There’s a ton of music released every year, and unless you’re really on top of things, there’s a ton of great music you’re going to miss. It feels like there’s less and less music that I like, and it takes a lot of digging to find those gems.
That’s where this list comes in. Everything on this list is something that I thought was really good and saw little attention for online in forums, blogs, and on Reddit. I would have loved to do full write-ups on all of these records - lord knows they deserve it, but my son was born a few months ago and I simply don’t have time anymore. My hope is that some of the songs and album covers draw you in so that you can explore these artists. The “LISTEN TO” tags are all hyperlinks so you can check out some new music while you peruse. I used to create lists like this on Reddit, but I found it was much easier to build this at my own pace whenever I had time. Scroll to the bottom for a Spotify playlist that has almost every song on it (aside from those not on Spotify). Please share the playlist with friends so these artists can be heard!
Without further ado, here are 50 great albums that you may have missed from 2018.
A BREUKELEN STORY
MASTA ACE & MARCO POLO
Masta Ace is in my top 5 rappers of all time. A Long Hot Summer is one of my top records ever. So of course when Ace has a project coming out, I’m all over it. Marco Polo laced Ace with some amazing beats and the features on here are fantastic. This will be in my top 10 for 2018.
For fans of: eMC, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane
ORDER IN CHAOS
REKS & SHORTFYUZ
REKS has been one of my favorite MC’s since Grey Hairs back in 2008, so I was pretty hyped for this. Shortfyuz can have some hit or miss beats for me, but he was pretty good here. The one thing that may turn people off here are some severely homophobic lyrics that definitely won’t age well.
For fans of: Skyzoo, Masta Ace
For fans of: 9th Wonder, Nieve
TIMES LIKE THESE
For fans of: Hip-hop with live bands
For fans of: John Legend
SON OF YVONNE
DJ HAZEY 82
DJ Hazey 82 remixes classic wordsmiths with amazing producers. His other works include Native Tongues over Soulchef beats, Apathy and OC over Kno, and more. This time he mixed one of my top 5 rappers with one of my favorite new producers, Phoniks. The result is spectacular.
For fans of: Great mashups
Elzhi is killer with the pen. If you haven’t listened to his work with Slum Village or his solo efforts like Elmatic and Lead Poisoning, do yourself a favor. He’s joined here by Khrysis from the Jamla crew. His beats are overshadowed a bit by Elzhi, but it’s a smooth listen that makes me feel like a whiskey and a cigar.
For fans of: Slum Village, 9th Wonder
LET THEM KNOW
ROGUE & RELLY
Josi Green has always made quality music, but his production on this record (handled by Ro Marsalis and Gold Haze) is simply fantastic. If you’re unfamiliar with Green, check out his collective A.I.M. and his project F.O.C.U.S. from 2015.
I guess this is sort of “cheating”, since Knox still hasn’t put out his debut album, but he did release six or seven loose tracks this year and they’re all great. I have them grouped as an EP in iTunes. Don’t sleep on this guy, he’s on his way and 2019 could be big.
I just discovered Pittsburgh’s HUBBS this year, but quickly went through his back catalog once I did. This project is laced with laid back beats and lyricism reminiscent of Skyzoo or Torae. His effortless flow also reminds of me of Royce. Give it a shot. Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to have anything on YouTube.
For fans of: Royce Da 5’9”, Skyzoo
Joey Golden really impressed me with how effortless his flow seems. He’s an NYC rapper but doesn’t use typical boom-bap beats - they’re more sparse and mood inducing than what I’m used to liking from the area…but it works.
LIVING POETS SOCIETY
BLEZZ & TAPE-ROC
THE LAYERED EFFECT
Andy Cooper is one third of Ugly Duckling, but this is his first solo outing. He comes through over jazzy, funky production and touches on a lot of topics, some silly (Do The Andy Puppet) and some serious (like his place as a white guy in the game). It’s reminiscent of the Beastie Boys. If you like Ugly Duckling, check this out.
For fans of: Beastie Boys, Ugly Duckling
IVRY is a bit hard to classify. He doesn’t have the lyrical prowess that some on here do, but what he does spit he does in an interesting cadence. He sounds kind of like a more energized Curren$y and goes over some unconventional beats. Give it a shot if you’re looking for something fun and out there.
For fans of: Curren$y
DOWN TO EARTH
DOWN TO EARTH REMIX
A SENSE OF BLU
This is a mashup album by David Begun that pairs Blu’s lyrics over beats from Common’s Resurrection album. Like all of his mashup albums, this just works. While you’re at it, check out his Marshall & The Soul Brother mashup from last year. Amazing.
The Soulslicers are a Swiss beat making team that focuses on that East Coast boom-bap sound. If you dig that sound, check this project out - it’s 26 tracks and features rappers like Edo G, Skyzoo, Scientific, G. Dot, and more. There really is something for everyone on this tape.
For fans of: East Coast boom-bap, mid-90’s beats
STRANGERS OF NECESSITY
LIVE & MAINTAIN
THE SUN & THE MOON
GODZ CHYLD & JORDAN RIVER BANKS
A-MINUS & CHANES
ART NEVER SPOILS
ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN & DIAZ MILLENIA
For fans of: Big Pun, Fat Joe
For fans of: Soulful instrumentals
For fans of: Griselda
For fans of: Griselda
JAKPROGRESSO & ALOEIGHT
For fans of: Aesop Rock
THE NOMAD IN NO MAN’S LAND
WILDELUX & ROCCWELL
More boom-bap here in an easy to digest five track EP. Wildelux is nice with the pen and has a really smooth flow. Roccwell - the German self-professed “finest in boom-bap” - makes a good case with this release. Like I said, it’s only five tracks, but there are no skippable joints on here. Sit back and listen for twenty minutes.
For fans of: Blame One
I was drawn to Private Stock because of the Quelle Chris features and it was just what I was in the mood for. Hazy beats with quality wordplay. It’s not a happy album - it’s moody and full of heavy subjects dealing with relatable American life, but it’s good music that you can’t help but nod your head to.
For fans of: Quelle Chris, Denmark Vessey
For fans of: The Melanated People
For fans of: Ishdarr, Sylvan LaCue
HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS
For fans of: Jazzy, British music
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
For fans of: Big Brother, 9th Wonder
NICE 2 MEET YOU, AGAIN
For fans of: Othello, Termanology
RIP Mac Miller. You are truly missed.