Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 5): Mac Miller vs. Buddy

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 fifth match-up is between Mac Miller’s Swimming and Buddy’s Harlan & Alondra. Make sure your opinion is heard and gets counted (click on your album’s artwork in the box below, then click “vote”).

Mac Miller – Swimming

The mending of a broken heart takes patience and time, or if you’re Mac Miller, an impeccably constructed musical effort to pair. On the heels of a highly-publicized two-year relationship, and eventual crushing breakup with Pop superstar Ariana Grande, the 26-year-old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania MC/producer found his therapy and voice in the formation of Swimming, his fifth album. Rather than attributing fault to any outside circumstances, Mac examined self and assembled Swimming as an audible novel brimming with those self-reflective chronicles. Whether it be addressing the actual split with Grande (“Self Care” and ”Dunno”), his battles with substance abuse (“Jet Fuel”) and depression (“Perfecto”), or the forward-looking hopefulness (“Wings”) and need to turn the pages on regressive habits (“2009”), Mac covers a lifetime worth of emotion in the nearly hour-long album. Swimming finds Mac sincerely accountable for cycles of self-destruction while seemingly more clear-minded than ever before. Sonically, the album reaches a new plateau with a cohesive sequence throughout, displaying Mac’s grand transformation from rapper to musical composer. With the massive void that will be left by Mac Miller’s passing shortly after the release of the album, the music faithful can find solace in the notion that Mac’s maturation and potential greatness as a musician were achieved so wonderfully in his magnum opus that is Swimming. – Michael Blair

Released: August 3, 2018
Label: REMember Music/Warner Bros. Records
Guests: Pharrell Williams (add’l vocals), John Mayer (add’l vocals), Thundercat (add’l vocals), Snoop Dogg (add’l vocals), Syd (add’l vocals), Dam-Funk (add’l vocals)
Producers: Mac Miller, Jon Brion, J Cole, Dev Hynes, Steve Lacy, Flying Lotus, , Alexander Spit, Cardo, Carter Lang, Dam-Funk, DJ Dahi, Eric G, Gitty, ID Labs, Nice Rec, Nostxglic, Parson Brown, Pomo, Tae Beast, Tee-WaTT, Yung Exclusive

Buddy – Harlon & Alondra

Buddy broke through in 2018 with Harlan & Alondra, a love letter to life in Compton, Long Beach and South Central Los Angeles with nostalgic cover work. While it’s difficult to pin down exactly what kind of musical box Buddy fits into, the groove is undeniable. Sure, he’s a rapper. He’s a singer, too. But his music isn’t just R&B or Soul, nor Hip-Hop. It’s all adjacent to many genres and complementary to anyone with an ear for funky undertones. His debut full-length effort is one of the year’s skip-free arrivals. Opening with the every-man anthem “Real Life Sh*t,” Buddy flawlessly channels 1970s Soul on the album’s stand-out solo performance, “Trouble On Central” as well as one of the LP’s interludes, “Legend.” For fans of his Kaytranada-produced 2017 EP Ocean & Montana, “Find Me 2” was a wonderful interpolation and extension of his previous work. “Shine” is a Gospel record, through and through. Harlan & Alondra is also home to some of the year’s best feature curation. Guapdad 4000 gives “Shameless” humorous authenticity, while A$AP Ferg delivers a striking, unapologetic verse on “Black.” Ty Dolla $ign is in his proverbial bag on the infectious “Hey Up There,” and Khalid lends his earnest, sweet vocals to “Trippin’.” From the same sun-scorched slice of L.A. that brought us G-Funk 25-plus-years ago, Simmie Sims III adheres to the belief that West Coast Rap from real circumstances is its best when it melts into other genres. – Bonita

Released: July 20, 2018
Label: RCA Records
Guests: Snoop Dogg, Ty Dolla Sign, A$AP Ferg, Khalid, Guapdad 4000, Rose Gold (add’l vocals), Joyce Wrice (add’l vocals), Quiñ (add’l vocals)
Producer: Terrace Martin, Jake One, Scoop Deville, DJ Khalil, Brody Brown, Mike & Keys, Jahaan Sweet, Hazebanga, Isiah Salazar, Roofeo, Scum

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