2018 has been a monumental year for music. We’ve had multiple albums that will go down in history, and each of those albums without question had at least one song which meant something much greater to music as a whole than a simple song. We’ve had songs breaking stigmas on suicide, drug use and the problems with modern society, plus we’ve had some out and out floor fillers too. To clean things up, each artist was entitled to one space on our list and nothing more.
20. Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel
This year saw the release of Dirty Computer, Atlanta artist Janelle Monáe’s electrifying third studio album, a record first teased with two tasters: Django Jane and Make Me Feel. The latter is our first entry on this list, and for very good reason. Having worked with Prince on the entire album before his death in 2016, this track bears the most resemblance to the late Minnesota legend’s work, but is infused with a contemporary twist, resulting in an undeniably contagious pop banger.
19. Daughters – Less Sex
My first listen to the new Daughters album was chilling, it left me feeling so musically inspired but also so very uneasy. The mellow nod of that album comes in the form of Less Sex, a six minute long builder of a track as the band explore mental health trauma but also the coping mechanisms of such. Mixing subtle, hushed instrumentals in the verses with loud, expensive electronic production in the hook is a risky move; but when it sounds like this who cares?
18. Czarface & MF DOOM – Meddle With Metal
In one of hip-hop’s most exciting collaborative efforts of the year, legendary underground king MF DOOM joined forces with wily lyrical assassin Czarface on a great album together. It was this single in particular that stood out, mainly thanks to the medieval military sounding production coinciding with some huge rhyming displays from two mic dominators. This one really was “barmaggedon” as Czar stated.
17. Kali Uchis feat. Tyler The Creator & Bootsy Collins – After The Storm
Early in the year Kali Uchis finally delivered big on her debut album, Isolation, and to nobody’s surprise, it was brilliant. It was also to nobody’s surprise that frequent collaborator Tyler, the Creator hopped on a track. The two compliment each other time and again and it was no different here. The soulful and quite frankly beautiful voice of Uchis blended together with Bootsy and Tyler in a magnificent way creating a feel good song for the entirety of 2018.
16. James Blake – If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead
A one off single from James Blake early in the year has remained on my playlists for the entire year. It was Blake at his very experimental best as the song feels so jerky and at points broken, but in reality that’s why it’s so good. It’s a total trip, shifts in the songs vocals and production along with quality yet creepy pitching of Blake’s vocals makes this a sombre and moody piece of brilliance.
15. Tyler The Creator X A$AP Rocky – Potato Salad
Released on A$AP Rocky’s AWGE DVD Collection, Potato Salad has Rocky and good friend Tyler sharing the stage dropping bars about, clothing, fame and fortune over a classic Kanye beat. Tyler and Rocky both give us some of their very best content of this year rapping with a cool flow and clever put together word play. The songs music video suggested this won’t be a one off collab effort as there was a hint at WANGSAP coming soon. Whether it be a clothing drop or an album, I expect nothing but the best from two of the biggest.
14. Pusha T – If You Know You Know
If You Know You Know is the very first track from the first record to come from Kanye West’s “Wyoming Sessions”, and rap vet Pusha T makes no hesitation when it comes to delivering venomous bars, and West’s production- featuring a razor sharp guitar sample- renders the instrumental simply killer. Lyrically, Pusha T converses on a topic he’s talked about his entire career: his history as a drug dealer. Any discerning fan of his will be familiar with his past, but if anyone can still make it sound as lethal as this, it’s King Push.
13. Saba – PROM/KING
PROM/KING tells two tales miles apart from each other. PROM details how Saba and his cousin John Walt became so close throughout the lead up to their proms. KING details how Saba was in the studio when John Walt had been killed. Both halves of the song show incredible passion and intensity and gives off a real old school vibe. Saba doesn’t have a load of crazy theatrics around him, and that’s probably why he’s a lot less known than most of the people on this list, but when it comes down to it, he’s one of the best pure rappers the game has to offer.
12. Blood Orange – Charcoal Baby
Sensual and seductive while also being elegant and empowering, Devonte Hynes, otherwise known as Blood Orange, came through with the performance of a lifetime on single Charcoal Baby. The blissful guitar chords, the angelic vocal harmonies and the simplistic song structure make this a must listen. Easily one of the best R&B tracks of the last few years.
11. Death Grips – Dilemma
2018 saw Sacramento rap rogues Death Grips delve further than ever before into the experimental rabbit hole. What surfaced from the depths was Year Of The Snitch, a record that hinges more on genres like punk than it does hip-hop. Single Dilemma, featuring an introductory narration from Andrew Adamson (yeah, the guy who directed Shrek), is an exemplary display of this transition, laden with ominous, buzzing synths and the sort of guttural vocal performance we know frontman MC Ride all too well for.
10. Kids See Ghosts feat. Ty Dolla $ign – Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)
Kanye West and Kid Cudi making a prog rock anthem with Ty Dolla $ign harmonising them? Yes please. Kids See Ghosts was a whirlwind this year and easily one of the best experimental steps taken by anyone in the music industry; with Freeee being the ultimate blueprint of that. It has a punchy, gritty rock instrumental with some wonderfully uplifting lyrical play as both Cudi and Ye proclaim they “don’t feel pain anymore” because they’re “freeee”. Yes, yes, 100x yes.
9. Kanye West feat. Kid Cudi, PARTYNEXTDOOR & 070 Shake – Ghost Town
The release of his eighth studio album, Ye, this year saw Kanye West bear all, resulting in a record loaded with emotional highs and lows. Ghost Town is perhaps the finest example of the former, because here, Kanye expresses a sense of pure liberation. The psych-rock instrumental and rapturous melodies echo works of The Beatles, making for one of the most joyous tracks West has ever released.
8. Denzel Curry – Clout Cobain
Denzel Curry propelled himself to the upper echelon of rap this year with his insanely good album, TA113OO. Clout Cobain was released as a promotional single for the album, leaving everyone scratching their heads in the madness. The fact that the track is something totally different to the usual made this song that bit better than it could’ve been. Curry put multiple layers in this song, from Soundcloud rappers chasing fame and fortune to haters dreaming of his downfall. Additional layers such as the links to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain made this song of lyrical genius.
7. Childish Gambino – This Is America
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Childish Gambino exploded back not only onto the music scene earlier in the year, but back onto the rap scene. Accompanied by the a massively popular music video, Gambino dropped a track that massively questioned the state of America, particularly the gun crime and racism in America. The likes of 21 Savage, Young Thug, Quavo among more were guest features on the song dropping some of their classic adlibs.
6. Brockhampton – WEIGHT
The worlds best boyband dropped one of the best songs of the year as Kevin, Dom and Joba took centre stage to rap about the weights they feel they carry. Kevin discussed his sexuality and not feeling good enough, Dom discussed family and backstabbers while Joba discussed drug misuse. Such a plethora of lyrics would usually be the major talking point of a song, but this one has a production to actually outmatch the lyricism. A beautiful garage inspired instrumental breaks up the song as well as an amazing sample/interlude towards the end of the song which incorporates a solid beat change.
5. Anderson .Paak – Bubblin’
At the half way mark of 2018 we had Anderson .Paak’s Bubblin’ as our number one song of the year so far. It might have slipped down a little but a top five is nothing to be ashamed of. Anderson showed one of his many faces with this track. While he’s more than capable of playing it cool with a chill vibe, he proven here that he’s also capable of an out and out rap banger. His multiple flows on the quality beat was enough for .Paak to be placed among raps very biggest and best hitters. One will always wonder why this track wasn’t included on Oxnard.
4. Joji – SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK
With absolutely no disrespect to the man himself, but how has Joji made something this good this quickly into his career? Joji got into a style of music many wouldn’t have predicted when he released one of the biggest modern ballads of this year. A song full of emotion through it’s lyrics and delivery, Joji is questioning is true feelings towards someone. The great vocal display is accompanied by a quality production which brings together all the respective vibes of the song for one phenomenal performance.
3. A$AP Rocky feat. Kid Cudi, T.I. & Moby – A$AP Forever REMIX
Say what you will about A$AP’s consistency in the rap world, but he’s without question dropped one of, if not his best song ever with this A$AP Forever REMIX. Enlisting the help of Kid Cudi was sheer genius as the bass heavy beat and Cudi’s vocals blend together perfectly. That along with Rocky’s quality delivery and the perfect sampling of Moby were all signs of Rocky’s sheer brilliance when he puts his mind to it. A rap song that will go down in history.
2. Travis Scott feat. Drake, Big Hawk & Swae Lee – SICKO MODE
Arguably the biggest song of the year in terms of blending commercial success with genuine sonic brilliance, Trav enlisted the help of Big Hawk, Swae Lee, and most importantly Drake. The song is split up into several different beats for Trav and Drake to hop on creating a totally unique track unlike any other this year. All the beats are solid as is the delivery of both Trav’s and Drake’s bars. Going forward this song and ASTROWORLD as a whole will without question inspire a new wave of artists and a totally new style of beats and raps.
1. The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
Without question the song of the year for us, unanimously voted for by all three Viberant owners. Matty Healy and the gang returned to music this year with a bunch of singles that culminated in their album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. One of those singles was Love It If We Made It, compared to We Didn’t Start The Fire in it’s revolutionary importance, Matty gives us his most impassioned vocal yet listing off a world of modern issues through his heavy verses. The hook is a total juxtapose to the verses as Matty radiates a positive vibe suggesting that throughout all the negatives, we can make it. A sublime song more than deserving of our song of the year.