The streaming era has brought upon a marked change in music consumption. A single used to herald the arrival of an upcoming album. Now, it can have the opposite effect, pushing an album back in order to maximize streaming numbers. Soon, memories of buying a new CD on Tuesday morning will fade. That’s not to say the album as an art form has died. Artists continue to deliver full-fledged bodies of work and will continue to do so for years to come.

There is a reason for that. The album is simply the most creatively fulfilling means of spreading one’s message. It allows for introspection and braggadocio to coexist on the same plan; likewise for nuance and ostentation, hedonism and reflection. We cannot speak to an artist’s intent in curating their message. Not why they arranged songs the way they did, nor the significance of their title track, nor the importance of the opening and closing chapters. All we can do is interpret as we see fit. And that’s part of the experience. What separates the memorable projects from the fleeting. After all, longevity stands among the most important measures of success in the rap game.

It’s been well documented that 2018 has yielded many excellent projects. In that sense, our job in assembling the strongest selections proved difficult. Many criteria were considered and many discussions were had. In looking through this list, rest assured that every selection is a well-crafted, listenable project in a variety of different ways. Of course, certain omissions may leave blood boiling, and our cutoff period of November 26th left certain albums off the table; still, debate and discussion are encouraged. With that in mind, here are the thirty best albums of the year.

Contributions by:

Mitch Findlay
Rose Lilah
Devin Ch
Alex Zidel
Aron A.
Zaynab
Patrick Lyons
Trevor Smith