In the land of hot takes and hyperboles ,being a person armed with nothing but your opinion has never been more fruitful. To makes matters worse 2018 also brought us an insane amount of music to digest, process, and give an honest and well thought out description of what and more importantly WHY we liked it. Since the first Friday of 2018 we were completely inundated with tons of music to sift through. Although it was an extremely daunting task, it was not impossible.
When someone proclaimed **Insert your favorite album of the week here** was the Album of the year on January 18th, I knew this year was going to be something that was unlike anything that we’ve ever seen or heard. Granted 2018 was the 20 year anniversary of quite arguably the last golden era of modern-day Hip-Hop. Every region of the country dropped classic material and has clearly stood the test of time, nostalgia aside it was just great music. 20 years later and the standard that was set still stands.
It was that narrative alone that stayed with me the entire year as I listened to each album. As a music lover, I felt it was my duty to compare what some called “instant classics” to actual classics and that was the metric by which I ranked many of the albums you have seen the past month. Choosing the Top 25 of 2018 was by far the hardest time I’ve ever had since I started doing official rankings many years ago. (6 years if you’re a real one and have been following me since then)
When I started listening to Pusha T’s “Daytona” I was completely blown away. Yes, I know Push has made a career out of “Couture Coke Raps” BUT there are many rappers from his generation that if they dropped this same album it would have sounded antiquated and would have been yanked on off the stage and Meme’d to death. This album albeit SEVEN DAMN SONGS felt like it was much more than its Sub 25 minute run-time would have let on. What soured the experience for me was that I don’t feel the album needed all the Drake controversy as the anchor in which this project was bound by. Adidon aside, Kanye West aside…Daytona was what the game had been missing but at what cost?
I’d be a Blueface..my bad Bold face liar if I told you I was not heavily anticipating Royce Da 5’9’s “Book of Ryan”. I felt like this would be the definitive Royce album. All the witty puns, double entendres , rappity rap lyrics that I could muster and it was there in abundance. So what’s the problem Leeb? I thought you were all about the rappity rap, lyrical ,miracle, spiritual ,centrifugal bars that you always beat everyone over the head with. Why isn’t this your Album of the year?. The answer…is quite Layered. What I mean by that is that Book of Ryan WOULD HAVE been the album of the year IF he didn’t drop “Layers” in 2016…its essentially the same album in terms of concept as HE explained it.
Many of you don’t want to say it aloud or even accept it, But Black Thought is arguably THE BEST RAPPER TO EVER TOUCH A MIC. listening to him spit is literally like watching Bruce Lee practice with nunchucks..its breath taking, exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Listening to Black thought forced me to put the pen down on many occasions and say “I can’t do that”. He is a true Master of the art form and Both “Streams of Thought Vol. 1 and 2” are a living testament to the true fact that I can’t rap like Black Thought and you can’t either.
January 20th, 2015 an album called “Tetsuo and Youth” was released to the general listening audience. Within that album lied an 8-minute operatic Opus known as “Mural” Any self-respecting fan of Hip-Hop that heard that track could not have with all honestly say that it was not the best song of that year and arguably of all time, if we’re talking pure lyrics. The bar was set and I began to wonder if it would ever be topped as many MC’s in the 3 years since tried but ultimately fell short. I even questioned if the one who penned Tetsuo would even top it considering his follow-up was so “light”.
September 21st, 2018 an album was released to the general listening audience. Within that album, contained a story about a handful of West Africans that would be known as “The Long Chains”. The Long Chains were a group of captives that dove to their supposed deaths than to endure a life time of bondage and pain. I say supposed deaths because The Long Chains did not perish, they instead survived and opted to live underwater and go about doing the work of sinking slave ships and giving the newly freed captives the choice of returning back to their respective homelands or stay in the sea to continue to free others from impending bondage.
Concepts like this don’t just happen. Concepts like this are born.This is myth making, this is world building, This is George Lucas creating Star Wars. This is Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and the rest of the Marvel minds that created the pantheon of modern-day Heroes. The Myth of The Long Chains came from one man, one mind, a brilliant mind…The Mind of Wasalu Muhammad Jaco.
…….Lupe Fiasco’s “Drogas Wave” is The Best Album of 2018