist poetry in motion by accident
And cry like I never asked for this
The experiment for buzz, that’s what Hip Hop was
I stutter and s-s-s-shit on you cuz
The great Pun breath control vernacular
Ginger extract with cold press
Canibus oil so elaborate
Asymetric incription eyeballs can’t see”
- J. Cole – Pretty Little Fears:
“Beautiful black child, come and share your black cloud
For your vibe and your smile, I don’t mind a lil’ rain
I’m your dog, ears perk up at the sound of your name
Count on your main, wildfire, can’t handle your flame
Download your shame, wild high, come drown in your fragrance
You that red pill that a nigga found in the Matrix
Before I had you this shit was fantasy
You plant a seed to grow some roots, a branch and leaves
Becomes a tree of life until our nights are filled”
- The Underachievers – Channeling:
“I learned a lot from the other side
Destroyed and built my mind
Showed me the drunken side, the different way the colors vibe
But every chapter in your life changes like the season
Can’t depend on a drug when its controlling how you feelin’
Can’t depend on getting high just to give your life meaning
Everything in moderation but a nigga couldn’t see it
Been abusing different things and convinced myself I need it
’til it went from a pleasure to a nigga just fiendin’
But you know that we could weather the storm
Learn to perform with the heart
Like throwing darts, a nigga hittin’ the mark
I dont regret I always learn from the dark”
- Apathy – Hypnosis:
“Through your stargate, supernovas onto your star shape
Elders try to tell us that we can’t escape our fate
Were far from the days where they stargaze
Now we man ships that absorb cosmic rays
Over the radio, talkin’ hoes into fellatio
Sapiosexual so I kicked the golden ratio
Transmittin’ like the last man livin’
So my writtens hold more weight than King James editions
Charles Dickens and Lord Francis Bacon
Believe in the creator but I don’t believe in Satan
I believe the Devil’s a Homosapien
And Heaven and Hell exist in your cranium”
- J. Cole – Sojourner:
“Born into pain, alcoholic veins
Over-analytical brain a product of the shame
And runnin’ from a past, that’s checkered like the game
Somewhere ‘long the way somebody snatched my peace and main
Maybe that’s the reason I spent decades seekin’ fame
And fortune hopin’ that a proper portion would contain
The sadness in my eyes, remember when I came
In this music business, all their questions was insane
“Why you never smile in your pictures?” I refrain
From givin’ you the answer ’cause that answer wasn’t plain”
- Meek Mill – Stay Woke:
“How can I pledge allegiance to the flag
When they killin’ all our sons, all our dads?
I come from a place, when you kill your own brother you can brag
Like he got bodies, but that’s a fad, no, that’s a fact
I’m screamin’ out at your corner, nigga, that’s a trap
Screamin’ out at your homie, nigga, that’s a rat
Catch a case with him, bet he crack”
The odds against you and they double stacked, stay woke
- 070 Shake – I Laugh When I’m with Friends but Sad When I’m Alone ( This whole songs is emotionally amazing!):
“Don’t be alarmed, it’ll get brighter, it’ll get better
It’s ’cause we are fighters and tougher than leather
The strong you is inside, but you just haven’t met her
Only we control our storm because we are the weather
Don’t get how I could love the things that really torn me
Remember tellin’ myself that I was quittin’ in the mornin’
And did you really try and help or was you tryna tell a story?
It’s okay ’cause I got me and I don’t need you to feel sorry”
- Bonus: YBN Cordae – Old Ni**as (This was a response to J. Cole’s 1985, I had overlooked this young rapper, but this record gave me hope that there are still younger rappers who got shit to offer the rap game and care about Hip Hop culture! I will be on the look out for YBN Cordae in 2019. I feel he has potential to become the next best rapper from the newer generation.):
“Let’s take it back: when hip hop originated
And old niggas said it was wack, they couldn’t take it
And called it a lil’ trend, said it wouldn’t last
Now, it’s the number one genre as the time passed
Young niggas won’t listen and we know it, ha
But old niggas always talk and never show it, uh
You gotta practice what you preach and the classes that you teach
We’ll eventually listen, my mind mentally prison, uh
Lately, all my idols, they been failin’ me
Catchin’ sexual assaults and some felonies
Then, you want me to listen what you tellin’ me
And wanna hate when we sing our lil’ melodies
And other idols, they be broke, get your funds in order
And Kanye West is a Trump supporter
Then, we got R. Kelly and Bill Cosby
Who still probably got lil’ girls in the Hills lobby
And these supposed to be our heroes? Negro, please”
I also have a top 10 list of R&B/Soul albums. Not only was it a great year for rap, but also R&B/Soul. There are so many new dope R&B artists bringing back that nostalgic 90s R&B sound like Brent Faiyaz, DVSN and CVIRO & GXNVS to name a few. As well as just great crooners and singers both old and new school artists. These projects made my list for the same reasons I listed above. The only addition as to why I also selected these albums was the vibe and feeling I felt when the artists sang with emotion and brought the lyrics to life!
They – Fireside EP
Ty Dolla Sign & Jeremih – Mih-Ty
CVIRO & GXNXVS – Now you Know EP
Nao – Saturn
Masego – Lady Lady
Leon Bridges – Good Thing
H.E.R.- I Used to Know Her Pt.2 EP
The horror genre did not fall behind in 2018! There were great tv shows and movies that released this year. Netflix surprised me on the horror gems it dropped. I have created two lists: Top 10 favorite horror movies and Top 5 favorite horror tv shows. I also decided to make this section a little different and include my top 5 favorite horror movie quotes. Read below if you dare!😈
This film had a unique story/plot about the demons that get passed on to us, dark family history and also how we never really know our relatives. Everything about this movie was amazing! The pace was perfect it built up to what was to come, great acting, creepiness vibes thru the roof and graphic decapitation scene!
Another original plot in the era of horror remakes! They added a new type of monster/creature to the horror universe, def a must see (Bird Box joke lol), just don’t speak or scream!
Finally a movie that matches Nicholas Cage’s craziness lol.. and the scene where they played “Cielito Lindo” added an awesome touch to it!
80s serial killer movie with kids count me in! Nostalgia at its finest! It was a mix of Fright Night (the original), Stranger Things and Disturbia.
Cult, sci-fi horror and time loop = Awesomeness!
Art the Clown makes Pennywise look like a friendly clown lol. This movie had a lot of gore and one of the scenes was graphic yet I could not look away and didn’t know if I should laugh or be shocked lol
Indian mythology about a demon god. Touches on greed, karma and a curse/boon passed through generations! Great foreign film!
Argentinian horror movie nothing like I have ever seen. Loved it! It had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was going on and some good jump scares!
Nazi + War + Zombie like experiments = Horror Action top notch!
This film takes you inside a serial killers mind who has OCD and obsession with art. As well as the POV of a serial killer, a bit graphic, but not as gory as I expected. The way the movie was filmed was cinematically remarkable! I admit this is the first Lars Von Trier film I’ve watched, but now I will have to check out some of his other films. Loved the dark humor. I found myself laughing at some scenes that normally one should not find amusing.
Tales from the Hood 2
Suspiria (have NOT yet watched it, but I heard amazing things and love the original. I will be watching it once it releases digitally)
My favorite horror show hands down this year! Beautifully written, a new spin on Shirley Jackson’s book, great character development and a great cast!
Loved this show a darker version of Sabrina based on the comic books under the same name!
Eli Roth did his thing with this history of horror! He covered almost all the sub genres from Zombies, Slashers to monsters. It is a horror documentary style type series. Commentary from different horror directors, actors to special effects guru’s. A must watch for horror fans.
I thought the whole purge storyline had been used up and no new fresh ideas would be good enough for a show, but I was happily surprised with this series. The character development was great, each episode I tuned in to see each storyline and what would happen to the characters.
Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 – still heartbroken that it was cancelled!
- “In this town, Michael Myers is a myth. He’s the Boogeyman. A ghost story to scare kids. But this Boogeyman is real. An evil like his never stops, it just grows older. Darker. More determined.”
– Laurie Strode (Halloween)
- “You’re just meat. Without a soul, without a brain, without anything. Animal. You, you have no spirit- everlasting! No, no radiant light! I possess elucidations you will never know!”
“I’m just floating in this ocean of nothing and I wonder if this is it, if this is what death is, just out there in the darkness, just darkness and numbness and alone, and I wondered if that’s what she felt…”
-Theo (The Haunting of Hill House Episode 8)
- “Some people claim that the atrocities we commit in our fiction are those inner desires which we cannot commit in our controlled civilization, so they’re expressed instead through our art. I don’t agree. I believe Heaven and Hell are one and the same. The soul belongs to Heaven and the body to Hell.”
– Jack (The House That Jack Built)
People, they wear masks their whole lives. Pretending that life has meaning. When you kill somebody all of that is gone. Halloween is the closest people come to admitting that we are defined by death.
– Wilkes (Into the Dark Anthology Series: The Body Episode 1)
If you haven’t checked out these albums, songs or movies, hope this post encourages you to check them out! Once again as I said in the beginning of this post, 2018 was dope year for hip hop and horror!!! To 2019, that it may bring us more horror, lyrical rhymes and beautiful melodies!
By: Gaby Moreno