Home Lists The Best Albums of 2018: EMCEE Staff Picks

The Best Albums of 2018: EMCEE Staff Picks

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16Astroworld, Travis Scott

Travis Scott completed the vision of bringing his childhood theme park to life through the experimental art of Astroworld. Atstroworld delivered the twists and turns with some of Scott’s most personal lyrics yet, along with utlizing the past and present of H-Town to create the biggest beats and the best guest list he’s ever come up with. “Who put this s*** together? I’m the glue,” Scott proclaimed on “Sicko Mode”. That glue has bulit one of the best rap albums of the year. At 17 tracks, Astroworld is like any theme park: There’s so much to see.

— Loreal Nix, staff writer

15Isolation, Kali Uchis

Even though she has worked previously with the minds of Tyler, The Creator and Kaytranada, Columbian songstress Kali Uchis needed a project that will help her  disclose her identity as an artist. Isolation invites you through Kali’s world of paradise, pain and self-discovery through up-tempo Funk, Pop and Reggaeton beats. Songs like “Miami” and “Just A Stranger” makes a statement of female empowerment through the world of money and drugs, while “In My Dreams” describes the desire of an ideal perfect world away from violence and drugs. Isolation paints a flawed canvas of Kali, perpetuating universally relatable emotions and perspectives that fits right along the growing era of R&B music.

— Loreal Nix, staff writer

14Hive Mind, The Internet

Hive Mind dropped in July of 2018 as the group’s 7th project. What I loved about this project the most is how much the Internet were able to keep their originality and style in tact while also seriously differentiating Hive Mind from the likes of Feel Good and Ego Death (a couple of their past projects) for an example. Hive Mind shows musical growth for the band and for lead singer, Syd’s voice. She presents her vocal skills in this album more than she ever has before and the music that the band composed together has a definitely more sophisticated sound. But don’t let me make them sound boring with my words, the album was still as unique, creative and positive as they usually are. But all of these changes brought much better melodies and lyrics. This project is super powerful all together.

— Sage Sanders, staff writer

13Last Day of Summer, Summer Walker

Summer Walker is an up and coming artist from Atlanta, Georgia who recently went viral with her music video to her most popular song, “Girls Need Love”, recorded in ATL’s infamous Cascade Roller Rink. Her album, Last Day of Summer dropped soon after that. People have instantly fallen in love with Summer because of her soothing voice and the way she represents sexual freedom for young women in her music. She makes it known that it’s okay to be open and say what you want as a woman even if everyone thinks it’s “improper” to say it.  My favorite songs on the album are “Deep” and “Smartwater.” Almost every song tells a different story and empowers women in some different way or situation. I’ve listened to this album everyday since it dropped.

— Sage Sanders, staff writer

12Dear Annie, Rejjie Snow

From start to finish, Dear Annie was one of the most creative, enjoyable and one of the best albums of 2018. Rejjie Snow, an up and coming artist from Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Dear Annie fuses jazz and hip hop, which creates a record that’s unique in today’s landscape of music. There was nothing gimmicky about the album. There wasn’t just a saxophone with a jazz beat playing for a couple of songs. There is variety in this album from songs like “Dear Annie” which is very much uptempo and funky. You can’t help but express joy once the 808’s drops. “Rain” is a slow pace, no build up, with the cadence, flow painting a very much somber mood in a  rather sexual song. “Egyptian Luvr” is the perfect balance regarding pacing and tempo—one of my favorite album of the year. The discussion around the album is similar to the album itself. It ’s low-key, only being appreciated by those who admire art that doesn’t bring attention to itself.

— Stevenson Altidor, staff writer

11Love Me Now, Tory Lanez

As a Miami native, this album encapsulates the sunshine state and everything I love about it. The palm trees, the beautiful weather, fashion, art. That’s what this album creates musically. Lyrically, underneath the beauty of Miami is an emotional roller coaster ride.  The yearning to be appreciated while we have a chance to reciprocate it. You could make the case that this isn’t one of the best albums of the year. If we’re honest, this isn’t in my top 5 of albums of 2018. However, from the melodies to the beats, to the features, this one of the more enjoyable albums of the year. How can you listen “Why Don’t You Love Me?” and not feel torn about someone you used to love. “You Thought Wrong” is my personal favorite of mine. It’s infectious, the melody Tory uses is effortless to grasp. I enjoyed how the chorus was stripped musical the second time around, which gave Tory sing with emotion. What it lacks in a clear theme, the musical experience will warm you up even in the coldest climate. The album feels like I’m in Miami every time I listen to it, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite albums of 2018.

— Stevenson Altidor, staff writer

10Redemption, Jay Rock

Jay Rock dropped Redemption back in June but it’s still the most rotated project as 2018 closes out. That is due to Rock’s ability to create consistency on multiple wavelengths. Refer to “The Bloodiest”, “ES Tales”,”Rotation 112th”, and “Redemption” for proof but any song will hold true. Those who haven’t heard one of the more true to life lyricists in hip-hop are in for an experience. Redemption also contains one of J.Cole’s top features, “OSOM”, in a year where he was constantly showing up on projects, making great songs greater. Jay Rock’s Redemption, is a standout project in 2018 on replayability and substance alone.

— Phillip Boudreaux, staff writer

9Off The Top, Southern Super Friends

The Southern Super Friends, SSF for short, became my automatic dark horse of the year after the first listen to Off The Top. Summer ‘18 was one of the most impacted years for hip-hop. Listeners were drowned week after week with project after project, anyone who kept up deserves a medal. Yet, SSF’s  Off The Top is still a project I revisit daily. “Monaco” and “Balenciaga SS/18” hold their ground as top tracks of 2018 alone and should be included in the appropriate lists. The project blurs the line between kick back tracks and late night drive ambiance with sounds like “Coachella 3003” and “Temporary”. SSF doesn’t take themselves too seriously but Off The Top is a project that seriously needs to be heard.

— Phillip Boudreaux, staff writer

8Nasty, Rico Nasty

Nasty brings out all sides of herself in her latest album Nasty which was released in June. She plays different roles in every track, especially in the songs “Rage” and “Trust Issues” where she brings on a little punk edge. On the other hand, the song “Why Oh Why” gives a bit more of a melodic feel, but the message is still clear- that Rico is definitely a boss bitch. The album also highlights the beautiful relationship Kenny Beats who produced most tracks on the album,  and Rico has and the marriage with their artistry. By far, Nasty portrays the range and versatily Rico Nasty has and why she’s someone to be on the lookout for the next year.

— Honey Sanoria, staff writer, playlist curator

7Ballads 1, Joji

88rising resident “Joji” drooped his debut full- length album Ballads 1 and it’s undoubtedly his best work up to date. He brings soul and R&B and adds his own electronic punk twist.My favourite song on the album, “WHY AM I STILL IN LA” starts with Joji’s melodic side, then climaxes into a punk vibe with heavy drums, then quickly goes back down back to melody while still keeping the rockstar heavy influence with the electric guitar.  It’s also clear in this album he brings his range of vocal deliveries. From his falsettos in “TEST DRIVE” to his happy pop feel in the Clams Casino featured track “CANT GET OVER YOU”, Joji let’s you know he can do it all.

— Honey Sanoria, staff writer, playlist curator

6TA13OO, Denzel Curry

For this third studio album, Denzel Curry shows us a side of him that we had never seen before during his eight years in the game. Curry gave us an album in three acts: Light, Gray, and Dark. Light being of a more blissful tone, Gray being sobering and sorrowful, and Dark being engulfed by a cloud of rage. Each act provides us with contrasting tones while still carrying recurring ideas that dominate the album. One song after another, the South Florida rapper is able to go from uplifting and joyful – showcasing a surprising singing ability – to melancholic and brooding. It’s both impressive and befuddling to see that the same guy who crooned melodies on “BLACK BALLOONS” was able to deliver such a sharp contrast towards deranged anger on “VENGEANCE.” Curry delivers a rollercoaster ride of emotions from beginning to end in his most versatile project yet and one of the most ambitious albums of the year.

— Joe Anthony Myrick, staff writer

5East Atlanta Love Letter, 6lack

For his sophomore album, 6lack manages to exceed high expectations followed by his debut project, Free 6lack. While his first project was dominated by a gloomy tone, East Atlanta Love Letter displays a newfound range on behalf of the artist. In response to both the success he’s received in the last two years and in the wake of becoming a father, 6lack gives us something a bit more upbeat, optimistic, and grateful. This time around, the Atlanta born singer/rapper showcases a more confident, introspective approach to storytelling. Each song bleeds into the other with strong supporting performances from J. Cole, Future, and Khalid with uncredited vocals from Ty Dolla Sign and Tierra Whack. The finished project is a satisfying, personal outing for 6lack that provides us with the best that the R&B genre has to offer.

— Joe Anthony Myrick, staff writer

4Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt

Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs was a pleasant surprise to wrap up the year with. While the album itself is quite short, with a total runtime just under 25 minutes and its longest song being 2 minutes and 45 seconds, Some Rap Songs is densely packed with songs featuring incredible moody, lo-fi, and experimental production and blunted, to-the-point, and vulnerable lyricism from Earl and his collaborators. Each track, both sonically and lyrically, feels like a snapshot of Earl’s thoughts and reflections on his life thus far. Some Rap Songs is a display of both Earl’s personal and musical maturation. We can only imagine what his next project will be like.

— Wesley Stroud, staff writer

3Devotion, Tirzah

Tirzah is undoubtedly one of alternative R&B’s most idiosyncratic voices. Her latest album, Devotion, is an avant-garde treatise on love. The strength of the album lies in Tirzah’s and producer Mica Levi’s to coordinate the odd, interesting choices of instrumentation and structure with the candid portraits of relationships shown with every song. As corny as it sounds, I found that Devotion has a distinct ability that I’ve only found in Frank Ocean’s magnum opus, Blonde: the ability to carry you through your latest heartbreak and sound like no other song you’ve ever heard.

— Wesley Stroud, staff writer

2Ye, Kanye West

Despite the mixed reviews, Kanye’s eighth studio album Ye is, in my opinion, a hit. Maybe I’m biased because I was invited to the private album listening party in Wyoming on May 31st or maybe the meticulously curated 7-track album has iconic songs all the way through. From the nostalgic chorus 070Shake sings in “Ghost Town” to the brutally honest thoughts of Kanye West on “I Thought About Killing You” to the classic Ye sound, production and messages. I had this album on repeat all summer long and it was a summer of G.O.O.D Music.

— Taylor Dall, founder and owner of EMCEE

1Don’t Forget About Me, Demos, Dominic Fike

This is not only one of my favorite albums of 2018 but also one of my favorite breakout artists of 2018. The 6-track EP released by Columbia Records with a total of 14 minutes showcases a guitar-based alternative sound with multi-genre versatility. Dominic sings playfully with a tinge of sadness which shaped the project into a wholesome album. I look forward to what Dominic has in store for the world.

— Taylor Dall, founder and owner of EMCEE

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