I never thought that there could be so many events in a year. Yes, I understand that a year is a long time, but think of it this way: ‘Black Panther’ came out this year. Now you see what I mean? This year was LONG. Anyway, due to the length of the year, we’re going to treat this article as a review of everything in music, similar to how your high school yearbook used the superlative page to share how cool everyone else was. Just think of that, but for everyone in music. Okay, cool, let’s get started.
Best Duo – Lil Baby & Gunna
I read an article on Twitter earlier this year where Lil Baby was quoted as saying, “I’m not surprised that people are comparing us to Outkast.” First of all, I don’t know of anyone that was doing that, but the year that they duo did have was second to none. Anytime that the two linked up on a track, which was often, they did not miss, not once. The Atlanta duo has achieved a chemistry unlike any that we’ve seen in a long time. Their collaborative project Drip Harder was a perfect example of tag team aptitude. As much as some may not like to admit, “Drip Too Hard” might be one of the best songs of the year. Their ability to play off each other’s flow can be likened to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the Clippers, or Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullins on the old Warriors. The way that they have perfected the trap duo should be commended and celebrated.
Best Beef – Pusha T & Drake
YOU ARE HIDING A CHILD. Well, the beef didn’t start with that, but that was without a doubt the best part of this world-shaking conflict. Few people will willingly throw diss shots at Drake, who’s main tactic of response is to “meme” you to death. His social media presence is dauntingly powerful, but apparently Pusha T’s investigative skills, coupled with his rapping ability were up to the task.
He unearthed dirt on Drake that made us question everything, like why was Drake in blackface, for one, and HE’S HIDING A CHILD? The deeply personal beef began on Pusha’s final track on Daytona, “Infrared.” A rather harmless accusation of ghostwriting led to a mention of Pusha’s fiancée, at which point the gloves came off. He released “The Story of Adidon,” and we were captivated. It was the first time that Drake seemed vulnerable, like he was on the defensive. Pusha had thrown haymaker after haymaker, with Drizzy unable to get in front of it all. He was allegedly ready to respond with a world-ending track, but it was called off by J Prince. I can’t possibly imagine what would have happened if he released it. Maybe World War III, with G.O.O.D. Music and OVO lining up, preparing for war. Drake getting the OVO sweatshop ready to fire back with everything they have, it would have been delicious.
Worst Beef – Drake & Kanye West
This is like the Walmart version of the Pusha T and Drake beef. Apparently, a couple of weeks ago, Kanye listened to “SICKO MODE” for the first time and he did not enjoy hearing the subliminal disses from Drake. So, he decided to tweet through it. And tweet through it. He aired out his grievances toward Drake, tweeting at a rate of 4.2 tweets per minute (this is not the real rate of his tweets, but I feel as though it is an accurate representation). It wasn’t fun to watch, but you couldn’t look away. The odd part about this entire beef is that Drake is never on Twitter, like ever. His only response was an Instagram story with laughing emojis. A whole bunch of nothing, worth no one’s time.
Most Likely to Fly too Close to the Sun – Tekashi 6ix9ine
Let’s go through the highlights of Tekashi’s year: Almost every single he released was on the Billlboard chart at the same time, his album, DUMMY BOY, debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, behind Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD, with almost no rollout, and he established himself as one of the most entertaining social media personalities on the internet.
Now, let’s get to the lowlights: he’s being indicted for racketeering. The RICO. You know, the sort of crime that Italian mobsters used to get. The sort of crime which the FBI collects terabytes of evidence for. The type of crime which you have to sell out your whole crew to and snitch in order to receive any type of leniency in sentencing. Do you know how many illegal activities you have to commit to get a racketeering charge? The answer is a lot. He’s slated to get 25 to life in federal prison. And considering how many people that rainbow haired troll has pissed off in the past year, prison will not be easy for him. Can’t get much lower than that.
Best Short Album – Tierra Whack, Whack World
It takes precise execution to make a 15-minute album with no flaws. It takes a flawless artist to make a perfect album where each track is only 1 minute long. There is no room for error, no room for unnecessary fluff. Each song was unique and memorable. She did nothing wrong, displaying an aptitude for lyrical talent and beat selection. No other artist was able to achieve the level of quality that Tierra Whack did, in such a short amount of time.
Breakout Artist of the Year – Sheck Wes
I do not care what the charts say, “Mo Bamba” was the song of the year. Okay, well, it might not be. But one thing is for certain, Sheck Wes made a distinct impact when he dropped the song inspired by the Orlando Magic center. There isn’t a recent song that gets people to lose their collective marbles at a party like “Mo Bamba” does. He struck gold there. He then followed up the crazy wave that he was with his debut album Mudboy, which all things considered, was a solid album. He even earned his place on the Travis Scott’s Astroworld tour. A great year, musically at least.
Most Likely to “Smack a B***h” – Rico Nasty
I love everything about Rico Nasty: she’s from the DMV, her IG live sessions from the studio, her “KENNNYYYYY” tag when she’s rapping over a KennyBeats production, and her abrasive rapping style. Her album Nasty was a lot of fun, fully displaying her ability to glide beats with an aggressive, but carefree nature. She’s always looking for a fight, carrying this chaotic aura around her at all times. She carries this attitude with her at all times and is honestly how all people should strive to live.
Best Feature Artist – 21 Savage
This was 21’s best year by far. Any time he decided to bless another rapper with his presence, he made the song his own, delivering a blistering performance each time. Every time he appeared, a Glock appeared and felt like I had to perpetrate a home invasion. Show me a bad 21 Savage feature verse right now…that’s right, you can’t. On Metro Boomin’s “Don’t Come Out the House,” he controlled the entire track, drawing you in with his “whisper” flow, then roaring back to murder the rest of the track. Then, on “10 Freaky Girls,” he continued to shine, perfectly meshing with the crescendo of the beat. He never seemed out of place. Not on Travis Scott’s “NC-17,” and not on Meek Mill’s “Pay You Back.” If there was one person who you needed to deliver a flawless feature, 21 was the guy this year.
Most Disappointing Album – Drake, Scorpion
Drake had a golden opportunity. All he had to do was to make a quality album with a couple solid tracks that had shots at Pusha T. He could have done that, he’s Drake. But what did he decide to do? Make a 25-track double album that absolutely nobody wanted at all. There were two sides to Scorpion, and neither of them were memorable. I tried to like the album, I really did, but there were no standout tracks. He basically mailed it in, neutered by the relentless attack that Pusha T bloodied him with both “Infrared” and “The Story of Adidon.” The album is full of skips that even the most dedicated Drake stan won’t listen to. Pusha T probably heard “Ratchet Happy Birthday” and laughed out loud. I know that I did.
The “Wait, that came out this year?” Award – BlocBoy JB, Simi
This is by no means a knock on the quality of this album. I actually really enjoyed this album. The combination of BlocBoy and Tay Keith is a magical tag team of high-flying beats and energetic bars. But this year was so long that I had forgotten that it had come out this year. This superlative got me thinking, what other albums and events occurred this year that you definitely forgot occurred this year. Here’s a list: the ‘Black Panther’ movie and soundtrack, the Winter Olympics, Jorja Smith’s album, Rae Sremmurd released a triple album, the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup (nobody remembered because hockey). 2018 was long.
The Best Single to Not Make the Album – Anderson .Paak, “Bubblin”
Anderson .Paak released an album this year called Oxnard. The album was good: it didn’t blow me away like Malibu and Venice, but I liked it a decent amount. It seems as though the Oxnard native has settled into a creative groove where has found his sound and plans to continue to ride it until the wheels fall off. Maybe the involvement of Dr. Dre had something to do with it, but I digress.
He also released two singles this year, one was the song “Bubblin,” which is fantastic. It is fast-paced, full of the trademark personality that Anderson .Paak is known for, and chockful of lyrical excellence. The song itself is kind of hilarious as well, with an astoundingly entertaining music video to boot. Which begs the question, why didn’t this song make the final cut of Oxnard? Objectively, the album would have much better with the addition of the single. It may not have fit the same sound as the entire album, but the beauty of his previous works was that there was a wide range of styles and sounds on them. The addition of “Bubblin” would have done wonders for the album as a whole.
Comeback Artist of the Year – Meek Mill
Meek Mill went to jail in November of 2017 for violating parole. The entire city of Philadelphia rallied around, using his music as a battle cry for the Eagles’ championship run, chanting #FreeMeek everywhere. The outpouring of support came from other, much more powerful places, including Jay-Z and Robert Kraft, the CEO and owner of the New England Patriots. After he was released in April of 2018, he began to live his best life. Just hours after his release from prison, he was flown by helicopter to the 76ers game by the minority owner of the team himself so that he could ring the liberty bell on the court before the game.
Musically, he came back with one of the more impressive albums of the year. Championships is a lengthy celebration, with another rousing intro track that samples Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight.” We received some of Meek’s most focused bars, backed by a ridiculous number of samples. There were few things wrong with the album. It felt like a perfect return to the spotlight for Meek, here’s to hoping that he can stay there.
Most Likely to Fumble the Bag – Offset
You had Cardi B!
Producer(s) of the Year – Metro Boomin, KennyBeats, Tay Keith
I don’t give a damn what the Grammy nominations for Producer of the Year say, these three producers helped bring the rap game to new levels this year. Metro Boomin continued to solidify himself as a heavyweight in the rap game with multiple full length projects this year. The most impressive was his album NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES, where he created a flawless set of beats and called upon just the right people to make it work. KennyBeats did amazing work this year, producing Rico Nasty’s Nasty, Key’s fantastic 777, Zach Fox’s Square Up, and Vince Staples’ FM!. All while confusing the masses each time they figure out that he is white. And last we have Tay Keith. My shining college graduate Tay Keith. The owner of the best tag in all of rap, one that spurred numerous memes. He is responsible for some of rap’s top hits this year, including “Look Alive,” “Rover 2.0,” “SICKO MODE,” and “Never Recover.” There truly was not a bad Tay Keith beat this year.
Best Feature on a Song – Don Toliver, “CAN’T SAY”
Picture this: I’m about 70% of the way through Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD, and I come across the track “CAN’T SAY.” I’ve just gone through a ridiculously amazing stint of “5% TINT,” “NC-17,” “ASTROTHUNDER,” and “YOSEMITE.” I was beginning to expect a lull in the album because that is what is supposed to naturally. There are ebbs and flows in album quality, nothing to be ashamed. So, imagine my surprise when I am half through the 13th track, and a new, unfamiliar voice appears. It is distinctly different from Travis’ voice, but in a good way. It is a voice that breathes fresh air in like a bright, spring morning. The voice is unique, in a higher pitch. And it’s perfect, from the moment you hear the voice, you are captivated. The way it grabs the hook of “CAN’T SAY” and jams it into your ear, planning on never letting go. The way that it floats on the rest of the track effortlessly, stealing the thunder of Travis Scott, shining in a way that no one believed it would. No one realized that it would be the best feature on the album, let alone the best feature of the year. It’s when they get stuck on that one minute stretch that the voice controlled, repeating it each time it comes on. Don Toliver did something magical on the 13th song of ASTROWORLD. His jersey should be hung in the rafters of life for his contribution to society.