Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2018 (Battle 12): Royce 5’9 vs. Saba

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 and final Round 2 match-up from the Elite 8 is between Royce 5’9’s Book Of Ryan and Saba’s CARE FOR ME. Only one can reach the Final 4. 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 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



(defeated Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD, 64% to 36%)

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

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