Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 4): J. Cole vs. Phonte

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 fourth match-up is J. Cole’s KOD versus Phonte’s No News Is Good News. Make sure your opinion is heard and gets counted (click on your album’s artwork in the box below, then click “vote”).

J. Cole – K.O.D.


Jermaine Cole has been displaying his self-exploration in plain sight for nearly 10 years now. Each album formulated by the Fayetteville, North Carolina MC/producer has essentially been a verbal diary, meticulously detailing his pilgrimage through both the music industry and his understandings of existence. K.O.D., Cole’s fifth LP, finds him at his most enlightened, concerned, and transparent chapter to date. It bears a title serving as a triple entendre (Kids On Drugs, King Overdosed, Kill Our Demons) is cloaked in the severe dangers of addiction, ego, and greed. King Cole meets kiLL edward (an embodiment of his former stepfather) to sort through the effects of drug and alcohol dependency (“The Cut Off”), infidelity (“Kevin’s Heart”), the selfish pursuit of wealth (“ATM” & “Motiv8”), the inability to assess insecurities and ultimately face those personal demons (“FRIENDS”). What makes Cole’s decisive cautionary tale that is K.O.D. so powerful though, is that he seemingly comes to terms with his own self-inflicted shortcomings while simultaneously cautioning his peers and fans about the destruction of theirs. Without self-awareness, administered advice falls on deaf ears, and for an artist that has already hung their hat on unapologetic authenticity so intently, Cole finds even more strength in his sentiments throughout K.O.D. because of how mindful he is about the repercussions of his own tendencies. K.O.D. is both therapeutic and instructive in a time when honest leadership from a respected veteran was absolutely critical. Cole knew this, and K.O.D. is his grand contribution to the overall well-being of the music industry. Without vanity, Cole has demanded that all parties listen closely and choose wisely. – Michael Blair

Released: April 20, 2018
Label: Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope
Guest: kiLL edward
Producers: self, Ibrahim Hamad, BLVK, Mark Pelli, Ron Gilmore, T-Minus

Phonte – No News Is Good News


It’s been seven years since fans last heard a proper solo Rap record from Phonte Coleman. After finding the zeitgeist for so many in Charity Starts At Home, 2018’s No News Is Good News goes even further out on the limb of what a Rap record can talk about. Phonte, now 39, released an album that is thematically mature, incredibly wise, and far from preachy. Instead, Phonte stands comfortably in what some consider midlife and lays out the work that goes into living both today, and tomorrow. After his father’s passing and a personal divorce, ‘Te lays it all out over 10 tracks by dropping insight on aging. The health concerns of Black men are explored on “Expensive Genes.” Mindful advice and slights at wack rappers are given on the vicious “So Help Me God.” “Find That Love Again” shows an artist dealing with writer’s block. Meanwhile, “Cry No More” shows a vulnerable Phonte paint a picture of his father’s relationship and coping with death. No News Is Good News‘ has interesting sounds from a bevy of producers, but no beats crowd the spotlight of what Tiggalo has to say. The album stands as a clever, humorous, and thoughtful glimpse into the maturation of a man, rapper, and one of Rap’s most relatable writers. – Kevin Cortez

Released: March 2, 2018
Label: The Foreign Exchange Music
Guests: Freddie Gibbs, Eric Roberson, Lute (add’l vocals), Carmen Rodgers (add’l vocals), Tamisha Waden (add’l vocals), Terrence Foxworth (add’l vocals), Fokis (add’l vocals), Dr. Nicole Swiner (add’l vocals), DJ Cozmos (add’l vocals), Kristi Ae (add’l vocals), Cecile Jordan (add’l vocals), Dornik (add’l vocals), Zo! (piano, keys, and bass), Josef Leimberg (percussion)
Producers: Nottz, Marco Polo, AbJo, DJ Cozmos, DJ Harrison, Illingsworth, King Karnov, Nottz, Tall Black Guy

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