Happy New Year’s Eve!
It’s that time of year. 2018 was a year filled with great Hip-Hop projects dropping weekly. As the year counts down to its final day, it’s only right to point out the highlights of the past year. After much deliberation and analysis, here are my 10 of my favorite projects of the past year.
Joell Ortiz & Apollo Brown – Mona Lisa
With the dissolution of Slaughterhouse and the discussions about what happened, Joell Ortiz has been quiet musically. Ortiz is back and comfortable in his elder statesmen role in Hip-Hop. Over warm boom-bap production provided by Apollo Brown, Ortiz unleashes the frustration and the maturity learned from lessons of the last few years. The nostalgic feeling of this album will tug at the heartstrings.
Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
Nipsey Hussle is one of the hardest working rappers out right now. His work ethic is evident throughout the project. Motivation and valuable insight peppered over some of the best production of the year led Nipsey to a Grammy nomination. A great feat given that this is his first official commercial album.
Jay Rock – Redemption
After the tepid reception of 90059 and a harsh motorcycle accident, Jay Rock arrived at a crossroad in more ways than one. Jay uses Redemption to document his tough journey and emerge victorious. He delivers a break out project that shows that he is focused as ever to take that next step and to come out of the shadows.
Various Artists — Black Panther: The Album Music From And Inspired By
I can’t recall a movie soundtrack ever being considered in discussion for album of the year. Black Panther made box office history and may have done that in music as well. Curated by TDE, Kendrick Lamar, and the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, the soundtrack delivered a cohesive collection of music that paints a picture of Wakanda and the ideologies of T’Challa and Killmonger. This is concrete evidence of why TDE is such a respected label with the Midas Touch.
Mac Miller – Swimming
Mac Miller was am amazing musician. Despite his own struggles, Mac always brought realness to the table with each project being better than the last. Mac delivered introspective tracks over solid production broadening his horizons in his personal life and artistry. That combination set the stage for Swimming as one of his best projects and fitting way to close out his musical journey. We miss you, Malcolm.
J. Cole - K.O.D
J. Cole is arguably Hip Hop’s MVP of 2018. He ascended to another level with the sheer amount of features alone. Cole dropped one of the best projects of the year, receiving critical acclaim and praise from nearly everyone including former president, Barack Obama. Cole has shown that his platform is one that he does not take lightly.
Travis Scott – Astroworld
Travis Scott wanted to take everyone on a ride with this album and he did exactly that. Larger than life moments, seamless sequencing, and pristine production that created a lush soundscape are but few of the qualities that make Astroworld stand out. It’s undeniable that this is Travis’ superstar project.
Royce Da 5’9 – Book of Ryan
Royce penned Hip-Hop’s most personal project of the year. He offers emotional depth, pristine storytelling, and wisdom which gives the album an autobiographical tone. One song in particular, Cocaine, speaks to his Dad’s battle with the drug and gives insight to his own addictive personality and battles with alcoholism. He makes a point to shed light on the topic of masculinity observed in urban spaces. This album propelled Royce from being a top tier lyricist to being a top tier overall artist.
Lupe Fiasco – Drogas Wave
Love him or hate him, Lupe Fiasco will be an artist that will be appreciated by the masses when he retires and his body of works are analyzed. Lupe is one of the best lyricists’ rap has ever seen. With Drogas Wave, Lupe crafted what could be his third or even fourth classic album to date (depending on who you speak to.) The double album has 24 tracks which overwhelmed the listening public, especially in this microwave era of streaming. This album is one of the most slept on AND best projects of the year.
Pusha T – Daytona
With seven rich and indulgent tracks, this is one that leaves you wanting more. Pusha T knocked the door in with his third album. Razor sharp bars over some of the best beats that Kanye West has produced in years. Daytona was a lean, no fat project that showcases King Push powers at its zenith while producing one of the biggest moments in music all year.