There were so many great albums released in 2018, it was almost impossible to narrow this list down to the top 5…so we didn’t.
Nipsey Hussle released Victory Lap in February. Janelle Monae released Dirty Computer in April. The Carters released Everything is Love in June. Kamasi Washington released Heaven and Earth in June. Drake released Scorpion in June. Teyana Taylor released K.T.S.E. in June. Future released BEASTMODE2 in July. Ariana Grande dropped Sweetener in August. Lil Wayne released The Carter V in September. Noname dropped Room 25 in September. All ten albums produced hits in 2018. And none of these albums made our top five. Actually, none of these albums made our top 10. So we’ll call thes ten previously mentioned albums the “Honorable Mention” category right now.
This was the year of the EP, as a number of the best albums released this year were less than 10 tracks and generally less than 30 minutes in length. We completely understand the nature of the business, and why the EP trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but that’s another conversation for another day.
Our list isn’t compiled based on downloads, streams, sales, artist revenue, or anything of that nature. While this is a ranking, it is our ranking. We completely understand that it will be completely up for debate. Many of you won’t agree with our choices. But that’s why it’s OUR list. With that being said, lets dive right in…
Number Ten: Kids See Ghosts by Kid Cudi & Kanye West
There aren’t many times where you can say Kanye West detracted from a project, but despite West’s shortcomings lyrically, Kid Cudi carried the album. The 24-minute EP just left us wanting more.
Number Nine: I Used to Know Her: The Prelude & Part 2 by H.E.R
If you don’t know H.E.R., you might want to get to know her. This follow-up to the H.E.R. album in 2017, you get pure new age soul with The Prelude (released in August) & Part 2 (released in November). These were counted as one combined album just for saving space on this list, but both albums could have easily had an individual spot. The last year I can think of where an artist had two widely regarded albums was 1998, or The Year of DMX. Only difference is that each of these albums were 8-track EPs, as opposed to some of the full length albums that were released.
Number Eight: Ye by Kanye West
Red hat or not, Kanye West is a musical genius. While some of his personal battles may have overshadowed his musical talents in 2018, this album showed that the musical talent hasn’t been lost through his trials and tribulations. Don’t lose sight of the fact that he lent his production skills to a good portion of this list, he still has skills and can hold his own.
Number Seven: NASIR by Nas
This album is the feather in the cap of Nas’ career. The lyricism displayed throughout his career has kept him relevant over a quarter of a century, and this album doesn’t disappoint. The only disappointment is that the album was so short, with 7 tracks that spanned 27 minutes.
Number Six: The Color of You by Alina Baraz
Alina Baraz followed Urban Flora with The Color of You in 2018, and the album picks up right where she left off. This album undoubtedly showcases more of her vocal ability than her earlier work, and covers a wider range of topics. We didn’t get enough out of the 31-minute EP, which is one of our biggest gripes for many artists this year.
Number Five: Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B
There wasn’t one artist that had a more eventful 2018 than Cardi B. From nothing to something, Cardi B released this album full of hits and it kept her in the spotlight for the entire year. Beef with Nicki Minaj and relationship drama with Offset couldn’t overshadow the music, which broke records and thrust Cardi B into another stratosphere. Like her as a person or not, you have to respect her journey and what she has accomplished musically this year.
Number Four: 12 Little Spells by Esparanza Spalding
If you’ve never heard of Esparanza Spalding, you are definitely missing out. If you’ve heard of her, and haven’t heard this album, you should definitely be ashamed of yourself. This album should take home some awards in the jazz genre, but it has more of a new age R&B feel than traditional jazz. That really shows the evolution of music, and Esparanza Spalding is at the forefront.
Number Three: Championships by Meek Mill
2018 Clearly belonged to Meek Mill. One of Philadelphia’s favorite sons made his triumphant return from incarceration to release some of the best music we heard this year. This album would’ve been higher on the list if the growth shown by Meek Mill on this album wasn’t overshadowed by the host of guest appearances. With at least 13 other artists featured on the album, it seemed more of a compilation or mixtape than Meek Mill’s album, but we’re just splitting hairs at this point.
Number Two: KOD by J. Cole
J. Cole added to his growing legend in 2018 with KOD. There wasn’t much that this album lacked. It could have easily been the best album this year. Cole proclaimed that he’ll be around forever on “1985,” and with a complete lyrical masterpiece like this, we can’t argue otherwise.
Number One: Daytona by Pusha T
If there wasn’t enough controversy surrounding the album artwork, or the “beef” with Drake, Pusha T gave us all we can handle with this 7-track EP that didn’t lack anything musically. There wasn’t one track that you needed to skip, albeit the album was only 21 minutes of pure hip-hop. That may have very well been the only knock on the album, as it left us wanting more.