A Look Back: Top Hip-Hop Music of 2018
By: Ryan Schmidt
2018. The most insane and eventful year for the hip-hop and rap scene yet. Every single month my ears had the chance to listen to numerous new albums. This year has brought several new rap artists to light, including Lil Baby, Lil Mosey, Juice Wrld, and many more. Not only has this year introduced us to numerous new artists, but also had rappers break the most music statistic records we have ever seen. For example, Cardi B being the first solo female rapper to reach the number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 20 years and Drake beating the Beatles by having 12 Top 10 hits in 2018 instead of 11.
Here are my TOP 10 album favorites of the 2018 Hip-hop scene
(You can find all popular songs in the playlist down below)
Starting off the year with Migos releasing their highly anticipated Culture II album, with popular songs like “Stir Fry”, “Narcos”, “Motorsport” featuring Nicki Minaj, and “Walk It Talk It” featuring Drake. The music video, currently at over 270 million views on YouTube, made the “Walk it Talk it” song even more popular, as it’s inspired by the ’70s Soul Train homage featuring Jamie Foxx as Ron Delirious, the host of the fictional show Culture Ride. Everyone, including Drake, wears a ridiculous wig. Check out the “Walk It Talk It” video below.
Becoming one of the most favored movies, Black Panther did not only make people love the movie, but the soundtracks. The official music used in the movie was published in an album titled “Black Panther: The Album”. The tracks are curated by TDE and Kendrick Lamar, who make appearances on the SZA assisted lead single “All The Stars.” Plenty of big-name artists on this one.
Tory Lanez had another top five Billboard album debut, as his new LP, Memories Don’t Die, had entered the Billboard 200 at No. 3 after its first week out earlier this year in February.
Memories Don’t Die is Tory Lanez’s attempt to leave an indelible mark, to nurture a legacy that will outlive him. “People die every day but the memories don’t,” he sings gravely on the intro.
Popular songs include B.I.D. and Real Thing feat. Future.
April began with breakout artist Cardi B releasing her Invasion of Privacy album, breaking all kinds of records. You will be able to find her popular tracks like “I Like it” and “Bodak Yellow” included on it. She has since become the first woman in hip-hop to have three number one songs on the Billboard charts. Not only that, but she currently wears the crown for most simultaneous Billboard U.S. Hot 100 entries by a female artist. With 2018 coming to an end, all of the songs on her album are now “gold-certified”.
Later in April, J. Cole surprised the whole rap scene with his fifth studio album KOD.
Cole has said that K.O.D. has multiple meanings: Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed and Kill Our Demons. His new album shows Cole’s current status as a deliberate outsider, well versed in the hip-hop scenes machinations even as he refuses to take part in them. His righteous, substance-over-style image is enormously appealing. Not only was “KOD” received very well by fans, but also broke Apple Music’s 24-hour streaming record for having the most streams in one day.
Following J. Cole, Post Malone released his second album Beerbongs and Bentleys revealing a new side to his musical approach introducing a sound fans had not heard from him yet. Even if the album was not as strong lyrically, as Post Malone mostly sang about money, the trouble that comes with it and lost loves, it most definitely showed him raising the bar of his musical career.
On May 19th, so-called breakout artist of the year Lil Baby making an impression with the Drake assisted “Yes Indeed,” and his debut album is certainly an impressive affair. Harder Than Ever featured appearances from Gunna, Moneybagg Yo, Lil Uzi Vert, and more. Later that year, Lil Baby released two more albums “Drip Harder” with support from Gunna, and “Street Gossip”. Lil Baby’s hit “Drip Too Hard”, which was released later in the year, stayed at the top of the charts for weeks.
One of the now most popular newcomers is Illinois rapper Jared Higgins, also known as Juice Wrld. First crashing the Billboard charts with his two hits “All Girls Are The Same” and “Lucid Dreams”, Juice Wrld created his own space in the rap-scene through his unique and appealing new sound.
Later on in May he released his debut album Goodbye and Good Riddance in late May of this year, after being signed to Interscope Records. Juice Wrlds new album is a collection of songs with an emo-rap style about the tragic breakups in the life of a teenager. The album cover displays some of this musical adventure with an anime drawing of himself in a life crisis, sticking his middle finger out the window, leaving a woman in his dust. It’s a petty, juvenile gesture that fits hand-in-hand with his lead single and the general grouchiness of the rest of the album.
The most popular songs on the album, besides his two already hit singles, include “Black and White”, “Candles”, “Armed and Dangerous” and “Wasted (feat. Lil Uzi Vert).
Drake set the mood for Summer 2018 with his fifth studio album Scorpion. The central theme
focuses on the significance of fatherhood, other rappers speaking on his name, him dating many beautiful women at once, people who use social media in a strange way, and more lines we know from the typical Drake-freestyle. Popular song “In My Feelings” became a viral hit after millions of dance videos appeared on the internet of people dancing in front of their cars to the now famous “Keke, do you love me?” line. Scorpion. which became the first to score one billion streams in its first week and also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts.
Bringing the summer to an end, Travis Scott released his third album Astroworld this late August. It is inarguably his strongest to date. The albums name originates from a since-shuttered amusement park in his hometown of Houston, Texas. The album is filled with fluttering guitar lines, showy samples and gooey synths leaving fans impressed and speechless, loving Scott’s new music.
Up to four beat changes over the course of a five minute song seems like a lot. And yet, it works. Each new sound creates a new climax before a beat drop, each thrill bigger and more ridiculous than the last.