2018 has been a quality year for music across all genres, here’s our top 20 albums of the year so far.
20. The Weeknd – My Dear Melancholy,
Half way to a return to the old Weeknd. My Dear Melancholy showed glimpses of his Trilogy brilliance early doors but couldn’t maintain for it’s six tracks. While Call Out My Name was one of Abel’s best tracks for years this short EP might have left The Weeknd in limbo. With a bit of luck he can continue to evolve rather than plateau.
19. ASAP Rocky – Testing
Clunky in places and perhaps a few tracks too long, the long awaited Testing was often hit and miss with some sloppy tracks and some of ASAPs best ever tracks. Incredible features and a couple monster tracks helped this album make the list. Perhaps it’s biggest disappointment is the anticipation we all had for this album. An album full of ASAP Forever standard tracks would be top of our list, so hopefully Rocky can pull it off one day.
18. Kyle – Light of Mine
The happy go lucky debut album of Kyle was a welcomed surprise. Something that I would assume wouldn’t make the list before it’s release ended up being a breath of fresh air in the rap world that’s filled with deep meaning. This album was a fresh and unique debut that’s going to allow Kyle to move onto bigger a better things for his career.
17. Various Artists – Black Panther The Album
More than good enough as a stand alone album, this was a nice change of pace for one Kendrick Lamar. As a main collaborator for the album, Kendrick worked with an abundance of stars for the album, including his Top Dawg friends as well as rappers such as Vince Staples, Future and RnB star The Weeknd. despite all these stars, the album blended brilliantly and genuinely felt like a solo album rather than a soundtrack.
16. Rich the Kid – The World is Yours
Rich’s debut solo album was a success in all ways imaginable. Quality beats mixed in with an abundance of rap stars featuring made for several fun and fierce tracks. Rich has a knack for creating bangers from “New Freezer” to “Plug Walk”, something that I can see Rich the Kid develop over time as he evolves into an even better artists. For a first attempt at a studio album, this was an absolute treat. Nothing but out and out bangers that slap from start to finish.
15. Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
Another quality 2018 debut here, this time from a Critics Choice winner. At the age of 21, Jorja Smith has delivered in a big way with a consistently great album. It’s an album anyone can vibe to, it merges multiple genres together for a seamless blend. Quality vocals throughout was to be expected and this laid back debut is likely to propel Smith into an amazing career that we all expect.
14. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino
A massive change of pace here for Alex Turner and the boys, a welcome change of pace. AM tried something different with this album as they swapped heavy guitar rifts for mellow piano pieces. Opinions were divided on the record as it became a love it or hate it album with many feeling that this was a step in the wrong direction, a statement I disagree with. I see this album as a lyrical evolution and a step forward in the production aspect, where they go from here however, is a mystery.
13. Ski Mask The Slump God – Beware the Book of Eli
At 21 minutes and no song going over the three minute mark Ski Mask’s album was short and sweet. Filled with wacky and humorous lyrics throughout as he references Bob the Builder all the way through to fruit loops, vampires and Quagmire. While the project is cartoonish and fun it still showcases Ski Mask’s killer flow which simply cannot be ignored. The Ski Mask stock skyrocketed with this release and we can only expect better from the 2018 XXL Freshmen.
12. Jack White – Boarding House Reach
With hip-hop growing greater and greater in public appeal, rock has been consigned to the sidelines. As such, it could only take one of rock’s mavericks to bring life into the old dog, and Boarding House Reach is evidence that Jack White is more than up to the cause. All of the eccentricities that you would expect from White are on full display on a grand scale, as the former White Stripe’s experimental ventures certainly make for a compelling listen.
11. Kali Uchis – Isolation
One of my most anticipated albums of the year lived up to my own personal hype in every way. Undeniably smooth and finely tuned, Uchis’ debut album gave us everything we could’ve asked for. While features made for an extra spark in interest, it was all about Uchis’ slick vocals over some mighty fine melodic beats. Tracks like After The Storm, Miami and Just a Stranger have all aged like a fine wine and remained a staple of any 2018 playlist. An album with little to no weak spots at all has pushed Uchis into the next level of stardom and I can’t see anything but bigger and better things from here on out.
10. The Voidz – Virtue
The second album from The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas’ pet project The Voidz, you could argue that Virtue is a more entertaining listen than what The Strokes would have to offer at this point in their career, and I’d have to agree. Casablancas and co. use just about every tool in their artistic repertoire, as near enough each song explores an entirely different genre- from lo-fi, Ariel Pink-esque synth pop to crashing, cacophonous hardcore punk. A fantastic effort from one of indie rock’s most treasured icons.
9. Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
2017 saw Josh Tillman release his most ambitious project to date, in the form of Pure Comedy, his third full length record under the moniker Father John Misty. Tillman didn’t wait around when it came to a response, and while God’s Favorite Customer doesn’t offer the grandiose soundscapes that Pure Comedy did, the more direct sound featured here fits perfectly with Tillman’s revered silver tongue. Humorous, heart-breaking, and brilliantly captivating.
8. Rejjie Snow – Dear Annie
Informed by 80’s slow jams as well artist such as Pharrell Williams and Tyler, the Creator, Dublin MC Rejjie Snow raised plenty of eyebrows with pleasant surprise in the form of his debut studio album, Dear Annie. His aforementioned influences are evermore apparent on this record, as luscious, jazzy instrumentals lay the foundation for Snow’s steady, cool delivery. Singles like “Egyptian Luvr” and “Charlie Brown” are the only proof you need that a grand career lies ahead for an artist who, in the grand scheme of things, has only taken his first few steps.
7. MF DOOM & Czarface – Czarface Meets Metal Face
When Czarface and MF DOOM collide it makes for one of the most interesting albums of the year. With heavy production and the quality flow we’ve come to expect from every man involved, the album popped. It showed off the coolness of the underground scene to perfection. The whole theme of superhero’s and villains was exceptional to the point where the album felt like it was the soundtrack to a comic book inspired movie. DOOM and Czarface have since dropped more tracks on a short EP which felt like the belonged to this piece, proving their skills and chemistry twice over.
6. JPEGMAFIA – Veteran
Entirely self produced, Peggy’s 2018 release saw a change in style for the Baltimore rapper who chose some slightly more melodic beats than usual to partner with his astonishing delivery. Production is key on this album. From the crazy samples to the bass heavy beats, JPEG gave us one of the best experimental rap albums in recent memory. It’s a beautiful form of chaos that cannot be replicated, it’s daring style and boldness made this not only JPEG’s best album yet, but one of the very best of the year.
5. Pusha T – Daytona
From one bonafide veteran to another, Pusha T has made a lengthy and prosperous career with rap duo Clipse along with a handful of solo records over the past 5 years. Renowned for blending gritty personal tales with the typical swagger that you would expect from his contemporaries- you’d be foolish to think Push would try anything different here. Featuring production courtesy of Kanye West, Daytona is short, sweet, yet undeniably hard-hitting.
4. MGMT – Little Dark Age
Having already released 3 studio albums, including the widely acclaimed debut Oracular Spectacular and sophomore effort Congratulations, Little Dark Age saw MGMT step back and change their approach when it came to piecing together their fourth release. What resulted was an undoubted return to form for the Connecticut based duo. Jam-packed with gloomy disco anthems and psychedelic-fuelled odysseys, singles like “When You Die” and the title track make up some of their best work to date.
3. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
The third in a series of G.O.O.D Music releases in 2018, the self titled debut of the Kanye and Kid Cudi super group was fascinating. The pair showed bucket loads of chemistry as Cudi found his best form in years. Themes of mental health echoed through this artistic masterpiece as Ye lets Cudi shine bright. Psychedelically yet always stunning production from Ye allowed this record to push the boundaries and gave G.O.O.D Music a third win in as many weeks. It’s organised chaos in the best way possible and something I sincerely hope isn’t a one off.
2. Kanye West – Ye
From a Kanye collab to a Kanye solo effort. People had thought he’d lost it, that was madness. Ye got his 8th number one album of his career with his album Ye, his most heartfelt and genuine album since 808’s. It was masterfully produced and expertly written. This was Kanye’s fall from grace, he no longer claims to be a God, but a mere mortal, it was an intense and thrilling album from Kanye who’s proven once again that he’s a true GOAT. Bravo Kanye once again.
1. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
From her self-released debut album, The Audition, some 15 years ago, Janelle Monáe’s talents as a singer and songwriter have long been on display. Subsequent releases The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady saw Monáe paint deep, conceptual worlds into her music, and her third studio release may just be her magnum opus. Tracks like “Make Me Feel” and “Screwed” are homages to black pop icons such as Michael Jackson and Prince, the latter of which had previously collaborated with Monáe. In equal parts empowering as it is sensual and fun, Dirty Computer is a vibrant celebration of race and sexual identity, and a record that deserves to be remembered for a long time.