Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 9): Black Thought vs. Jay Rock

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 first Round 2 match-up from the Elite 8 shows just how stiff the competition is. Black Thought’s Streams Of Thought, Volume 2: Traxploitation competes against Jay Rock’s Redemption. Only one can reach the Final 4. Make sure your opinion is heard and gets counted (click on your album’s artwork in the box below, then click “vote”).

Black Thought – Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2: Traxploitation

(defeated Masta Ace & Marco Polo’s A Breukelen Story, 52% to 48%)

Fans have been waiting more than 20 years to hear what a Black Thought solo release might sound like. This is the year that the Philly MC more than delivered. In early June, Thought teamed with 9th Wonder and The Soul Council to release the five-song Streams Of Thought, Vol. 1 to a tremendous response. He then followed last month with Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2: Traxploitation. This time, Tariq Trotter partnered with Amy Winehouse and Nas producer Salaam Remi. Thought delivers nine songs clocking in at just under 25 minutes recorded during two trips to Remi’s Miami studio. True to the album’s title, Salaam laces Black with consistent music throughout the project, using warm Funk, Soul, and Jazz sounds that he concocts to deliver a vibe reminiscent of 1970s cinema. It is the perfect time machine for the MC with tailored suits, nostalgic imagery, and a retro sensibility. For his part, Black Thought brings the bars and then some. With the majority of the songs under three minutes, much of the project is Thought spitting equal parts social commentary (“Soundtrack To Confusion”), biography and braggadocio (“Long Liveth”). The last couple of tracks include some soulful hooks by Tish Hyman as well as Thought’s 1970’s/Temptations-inspired alter-ego, Reek Ruffin on “Conception.” S.O.T.2 is a concise, action-packed project that shows Tariq Trotter rocking with a different type of sound, and Salaam Remi rockin’ with one of the best to ever do it. – Sypher

Released: November 26, 2018
Label: Passyunk Productions/Human Re Sources
Guests: Tish Hyman, Reek Ruffin
Producers: Salaam Remi

Jay Rock – Redemption

(defeated Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap, 56% to 44%)

Kendrick Lamar is the superstar in the TDE camp, but Jay Rock is the label’s MVP of 2018. His third studio album, Redemption, contends as his best effort yet, delivering a well-rounded 45 minutes that appeases the core base and piques new interests. With a variety of flows and cadences, Jay Rock sounds perfectly in his element whether he’s delivering an underdog’s anthem in “WIN,” a thumping tour of the Watts courtesy of “ES Tales,” or grooving to a party track like “Tap Out.” He also works effortlessly with his guest features, going back to his humble beginnings on “Wow Freestyle” with Kendrick Lamar, and giving a great contrast in vocals on the J. Cole-assisted “OSOM.” Between verses of hood tales, underground success, and overcoming obstacles, the LP is filled with memorable hooks that make this Eastside Johnny’s most accessible album, while authentic to his mixtapes from a decade ago. After putting his career on hold to recover from a motorcycle accident, Jay Rock stunts on the mic with a release that shows he is a keystone in one of Rap’s most driving forces of all-time. – Sypher

Released: June 15, 2018
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope Records
Guests: Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, SZA, Future, Jeremih, James Blake, SiR (add’l vocals), Aron Levi (synth)
Producers: Mike WiLL Made It, Sounwave, Top Dawg, Hit-Boy, Boi-1da, Jake One, Terrace Martin, Cardo, Allen Ritter, Crooklin, CT, Cubeatz, D.K. The Punisher, Hykeem Carter, Pops, Rascal, Teddy Walton, Vinylz

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
Royce 5’9 – Book Of Ryan
Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD
Westside Gunn – Supreme Blientele