Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 1): Black Thought vs. Masta Ace & Marco Polo

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 are currently holding a had a wildcard round (with a write-in option) where readers pick the album they feel most deserved a spot on the list.

In the meantime, it is appropriate to commence the bracket-style competition among the final 16 albums (as the wildcard will be decided this evening) in consideration. 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 battle is between Black Thought’s Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2: Traxploitation and Masta Ace & Marco Polo’s A Breukelen Story. 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

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

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

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