2018 was filled with so many great rap album releases. The fun part always comes at the end of the year when we get to revisit the albums that have impacted our lives the most. With so much noise from newcomers allowing their voices to be heard via mainstream methods, it’s only fair to tip our hats to those who’ve conquered and hustled their way to the top. And to the veterans who’ve dominated year after year, this personal favorite top 10 Rap albums of 2018 list certainly keeps you in mind.
Not quite in the realm of rap music as so many other projects in hip hop have come to be. The late XXXTentacion delivered the masterful – ? – album before his untimely demise. Filled with emotional scars. X thoughtfully pieces together his sabotaged alternative universe where freedom from tortured love and hate becomes possible. Even while channeling alt rock vibrations. X manages to passionately touch any genre possible carrying out the unusual task better than most could ever do.
9. Drake – Scorpion
In usual Drake fashion, the seasoned rapper delivers yet another record breaking album with Scorpion. Benefiting from some of his biggest moments via God’s Plan, Nice For What, and In My Feelings. It’s hard not to include the double disc album on any top ten list. Despite as the Canada native describes “rap purists” proclaiming “a chink in his armour” due to his unfinished feud with Pusha T ending without response. Drake comfortably proves his superhero. Untouchably dominating billboard and every summer playlist with hits yet again.
8. Aminé – ONEPOINTFIVE
Coming off such a big 2017. Aminé, the colorful Portland native more commonly known for his massive debut single “Caroline”; quietly dropped this self produced gem of a second album ONEPOINTFIVE. Large scale production aside. Anyone who may have prematurely doubted the extreme lyrical and splashy song making athleticism Aminé holds, is now put on clear notice by way of DR.WHOEVER all the way down to DAPPERDAN.
7. Tierra Whack – Whack World
Every so often an artist changes the game in a major way based solely on hard work, dedication, and talent. The now Grammy nominated Philly native, Tierra Whack, thrives in 2018 by way of Whack World the “visual and auditory album” of the future. If you happen to be late to the party (check out the album review by yours truly), Whack puts the industry on full alert with 15 minutes of melodically rambunctious tunes in a one minute mini movie format.
6. Jay Rock – Redemption
Before most of us knew of a Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul or any other member of Top Dawg Ent. Johnny Mckenzie, aka Jay Rock of Watts California, was once on TDE’s forefront alongside rap heavyweight Lil Wayne with his 2008 “All My Life” single. After hiatus due to label issues, and other members of the crew solidifying their spot. 2018 blessed Jay Rock and listeners with Redemption, saving an unfulfilled space in hip hop for his westside story. Capitalizing off of his highlight verse on “Kings Dead”. Jay Rock showcases every bit of versatility and hunger whether solo or featured alongside raps golden boys throughout his entire album.
5. Cardi B – Invasion Of Privacy
Never really expecting the ex stripper / social media and love and hip hop star to live past Bodak Yellow’s record breaking hype. Cardi B demonstrated to the world how serious she was by dropping multiple billboard hits thereafter, all the while feeding the streets on her debut Invasion Of Privacy album. Whether giving out gritty “Gangsta B*tch Music” vibes on records like Get Up 10, Drip (feat. Migos) & Money Bag. Or brilliantly delivering smash records with I Like It (feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin), Be Careful, & Ring (feat. Kehlani). The BX native undoubtedly ruffled feathers from her male and female counterparts. Slugging all hits and very few misses.
4. Pusha T – Daytona
Probably the only rap album to flourish during the G.O.O.D Music 7 track rollout series. Pusha T finds his voice, and Grammy nomination, on the Kanye produced Daytona project. Carefully constructed. Push thrives on boombap beats capturing braggadocio and drug dealer chic lyrics that sharply pierce through meticulously chosen samples. Digested in a mere 21 minutes. Pusha T effortlessly uses his time wisely stirring the pot to one of rap’s most recent ugly feuds. Forcing the album and its after effects into hip hop history.
3. Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
One of the hardest Rap albums of the year. Nipsey Hussle reigns supreme with the jewel infested classic Victory Lap. If you know the history, you’d understand the Marathon it took the California king to get here. Finally arriving, this time with a grammy nom for rap album of the year. Nip leads listeners through an hour long journey of trials and tribulation via rasp and class. Offering day 1 fans Blue Laces 2 and Keyz 2 The City 2. Standout tracks alongside heavyweight features like Kendrick Lamar on the black powerful “Dedication”, and Puff Daddy, who took “Young N****a” to levels it may have never reached without him. Nipsey thankfully teaches without preaching. Inking Victory Lap one of thee best rap albums and successful life guides in a very long time.
2. Meek Mill – Championships
Not many rappers face critical public adversity seemingly every album yet favorably come out on top. Ironically enough, for Meek Mill, it seems like just another day at the office turning pain into prosperity. Feeling every bit of pain and prosperity over the course of the 19 track billboard #1 album Championships. The people’s choice for Intro king wastes zero time building the hype spilling over into vivid lyrics of Trauma. The MC clearly paints pictures of his harsh prison and probation reality, adding a powerful voice to the wrongly convicted. Working on his 6th year since his debut album; Meek’s hunger penetrates the soul over soul samples and quality production yet again. Making multiple moments come to life. The recent rehashing of his once sour relationship with Drake now lands the Philly rap star his first top 10 hit with “Going Bad”, as well as the long awaited all-powerful JAY-Z “What’s Free” verse. Executing a perfect balance of Championship music flowing from “Almost Slipped” to “Pay You Back (feat. 21 Savage)”. Meek effectively captures listeners for the duration of this instant classic.
1. Mac Miller – Swimming
The passing of Mac Miller came entirely too soon. Ultimately leaving his friends, family, and fans with his most introspectively beautiful album to date. In utter disbelief of such a delightful soul no longer walking amongst us. Swimming, my foreseen album of the year candidate, gets its rightful grammy nom. A flawlessly cohesive work of art that will live on forever. Mac’s music helped many get through tough times, including my own. Cementing this album as my favorite musical highlight of 2018. Thank You and Rest well Malcolm.