Top 10 Rap Singles of 2018


In the course of wrangling up a big dumb “2018 In Review” piece, I’ve spent a lot of time bumping local music. It’s not enough, though. Know that I’m not an expert. Really establishing a list deserves a panel to hash things out, brackets to argue about details, and days of listening & talking. Who has time for that?

So, here’s a quick and dirty list of my favorites, looking back. Props to everyone hustling hard this year. It was actually difficult to narrow all this down. These are my personal picks, pal. There are more than a few huge, obvious omissions, too. Forgive me in advance. Let’s begin.

Overall, I’d say this was one of the very best rap songs of the year. Jibba “The Gent” built a real hit here. New Jersey rapper Ren Thomas is the spotlight secret weapon, but everyone comes correct, especially Rico James on that beat. Video coming soon.

That whole So.802 camp finished strong. While it’s not the most socially conscious track to come out of Vermont this year, “Murda” was still a standout. The composition helps this one shine, the opening verse leads off at a great pace and the hook is genuinely catchy. All the verses are on point, too — when these cats try to one-up each other, we all win.

When I first heard this cut, it was deep into random Soundcloud autoplay while I was working and DZY’s verse immediately grabbed me. The beat here is great, everyone flexes a different style, and I still bump this at work, just not on accident. 2018 was a year when new heads really impressed me. Either I’m getting soft or they’re getting good.

Speaking of dope new cats: Asah Mack has been on a flawless run this year. I’ve always been impressed with Sasha Travis / NOtation, he just started much further along the growth curve than the average artist does. These two going in over some David Chief raw shit is…well, there should be an album of this. Their styles are a great contrast.

XP is a veteran and a legend. He’s mentored and influenced a lot of talented artists here. His catalog is insane. He’s been a steady presence this year, working with new proteges like Alpha, working with old friends with Raw Deff, but this particular track blew me away. It’s deeply personal and written with a laser engraver. Dig it.

The Aztext crew never left. They scored a hit this summer with “Everyday Sun,” a Rico James banger with a Xenia Dunford hook, but I think my favorite joint this year from the extended crew was this GOOD WTHR single. It’s a beautiful beat and both verses are honed nicely — it takes a lot of experience to make conceptual tracks like this sound this effortless. Looking forward to what AZT fam brings us in 2019.

Eyedos has been relatively quiet in the second half of this year, but that’s only because he works so hard. Besides, the Minds Eye Tribe project ILLiterature was an extra-large statement. This “MET Cypher” was the manifesto, a long burner that kicks off with a killer Sa-Roc verse.

Alabaster Samovars dropped a dope album this year. Their self-titled debut was a polished gem. Producer Remington Iron has all kinds of flavor on deck and rapper The Marijuana Pot Man has some sly, hilarious bars on deck. “Against Nature,” however, was my single favorite slice.

Choosing my favorite Freddie Losambe single was tough. Rather than continue to fret over what was most representative, I went with “Good Health,” a pure take laid over a real nice beat that showcases some of his range and all of his character & heart. Turn this one up. This is medicine, right here.

…damn, that’s almost a Top 10, huh? I can’t let this go without giving Yung Breeze a shout. He’s been stacking bars and singles from all kinds of subgenres this year, and promises that what’s to come is even better. Still, this is my favorite track he’s dropped this year — a sermon of a performance split into two monster verses.

Shout out to some close contenders: Mavstar, Juni, Drive, Teece Luvv, D.FRENCH, and Bulletproof Dolla. Also, big thanks to BL Spitz for giving VTHH a shout on his single “KULTURE VULTURE.” Appreciate the support!

Justin Boland