Written, complied, edited by Micah Drago, illseed, Rashad D. Grove and Chuck "Jigsaw" Creekmur.
(AllHipHop Features) How do you come to a list of "Top Hip-Hop Artists" in the year 2018. Well, my friends, I promise you it is not easy. Our list for the Top 15 Albums of the year, has already gotten people talking, the good and the critical. Factually, it is hard and with a site name like AllHipHop, it is exponentially harder. Satanic Hip-Hop gets no love here, but just about ever genre, subgenre and style of Hip-Hop gets a 21-gun salute over here. Furthermore, our staff is diverse in age, music tastes and geographic location. In composing this list, we decided to offer some criteria that includes cultural impact, artistic merits, commercial viability, and other factors like pop ubiquity. Who were the artists that simply kept us talking, listening and even debating about? Take a deep breath and check out AllHipHop's Top 15 Hip-Hop artists of 2018.
1. Cardi B - You don’t have to like Cardi B’s music, but you can’t deny that she had a monster year. While many of Cardi’s biggest hits came in 2017, the release of her debut album Invasion of Privacy in April 2018 was completely solidified her spot in this competition. Every year we hear a handful of artists who have massive hits only to release a disappointing album—but not Cardi B. Invasion of Privacy was met with critical acclaim, broke records and even got the stamp of approval from artsy types like Questlove. On top of that, another #1 single in “I Like It” makes it hard to argue against Cardi B this year. Lastly, Cardi, in all of her appearances and platforms, she kept us thoroughly entertained.
2. Travis Scott - At a time where so many mainstream Hip-Hop artists seem to blow up for everything but music, Travis Scott is doing the exact opposite. "SickoMode" with Drake was one of the best songs of the year and the promo push of Astroworld hearkened to a day gone in Hip-Hop. You won’t find Travis Scott doing many interviews or at the center of controversy, but Travis Scott was without a doubt one of the best artists of 2018. He even got the attention of rocker Tommy Lee, who wanted all the smoke. And, no...he's not a Kardashian!
3. Drake - It would be difficult to make a list of top rappers for any of the past 10 years without including Drake, but 2018 has been one of his strongest campaigns to date. Not only did Drake have a solid album in Scorpion and three huge singles in “Nice for What,” “God’s Plan,” and “In My Feelings,” but the latter of those singles was the soundtrack to one of the most popular viral challenges of 2018. Lastly, Drake's tour with The Migos, Aubrey & the Three Migos Tour, was an incredible experience that continuously went viral from date to date. All in all, it was a great year for Drizzy, dispite that little matter with Pusha T.
4. Jay-Z/Beyoncé/ THE CARTERS - Every year, Hov fans around the world wonder what the Brooklyn rapper has left in the tank. Last year, he shook up the world with 444, and re-established himself through an adult contemporary lens. Jay-Z and Beyoncé took their union to a new level with Everything Is Love. The album and subsequent tour represented a different sound for both artists, effectively elevating their respective stars without selling out. Jay-Z shook up the world on Meek Mill's Championships albums with great bars of substance on “What’s Free." He even turned down the Super Bowl in support of embattled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
5. J Cole - J Cole is always a fixture in Hip-Hop, but he doesn’t normally have as strong a year as he did in 2018. His 2018 album KOD was one of the best projects of the year, but that’s not what made this such a great year for Cole. A quick look at some of the features he’s done this year will show you not only the volume of work he’s put in, but the sheer number of great tracks J Cole has been a part of and often responsible for. He even gave us "Album Of The Year (Freestyle)" for good measure.
6. Eminem - It may be time to accept that we’re never getting the old Eminem back, but in 2018, we kinda did. Despite coming off a few albums that many fans would consider disappointing, Eminem had a great year. A few people like Joe Budden and Tyler The Creator didn't like some of his past work and Em got pissed again. On top of that, he became embroiled in one of the most interesting beefs of the year with MGK (Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly). Em's album, Kamikaze, was a lyrical exercise for the ages and proof that he could still entertain.
7. Pusha T - If you’re a fan of Pusha T, chances are you’ve been happy with what you’ve heard from him in the past decade or so. Push consistently makes good music with a cohesive sound to it. However, 2018 was the first time in a while that Pusha T has been front and center in Hip-Hop. Between having one of the top albums of 2018 in Daytona and being the first to really get Drake in his feelings (no pun intended) with rap beef, Push definitely earned a spot on this list.
8. Kendrick Lamar - Kendrick Lamar? "He didn't drope a solo album in 2018," says a random Twitter user. Despite this fact, K-Dot left his indelible mark on us this year. He helmed the soundtrack to "Black Panther" and the effort got him eight Grammy nominations - more than any other artist. We also have to say, we were particularly impressed when Kendrick played a murderous fiend on "Power," alongside of 50 Cent.
9. Brockhampton - Brockhampton is a whole paradigm shift. The collective has continued to offer a unique proposition in Hip-Hop, as a self-inclusive group that outwardly resembles traditional collectives. The Texas-born group dropped their fourth studio album, Iridescence, on September 21, 2018 and it immediately rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard's Top 200. This also represented their comeback without Ameer Vann (kicked out for alleged sexual improprieties) and the beginnings of a six album deal with RCA worth $15 million.
10. T.I. - In 2018, it seemed like T.I. was in the fight of his career - the battle for legacy. He wanted to make it perfectly clear that he was the founder of Trap Music and released The Dime Trap to back up his claims. It may not have moved as many units as others in his class, but it was an impeccable work that showed how much the rapper has grown. It also showed he has at more in the tank after 17 years of rapping professionally. Flaws and all, Tip continued to expand his empire with "The Grand Hustle," his BET business competition, and his social justice voice was loud as ever on all of his platforms.
Here is our interview with T.I. that is a nice review of everything he accomplished in 2018.
11. Curren$y - Every rapper likes to think they wake up and grind every day, but nobody does it better than Curren$y. Nearly 15 years into his career, Curren$y is still putting out music at impressive rates every year—and the quality is always there. In 2018 alone, Curren$y dropped 5 solo mixtapes and Fetti, a joint project with Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist. If you’re a fan of Spitta, 2018 was a good year for you. Fiyaaaaa!
12. Nipsey Hussle - Can you believe Victory Lap is Nipsey Hussle's first major label release? Nip has been clawing his way to the top for a very long time and now he is here. As a rapper, he's topping every list with his opus. For many, he represents the strength of the "other West Coast" rap scene and now he is nominated for Rap Album Of The Year for the Grammys. He's decidedly gangsta, but also revolutionary in a great many ways. Every time we see the 🏁 emoji, we are reminded that a real one is operating at the highest levels in music.
13. The Migos - It is a pretty universal opinion that The Migos did not have their best musical year in 2018, but that does not stop them from being on this list. The group released Culture II and scored a pair of big hits that kept heads bopping. On top of that both Takeoff and Quavo both released solo efforts this year, The Last Rocket and Quavo Huncho respectively. And the maverick member Offset kept us entertained with his antics, from revealing he used to dance for Whitney Houston, to buying the first Lambo truck to his ill-fated relationship with Cardi B. The tour with Drake, solidified their impact as a group to be reckoned with.
14. Meek Mill - Meek Mill dropped Championships right at the close of these lists and a fulfilling album it was. The Philly rapper gave fans of all ages and walks of life what they were looking for, from ratchet anthems to bars over classic beats. More importantly, Meek's legal quandary stayed on the forefront and he became a media darling for pervasive issues with the judicial system. Meek gets a whole article on why he's important. Read it here: 2018: How Meek Mill Became The Voice of A Generation & The People’s Champ.
15. TheGriselda Records Crew (Conway The Machine, Westside Gunn, Benny The Butcher, Daringer) - Make no mistake, we are Hip-Hop purists at heart, but have love for All Hip-Hop (pun intended). In the name of hardcore New York rap, we had to include the crew over at Griselda Records. These Buffalo-bred rogues are affiliated with Eminem, but have no pop sensibilities whatsoever. Beats and bars. In 2018, they exerted their might over the systems in rap with very little sign of Shady. Westside Gunn alone dropped Supreme Blientele (LP), Hitler Wears Hermes V (mixtape), Hitler Wears Hermes VI (mixtape) and FLYGOD Is Good... All The Time (EP). Conway The Machine released The Blakk Tape and and his latest, Everybody Is F.O.O.D., is an instant classic. Last but not least, Benny The Butcher came through with Tana Talk, which is as hard as anything out now. It feels like old New York with production from Daringer and The Alchemist. This list is typically for artists that garner mainstream accolades, but Griselda's impact in Hip-Hop counter culture is undeniable. Salute!