Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 7): Saba vs. Travis Scott
We have our opinions on the best releases of 2018, but rather than simply tell you our pick for #1, we thought it would be more interesting to hear what you, the readers, believe is the Best Rap Album of 2018. With that in mind, we decided to make our Best Rap Albums Of 2018 list a living breathing conversation, that would ultimately lead to you, the readers, choosing which album is the best of the year. Throughout December, we will pit albums against one another, battle style, and your votes will determine the winners.
We’ve chosen 15 albums that we think represented the best Hip-Hop of 2018. Inevitably, we left off some LPs that you believe should be included, so, we held a wildcard round (with a write-in option) where readers picked the album they feel most deserved a spot on the list.
The bracket-style competition among the final 16 albums has begun. Each weekday, albums will face off against one another. In each case, voting will close after 24 hours. We will go from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8 to the Final 4 to the Championship Finals, with one album emerging as the victor. The sixth match-up is between Saba’s CARE FOR ME and Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD. Make sure your opinion is heard and gets counted (click on your album’s artwork in the box below, then click “vote”).
Saba – CARE FOR ME
Grief, fear, loneliness, and depression can all separately stand as incapacitating barriers for an individual. When present in unison, it would be easy to just not be. For much of the last two years since releasing the eager and hopeful Bucket List Project, Saba was suffocated by a combination of the above obstructions. With music and the studio acting as the Westside of Chicago rapper’s lifelines though, CARE FOR ME ultimately formed as the light that cut swiftly through the darkness. That’s not to say that Saba’s third full-length album isn’t bleak, because it’s certainly veiled in agony. However, if there were ever a modern day LP that deserved the oxymoronic label of being beautifully tragic, CARE FOR ME is the one. Heartache stemming from the fatal stabbing of his older cousin John Walt is found throughout the entirety of the album, but Saba also visits anxiety and racial profiling (“BUSY/SIRENS”), tainted love (“BROKEN GIRLS”), his family’s life-long anguish (“LIFE”), gang violence in Chicago (“CALLIGRAPHY”), the unhealthy dependence on social media (“LOGOUT”), and the cruel nature of the music business (“GREY”). In an industry where the line between show and reality is increasingly blurred, Saba’s ability to paint a real-life picture with his words throughout CARE FOR ME has firmly situated him as one of the most promising storytellers in all of Hip-Hop. – Michael Blair
Released: April 5, 2018
Label: Saba Pivot, LLC
Guests: Chance The Rapper, TheMIND, Kaina
Producers: self, daedaePIVOT, Daoud
Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD
On his third studio album ASTROWORLD, Travis Scott raises the ghost of a Houston, Texas amusement park that was shuttered in 2005. What that means in terms of sound is layered, rich Southern Rap that is not afraid to take an experimental ride. This 17-track release has as much in common with Psychedelic Rock as it does with Trap. The highly-conceptual effort features an army of producers and a laundry list of high profile guests, who sometimes add nothing more than a single background vocal. That is how exacting Scott is. And no matter the producer, every drum and sound is crystal clear and crisp. That is largely due to the impeccable ear of legend Mike Dean, who mixes and masters nearly the whole project. Some of the more unexpected contributions come from Stevie Wonder and James Blake, who play harmonica and sing, respectively, on “Stop Trying To Be God.” Meanwhile, John Mayer strums his axe on “Wake Up.” Scott should also be credited for paying homage to Hip-Hop pioneers on cuts like the H-Town anthem “RIP Screw,” or “Carousel,” which incorporates the Beastie Boys’ chanting from “The New Style.” “5% Tint,” also serves as a 2018 version of Goodie Mob’s “Cell Therapy.” Few Rap artists took their sound further out there in ’18 than Travis Scott. And it was all for our amusement. – Jordan Commandeur
Released: August 3, 2018
Label: Cactus Jack/Grand Hustle/Epic Records
Guests: Drake, Frank Ocean, Stevie Wonder, James Blake, John Mayer, Swae Lee, Big H.A.W.K., Phillip Bailey, Kid Cudi, BJ The Chicago Kid, Sheck Wes, Juice WRLD, Tame Impala, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Gunna, Nav, Quavo, Takeoff, Don Toliver, Thundercat, Mike Dean, Sheldon Ferguson, Nineteen85, Isaiah Gage, Tim Shuby, Stephen “Johan” Feigenbaum
Producers: self, Mike Dean, Tay Keith, Hit-Boy, Frank Dukes, Sonny Digital, Wondagurl, Allen Ritter, Murda Beatz, Nineteen85, John Mayer, Tame Impala, Thundercat, 30 Roc, B Corn, B Wheezy, Cardo, Cubeatz, David Stromberg, Felix Leone, FKi 1st, Gezin 808 Mafia, J Beatzz, June James, London Cyr, Matty, OZ, Ramy, River Tiber, Rogét Chahayed, Sevn Thomas, Tim Suby, Turbo, Vegyn, Wallis Lane
So which is better?
Black Milk – Fever
Black Thought – Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2
Buddy – Harlan & Alondra
Evidence – Weather Or Not
J. Cole – K.O.D
Jay Rock – Redemption
Mac Miller – Swimming
Masta Ace & Marco Polo – A Breukelen Story
Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
Phonte – No News Is Good News
Pusha-T – DAYTONA
Royce 5’9 – Book Of Ryan
Saba – CARE FOR ME
Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD
Westside Gunn – Supreme Blientele