Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 13): Royce 5’9 vs. Black Thought

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 Final 4 matchup is between Royce 5’9’s Book Of Ryan and Black Thought’s Streams Of Thought, Volume 2: Traxploitation. Only one can reach the championship round. 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 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


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

(defeated Jay Rock’s Redemption, 63% to 37%)
(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

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