Top 10 Albums of 2018…so far
Arguing about how legit KOD was when it first came out was, and still is, a pleasure of mine. Not to say everyone isn’t entitled to their own opinion, it’s just that when it’s great, don’t say it isn’t. Cole switched up and became an activist, but for all the right reasons: to address modern romance (“Photograph”), the world’s obsession with wealth (“Motiv8”) and addiction (“Once an Addict”). Cole speaks for Black America on “BRACKETS,” questioning when less fortunate communities of color will get attention from political leaders they so desperately need. Whether the haters will admit it or not, they wanted another 2014 Forest Hills Drive, but J.Cole’s change in narrative doesn’t take away his capability as a lyricist or hitmaker.
As the first track “Come Together” suggests, after time apart to work on solo projects, The Internet are back and more in-synch than ever. Hive Mind, the group’s first album in three years, sees them trading in the progressive R&B sound that was the center of Ego Death for the softness that is jazz and funk. “Come Over” sounds like something out of the ‘90s, with lead singer Syd’s expressing his eagerness to spend time with a lover. The roller-skating jam “Roll (Burbank Funk)” is a groovy good time showcasing the group’s inability to mess up and ability to experiment with new sounds. Maybe time apart does make the heart grow fonder.
Tirzah is barely there on her debut album Devotion. Her minuscule, breezy voice surrounded by enchanting melodies puts you in a trance you’ll have no desire to escape. Each song is a different experience; a few possess a distorted, auto-tuned version of Tirzah, others put her unedited voice up front with little accompaniment. She’s a savior on “Fine Again” and a cheater on “Guilty,” but the desire to love and be loved remains intact no matter the narrative. Only taking up a little over a half hour of your time to get through, the finished product might seem overly simplistic, but in reality, the simplicity of the album’s flow is what makes it exceptional.
Entirely made up of peaceful, loving, feel-good narratives wrapped in jazz-infused, dreamy soul melodies, Swimming was made for the wounded. On “Self Care,” Miller reflected on the bumps he encountered throughout the year, disclosing his choice to remain selfish in his time of need. “2009” is a gut-wrenching trip down memory lane, where Miller reminisced about life before fame and the lessons he learned along the way. Remaining vocal about the demons he never deserved, Swimming felt a lot like a safe space for him to air it out. On September 7th, Mac Miller died of a suspected overdose in his home in Studio City, California. Although he is gone too soon, Miller’s fifth and final album was a monumental one.
Daytona, in the words of Pusha T is about “having the luxury of time,” and he definitely had time to get a few things off his chest with this one. The album continues Pusha’s familiar drug-culture narrative with “If you know you know,” being a members only reference book-type track detailing his street hustle lifestyle before his crossover into a clean hustle as a rapper. He flexes his wealth and success on “The Games We Play” and teams up with Kanye for universal diss track “What Would Meek do?” Kanye has been working all kinds of nerves lately, but when he and Pusha link up its irrefutably magical.
My fellow Latina queen, Kali Uchis, released her full-length debut this year after what felt like a lifetime. She experiments across all genres leaving not one too difficult for her to delve in, from the jazz-infused meditation that is “Body Language” to the electro-pop fantasy that is “In My Dreams.” She flexes her Latin roots on the romantic Spanish banger “Nuestro Planeta” (“Our Planet” in English). Isolation finds Uchis stuck in her own head, constructing a colorful, abstract art piece of creative elements, making it an album worth waiting for
Care for me
Experiencing tragedy is hard, and living with the grief is even harder, but Chicago rapper Saba finds a way to process on CARE FOR ME. After his cousin and mentor was tragically murdered last year, Saba feels left alone to fend for himself through life’s dilemmas (“BUSY/SIRENS”). “LIFE” examines the realities of being anything but white in modern day culture. His storyteller flow sways effortlessly over the memories he’s reliving. Nothing too rough but his bitter, agitated energy rubs off on the rest of us in the most authentic way.
“Maybe this the album you listen to in your car/ When you driving home late at night/ Really questioning every God, religion, Kanye, bitches” Noname raps on open track “Self,” an amusing start to the Chicago rapper’s proper debut album. The queen of poetic rap returns with an album far more intimate and revealing than her 2016 mixtape Telefone. Full of personal moments from her move to Los Angeles to her losing her virginity at 25, Noname makes no topic off limits. Her mixture of jazz and neo-soul only elevate the album’s charming personality to where Noname and what she has to say are the only things that matter.
Invasion of Privacy
Cardi B went off on her debut. Her infectious, loud, and energetic personality seeps through from beginning to end, making for catchy booty-bangers suitable for numerous occasions and any Instagram post. Opener “Get Up 10” possess the same fieriness that gave us Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” where Cardi declares war on any who degrade her ability to have a successful music career. The album includes features from SZA, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Chance the Rapper and more— offering a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Be the cowboy
Stumbling onto Mitski when I was shuffling through Japanese Breakfast’s artist alike on Spotify, I decided to give Be the Cowboy a spin. Come to find out she’s making music for us somber, lost souls trying to make sense of the world, but she’s also just dealing with her own emotions. Mitski feels disserted and detached on “Nobody” but masks it with an upbeat tempo; it’s almost like she’s happy about it. The idea of losing your sense of self-awareness at the hands of other people’s toxic nature is reflected on “A Pearl,” and I’m not embarrassed to admit I can relate. Mitski is a debbie downer in a way that isn’t negative but instead freeing and sweet. Her smooth, airy vocals over mixtures of indie-rock and dreamy pop elevate her storytelling skills to paint a perfect picture about life’s imperfections.