#1 Rap Albums of 2018

Eminem — Revival (“River”) 1 week
Migos — Culture II (“Motorsport”) 1 week
Black Panther Soundtrack (“All The Stars”) 3 weeks
Logic — Bobby Tarantino II (“44 More”) 1 week
XXXTentacion — ? (“SAD!”) 1 week
Cardi B — Invasion of Privacy (“Bodak Yellow” / “I Like It”) 1 week
J Cole — KOD (“ATM”) 1 week
Post Malone — beerbongs & bentleys (“Rockstar” / “Psycho”) 3 weeks
Kanye West — Ye (“Yikes”) 1 week
Drake — Scorpion (“God’s Plan” / “Nice For What” / “In My Feelings”) 5 weeks
Travis Scott — ASTROWORLD (“Sicko Mode”) 3 weeks
Eminem — Kamikaze (“Lucky You”) 1 week
Lil Wayne — Tha Carter V (“Uproar”) 1 week
Metro Boomin — Not All Heroes Wear Capes (“No Complaints”) 1 week
Meek Mill — Championships (“What’s Free”) 1 week
XXXTentacion — Skins (“BAD!”) 1 week
Kodak Black — Dying To Live (“Zeze”) 1 week

Coming into 2018, the record for most #1 rap albums in a single year was 11. This happened 4 times: in 2004, and then each of the last 3 years (2015–2017). This year, a new mark was set with 17 #1 rap albums.

The 2 links below look at the history of #1 rap albums:

Let’s now look at 2018.

Eminem is a legend with a huge built-in fanbase, which propelled this album to #1. However, it is awful. He can still rap of course, but the chemistry of the music never comes together. The collaboration with Beyonce is like musical oil and water. The Cranberries’ sample just makes me want to turn this off and listen to The Cranberries instead. Revival joins Encore and The Marshall Mathers LP 2 in the bottom tier of Em’s discography.

The Migos followed up their first #1 album in 2017 with a #1 sequel. There are the smash singles, and the Migos do their now-familiar thing all over the rest of the album. They were also recruited to do ad-libs only on Jay-Z & Beyonce’s “APESH*T” in an interesting guest appearance. As a side-note, The Carters’ album Everything Is Love peaked at #2 this year, but was as good as or better than most of the albums that went #1. Takeoff and Quavo released solo albums this year that performed well, but the Migos are at their best as a group. There’s going to be a Culture III in 2019, as they go for the 3-peat.

The Black Panther movie was a moment. It made $1.3 billion worldwide, and Kendrick Lamar ran point on a terrific soundtrack featuring various artists. He appears on 5 of the 14 tracks. Khalid & Swae Lee, 2 of the new generation’s finest R&B talents, collaborate for a song. Travis Scott, The Weekend, SZA and Vince Staples all shine in their appearances here as well. This soundtrack is nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy.

Logic had his first #1 album last year and followed it up with another. There’s a Rick & Morty intro, and guest appearances from Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz & Big Sean. Logic’s Bobby Tarantino alter-ego makes “conscious trap music”. Later in the year, Logic released another album, YSIV, under his Young Sinatra alter-ego. That peaked at #2.

XXXTentacion used elements of rock and alternative music effectively. Yes, he was a rapper, but was also a genre-bender. His songs are short, as they are more like quick emotional outbursts than fully formed narratives. Some are pretty catchy. X was murdered 3 months after this album’s release by armed robbers outside a motorcycle dealership.

I first heard Cardi B as a guest on Joe Budden’s podcast. He was talking about how she was going to be a star because of her personality. Then “Bodak Yellow” happened and Cardi was off to the races. She married Offset of the Migos, feuded with Nicki Minaj, collaborated with Bruno Mars and became a huge celebrity in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Sure, every song on this album has at least 5 writers, and I know people that refuse to listen to it because she’s not a “true MC”, but it’s good pop music. Invasion of Privacy is nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy. Yes, for real.

There are only 3 rappers whose first 5 major album releases have all hit #1. First it was DMX, then Drake, and now J Cole. KOD stands for Kids On Drugs, King OverDosed, and Kill Our Demons. Cole takes on materialism, drug culture and the spiritual cost of self-medication. He has always been on the mature end of the hiphop spectrum, and delivers here again.

It was just a matter of time before there was a white autotune rap superstar. With rock and roll there was Elvis. With 1990’s hardcore rap there was Eminem. And now with autotune rap, there is Post Malone. His music is good, don’t get me wrong. But in November 2017 he told Polish media outlet NewOnce that hiphop music lacks “people talking about real shit” and “if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop”. Of course, this album is nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy. Watch it win too.

It’s been quite a year for Kanye West. He took heavy criticism for aligning with Donald Trump, misogynistic comments about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and wildly offensive comments about slavery being “a choice”. He went on several lengthy Twitter rants. Is Kanye lost, or is he just being a shameless attention-seeking provocateur? This album was the 2nd of 5 7-track albums released in consecutive weeks by Kanye’s GOOD Music label. The 1st, Pusha T’s Daytona, was the best of the bunch. It peaked at #3. This one is just OK, but like Eminem, Kanye’s brand alone gets him to #1 regardless of the music’s quality. Ye is his 7th consecutive #1 album.

Drake has released 8 albums, and all 8 have gone to #1. Nobody else in rap has ever done that. He has a song with Michael Jackson and doesn’t sound out of place. Pusha T dissed him on Daytona, revealing that he had a kid (“you are hiding a child”), but didn’t get his name called out on Scorpion. It stayed at #1 for 5 weeks; no other album in 2018 had more than 3 weeks at #1. There are 3 #1 singles off this album, and a plethora of other good songs. Drake is still going strong.

I saw Travis Scott open for Kendrick Lamar in the summer of 2017:

Now he’s headlining his own tour, and becoming a superstar. He’s scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl, though he is getting pressure to boycott it to support Colin Kaepernick’s movement. No one has ever accused Travis of being “conscious” or even “responsible”, so I expect him to strike while the iron is hot, perform, and grow his international audience. As for ASTROWORLD itself, it’s quite good, though I prefer his previous album, 2016’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, which also hit #1. “Sicko Mode” with Drake became a #1 single after Kanye went on a Twitter rant about it, so thanks Kanye.

Eminem proves that he can still make good music! Unlike Revival, this album is excellent. Eminem in battle mode is still the best Eminem, and he goes at his critics throughout. He also took shots at Machine Gun Kelly, inspiring the diss record “Rap Devil”. Eminem fired back with “Killshot”, a fine battle record, but MGK’s song definitely has more replay value. MGK has never made an album anywhere close to as good as Eminem’s best 5 or 6 though.

Lil Wayne sued Cash Money Records in 2015. That lawsuit was settled this June, clearing the way for this album to be released. In my opinion, Tha Carter V is the best rap album of 2018. Wayne has always been a great rapper, even as a teenager, but has grown into a fantastic all-around artist. Whether rapping spiral staircases on “Can’t Be Broken” or “Mona Lisa”, or delivering pop hits like “What About Me”, he does it all here. This is supposedly the last installment of the Carter album series.

Metro Boomin is a well-established young producer, so it makes sense for him to put together his own album. He has produced a slew of hits for the new generation, and collaborates with a bunch of new school rappers and producers here. This is a hypnotic and chill way to spend 44 minutes.

Championships is Meek Mill’s best album. The throwback beats and more mature perspective temper Meek’s yelling, and he lets the music breathe more than usual. Meek also made an appearance on CNN to promote the album and talk about some real life shit:

Before he was killed, XXXTentacion signed a $10 million deal for his next album. This posthumous release is it. The album is only 20 minutes long, consisting of 10 short tracks, the first of which is a creepy intro in a machine voice. While brief, the other tracks are effective. Kanye West and Travis Barker make guest appearances, and X appeared on Lil Wayne’s Carter V album as well. He was on the rise, but his career was at serious risk of being derailed by his legal issues. Music aside, X was a violent and damaged person. He was facing charges stemming from violent incidents, both domestic and public. A tape came out after his death on which he confesses to much of what he is charged with, and also says the following: “You ever seen somebody get raped? You ever seen somebody try to kill your mom in front of you? Every night you go to sleep and you remember what you seen and you remember how it felt and you remember that horrible feeling in your soul. Nobody can comfort you. It’s something I gotta deal with.” RIP.

21-year-old Kodak Black is a shady character. For the last couple of years, Kodak has been in and out of jail and on and off of house arrest. Most seriously, he’s charged with sexually assaulting a fan in a hotel room in 2016. He goes on trial in April 2019. As far as his music, he’s part of the new wave of mumbly autotune rappers. There are some catchy ones here, but the sound doesn’t vary that much so it can get stale.