2018 has been the best year for music I can remember. Nearly every major artist released some sort of music throughout the past twelve months. And for the most part, it’s all been incredible.
But, I’m not here to discuss music as a whole; I’m here to talk about my favorites. These are both my favorite albums and songs for 2018. I’ve narrowed these lists down to ten each, but there’s an honorable mention in the songs category.
Let’s start off with the most important list: albums.
10. beerbongs & bentleys — Post Malone
I am not a fan of Post Malone by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t like his ridiculous face tattoos, his outlandish statements about rap as a whole, or his desire to want to do everything imaginable to make himself age so fast. But, his album was a welcome follow-up to his first. “Sugar Wraith” and “Better Now” are two of my favorites, and throughout the project, he consistently provides memorable hooks and harmonies that are so calculated, it’s impossible to not sing along.
9. ASTROWORLD — Travis Scott
Although not meeting my own personal expectations, Travis still delivered one of the best albums this year. It’s the hidden gems like “ASTROTHUNDER” and “HOUSTONFORNICATION” that make this project enjoyable after many listens. Yes, “SICKO MODE” is a good track, but Travis’s consistent beat choice and cadences throughout bring together a solid effort by Travis.
8. ONEPOINTFIVE — Aminé
Fellow Ethiopian-Eritrean American and hip-hop nerd Aminé released this project on very short notice, and what it resulted in is his best project to date. “REEL IT IN” and “WHY?” are clear standouts, yet as a whole, Aminé shows us for the first time that he can put together a concise and punchy project.
7. Oxnard — Anderson .Paak
I wish this was higher on my list. Especially if you read my post on Anderson .Paak, you knew how much I wanted this to be incredible. That being said, even if it may not be the next Malibu, it is his raw emotion and soulful voice that puts this album on my list. “Headlow” featuring Norelle and “Cheers” featuring Q-Tip are two to listen to.
6. FM! — Vince Staples
What do you get with the funniest rapper in the world with one of the greatest radio hosts? A funky, west coast gangster rap project by Vince Staples with interludes featuring Big Boy’s Neighborhood, Tyga, and Earl Sweatshirt. I didn’t know it was coming out until it released, but I’m so glad it did arrive. Try “Outside!” and “Tweakin’” from the project.
5. East Atlanta Love Letter — 6LACK
I’ll get to this later in my songs list, but for some reason, 6LACK, black, 6-lack, whatever you want to call him, finally clicked for me. And I’m so glad it did. His vocals are mellow and flow seamlessly throughout the project, and most of all, his stories about his child are told with a passion that won’t be forgotten for me personally for a while. “Switch” and “Loaded Gun” are my two favorites.
4. Swimming — Mac Miller
This album grew on me in the weeks following its release. Then, suddenly, Mac passed away. And s I listen now, you see how much he’s fought and worked so hard to live, to grow up. No album this year has this much soul, this much emotion, this much meaning, especially with the events of this past year. If you can only listen to a few songs, check out “Self Care” and “Come Back to Earth.”
3. Black Panther the Album — Kendrick Lamar + TDE
I love this album. There is nothing I dislike about it. After watching the film, re-listening to the project just makes so much more sense. The lyricism from Kendrick and Ab-Soul, the harmonies from Zacari and SZA, and the hooks from SOB X RBE and the Weeknd help make this all-star effort impactful. “Paramedic!” and “Black Panther” are the two best tracks on this one.
2. Lost & Found — Jorja Smith
First solo debuts are always a challenge for any artist. But Jorja delivered on every single metric for me in the R&B category. You’ve got upbeat, mellow, freestyles, and most of all, instrumentals that help bring out the strongest in her voice, with NO features! The best songs are “Teenage Fantasy” and “Where Did I Go?”
1. Daytona — Pusha T
Just as my list for last year with 4:44 at the top, this year’s top spot has no competition. Gritty lyricism, powerful stories, and the best production on any project this year. Push terrorized every single beat with bars unparalleled in their consistency and delivery. Plus, this album’s added bonus is that it helped spark one of the greatest rap beef songs of all time: “The Story of Adidon.” 21 minutes of straight fire is the result of “the luxury of time” as Push likes to say, and this album is my favorite this year. My two best picks from the album are “Santeria” and “The Games We Play.”
Here is the playlist of my favorite tracks from my favorite albums.
If you don’t have time to listen to projects, don’t worry! Here are my ten favorite songs of 2018. Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist.
Honorable Mention: “Star Wars” — Joe Budden (unreleased)
I’ll only mention this because it is so incredible. During an episode of his podcast, Joe Budden played an unreleased song that fans call “Star Wars,” and had it been mixed and released in higher quality, it would be higher on my list. The bars, the samples, and Joe’s flow are exactly where you’d expect to be. I’ve linked a decent version I pulled from YouTube to add to my phone.
10. “Beauty & Essex” — The Free Nationals featuring Daniel Caesar and Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Three of my favorite artists on a track that was released so quietly, yet I nearly missed it. It slowly became one of the most groovy songs this year and is worthy of a spot on my top ten.
9. “REEL IT IN” — Aminé
This song cemented Aminé’s ability to create another song that could rival his 2016 platinum hit “Caroline.” Whether this version or the remix with Gucci Mane, this song will make you dance in ways you didn’t know how. I’ll do the eskista whenever I jam out to this one.
8. “After the Storm” — Kali Uchis featuring Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins
This song released so early in the year, yet I still always return to it for Tyler’s flow and Kali’s catchy hook. It’s made my list, and I recommend it to you on a long car drive. It puts you in such a good mood.
7. “What’s Free” — Meek Mill featuring Rick Ross and JAY Z
Had this song released earlier on the year, it would be higher on my list. Nonetheless. JAY Z delivers on this track the best and most important verse of 2018 here, and it is clearly the best period. Combined with strong efforts by Meek and Rick Ross, “What’s Free” is a powerful statement on the status of black people here in America. It is the best six-minute song in a very, very long time, without any boring points.
6. “Bubblin” — Anderson .Paak
Happy days? Sad days? Have no fear because Anderson .Paak delivers on this one-off single that is the black James Bond anthem. The music video is off the rails funny and the 808s are bananas. Head nods for days with this one. Definitely check it out!
5. “Next Up 47” — Deno Driz
This track isn’t necessarily a song, as it’s a freestyle, but nonetheless, it deserves to be here. Deno Driz is a 16-year-old Eritrean singer from the UK and went viral on social media a few years ago. Since then, he’s written for Stormzy and worked with Skepta. Whether on songs in his group AJ X Deno or in this solo effort, his voice is what makes him so unique.
4. “Come Back to Earth”/“Hurt Feelings”/“Self Care” — Mac Miller
I wasn’t going to put tied spots together but these songs all hold a special place in my top ten. Whenever I wanted to be motivated to get a stronger voice, to reflect, I played these songs. Mac’s last two albums really spoke to my own struggles to try and find who I was, and these songs are the culmination of all of that.
3. “Teenage Fantasy” — Jorja Smith
I know this song technically came out in 2017, but I only discovered it this year and it’s on my second favorite album this year. I’ve never sung along more to a song all year than to this one. In the car, walking, studying, this idea of a teenage fantasy I expanded it more towards my own life of wanting this idealized future for myself. I’ll talk more about all of this next week for the last post of the year, but I just appreciate this song so much. You should too.
2. “Paramedic!” — SOB X RBE
The first time I realized I loved this song was when I decided to crank the bass up in my car. The beat drop changed everything, and I get excited every single time it does. Even if it’s connected to one of my favorite films this year, I still have to say that the song as a whole is absolutely sensational. The west coast snares and synths help bring out this Bay Area group’s best. Add to it a Kendrick Lamar hook, and what you get is my second favorite song this year.
1. “Switch” — 6LACK
Yet again, the Joe Budden Podcast continues to share with me incredible hits. This time, it just happened to be my favorite song in years and my favorite song of 2018: “Switch” by 6LACK. I’ve played this song for hours on repeat, on the train to my internship, and in every single possible scenario. My family seems to be sick of how much I play this song, but I could care less. It’s so catchy, so honest, and puts you in that zone that you can feel like you can do anything. If anything, it says for me that I should do more to empathize with those around me.
There it is! This is usually one of the longer blog posts every year, but I hope you’ve found some great songs and albums to listen to! I’ve made playlists for my top ten songs and the recommendations from my favorite albums at the links below:
I’ll see you all next week for the year-end blog. Till then…
Being Noah Tesfaye #60: My Favorite Music This Year!
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