This past year was a great year for hip-hop, a lot of music came out.
From January to December, release after release came out. Some were forgettable, while others had replay value. Out of all the music that was released, I probably heard about less than fifty percent of it, if we are being honest. If someone would’ve said they heard every release then I’d say: they are lying.
With that said, below are some of my favorite records of the year. Hopefully my perspective introduces you to music you wouldn’t have heard otherwise.
Swae Lee – “Offshore” fear Young Thug
This record is extravagant, elegant, masterful, beautiful, etc. Mike Will Made It laced Swae Lee with a great record for him to then go and add his signature flare to. The addition of Young Thug makes it a trifecta, as the record is now a certified banger!
The inclusion of “I’ll slap the shit of Donald Trump any day” was an unnecessary addition that I don’t think anyone minded, plus, it gave everyone listening a fun line to recite along the way. I join Thugger in reciting the line each time I play this record.
Evidence – “What I Need”
2018 was a difficult year for Evidence. What should have been a great year with the January release of Weather Or Not, quickly went to shit as the mother of his child, passed away in middle of spring. That same week he had a show in Santa Barbara. I attended that show. Although the show was small and intimate, I felt like Evidence needed that love we showed him. It was a brief distraction from the issues of the real world.
Coincidentally, this song is about needing love. Something Evidence from eight years ago said he didn’t need. My love still goes out to you E-V.
Pusha T – “Infared”/“The Story of Adidon”
Did anyone else have as great of a year as Pusha? Maybe a few, but no one had month like he did in the summer. He dropped Daytona with a warning shot baiting Drake into responding and then came back and delivered a deadly blow, the beef’s biggest hit.
A superstar like Drake barely survived, he might be the only rapper who could’ve taken such a hit from a diss and not end up Ja Rule’d. Between revealing a hidden child with a former video vixen to a past blackface photo shoot, you’d think Drake was finished but a superstar like him and stans like his, his career would only have a blemish on it. His fans were quick to point out Pusha’s relevancy and the art of using beef for publicity. Regardless, Pusha won, no question about it.
Meek Mill – “What’s Free” feat Rick Ross and Jay Z
Rick Rock’s verse is great. Jay Z’s verse is amazing. What else needs to be said? They killed it.
Hit Boy – “Vroom” feat Yung Pinch and 03 Greedo
This song was a surprised. Coming off the heels of my fascination with Half-A-Mil, I checked out the Hit Boy album and discovered this record.
The three different styles and voices complimented one another but it was 03 Greedo with the show stealing verse. His storytelling about his ongoing life and case was refreshing and heartbreaking. Greedo verse was full of pain that I felt he finally came to terms with what was near: long prison time.
Action Bronson – “Live From The Moon”
Young Knxwledge fucking killed this beat. Yung Mehico too, he made the record sound so grown up and sexy. Action just comes in and delivers the imagery and references he’s known to do.
Jay Rock – “OSOM” feat J Cole
Jay Rock delivered a stellar performance where he recapped his career but it was Cole who did his thing and destroyed this guest verse. Cole’s verse is magical. He flows or hovers over the best as he starts rapping about paranoia. Incredible.
Travis Scott – “Can’t Say” feat Don Toliver
Travis has delivered three solid albums and has put me on to a bunch of rappers I never would’ve discovered otherwise. You can credit that towards my age or maybe my obliviousness towards a certain part of rap but the music eventually reaches me.
Don Toliver was that discovery on this album. He gave a dope verse and a fun one to recite. His voice is unique and interesting. His crooning is great that I couldn’t turn away. I had to listen.
Royce Da 5’9” – “Cocaine”
Sober Royce has pros to it, not only does Royce get to live a healthier life, he can know talk and rap about topics he might have not touched when he was dealing with his alcoholism.
This song is beautiful. Royce talks about his father’s drug addiction while Royce was an adolescent and teenager. His father ended up going to rehab and has been sober since then. I wonder if his father’s sobriety inspired his. I’d think it played a factor. He claims his father’s step towards sobriety was for his children, which I can see it as the same reason why Royce reason decided to turn his life around.
Currensy and Freddie Gibbs – “New Thangs”
This. Is. Fucking. Flames. The chemistry between these two and Alchemist is amazing. All three smokers have an undeniable bond that just makes for great music. This was a nice surprise that I just had to support them by purchasing.
Gibbs and Currensy play off one another so well that Gibbs used a couple of Currensy’s lines and flipped them in his own Gangsta Gibbs ways (the Westin and AirMaxs).
Kanye West – “Ghost Town” feat Kid Cudi / Kids See Ghosts – Freeee (Ghost Town Pt 2)
The crazy year Kanye had, affected his music, at least to me. I didn’t give his solo or collaborative albums that much time because his comments were too much of a distraction.
These two records stood out in each project. The first one was a dope, soulful, gospel-like record that had a great beat, a vulnerable Kanye singing, Cudi crooning and a tremendous cameo from 070 Shake. “Freeee” is a simple, obnoxiously loud, stadium killer—the opposite of its predecessor, yet it might be harder than the original.
Jay Rock – WOW Freestyle feat Kendrick Lamar
Their chemistry is undeniable. The back-and-forth exchange of verses from Rock and Kendrick is something of beauty. This record is a fun one. I just want to hop in my car and swerve left and right on the freeway (while there’s no other traffic) as I jump around in the driver’s seat.
(Photo Credit: Royce Da 5’9″‘s Instagram)