Top five hip-hop albums of 2018

John Melendez

After surpassing rock as the most consumed music genre last year, R&B/hip-hop nearly doubled its lead over rock music as of June 2018 in Nielsen Music’s mid-year report. As streaming services have become the norm for music consumption, the volume of hip-hop projects released every week meant many albums held the spotlight for only a brief period.

Although there were countless noteworthy projects this year, here are The Daily Texan’s top five hip-hop albums of 2018.

5. iridescence – BROCKHAMPTON

The group’s signature loudness and uncontrollable energy combined with an occasional slow and melodic relief is a breath of fresh air that has helped propel the experimental hip-hop collective from semi-obscurity into the mainstream. iridescence proved the group can still push boundaries despite the absence of Ameer Vann, who played a major role in their music before he was removed due to sexual misconduct allegations. Their decision to include topics about queerness and sexuality also marks a victory in a genre with a
homophobic history.

4. Daytona – Pusha-T

Pusha-T’s third studio album is a seven-track record of raw, unadulterated lyrical ability that feels focused, vicious and leaves listeners wanting more. Produced by Kanye West, the album was the first and strongest of the five G.O.O.D. Summer album series West produced this year. Pusha-T’s sharp and seemingly effortless bars over sample-soaked beats transform him into a menacing hip-hop villain welcoming all challengers. From start to finish, the 21-minute project captures the grim essence of the master emcee’s signature drug rap.

3. ASTROWORLD – Travis Scott

Travis Scott’s third album was one of the most highly-anticipated albums of 2018. The beautifully intricate and eerie soundscape is an ambitious display of production and engineering. The haunting instrumentals and features like Frank Ocean and Swae Lee are key components of the sonic journey through the twisted and psychedelic amusement park Scott has crafted. ASTROWORLDis a captivating display of Scott’s brilliance, growth and vision that takes multiple listens to fully grasp its intricacy.

2. Swimming – Mac Miller

The late artist’s fifth and final studio album is a vulnerable trek through the dreamy and atmospheric vacuum of his mind. Miller places his fears and insecurities out in the open through introspective themes of pain and perseverance executed with infectious rhythm and uncanny flow. The album is a masterfully crafted look at beauty in the darkest recesses of emotion that says there isn’t always a happy ending. Swimming was Miller’s most ambitious project. It is a journey of self-acceptance that displays his versatility as a rapper, growth as an artist and the amazing potential of the music he could have created.

1. Black Panther: The Album – Kendrick Lamar and various artists

Although initially asked to create a few songs to accompany the Marvel superhero film of the same name, Kendrick Lamar ended up producing a full South African-inspired soundtrack album curated to match with the film’s themes of race. With an amazing collection of top-tier collaborations mainly consisting of Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates, the album delivers superior raps over infectious beats. The densely packed album is a milestone in the evolution of movie soundtracks as culturally relevant and
stand-alone pieces of art.

Honorable mentions:

Invasion of Privacy – Cardi B

KOD – J. Cole

November – SiR