Look at the time! We’ve already crossed into the second half of 2018, and it feels like we’ve only just begun. Now seems like a good time to take a look back at the first half of the year and consider the best music we’ve gotten so far. There have been a ton of projects released this year, and some have stood out more than others. Today we’ll take a moment to revisit what we consider to be 7 of the best projects to have dropped this year. As always, let us know your thoughts! Are we missing anything?
Philthy Rich drops so much music that it’s difficult to keep up sometimes. But his May release N.E.R.N.L. 4 stood out for being a well rounded effort with great production, well selected collaborators, and stand out singles such as “Dope Boy” and “Off Safety”.
With talk of a looming retirement rearing its head in just about every one of Philthy’s interviews, it’s releases like N.E.R.N.L. 4 that makes fans hope for a change of mind. I for one am hoping that Philthy continues working the new album, because there’s definitely something special there.
By mid-2018 it’s no question that ALLBLACK is the hottest up and coming rapper in the Bay Area. His KIMSON EP was the release that entered his name into the conversation in a real way, but he doubled down the effort with the DTB produced Outcalls EP in April. He dropped off 10 new tracks that outlined how life as an Oakland pimp can be when chasing the bag and rap aspirations.
The former cornerback delivers his isms with clever football metaphors. He refers to making big business moves as running plays, and calls the heels his roster of girls wear, cleats. ALLBLACK is next to blow, we’re calling it. Outcalls was the right body of music to make his case.
We may a be a little biased here because we dropped Benny’s debut last month, but the Vallejo rappers first full length release does a good job of highlighting his strengths as a songwriter while giving us a peek into what we expect will be a long and successful career. On Dangerous, Benny opens up about the anxiety he feels hustling in the streets and the pressure he feels to prove to his loved ones that music will provide his deliverance.
SOB x RBE has been the Bay Area’s top dogs since they kicked the door down in 2016 with “Anti” and the 2017 release of their self-titled mixtape. Come 2018 the 4 member rap group from Vallejo had collaborated with Kendrick Lamar, had a short lived beef with the Migos, and had gone on multiple national tours. The only thing left to do was solidify their place by releasing their debut album.
Gangin carries much of the same energy as the group’s first effort, minus the feverish virality of cuts like “Anti”, “Lane Changing”, and “Calvin Cambridge”. What Gangin does best was showcase how SOB x RBE grew in the past year. Their debut album is more cohesive and features more original production with less samples. We can’t talk about Gangin without mentioning Lul G’s personal growth that is displayed on his verses throughout the album, though he didn’t appear until track 3.
Husalah went nearly a decade without dropping a project, and even considers April’s H to be his debut album. It’s interesting considering that he’s been apart of the Bay Area’s rap scene for twenty years and is often mentioned as one of the Bay’s greatest rappers off all time.
The reason H is one of the best projects of 2018 has to do mainly with the fact that Husalah doesn’t miss a step on the ambitious 15 track album. On full display are his diverse musical influences, rather they be Sade classics, Mac Dre, or Roots Reggae. He finds a way to offer listeners a musically mature product while managing to give them exactly what they want and remember him for. He’s grown since the days of Hustlin Since The 80’s, but slaps like “Humpin” and “M.O.B.” prove he hasn’t forgotten how to turn up.
Odie made the only album on this list that might make shed a tear. The 10 track album finds Toronto born, Bay Area settling singer exploring a number of different genres while finding a grounding center in R&B and Soul.
Odie counts Kid Cudi, Coldplay, and Fela Kuti among his musical inspirations, and their influences can be discovered throughout Analogue‘s DNA. The album is an expansive coming of age tale that finds Odie in the midst of anxiously searching for answers to questions about love, responsibility, and meaning. The last thing I’ll say here is that “North Face” is a masterpiece. Don’t just take my word for it though.
Sacramento’s Shootergang Kony is building quite the name for himself. The Shootergang representative may have began as the #2 man, behind Shootergang Jojo, but has since emerged as the leading man with a promising future thanks to really strong showings on celebrated records. A few such records like “Location On The Flyer”, “King Kony”, and “Warm Up” appear on his May release, March Madness (I know, ironic).
On the EP’s 8 tracks, Kony paints the picture of a dangerous hometown, Sacramento’s Oak Park. He shares tales of shootouts and streets beefs that have left friends and enemies lifeless. Unsettlingly, he often does so in a way that strips the gravity away from the gloom of those situations. Reckless abandon and a lack of respect for life come through many of his lyrics, and are not wrapped neatly in a light cartoonish package, like say an Eminem’s “Kill You”. Dark musings like “I didn’t think I was the nigga til his body hit the floor”, feel just realistic enough to be true.