Throughout the year, artists from all over the world have gifted listeners with some top-notch albums. Having said that, it became evident to me as I was putting this list together that the majority of albums to come out this year genuinely fell flat, but, as per usual, were glorified to ridiculous proportions.
So, without further ado and in no particular album, here are some of the actual best albums that have dropped this year.
1. “Die Lit” by Playboi Carti
Premier Tracks: “Lean 4 Real” (featuring Skepta), “Shoota” (featuring Lil Uzi Vert), “Foreign”
Although half of Playboi Carti’s sophomore project leaked prior to its release, a lá Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan back in 2015, it wasn’t enough to undermine one of the hardest projects that have come out all year, thus far.
Some of Playboi’s most audible verses to date appear on this project, on tracks like “Middle of the Summer” and, well, that’s about it, to be honest. But, that takes away nothing from the absolutely senseless extremities of his bubbling vocals on “No Time,” which co-stars YSL-signee Gunna.
All in all, the fact that this is one of the top 10 has to say something considering I can barely understand what the f— he’s even saying.
2. “Slime Language” by Young Thug and YSL
Premier Tracks: “Oh Yeah” (featuring HiDoraah), “Audemar” (featuring Tracy T) and “Dirty Shoes” (featuring Gunna)
If I were to delve into my bag of GarageBand tools and remove all of the mediocre verses from various Young Stoner Life artists, such as Lil Keed and Strick, Young Thug would’ve arguably released the greatest project of all time. But, evidently, that’s not what happened and, even more evidently, I’m still a bit sour about it.
Disregarding all of the extra baggage, Thugger showcases an extremely polished rendition of what he’s been excelling at over the past few years: making instant classics alongside his homies. From Gunna’s scathing feature on the electric “Dirty Shoes” to Jeffery’s hypnotizing vocals on the sultry hook of “STS,” the Atlanta pioneer has certainly made it clear he wants to keep his family involved.
3. “Swimming” by Mac Miller
Premier Tracks: “Hurt Feelings,” “Conversation, Pt. 1,” 2009
To be honest, at first, I thought the people who said that this was his best project after his heart-wrenching passing didn’t have any idea what they were talking about. I was cynical enough to believe that they’d solely fallen into the media hype, until I actually sat and listened to the album.
When it originally came out came out, I didn’t give it too much run. I listened to the “Self Care” and the three loosies that he put out prior to its release, all of which I genuinely enjoyed a lot.
But, for the most part, Mac displayed a far more developed instrumental skillset than he has on any of his earlier albums. And while it’s most certainly not his best project, it was surely one hell of an exit.
4. “Kids See Ghosts” by Kanye West and Kid Cudi
Premier Tracks: “Fire,” “Reborn,” “Kids See Ghosts”
I don’t like talking about Kanye anymore. The wider the gap that my appreciation for this guy expands, the more I start to see how ridiculously petty and sheepish a large, absolutely humongous portion of his fan base is and has always been. But, even though the guy has had a terrible year from practically every possible perspective, it certainly does not take away from the fact that this was the best project he’s put out since “Yeezus,” and it’s even better than that.
From the way Cudi floats across the hook of “Reborn,” to Kanye reverting all the way back to his G.O.O.D Friday flow on the standout verse on the duo’s title track, this is the best piece of work Kid Cudi and West have made in about five years.
5. “Tha Carter V” by Lil Wayne
Premier Tracks: “Mona Lisa,” “Problems,” “Start This Shit Off Right,” “Dope New Gospel,” “Perfect Strangers”
What more can I say about this album that I haven’t brought up over the past three weeks? Oh, so much. I can go on for days.
This is far and away Lil Weezy F Baby, Raw Tune, Tha Best Rapper Alive, Birdman Jr., or whatever the hell you want to call him, at his most personal, candid and genuine.
My personal favorite song, for some reason, is “Problems,” even though it sounds like it is no more than an ideal throwaway off of “IANAHB2.”
Kendrick’s verse on Mona Lisa is otherworldly. Most importantly, the album was better than it’s predecessor, “Tha Carter IV,” which didn’t even need to be in the grand scheme of Wayne’s discography. In every other song, there is a tidbit about him that no one really knew before, capped off by the brutally honest outro, “Let It All Work Out,” where he admits to his adolescent “slip-up” was no accident after all.
6. “DAYTONA” by Pusha T
Premier Tracks: All of them, pretty much; but, my favorite is “Come Back Baby”
There’s no doubt in mind that this is easily the most consistent, precise and damn-near flawless album that has come out all year. Be that because of a three-year waiting period or simply because each of the seven songs is quintessential to the iTunes library of any casual hip-hop fan, the project was the standout album of 2018, and then some.
As Kanye’s production rings off from the very start on “If You Know You Know,” to the bouncy kicks on “Come Back Baby,” the album’s outro shifted to a new page in the history of the heavily documented beef between Drake and the Pusher T Man.
All in all, “DAYTONA” is undoubtedly the year’s most memorable project, simply because it’s too hard to forget anything so precise.