Sophia's Top 10 Albums of 2018
In my opinion, way too many projects came out this year. Mediocrity reigned supreme and only a handful of artists were able to release high quality tapes worth the listen. It was easy recognizing the tapes that stood out and provided the creativity and innovation that is cherished in rap music. Here are my top ten albums of this year, the albums I believe contributes to the sophisticated art of the culture.
10. Effected by Cozz
A follow up to his debut album Cozz & Effect, Effected provided the honest voice of a conflicted young man as he makes his way into adulthood. Cozz delivers a complete and genuine album that showcases his technicality and growing artistry. There is not one track that does not serve the album's purpose; and it is hard to ignore his impressive performances alongside rap heavyweights J.cole and Kendrick Lamar. Great album.
9. Daytona by Pusha T
There are two reasons why I ranked Daytona on the lower side of the top ten. I truly believe Pusha T displayed no growth from his last two or three albums and remained stagnant in his creativity. He remained one-dimensional and predictable in content BUT the man can rap. The second reason is Kanye's production may have camouflaged Pushas' creative weakness and low-key carried him in every track. Despite these reasons, Daytona's volume as a rap album is highly efficient and compacted with dark lyricism that is executed at the veteran level Pusha is at. A true rap album by definition.
8. Signed to the Streets 3 by Lil Durk
Signed to the Streets 3 is Durk's best album by far and achieved an entertaining and developed hood dialogue that surpassed its counterparts. Durk remained smooth throughout the project while continuing his melodic manner that still sets him apart from other street rappers. The R&B but hood vibes that his music has always consisted of was seemingly perfected with every song, not to mention maintained its uniqueness. Every feature on the album followed through in their performance and contributed gracefully to the album's ambience.
7. 777 by Key! and Kenny Beats
Even though it was announced a mixtape, 777 sonically accomplished more than the majority of albums this year which is why it is deserving of this spot. Key! and Kenny Beats' innovativeness in production and song creativity was not only distinctive but original in nature which was missing in a lot of albums this year.
6. Drip Season 3 by Gunna
An addition to the Drip Season series, Gunna further contributed to the Young Thug birthed sound that is so prominent in rap right now. Gunna's flow is so contagious and effortless every song that the beats are perfectly paired with it as well. There is no question that the album served its purpose to sustain the southern sound that has rap in a chokehold. It's sonically pleasing, effective, and the music's dynamic is capable to influence styles of rap in the near future.
5. Dicaprio 2 by J.I.D
J.I.D cements his place as a top tier lyricist with Dicaprio 2. He continues to be an unbelievable talent with rap skills ahead of his time and he proved that he can consistently create complete and substance filled albums with this one. Content, storytelling, versatility, technicality, emotion, and so on are all represented thoroughly within 50 minutes, making it easily one of the most impressive albums of the year. J.I.D is poised and confident with his controlled and almost mastered abilities to guide our attention in his music. In its entirety, Dicaprio 2 plays its role in contributing to the continuous social justice conversation that conscious rap usually revolves around. With his unique flexibility in switching flows and subjective lyricism, J.I.D's voice is firmly heard on this album and definitely makes it one of the elite albums of the year.
4. Care for Me by Saba
For some weird reason this album was one of the more slept on albums of the year but without question one of the best. The jazz/soul atmosphere of this album encompassed Saba's whole hearted bars that symbolized passion, compassion, and essence. Care for Me was noticeably carefully crafted into a wholesome album from the production to the last bars making it more than well rounded and significant. Saba's hopefulness and vulnerability effectively impacts the reception of the album for the listener because it is so emotion driven. The songwriting is also welly put together, probably the best out of any artist this year.
3. Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts
Start to finish, Kids See Ghosts is the most original and inventive project of the year. Kanye's elite ear and imagination is unprecedented with this project's sophisticated production. The variety of sounds and instruments that are manipulated into such great music was profound, Kanye turned a christmas sample into a hard rap beat ... who in rap is doing that ?? Cudi and Kanye both showed flashes of their vintage styles that fans fell in love with from the beginning. Cudi's harmonic vocals (especially his hums) were laid out so beautifully and used with a purpose of touching the listener every time. Kanye resorts back to his clever way with words but more polished and/or sincere on certain tracks. The iconic duo delivered a major influencer for the future.
2. Room 25 by Noname
Room 25 is simply a masterpiece. Probably the best female rap album to come out in the last decade and one of the best rap albums of the decade as well. Her spoken-word approach established pure authenticity to convey her experiences and message for her audience. Noname revealed her true self in the most casual and relative manner while laying out soulful substance about womanhood. The tranquil production done by Phoelix and herself was to perfection; there are no weaknesses in sight when it comes to the composition of this album.
1. Astroworld by Travis Scott
Travis Scott outdid himself on this one and the long wait was not only worth it but obviously pivotal in how great it turned out. Astroworld spoke for itself from start to finish, every track contained Scott's signature autotune, electro sound but taken to another level of complexity. Travis proved he can be not only a hit-maker but have bars as well which plays a significant role in elevating the album's performance. The production was excellent and incomparable to almost all albums this year, with each beat complimenting or bettering the one that came before. Travis captured the sound of this generation and this album can be pointed to for years to come to represent how great rap was in the late 2010s.
Honorable Mention: FM! By Vince Staples, Die Lit by Playboi Carti