The 30 Best Albums of 2018
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
There was a consistent stream of good albums this year, but these 30 projects stood out above the rest.
1) The Internet - Hive Mind
The argument can be made that there were higher highs on other projects, but there were no more consistent albums in 2018 from front to back than Hive Mind. While every song is great on its own, the sum of its parts equal the best and most timeless record of the year.
2) SiR - November
SiR delivered on the promise of last years solid Her Too EP with a brief and consistent effort featuring highlights like D'Evils, Summer In November, Something New, and Something Foreign. The strongest release of the year for TDE, November sounds like it will stand the test of time.
3) Mac Miller - Swimming
Mac Miller released the lushly produced Swimming just a month before he passed away. Building on the vibe of The Divine Feminine, Swimming features Mac at his most introspective, though the mood is fairly upbeat throughout.
4) Sylvan LaCue - Apologies In Advance
Sylvan LaCue's long awaited Apologies In Advance delivered on the hype. While the best tracks were the singles released throughout 2017, the cohesion and constant stream of high quality lyricism combine to make this a top release of the year.
5) Noname - Room 25
While Noname has evolved since Telefone, her sound has thankfully remained warm and organic. Her lyrics on Room 25 trend more mature than last time around, but many of the tracks here are some of her strongest to date.
6) Smino - Noir
Smino dropped a classic in 2017, and followed it up with the moody, atmospheric Noir. While its not as consistent as blkswn, the highs (L.M.F., Hoopti, Kovert, Z4L) are all career highlights and showcase Smino's growth since blowing up last year.
7) Lupe Fiasco - Drogas Wave
Lupe's last album showed restraint and dialed back his grand statements in favor of a quick batch of pop songs. For Drogas Wave, his first independent release in a long time, he goes to the other extreme with almost 100 minutes of music spanning multiple genres and moods. While its far from his most consistent effort, there is something here for all fans of Lupe, and his signature wit and lyrical mastery are on full display here.
8) Charlotte Day Wilson - Stone Woman
Featuring the song of the year in Funeral, Stone Woman floats by with an atmospheric mood suitable for the night. The vibe is a little darker than her previous EP, but no less effective. Now we need an album.
9) The Underachievers - After the Rain
The Underachievers teamed up with Brasstracks and came out with their brightest music to date. I am personally a fan of their introspective psychedelic side, so After the Rain is one of their strongest releases to me.
10) Hollie Cook - Vessel of Love
The surprise release of the year is Vessel of Love, a remarkably consistent project that bounces from song to song with an uncommon grace.
11) J.I.D - DiCaprio 2
J.I.D firmly established himself as someone to watch moving forward with DiCaprio 2. His lyrical onslaught is apparent throughout the entire project, and the highs are among the best hip hop tracks of the year.
12) Saba - CARE FOR ME
Saba's CARE FOR ME is a much darker album than his Bucket List Project from 2016. The highlights are SMILE and PROM/KING, which showcases Saba's flow like never before.
13) Kali Uchis - Isolation
Kali Uchis should be a massive pop star after Isolation. Perhaps the best pop album of the year, Kali bounces between dreamy pop, international flavor, and gentle hip hop with ease.
14) Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts
The best of the Kanye summer releases, Kids See Ghosts is an unexpected detour for Kanye and Kid Cudi. The psychedelic vibe matches their lyrical content well, and the production is consistently excellent throughout.
15) Mick Jenkins - Pieces of a Man
Mick Jenkins released a dense, well thought out album in Pieces of a Man. While it doesn't reach the highs of Water(s) or The Healing Component, he flexes his growth and artistry throughout.
16) Nas - Nasir
Nas finally released his follow up to 2012's career highlight Life Is Good. On the surface, a seven track album produced by Kanye should have been the album of the year. Many have commented that Nas sounds tired and less effective than usual, and that the production is only mediocre. While its clearly not peak Nas, he still flexes his gifts throughout Nasir and rewards the real fans with repeated listens. The key here is expectations. If you go into Nasir expecting the best of Nas and Kanye, there will likely be disappointment. But if you go in with an open mind, there are gems here and it deserves mention on year end lists.
17) Rejjie Snow - Dear Annie
Rejjie Snow dropped an hour long project that delivered on the promise of 2017's The Moon & You.
18) J. Cole - KOD
One of the more high profile hip hop releases of the year, J. Cole released another thoughtful, introspective project with KOD.
19) Flatbush Zombies - Vacation In Hell
A culmination of years of promising releases, Vacation In Hell showcases a lot of growth from Flatbush Zombies. Tracks like The Glory and YouAreMySunshine prove that they have a lot to say.
20) Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth
Kamasi Washington continued to show innovation and influence in 2018 with the release of Heaven and Earth, which is also one of the most consistent releases of the year.
21) Ravyn Lanae - Crush EP
Highlighted by the sublime 2017 single Sticky, this short and sweet EP has a gentle, funky bounce that teases for more. Hopefully there is a Ravyn album in 2019.
22) Vince Staples - FM!
Vince Staples has been on a tear the last few years, and he continued his streak with FM!, a concise and quick-hitting album. Start with FUN! and go from there.
23) REASON - There You Have It
TDE's newest signee REASON had a big year, culminating in his debut release There You Have It. His no nonsense lyricism was a welcome addition to an already stacked roster.
24) Elizabeth Sharma - Dans le bleu
Elizabeth Sharma's tribute to Debussy is a welcome addition to the canon of Debussy solo piano releases.
25) Sylvan Lacue - Florida Man
Sylvan LaCue made sure to leave his mark on 2018 with a second full length project. Sylvan continued his hot streak of excellent visuals, releasing a music video for all tracks on this great mixtape.
26) Anderson.Paak - Oxnard
Anderson.Paak took his time releasing the follow up to his excellent Malibu project. While it doesn't get to the highs or consistency of Malibu, the highlights (namely 6 Summers and Cheers) are enough to remind of his remarkable talent and promise.
27) Frook - Dot the I's and Cross the T's
Frook released this understated instrumental EP that floats by in the background and stays in your head. Start with the ethereal Coney Island and go from there.
28) Pusha T - Daytona
Pusha T's Daytona was a benchmark 2018 hip hop release for many reasons. Publicity stunts, questionable album art, and bickering aside, the album delivers exactly what you'd expect from Pusha T over what may be Kanye's finest production work of the year.
29) mewithoutYou - (Untitled)
mewithoutYou continue to churn out high quality, moody post punk rock music that still defies exact categorization. Aaron Weiss shows that he can still pack quite a punch on the opening track, and the album never loses its intensity.
30) Georgia Anne Muldrow - Overload
Georgia Anne Muldrow reigned in her sound a touch on her Brainfeeder release Overload. That being said, she didn't compromise one bit, instead expanding her sound, and hopefully, her reach and influence.
Honorable Mention - Madeleine Peyroux - Anthem
Madeleine Peyroux came back strong with a highly listenable album full of gems. Honey Party and We Might As Well Dance are career highlights.