2018: An Under Appreciated Year In Hip-Hop
Releases like Scorpion and Astroworld are what dominated commercial rap in 2018, and that is what many people remember it for. 2018 is often discredited as a weak year for Hip-Hop music, and personally I just don't see how that's true. Of course we had classic Hip-Hop records like Swimming by Mac Miller, Daytona by Pusha T and the Care For Me by Saba which are constantly talked about among fans of rap. Earl Sweatshirt and JPEGMAFIA were pushing the boundaries of rap on their critically acclaimed records Some Rap Songs and Veteran. And who could forget listening to I Am > I Was for the first time, hearing the surprise features and seeing how much 21 Savage has matured as a rapper. Those are what 2018 is remembered for, so today I'm going to discuss ten albums that have kind of gone under the radar since being released and show them some much deserved love.
Amen - Rich Brian
Rich Brian is an Indonesian born rapper who is quite honestly incredible. The artistic growth he's done being only four or five years in the industry is not mentioned enough and is comparable to that of Tyler, The Creator's with only two studio albums, Amen being his first. Rich Brian in general is not mentioned enough amongst the Hip-Hop community. On Amen Brian for the most part is just rapping, rapping really well at that. His lyricism is strong and witty but his storytelling ability is what really shines here. Tracks like Amen, Cold, Flight and Kitty all have coherent plots where Brian is able to paint vivid pictures and convey his message smoothly. Amen has been in my rotation since it was released and I'd heavily recommend giving it a chance.
DiCaprio 2 - JID
Compared to The Never Story, DiCaprio 2 is a lot more exuberant and in your face, which makes perfect sense since DJ Drama executive produced it. I personally find DiCaprio 2 to be stronger but The Never Story is more nuanced and cohesive as a whole LP. However DiCaprio 2 is JID at his best lyrically and carries a more eccentric environment. Hot Box, Skrawberries and Slick Talk are some of JID's best rapping tracks and prove he's more than a gimmick the way he's able to switch his flow and be just as entertaining. Not to mention Workin Out puts all the slow, moody and singing tracks on The Never Story to shame. DiCaprio 2 was just as good when it came out, but some people choose to leave it in The Never Story's shadow.
East Atlanta Love Letter - 6LACK
Not even just this album, but 6LACK as a whole is under-appreciated. He was one of the first singers to really fuse Trap and R&B and I think he's the second most important person to do this, right behind Bryson Tiller of course. East Atlanta Love Letter I would argue different in the sense it was more moody, atmospheric and personal than Tiller's TrapSoul. Pretty Little Fears with J. Cole has gone on to be a classic song over the past few years, not to mention several other amazing tracks here. Disconnect, Switch and Nonchalant are all classy and rhythmic while also keeping up the gloomy mood created by the album. 6LACK as a whole has gone on as one of the more underrated R&B acts in recent memory despite dropping one of the best R&B albums in recent memory.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes - Metro Boomin
One of the more underrated trap albums in recent years comes courtesy of essential trap producer, Metro Boomin. The features on here are of course great considering Metro has produced albums like Savage Mode II and What A Time To Be Alive. Throughout the album Metro builds a spacey and cloudy world for all of the artists to shine in. His transitions and outro's are on point on every track and it only makes the album even more invigorating. Obvious hits like 10 Freaky Girls and Don't Come Out The House with 21 Savage and Space Cadet with Gunna have gone on to be nearly forgotten. Deep cuts like Overdue and No More still hit to this day and the whole album deserves to be praised. This is easily a top five produced trap record of all time.
Oxnard - Anderson .Paak
I would argue that Oxnard is Paak's most rap based record. Of course all of them live in the world of Hip-Hop but he's doing the most rapping on Oxnard. The guest list is star-studded with Pusha T, Q-Tip and Kendrick Lamar all delivering standout performances. The LP as a whole is very well put together and is sonically cohesive. Songs like Smile/Petty, Brother's Keeper and Cheers are incredible and some of Paak best deep cuts in his discography. Tints with Kendrick Lamar is also a perfect track that you can listen to at any time. Oxnard is beautifully produced and deserves some more respect from the music community as a whole.
Supreme Blientele - Westside Gunn
Although Westside was more underground in 2018, this record is one of his bests and is not talked about enough. It has an interesting narrative, commenting on and often referencing the life of late WWE star, Chris Benoit. There are several tracks named after WWE superstars and in true Griselda fashion nearly every song has at least one reference to it. The production is more classic Griselda with the grimey sound but also some of Westside's signature luxurious samples. His rapping is some of the most captivating I've ever heard him, and tracks like Wrestlemania 20 with Anderson .Paak and GODS Don't Bleed with Benny and Jadakiss are staples in Gunn's large discography. With such a large output from Gunn he could be hard to keep up with, but Supreme Blienetele is definitely one of his bests.
TA13OO - Denzel Curry
This album received non-stop praise when it was released, and I don't really understand why the praise has stopped. Not only has TA13OO held up greatly, it's going to continue to age like fine wine. Denzel's ability to fuse trap and concise rap and bring it into the depressing but sometimes violent environment is brilliant. The famous dark to light way he released the album was also brilliant. Denzel is the most vulnerable he's ever been here, while also being the most confident. The whole album is sonically in check, with every song sounding like it belongs, but it's also extremely versatile for a thirteen song album, with Denzel tackling and mastering a handful of different sounds throughout. I think this album will be considered a true classic as time passes and in my opinion is a top ten album of the last decade.
Tana Talk 3 - Benny The Butcher
The Plugs I Met and Burden Of Proof are constantly praised as Benny's best work, and I agree that Burden of Proof is, but damn is Tana Talk 3 amazing. The production is so dark and grimy and some of Benny's best flows can be found on this album. All of the tracks on this album are amazing and memorable. Songs like Rubber Bands & Weight, '97 Hov and Joe Pesci 38 are classic Benny tracks where he is so lively and dangerous and represent the essence of what his music is. Fifty One with Westside Gunn and All 70 like Conway are also fantastic tracks where the instrumentals are more lavish and Benny is more personal. This whole record is just incredible and deserves more credit.
TESTING - A$AP Rocky
An album that was collectively dragged for being too experimental and not good when it first came out, I was one of those people too. Even just a year removed it sounded great, but with every listen this record gets better. You appreciate the sonic risks even more, the bold ideas, and the surprisingly cohesive sound to it all. The album is also surprisingly versatile and every track is worth listening to. Tracks like Fukk Sleep, A$AP Forever REMIX, Hun43rd and Tony Tone are all timeless to me and all showcase different aspects of what makes Rocky great. The sad tracks like Purity, Changes and Kids Turned Out Fine are depressing and make the album an emotional roller coaster. TESTING has actually seen a resurgence in people loving it which has been great to see people finally appreciating it.
Tha Carter V - Lil Wayne
An eighty three minute run time does not help Wayne in this case, considering there are a handful of misses, but the hits, they hit. The Carter V is nothing but a flex for Wayne showing he still has it nearly two decades later. Dedicate, Uproar, Can't Be Broken and Let It Fly are all great Lil Wayne tracks and do nothing but add to his legacy. The album as a whole has a few flaws but it is still great and definitely makes Wayne's catalog look even better. I feel like this album never really got talked upon release either and I don't get why. Anyways the real highlight of this album is Mona Lisa with Kendrick Lamar, that song is phenomenal. Wayne with every album that he could adapt and overcome and Tha Carter V is just another case of that.