Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (The Championship Battle): Royce 5’9 vs. Evidence

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Hi. We recently created AFH TV, Ambrosia For Heads’ streaming video service, because we believe real Hip-Hop deserves its own dedicated TV home, but we need your help to make it great. Please subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and already features some amazing content, but the best is yet to come. Thank you for all of your support.

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. 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. After 14 battles, the championship round is between Royce 5’9’s Book Of Ryan and Evidence’s Weather Or Not. Now you must determine the Best Album Of 2018. Voting ends at 11:59 pm EST Sunday, December 30. Make sure your opinion is heard and gets counted (click on your album’s artwork in the box below, then click “vote”).

Royce 5’9 – Book Of Ryan

(defeated Black Thought’s Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2: Traxploitation, 58% to 42%)
(defeated Saba’s CARE FOR ME, 82% to 18%)
(defeated Apollo Brown & Joell Ortiz’ Mona Lisa, 65% to 35%)

In a career filled with a variety of impactful releases, Royce 5’9’s most personal and complex offering arrived this year. Book Of Ryan has Royce reflecting on chapters of his childhood as he takes audit on his life as a proudly sober family-man. It’s easily his most intimate, introspective album to date, as he goes page by page through his past, exploring his father’s struggles with addiction on “Cocaine,” the physical abuse his family endured on “Power,” and even life’s loss of innocence on “Boblo Boat.” One of 2018’s longer albums at the top, it maintains a cohesive narrative that’s tied together with perfectly executed skits. Nickel Nine can paint vivid pictures with his words to put the listeners directly in the shoes of both his younger and present-day self. For Heads who are more used to Royce demolishing a beat first and asking questions later, he has a few competitive joints sprinkled between his story, reuniting Bad Meets Evil on the Eminem-assisted “Caterpillar” and recruiting Pusha-T, Jadakiss, and Fabolous for the hyped “Summer On Lock.” Book Of Ryan proves to be Royce’s best look into the mirror, and has him evolving beyond the killer MC he’s known as, and into a true artist that can resonate with his story. – Sypher

Released: May 4, 2018
Label: Heaven Studios/eOne Music
Guests: Eminem, J. Cole, Pusha-T, Jadakiss, Fabolous, Logic, Boogie, Marsha Ambrosius, Robert Glasper, T-Pain, King Green, Ashley Sorrell, Agent Sasco, Melanie Rutherford, Chavis Chandler
Producers: Mr. Porter, S1, AntMan Wonder, Boi-1da, Cool & Dre, DJ Khalil, 808-Ray, Epikh Pro, Frank Dukes, Fuse, !llmind, Key Wane, The Maven Boys, StreetRunner, Tarik Azzouz

 

Evidence – Weather Or Not

(defeated J. Cole’s KOD, 74% to 26%)
(defeated Pusha-T’s DAYTONA, 67% to 33%)
(defeated Black Milk’s Fever, 80% to 20%)

In a year when many of the year’s splashiest releases were defined by brevity, Evidence delivered a robust, 16-track composition in Weather Or Not. The fourth solo LP from the Los Angeles, California MC marries the gracious with the glib, with themes of perseverance, accomplishment, sadness, integrity and mortality. With guest spots from Styles P, Rapsody and Khrysis on one song (“Love Is A Funny Thing”); heat from Alchemist, who hopped on “Sell Me This Pen” alongside Mach-Hommy; to fellow Dilated Peoples Rakaa and DJ Babu; and one of the year’s best guest verses, courtesy of Jonwayne on “To Make a Long Story Longer,” the album is stellar. Its brightest moments, though, shine through with Evidence performing solo. As he spits on the LP’s opener, “I’m at my best when I’m back into the factory,” he’s both boastful and merciful. On the title track, he’s cheekily self-referential and on the DJ Premier-laced “10,000 Hours,” in prideful stride. “Throw It All Away” may embody Weather Or Not‘s DNA most acutely: “Out the gate a bit late, but the champ is back / I need a third hand to wear my rings and hold plaques.” He saved the true poignancy for the album’s closer, however. On “By My Side Too,” he celebrates his late life partner—as she was battling Stage III breast cancer—as well as his son, who was born during the recording process for Weather Or Not. As he told Ambrosia For Heads earlier this year, “The reward of being an open book is way more tremendous. There’s a bigger purpose to it.” – Bonita

Released: January 26, 2018
Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Guests: Rakaa, Alchemist, Slug, Defari, Rapsody, Styles P, Krondon, Jonwayne, Mach Hommy, Khrysis, Catero
Producers: self, Alchemist, DJ Premier, Nottz, Budgie, Twiz The Beat Pro, Samiyam

So which is better?

Ambrosia For Heads’ Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums Of 2018 List:

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