Alright off rip I’m sorry y’all, this piece mad overdue. This the albums of the year so far (AOTYSF) list. A young nigga got a job. Rise and grind; money calling. I haven’t had time to write as much as I’d like to, but I did learn Photoshop very quickly. My Africana Studies professor wants me to set aside fifteen minutes a day for positivity, so I will preface this piece with this:
I’m very thankful for the magnetic lasso tool.
Now lemme get back on my bullshit. This is my eighteen favorite albums of two thousand and eighteen so far, the first ten are just going to be listed, the next three will have an explanation of why they made this list, the final five will have a full breakdown. Don’t pay the order too much mind because it could be quite different come the end of the year, but for now this is how I’m boming.
18- Eat My Pussy- Queen Key
17- GOOD Job, You Found Me- Valee
16- A Girl Cried Red- Princess Nokia
15- Whack World- Tierra Whack
14- God Level- 03 Greedo
13- Self Titled- Kids See Ghosts
12- Jorja Smith- Lost & Found
11- My Dear Melancholy- The Weeknd
10- EVERYTHING IS LOVE- THE CARTERS
9- Dirty Computer- Janelle Monaé
8- Veteran- JPEGMAFIA
JPEGMAFIA set experimental hip-hop on fire with The Black Ben Carson and Veteran this year, but the latter is my pick of the two for this list. The project is immaculately constructed. The choppy, industrial-adjacent production challenges the boundaries of the already vague genre of “experimental”, and Peggy’s personality in the writing is wildly irreverent and enjoyable. Danny Brown is my favorite rapper ever so of course I love this record.
7- Nasty- Rico Nasty
Rookie of the fucking year, Rico Nasty came through with one of the most impressive debut albums in recent memory. She’s the most punk rapper in the game right now, and the combination of her fuck-everything bars and production from the likes of Kenny Beats and Tay Keith is something… different. An essential album that any hip-hop head needs to be bumping this summer.
6- Die Lit- Playboi Carti
Carti built on the foundation of his self titled project while returning to his Awful Records era sound. The album is airtight from start to finish, and it pushes the boundaries of the pejoratively named m*mble rap subgenre. It’s the most complete artistic expression from Carti and quite possibly the album of the summer.
5- Heaven & Earth- Kamasi Washington
No, it’s not a rap album like the rest of the list, but saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s sophomore effort topped the aptly named standards that his debut, The Epic, established. Kamasi continues to defy conventions and reinvent modern jazz with his boundary destroying, absurdly expansive sound. The commitment to lyrical vocals adds depth to his already unrivaled instrumentation and composition and delivers an album that is so compelling that it’s introducing a generation far removed from jazz to the movement.
Kamasi Washington is a true visionary, and is proving to be the uncontested king of contemporary jazz. He brings a kind of excitement to the sound that is incredibly refreshing, and has become an artist that commands the spotlight. It is a true blessing to enjoy writing about music during his reign.
4- CARE FOR ME- Saba
An emotional tour de force, Saba’s CARE FOR ME is a breathtaking project. The Chicago M.C. explores grief in such an encapsulating and nuanced way that provokes infinite thoughtfulness and replayability. The album perfectly marries trap, footwork and jazz and produces a sound that is equally Chicago and uncategorizable.
Saba was already an unsung hero in Chicago, but with CARE FOR ME he flexed an artistic muscle that none of his peers have shown. It is the most layered, complex and challenging record of its generation, and one that will be talked about in the NPR crowd for years to come.
3- 777- Key! & Kenny Beats
The trap hermit FATMANKEY came through with one of the most complete albums of its kind. A pioneer of the alternative trap, proto Soundcloud style, Key! has always refused the spotlight. However with 777, Key! asserted a musical mastery that cannot be ignored. His electric personality and chuckle conjuring lyricism are at full display on the project, and Kenny Beats’ boundary pushing production is given a perfect stage to shine.
The chemistry between Key! and Kenny is the story of 777, but the isolated talents of each artist are truly the album’s charm. Key! hovers over the instrumentals and delivers quotables and sharp flows on each track. There’s no skips, no filler, and the punchy thirty-five minute run time leaves the audience wanting more before the inevitable monotony of trap can set in. This is the kind of modern rap that forces old heads to stop and think, perhaps the most essential characteristic of the contemporary classic.
2- Punken- Maxo Kream
Punken is an ethnography. It is an exquisitely composed landscape of poverty and the American Dream in Houston, delivered by quietly the best lyricist of his generation, Maxo Kream. Maxo’s magnificent flows and immensely dense, layered lyrical style act in harmony with the melodic trap sonics of the album in a truly stunning way. Maxo has been providing thoughtful, challenging trap music for his entire career, but this project sets itself aside with its crystal clear vision and deeply ambitious artistic efforts.
On Punken, Maxo carries on the legacy of the Scarfaces and NWAs that preceded him. It is as gangsta as gangsta gets with the feel of a sociological study, bringing gangsta rap into the digital age in a way other’s in the genre could not. Tracks like Grannies and Roaches should be etched in stone, and Maxo tells the stories of the unseen and unheard, humanizing the most frightening and historically undesirable images of Black existence, totally uncompromisingly.
1- DAYTONA- Pusha T
Pusha T has long been one of rap’s quiet icons. His work with The Clipse is rightfully lauded in blogger, backpacker circles, and while his solo work has produced many moments of brilliance, he has failed to deliver a complete album. DAYTONA ended that run.
The album is a very quick twenty-one minutes, and every second demands full attention. Kanye West comes through with his best production since Yeezus, and Push provides bars few, if any, of his peers and progeny could. The undisputed king of coke raps, Push’s anticipated racketeering bars are ridiculously satisfying. Yet, it is the moments of introspection and brashness that steal the show on DAYTONA. Much has been made of the ammunition heavy Cash Money diss, Infrared, but it is tracks like Come Back Baby and If You Know, You Know that allow Ye’s production to blossom while leaving Push room to breathe. He inhales deeply, smelling the sweet scent of Kanye’s garden and responds with the musings of a former kingpin, and current icon in search of the praise he has denied himself. He does more then earn it, and DAYTONA is in a class of its own.