The Sun’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

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. —Daniel Moran

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.

SWAN | This Should Be a Given

Last week, Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music. This was the first time that a non-classical, non-jazz work was awarded the prize. I love Kendrick Lamar and I thoroughly enjoy Damn., but nevertheless, my reactions to this decision are mixed. Not, of course, about whether Kendrick Lamar’s work is deserving of such acclaim; indeed, the musical complexity and poetic mastery present on Damn., as well as earlier albums like To Pimp a Butterfly, warrant the utmost critical respect.

Travis Karter: Saving Lives with Every Rhyme

I have always believed that hip hop saves lives. As Kendrick Lamar once stated in an interview, “People live their lives to this music.” Hip hop is a form that allows marginalized members of society to express themselves and let other marginalized people know they are heard. This, I have always known. But not until I heard the name Travis Karter did I come to understand that hip hop music has the ability to quite literally physically prevent people from dying. After hearing his newest album Phase III, there was only one way to understand this rising star’s intentions, to have a conversation with him.

Drake Brings ‘God’s Plan’ Down to Earth

“The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away. Don’t tell the label.”

Drake’s catchy and uplifting song, “God’s Plan,” has been his fastest to jump to top 10 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop charts and has not trickled down since. For over four weeks now, fans have been savoring this record, and many Cornellians have been bumping it on replay during fraternity parties and hikes up the slope. Drake followers were then stunned by his Instagram post last Thursday: a picture of a clapperboard with the caption “The most important thing I have ever done in my career…”

He did something a little different this time around.

TEST SPIN | Brockhampton — SATURATION III

For a generation who practically grew up on the internet, the age-old American adage of “Do It Yourself” has never loomed so tantalizingly close overhead. Want to make a music video for Youtube? Do it yourself.  Want to organize a rally on Facebook? Do it yourself.

GUEST ROOM | Linaje Originarios: Indigenous Hip-Hop and Cultural Promotion in Colombia

In the wake of the recent war between the FARC, the military and para-military forces, the current administration is attempting to distance Colombia from its recent war-torn history. At the same time, narratives of indigenous culture are perpetuated by the continuation of resguardos, Colombian indigenous reservations, while the myriad changes in governing systems create a narrative of evolving political systems. As a result, indigenous people and their cultural traditions are characterized as “past” or “dead.” Moreover, through the divorce from the recent war with the FARC — a group which has its roots in the same regions where many of the indigenous resguardos are located — the administration frames indigenous culture as part of the violent past, while simultaneously engaging indigenous people in a system which is systemically oppressive to indigenous ontology. The hip-hop duo Linaje Originarios is creating a space for productive political inclusion and cultural promotion that resists hegemony through their online hip-hop music videos in and about their native Emberá. The two cousins Dario and Brayan Tascón, who form Linaje Originarios, come from a resguardo called Valparaíso in the western mountain ranges of Colombia, where they spend most of the year working in the fields. When they are not working, the pair spends their time writing and performing their music on the streets of their resguardo or in the city of Medellín.