The year 2018 had some of the best Hip-Hop and R&B albums that have been released in a number of years, including some legitimate rap beefs that have helped make hip-hop become relevant for the right reasons. Even still with the spotlight on many big-name artists like Drake, The Carters, Kanye West and more, there were some solid artists that flew under our musical radar. It’s shame when you think about it because, with more notoriety, these albums would get the credit they deserve. But don’t fret, although you may have missed out on these gems last year, I’m about to give you a list of seven albums – and some honorable mentions – that need to be in your 2019 rotation.
The first on the list, Rough Drafts Pt. 1 by Trevor Jackson. The twenty-two-year-old Grown-Ish actor released his major label debut in March of 2018 and it was better than expected. I will admit, I didn’t even give it a listen until the fall of last year but better late than never. R&B fans, you need Jackson’s vocals in your life.
Following RD1 are 4 AM Mulholland/After 4 AM by Amerie. That’s right, Amerie who has been fairly silent since 2009’s In Love & War. After almost a decade of silence, the thirty-eight-year-old singer released a surprise double album in October of 2018. The “1 Thing” singer shared with Billboard that she has been focusing on writing books but now feels like there is still something she needs to prove in the industry. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction
Next, on the R&B side of things, NBA star Victor Oladipo is getting buckets off the court with his sophomore effort, V.O. In the follow up to his debut album, Songs for You, we see Oladipo explore a more mature side of R&B with some of music’s best crooners on the features. Eric Bellinger (who also released a great album in 2018 “Eazy Call”), Trey Songz and Tory Lanez lend a helping hand to give this album a solid boost.
There are few singers that have the kind of vocal range that truly captivates the listener and on 99, Janine does just that. With a range comparable to that of Mariah Carey, the seductive and smoothness that comes from her voice fits perfectly to help usher in a new era of R&B genius. After her first two mixtapes, this debut album is perfectly timed to help fulfill all your rhythm and blues needs.
Jumping to hip-hop, ONEPOINTFIVE by Amine’ was one of the best lyrical efforts of the year for hip-hop. The Portland MC is in near perfect form from the intro track to the closing song. Lyrically, there are some hidden gems on songs like REEL IT IN, DR. WHOEVER, CHINGY, and BLACKJACK that show how well versed the young artist is. This album shows how hungry Amine’ is and how he is ready for his due recognition.
Rare is the MC that can consistently provide lyricism that is top shelf material. On Book of Ryan, Royce Da 5’9 gives consistent flow that reminds you that he is one of the most gifted artists in the game. And whether you want to admit it or not…he is better than about half of rappers today. This album just helps solidify it.
We’ve all seen it. It’s inevitable honestly. That winner taking that extra lap around the track just to remind you and everyone else that they’re on top. 2018 was Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap around hip-hop. It took just over a decade but Nipsey’s getting his dues. On his official debut album, we find the Los Angeles native at the top of his game and this album climbing to the top of hip-hop. The Grammy-nominated Victory Lap is easily the best album of the year and finds one of the most underrated MC’s in the game at his best. Hussle described it as “everything hip-hop represents.” And quite honestly, that’s easily the best way to talk about it.
1. Oxnard – Anderson.Paak
2. Nyla – Marsha Ambrosius
3. Let the Trap Say Amen – Lecrae
4. Eazy Call – Eric Bellinger
5. Series 31873.0 – Sammie
6. DROGAS Wave – Lupe Fiasco
7. Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae