- Room 25 — Noname
The fact that Noname’s Room 25 is our album of the year despite its relative lack of promotion is truly a testament to the quality of the album. Every track wows on its own but gets even better within the context of the album. Its live instrumentation and Noname’s poetic vocals give Room 25 the feeling of it being just you and her, something no other album is able to achieve to the same degree. All in all it’s the most cohesive and surprising album of 2018 and is deservedly our number one.
- Dirty Computer — Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe’s latest release accompanied an “Emotion Picture” of the same name — a gorgeous combination of music video and narrative film loaded with social commentary. Like a lot of Monáe’s work, Dirty Computer follows a futuristic android (Monáe’s alter ego Jane) but confronts modern, human topics like race, gender, (pan)sexuality and nationalism. Standouts from the album include the Prince-inspired “Make Me Feel” and the powerful rap “Django Jane.”
- Be the Cowboy — Mitski
After Mitski released Puberty 2, nobody believed she could top it. However, Mistki surprised the world with Be The Cowboy. Mitski reached somewhere into heartbreak and loneliness to assemble a touching collection of indescribable but relatable feelings only she would be able to find for us all. From the surreal organ intro from “Geyser” o the dance-as-you-cry masterpiece “Nobody,” Mitski is once more capable of moving anyone to tears and feel vulnerable and so, so very small.
- Iridescence — Brockhampton
After a busy 2017, during which the group released the Saturation Trilogy, Brockhampton teased fans for the beginning of 2018 with multiple album titles. It seemed the group was all set to release their next album Puppy when they were hit with a #MeToo scandal which resulted in Ameer Van leaving the group. They spent the summer reinventing themselves before releasing Iridescence. Iridescence is shows the groups versatility and uncanny ability to capture the human condition. Joba not only fills the hole left by Ameer Van but completely reinvents the boy band’s sound to something that is even more unique and amazing.
- Whack World — Tierra Whack
Whack World is only 15 minutes long and each track is only one minute long. Tierra Whack’s bold, short album teases listeners with extremely good but extremely short songs that explore different emotions in an immensely creative way. She released a music video for the whole album in which the transitions between songs and different aesthetics used for each track greatly contribute to the experience to be had in Whack World. This year, Tierra Whack created a piece of art like no other female rapper.
- Swimming — Mac Miller
Swimming is Mac Miller’s final album. It his parting gift, his swan song. Since the 2011 release of his debut album Blue Slide Park, Miller has continually redefined himself as an artist on each subsequent release — and Swimming is no different. It is impressive, experimental and raw. Thank you, Mac Miller, for contributing to the soundtrack of our lives.
- KOD — J. Cole
Cole’s fifth studio album has a jazzy flow interweaving through its combination of bouncy trap songs and smooth, chill numbers. I had avoided listening to the whole album for a while out of general apathy, but thanks to the NBA using “Motiv8” as the theme song for the 2018 Playoffs, I felt compelled to give all twelve songs a try. Good thing, too. J. Cole spins popular SoundCloud rap flows into sophisticated lines contemplating addiction, trauma and finally breaking free of the chains of his past.
— Jeremy Markus
- The Carter V — Lil Wayne
Announced by Wayne to be his final solo album, Tha Carter V did not disappoint. Constructed with the lyrical genius and flow that lends Wayne to his greatness, the album exhibits the rapper’s versatility across a number of beats and lyrical concepts. Songs like “Uproar” and “Mona Lisa” point exactly to this with the former reminiscent of an early 2000s style beat, while the latter tells an elaborate story of robbery and theft with the aid of Kendrick Lamar. Featuring a number of artists, Wayne still emerges on top reinforcing his status as that of a great artist.
— Isabelle Philippe
- Astroworld — Travis Scott
I wouldn’t call myself a fan of so-called “cloud rap,” but something about Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD makes it an almost addicting listen. The ethereal production on tracks like “STARGAZING” and “ASTROTHUNDER” is perfectly balanced with harder-hitting performances on “SICKO MODE,” “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” and “WHO? WHAT!” Feature verses from Drake, Quavo and Takeoff of Migos and 21 Savage are solid additions to the vibrant, energetic album. Scott built up massive hype for his third studio album, and, dare I say, he delivered.
— Jeremy Markus
- Hive Mind — The Internet
Synth beats, sex and seventies influence. The Internet’s latest album, Hive Mind, perfectly encapsulates the millennial chic culture that has taken over our AirPods. This album contains highs so vibrant one feels they are at a disco (“La Di Da”), and lows so mellow one’s ears must surrender to the seductive vibrato of Syd (“Stay the Night”). However, it is “Look What U Started” that seamlessly amalgamates these highs and lows and makes one want to dance in front of a mirror. To listen to Hive Mind is to be momentarily transported into the oneiric, orchestral paradise The Internet has created for us. For a chill time, please listen.