With the year 2018 drawing to a close, the social fabric of The United States of America is reeling from a cultural (mis)appropriation continuum and racial sensitivities directed towards the Afro American community, in a land of supposed freedom for all. From this, the idea of a black man (or woman) expressing thoughts through his voice on a microphone – relaying what he sees in his daily life and circumstances dealt to him and those similar to him, is more vital than ever..
Rap as an art form of expressionism is as strong as ever in 2018, and from an artistic stand point – the culture has produced hundreds of albums this year; painting pictures that hope to reach out to a common American, and global sentiment.
This are Revison Music’s four favorite rap albums from 2018 that we believe, you must listen to in full before the year ends:
Amine – ‘ONEPOINTFIVE’ (Released on Republic Records 15 Aug 2018)
Amine’s trademark blend of rhythm play and melodic hooks put him on the rap map with ‘Caroline’ in 2016 with 223 million views on Youtube, which was followed by a debut 2017 album ‘Good For You’. 2018’s album offering from the West Coast rapper sees him pick it up from where he left off, nailing in studio performances of his unique rap style to great effect.
Great beat production is evident throughout ONEPOINTFIVE, especially on the track ‘Reel It In’ with its mind elevating flute and harp samples. Most of the tracks on this album run for less than 4 minutes, and this probably helps with captivating the short attention spans of most music-streaming listeners.
Features on this album include G Herbo, Gunna and Rico Nasty, which says alot about Amine’s purpose – quality over quantity, bringing along the homies for the ride and not being labelled a one hit wonder.
Warm Brew – ‘New Content’ (Released on Redbull Records 5 October 2018)Keeping on the West Coast tip, Los Angeles based Warm Brew’s ‘New Content’ album deserves a mention. Most of the tracks on this album drip and ooze with an insatiable G-Funk flavour. Backed by rap flows and rhyme schemes that sound more old school cool than new school hype, the trio bring a laid back style that is much needed today.
The lead track ‘Player Way’ featuring Wiz Khalifa contains a silky chorus hook and harmonies that push deep with an uplifting quality – picture rolling up to the house party or club in your modest Toyota (or OFO bike) with your closest homies.
On a more serious artistic note ‘Psychedelic’ is retrofitted with 70s funk and blaxploitation samples, meant for after hour spots, where conversation topics tend to decrease and vibes grow abundant.
‘Ricki Lake’ is a tough and rough number with hypnotic piano notes with a grinding bass line in the track – which promotes heads down, eyes closed and shoulder bouncing or shrugging movements – while ‘Butane’ is pure quality with deep guitar licks and retro samples. Keep a look out for more Warm Brew in the coming years.
Black Milk – ‘Fever’ (Released on Mass Appeal Records 23 February 2018)
Known for previous work with Slum Village, J Dilla, Lloyd Banks, Pharoahe Monch, RZA, Danny Brown and Black Thought, along with his 7 studio albums since 2005, Black Milk’s 2018 album ‘Fever’ is a producer’s master class. All writing, production, mixing and mastering is done by Black Milk himself with session musicians jumping in on selected tracks and makes this album an auteur’s dream.
In true DIY fashion this process sees a master piece born, where the style of the music is not constricted to the typical trap beat or banger. ‘2 Would Try’ is a deep, broken beat number spanning a brilliant arrangement, with Dwele featuring on the chorus.
Lead single ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’ is an afro-futurist’s dreamscape containing afro percussion and afro-centric speech samples simply pushing the boundaries of what the backing music of rap could possibly be. An underground music style like this along with Black Milk’s story telling style of rap turns this album into a brilliant artistic piece.
Noname – ‘Room 25’ (Self released on 14 September 2018)
The female rapper & poet’s first studio album following mixtape in 2016 is a stellar work of an artiste. Filled with live instrumentation, the album is a breath of fresh air as the music ventures into vintage neo-soul territory. The album opens up with conversations reflecting on the 2018 state of black America on ‘Self’ with how an individual can influence her environment and circumstances.
‘Don’t forget about me’ is a straight soul number with a boom bap beat and feels like a mid-90s ode to black culture, with live instrumentation skillfully woven into the production. Again, her poetry influenced rap style speaks of a message regarding a legacy she may leave behind after death and what a human cannot bring spiritually to the afterlife, like the plastic surgeries of Hollywood and its earthly charms.
‘Montego Bae’ with Ravyn Lenae is an excellent musical and vocal arrangement set to a musical back drop of jazz fusion while tinges of nu-age R&B with Smino and Saba on ‘Ace’ pushes this album towards modern yet accessible styles, which keeps the artiste relevant in this day and age. Without a doubt, this album has to be one of the best rap albums of 2018, containing the most innovative ideas, along with messages for the children of the future.