On New Year’s Eve, we dropped our favorite 15 Hip-Hop albums of 2018 with a promise we’d be back with 15 more projects that will be worth your time. For this list, we’re focusing on the releases of last year that we enjoyed but didn’t get to spend enough time with, regrettably.
Like all year-end lists, this one will most likely omit a favorite of yours, or we’ll miss the mark completely on projects that should get our attention. We get it, but even as studious as we were, some albums just fell out of our field of vision. In an attempt to correct that, we’re going to list 15 projects of last year that were undeniably dope and deserving of more airtime.
Check out our top 15 Hip-Hop albums of 2018 in alphabetical order. And why 15? Everyone does 10 or 20, we dare to be a little left of the usual sometimes. We also didn’t add streaming links because we think that if you’re on the Internet, you also know how to use a search engine, so go forth and make us proud!
Please ignore the numerals on the side. Thanks!
1. Chris Crack — ‘Being Woke Ain’t Fun’
Chicago’s Chris Crack was busy this year, dropping six projects that all could be in this slot. The one we engaged the most was Being Woke Ain’t Fun, mostly because the album title alone is worth it. But the amazing thing about Crack is that he’s not one of these underground rappers afraid to experiment or even laugh at themselves. And with that, he’s nice. Extremely.
2. Chuck Strangers — ‘Consumers Park’
The Pro Era collective are best known for being the crew that brought Joey BadA$$ to the masses but other crew members are very capable in their own right. Enter Chuck Strangers, a producer-rapper who, with his album Consumers Park, invited the world to his particular corner of Brooklyn. Although Chuck is now based in Los Angeles, the location switch has not dulled the east coast potency of his work.
3. Hermit & The Recluse (KA & Animoss) — ‘Orpheus vs. The Sirens’
If you’ve never heard Ka, then you’re missing out on one of the best lyricists to ever put voice to recordings. There’s something in his raspy, gritty tone that hits the soul and that’s even more evident on Orpheus vs. The Sirens. Alongside producer Animoss, Ka directs the listener on a journey that can’t be captured in a few short sentences. This is an album you absolutely need to sit with, preferably alone.
4. Jean Grae X Quelle Chris — ‘Everything’s Fine’
We really deserve egg on our face for sleeping on this one. Those who know are very clear that Jean Grae and Quelle Chris have strong catalogs as soloists but together, they bring the absolute best and weirdest out of each other. Attempting to explain what Everything’s Fine is aiming for will be difficult. But take it from us, settle in, do nothing, use whatever enhancements you must, and press play. You’re going to hear something that will move you more than once.
5. Lupe Fiasco — ‘Drogas Wave’
Lupe Fiasco can now count himself among the veterans of the game, especially as he moves into other business ventures outside of music. However, his latest studio album Drogas Wave proved that the Windy City star still has pictures to paint and stories to tell.
6. Mick Jenkins — ‘Pieces Of A Man’
Mick Jenkins is an artist that has always shown and proven himself to be part of the conversation when it comes to young rhyme slingers, but Pieces Of A Man is a shift as he gets more personal, with attempts to play with jazzier music and real-world concepts. Chicago has been rich with talent for years, and Mick Jenkins adds to that legacy.
7. MIKE — ‘Renaissance Man’
MIKE isn’t even drinking age and yet, his chilling verses sound like the world-weary tales of a man who’s seen far too much to forget. Renaissance Man is one of four projects he released this year and while the others are exceptional pieces of work, this release is the most fully-realized of them. To the untrained ear, it will come off as “sad rap” but it’s far from that. It actually encapsulates what it means to be Black and young in America, dangerous as that has been for young men and women like MIKE in recent times.
8. Nipsey Hussle — Victory Lap
Nipsey Hussle’s mixtape grind is one of legend, and the hard work over the past decade paid off handsomely with his debut studio album, Victory Lap. Yes, Nipsey straddles the fence between gun-slinging banger to righteous corner preacher, and he sprinkles a little braggadocio in there for good measure. The end result is a project that sees the Los Angeles native staking his claim in a market that needs his brand of street wisdom.
9. Phonte — ‘No News Is Good News’
Phonte Coleman has nothing else to prove in Hip-Hop, and he’s proving that fact since moving into other genres and arenas. But for what it’s worth, the world needed an album from the former Little Brother frontman for various reasons. In his words, No News Is Good News is “an album for people with sh*t to do” and we completely get what he means by that.
10. Pink Siifu — ensley
Pink Siifu doesn’t fit into any neat category. Rapper, producer, artist. He’s a lot of things and they’re all on display on ensley. You don’t get to know much about Siifu’s Alabama roots or what happens in his current Los Angeles base, at least not with an immediate listen. Instead, the album plays almost like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. We wonder if Pink Siifu created this meandering, beautifully messy project like this on purpose.
11. Planet Asia — ‘The Golden Buddha’
Since the late ’90’s, Planet Asia has been one of Hip-Hop’s best pure rhyme spitters and that tradition continued on in 2018 with his album, The Golden Buddha. Truth be told, we could have put his album Mansa Musa in this slot and been just as satisfied but something about this project stands out. It could be the fact that the production is among the most knocking we’ve heard King Medallions rap on in years.
12. Roc Marciano X DJ Muggs — ‘KAOS’
Roc Marciano had one hell of a year, releasing RR2: The Bitter Dose and Behold A Dark Horse with much fanfare. However, we feel that his project alongside DJ Muggs, KAOS, might be the best of them. The rhymes are still very sharp but the production, which has never been Marci’s issue, fits him even more than before. We didn’t get enough of this album in for the year but we’re fixing that now.
13. SmooVth X Giallo Point — ‘Medellin II’
SmooVth has toiled on the underground alongside Hus Kingpin and other notable collaborators with several tracks that will get the rewind. Of all of his projects, his second collaborative project with producer Giallo Point provides for some bone-chilling music. The star of the show is SmooVth undoubtedly, but Giallo Point put together a soundtrack for moving work or doing dirt.
14. Trapo — ‘Oil Change’
Wisconsin has something to say, according to the emergence of the talented Trapo. His third project Oil Change, which is billed as an EP although it’s 12 songs deep, has Trapo sounding well beyond his years. For a young man who is staring at his 21st birthday, the wisdom and depth of this project is astounding.
15. Vic Spencer — ‘A Smile Killed My Demons’
There was a lot of Vic Spencer music to sort from this year, including the super solid Spencer For Hire alongside SonnyJim. The Chicago MC raps with a huge chip on his shoulder for the most part, and that is quite evident on the sometimes somber, repeatedly dope A Smile Killed My Demons. It’s a simple formula of good beats, good rhymes, and primetime sh*t talk.