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

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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.

It is that season where “best of” lists abound and, in a year that featured stellar music from artists young and old, 2018 kept Hip-Hop fans on the edge of our seats. Now is an excellent time to reflect on the best ones.

Throughout December, Ambrosia For Heads will pit albums against one another, tournament style, and give you the opportunity to vote the best of the year as part of a now annual tradition.

The AFH staff has chosen 15 albums that we believe represent the best in Hip-Hop from 2018. These are the releases facing off in the tournament, which will begin tomorrow (December 5). Inevitably, we’ve left off some LPs that you feel belong in the competition. So, before launching the tournament, we will host a wildcard ballot (beginning later today) where voters can decide the album they believe most deserves a spot in the Sweet 16. That winner will join the bracket.

However, before we get to that, celebrate one incredible year for Hip-Hop with Ambrosia For Heads‘ Best Albums Of 2018 (listed alphabetically by artist):

Black Milk – Fever

 

Black Milk released an album that captures the zeitgeist in Fever. Four years removed from his previous record, If There’s A Hell Below, this LP is jazzier, more cerebral, and demonstrates this revered producer’s significant growth as an MC. With live instrumentation provided by giants like drummers Chris “Daddy” Dave and Daru Jones plus sparse features (limited to Dwele, Nat Turner Band member Aaron “Ab” Abernathy and Sudie), Fever is a series of compositions tied together through serious lyrical content. The LP was written after Black tore his Achilles playing basketball and stayed sidelined from his 2017 musical plans. Stuck in recovery, he consumed the oft-dismal post-election news cycle and went to work writing this album. The Detroit, Michigan producer and MC addresses the ills of social media on its lead single, “Laugh Now Cry Later”; the failures of American educational systems, on “True Lies”; and humanity’s taste for betrayal, on “Foe Friend.” It’s worth noting the frequency of single-versed songs, too, as a major strength of this album. His orchestration enhances the bold words he says on songs like “2 Would Try,” “Could It Be” and “Drown,” Black Milk says with musical orchestration. Fever features lots of references to heat and pressure, as well as the confines of time and space. Ultimately, it’s a manifesto for revolution, both political and personal. – Bonita

Released: February 23, 2018
Label: Computer Ugly/Mass Appeal Records
Guests: Dwele, Aaron “Ab” Abernathy, Sudie, Kris Johnson (trumpet), Ian Fink (keys), Sasha Kashperko (guitar, bass), Chris “Daddy” Dave (drums, percussion), Daru Jones (drums, percussion), Malik Hunter (bass)
Producer: self


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

 

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


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


Evidence – Weather Or Not

 

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


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 his 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


Jay Rock – Redemption

 

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


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


Masta Ace & Marco Polo – A Breukelen Story

 

Thirty-plus-year Rap veteran Masta Ace has made some of his best music in the new millennium. His solo and group albums have framed in concepts, highly personal, and laid out with storylines, plot arcs, and the right balance of humor and anguish. For most of those journeys since 2004’s A Long Hot Summer, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Toronto producer Marco Polo has supplied at least one beat. On this year’s A Breukelen Story, those worlds collide with both artists paying homage to the borough that raised Ace and the one that Marco now calls home. The collaborative LP addresses the cultural and economic dynamics in the 7-1-8, with carefully chosen guests. Smif-n-Wessun join Masta and Marco for an homage to the many shades of Brooklyn on a title track. “Get Shot” travels to those BK train stops that the new influx of residents is often warned not to get off at, and confronts the mentality above ground. Beyond the borough, the Pharaohe Monch-assisted “The Fight Song” examines Masta Ace’s battle with multiple sclerosis with Monch playing the disease. As a lush album based around a place, this intricate album balances this concept while highlighting two prolific and hard-working artists’ lives and journeys. – Jake Paine

Released: November 9, 2018
Label: Fat Beats Records
Guests: Pharaohe Monch, Smif-n-Wessun (Tek and General Steele), Lil Fame, Styles P, Elzhi, Marlon Craft, The EMC (Wordsworth, Strick, Punchline), Pav Bundy, Pearl Gates, Trini Boy,
Producers: self


Nipsey Hussle — Victory Lap

 

During some years when West Coast Gangsta Rap seemed ignored in the mainstream, Nipsey Hussle fed the streets with an onslaught of mixtapes that were just as good as many top-tier rapper’s albums. Accompanied by his raw delivery and impeccable work ethic in and out the booth, Nip’ established an ever-growing fan base clamoring for more and treating street art as a status symbol. After 10-plus years of success in that underground, Victory Lap shows Neighborhood Nip’s fullest potential and album-making capability. The LP speaks to the reality of balancing the grind and staying true to oneself to get to the goal. With guest appearances from local contemporaries like YG, Kendrick Lamar, and Buddy to assists from feature-favorites like Puff Daddy and Marsha Ambrosius, this is award tour is a party for the rapper and those around his movement. Hussle made it clear with tracks like “Rap Ni**as” and “Last Time That I Checc’d” that he had no interest in following new Rap trends or switching his style up to push his music any further. The K-Dot assisted “Dedication” shows two rappers from once-opposed sides of the city who have banded together this decade to bring the spotlight back to their region. Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap is a revved-up testament to hard work, dedication and authenticity is the best formula for achieving success. – Max Light

Released: February 16, 2018
Label: All Money In No Money Out/Atlantic Records
Guests: Stacy Barthe, YG, Puff Daddy, Kendrick Lamar, Buddy, Konshens, J. Black, TeeFlii, The-Dream, Marsha Ambrosius, Belly, Dom Kennedy
Producers: self, Blacc Sam, Steve-O, Fatts, Amaire Johnson, Brody Brown, D.O. Speaks, DJ Khalil, IAMNOBODI, Jake One, JustJosh Music Group, Kacey Khalil, Larrance Dopson, Mike & Keys, Mr. Lee, Murda Beatz, MyGuyMars, Rance, Sap, Street Symphony, Teddy Walton


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


Pusha-T – DAYTONA

 

Amidst a career filled with flare, 2018 saw Pusha-T release his magnum opus, DAYTONA. As unapologetic as it is air-tight, the seven-track album plays out as brief, yet sharp, glimpse into Pusha’s life at the top. With its title partly inspired by a Swiss watch, this G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam affair is about the luxury of time. In the last decade, Push’ transformed from one half of The Clipse dealing with label woes to an artist who drives playlists and headlines at once. All of the beats bleed with equal parts Soul and Miami Vice montage neon, thanks to Kanye West’s sample and drum-heavy production. Meanwhile, no feature feels amiss; Rick Ross, singer 070 Shake and ‘Ye make their appearances without overstaying their welcome. Though a kingpin removed from the grindin’, Push’s cocaine raps somehow seem as fresh as ever. True to the $85,000 cover-photograph from Whitney Houston’s bathroom, the MC seems his best when he’s sinister, relentless, and vengeful. Opener “If You Know You Know” shows Pusha dropping double entendres about how far back his concrete roots go. The Rick Ross-assisted “Hard Piano” sees the two rappers going toe-to-toe over a piano loop and dramatic hook. Closer “Infrared” tries to grab Drake by the jugular before both artists continued their offensives off-album. Daytona sits as his King Push’s most consistent, confident and concise project to date. Yugh. – Kevin Cortez

Released: May 25, 2018
Label: GOOD Music, Def Jam
Guests: Rick Ross, 070 Shake, Kanye West
Producers: Kanye West, Pi’erre Bourne, Andrew Dawson, Mike Dean


Royce 5’9 – Book Of Ryan

 

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


Saba – CARE FOR ME

 

Grief, fear, loneliness, and depression can all separately stand as incapacitating barriers for an individual. When present in unison, it would be easy to just not be. For much of the last two years since releasing the eager and hopeful Bucket List Project, Saba was suffocated by a combination of the above obstructions. With music and the studio acting as the Westside of Chicago rapper’s lifelines though, CARE FOR ME ultimately formed as the light that cut swiftly through the darkness. That’s not to say that Saba’s third full-length album isn’t bleak, because it’s certainly veiled in agony. However, if there were ever a modern day LP that deserved the oxymoronic label of being beautifully tragic, CARE FOR ME is the one. Heartache stemming from the fatal stabbing of his older cousin John Walt is found throughout the entirety of the album, but Saba also visits anxiety and racial profiling (“BUSY/SIRENS”), tainted love (“BROKEN GIRLS”), his family’s life-long anguish (“LIFE”), gang violence in Chicago (“CALLIGRAPHY”), the unhealthy dependence on social media (“LOGOUT”), and the cruel nature of the music business (“GREY”). In an industry where the line between show and reality is increasingly blurred, Saba’s ability to paint a real-life picture with his words throughout CARE FOR ME has firmly situated him as one of the most promising storytellers in all of Hip-Hop. – Michael Blair

Released: April 5, 2018
Label: Saba Pivot, LLC
Guests: Chance The Rapper, TheMIND, Kaina
Producers: self, daedaePIVOT, Daoud


Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD

 

On his third studio album ASTROWORLD, Travis Scott raises the ghost of a Houston, Texas amusement park that was shuttered in 2005. What that means in terms of sound is layered, rich Southern Rap that is not afraid to take an experimental ride. This 17-track release has as much in common with Psychedelic Rock as it does with Trap. The highly-conceptual effort features an army of producers and a laundry list of high profile guests, who sometimes add nothing more than a single background vocal. That is how exacting Scott is. And no matter the producer, every drum and sound is crystal clear and crisp. That is largely due to the impeccable ear of legend Mike Dean, who mixes and masters nearly the whole project. Some of the more unexpected contributions come from Stevie Wonder and James Blake, who play harmonica and sing, respectively, on “Stop Trying To Be God.” Meanwhile, John Mayer strums his axe on “Wake Up.” Scott should also be credited for paying homage to Hip-Hop pioneers on cuts like the H-Town anthem “RIP Screw,” or “Carousel,” which incorporates the Beastie Boys’ chanting from “The New Style.” “5% Tint,” also serves as a 2018 version of Goodie Mob’s “Cell Therapy.” Few Rap artists took their sound further out there in ’18 than Travis Scott. And it was all for our amusement. – Jordan Commandeur

Released: August 3, 2018
Label: Cactus Jack/Grand Hustle/Epic Records
Guests: Drake, Frank Ocean, Stevie Wonder, James Blake, John Mayer, Swae Lee, Big H.A.W.K., Phillip Bailey, Kid Cudi, BJ The Chicago Kid, Sheck Wes, Juice WRLD, Tame Impala, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Gunna, Nav, Quavo, Takeoff, Don Toliver, Thundercat, Mike Dean, Sheldon Ferguson, Nineteen85, Isaiah Gage, Tim Shuby, Stephen “Johan” Feigenbaum
Producers: self, Mike Dean, Tay Keith, Hit-Boy, Frank Dukes, Sonny Digital, Wondagurl, Allen Ritter, Murda Beatz, Nineteen85, John Mayer, Tame Impala, Thundercat, 30 Roc, B Corn, B Wheezy, Cardo, Cubeatz, David Stromberg, Felix Leone, FKi 1st, Gezin 808 Mafia, J Beatzz, June James, London Cyr, Matty, OZ, Ramy, River Tiber, Rogét Chahayed, Sevn Thomas, Tim Suby, Turbo, Vegyn, Wallis Lane


Westside Gunn – Supreme Blientele

 

The Griselda Records movement hit a crescendo in 2018. Conway The Machine’s Everybody Is F.O.O.D., Benny The Butcher’s debut album Tana Talk 3, and of course, one of the most anticipated album in recent years, Westside Gunn’s Supreme Blientele cast a spotlight on something that cult fans have followed for years. On his LP, Gunn manages to balance his three main passions on this 18-track offering: WWE wrestling, fine art, and his foothold in the streets. While this squad had kept a tight circle as far as beats and features up until this point, WSG reached out to legends and up and comers alike to build something special with Blientele. Having Pete Rock produce “The Steiners” with Elzhi as the featured guest is like a gift to Hip-Hop. Not to mention 9th Wonder flipping the guitar loop on “Wrestlemania 20,” while Anderson .Paak belts out a soulful chorus. Meanwhile, Wes’ inclusion of two sadhugold bangers, as well as recruiting a verse from CRIMEAPPLE for “Spanish Jesus” prove he keeps an ear to the ground. This release’s true school sound and unapologetic street raps cement the fact that GxFR are some new leaders in a Hardcore Hip-Hop renaissance. As the title reference suggests, Gunn and his Buffalo cohorts aim to carry on the tradition of cliques like Wu-Tang Clan, The LOX, and Mobb Deep, with a style and attitude fit for the late 2010s. – Jordan Commandeur

Released: June 22, 2018
Label: Griselda Records
Guests: Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Anderson .Paak, Elzhi, Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Roc Marciano, CRIMEAPPLE, Bro AA Rashid, Keisha Plum
Producers: Daringer, sadhu gold, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Alchemist, Harry Fraud, Roc Marciano, Statik Selektah, Hesh

AFH‘s Best Albums Of 2017.