Top 50 hip hop songs of 2018 – Part 1 of 10

During the first half of November 2019, I’ll be looking back on my top 50 songs of 2018. This is both in preparation for my 2019 list, and to perhaps help enlighten some others of some great songs they may have missed.

I’ll be doing this in 10 parts (with 5 songs each), with the first being today, and another coming out each weekday for the next 2 weeks. So, with that said, read on, listen to some of the songs, and let me know what you think.

• Boogie – Self Destruction

Although it was the lead single for Boogies 2019 album ‘Everything’s for Sale’, the song ‘Self Destruction’ was actually released way back in May of 2018. It was released alongside a music video, and is one of the only songs in my top 50 that I feel was made better by the video, so I would highly recommend checking that out here!

The beat itself is quite simple on this one, combining a looped Piano-like synth with some simple drums to create a real eerie kind of vibe. Where this song really shines is Boogies versatility over the seemingly 1 dimensional beat.

Boogie seamlessly switches up from sounding super blasé on the hook, to changing up flows multiple times and rapping like a madman during the verses. The multisyllabic rhymes at times are insane, such as ‘ But it’s still fuck your broken system, postin pictures, postin scriptures, hoes and n*ggas, bro’s and snitches, co-defendants, rollin’ skimps your frozen wrist, your goals and missions’. There are multiple ‘stank face’ moments like this throughout the track which are a lot of fun to rap along with, and increase the overall enjoyability of the track.

The chorus is another stand out feature of ‘Self Destruction’. Although it’s really nothing too amazing musically, this is the kind of hook that’s great to sing along to if you want to feel like a boss. The way Boogie raps ‘It goes something something something, can’t remember nothing, still don’t give no fucks, while wilin’ out in public’ so nonchalantly just oozes charisma and that ‘I don’t care’ attitude, and singing along makes me feel the same.

Overall ‘Self Destruction’ is an ignorance filled, fun, catchy and super quotable track, and despite not being my favourite from his album, It worked at getting me hyped up, and was a great introduction to Boogie (especially the video which includes a snippet of another song at the end)

• Little Simz – Offence

Offence is a single released in September 2018 from Little Simz’ 2019 Album ‘Grey Area’. ‘Offence’ is fire straight out of the gate with a catchy bass guitar (one of my personal favourite uses of bass guitar in 2018) combined with a simple drum pattern which continues throughout the song, giving Simz lots of room to flex her rapping ability. But it’s the other facets of the beat which make the song truely exciting. It’s almost like Simz went on Kenny Beat’s ‘The Cave’ and asked for the filthiest bass guitar riff he could find, with a circus filter over the top.

Although the Bass Guitar creates a dark, eerie kinda sound, the circus like sounds mixed with the light-hearted delivery of the chorus give the song a much more fun sound. There is also a super nice little beat change during the second verse, where the bass guitar and drums are replaced by a piano for a few seconds, really giving Simz another chance to flaunt her fantastic flow, before suddenly shifting back to the bass guitar-led beat we’re use to by this point.

In terms of Little Simz’ contribution to the track? Wow! Vocally this is one my favourite Little Simz songs ever. The lyrics, flows, rhymes, and just how well she utilises the beat is amazing. Throughout the song Simz flows effortlessly, sometime rapping in calm manner, sometimes rapping quite erratically over the busy beat, but no matter the flow she sounds so confident during the whole track.

Overall I feel like this song is just about Little Simz flexing her ability to rap and write well, regardless off what others have to say. A couple of my favourite lines from the song back this; “I’m Jay-Z on a bad day, Shakespeare on my worst days”

& “You are not the toughest or baddest, My pen is the maddest, I’ve probably ended careers and it’s never out of malice”

In summary, ‘Offence’ was a great single for the amazing 2019 album ‘Grey Area’, and one which got me hyped for what more she had to offer. It’s a fun listen, exciting start to end, and at the end of the day it’s got some real damn good rapping on it too. Check out the Video for Offence Here!

Kodie Shane – Love & Drugz II (Ft Trippie Redd)

Kodie Shane – Love and Drugz 2

Kodie Shane is an artist I have followed for years, and who I have often thought of as having a sound similar to Trippie Redd’s, so it came as no surprise to me that this collaboration between the two was as good as it is.

The beat on this is beautiful. Kind of a difficult beat to put into words, but imagine you’re watching some anime and everyone is at a funeral, and that’s what this beat sounds like. Then add in the distorted vocals in the background, and the rattling hi-hats and you have this beautiful result. Bit of a side note, I’m a sucker for good bass in songs, and this is one that utilises the bass really well, it hits at all the right times.

Combine the beauty and mystery of the beat with the lyrical content (love and drugs surprisingly), and you get a real vibe of a song. It’s like you’ve gone through a break up and all you’ve got left is the drugs and a whole lot of memories.

Despite loving the beat, the thing that kept me coming back to this track was the melodies and overall vocal performance by both Kodie and Trippie. The whole song is just the two of them flowing with ease over the beat in their singing/rapping ways, and both of them sound amazing. A highlight for me personally is the transition from Kodie to Trippie in the first verse (probably one of the best transitions to a feature artists in recent years);

“Kodie: L-O-V-E, H-A-T-E, Love me and hate me, you know how it go

Trippie: T-R-I-P, Bitch R.I.P, I cannot answer the phone cause I’m gone”.

The song as a whole is fantastic. The feature from Trippie is one of my favourites ever, but Kodie doesn’t get outshone at all, bringing just as strong as a performance both vocally and lyrically. If you enjoy this song I’d highly recommend checking out her 2018 album ‘Young HeartThrob’ and going from there.

Love & Drugz II also has a minimalistic cartoon music video which can be found here!

Future – Stains

2018 was a fantastic year for movie soundtracks, with multiple movies having almost entirely hip hop soundtracks. One of these was for ‘Superfly’, and my personal standout from it is the Future song ‘Stains’.

Going into the album, I didn’t really have high expectations, as I’m not a big future fan, and soundtracks were usually pretty lame (until 2018 at least), so I was super surprised when I ended up finding what still is my favourite Future song ever.

‘Stains’ has one of the most beautiful beats of 2018, with these almost hypnotic sounding synths leading the way, laced with subtle trap drums and a bunch of different sounds and effects thrown in the mix throughout to keep the song exciting all the way through. A great example of this is in the first verse, where Future raps ‘My Migo the coldest, he got me the frozest’ and the beat has like this synth in the background that just adds an extra layer to the song.

Future himself absolutely does the beat justice, flowing as smooth as butter over the duration of the track. His flow throughout is just so nice, rapping in all the right pockets, and letting the beat breathe a bit when needed. The chorus is catchy without being repetitive at all, the verses are full of decent quotables and metaphors, and the song doesn’t drag on at all. Also a side note, Future is super comprehensible on here, which I feel really helps with my enjoyment. Special shoutout to the following lines, which are my favourite part of the track;

“Colossal, Enormous,

Have you seen my Performance?

You Makin’ it drizzle,

I got it thunder and Stormin’”

Overall a stellar track, and easily one of my favourite future tracks of all time. Similarly to Drakes ‘Passionfruit’, this is one of the only songs I can put on anytime and have the beat just put me in a trance, the fact that I enjoy Future’s performance on here so much is just an added bonus that pushes this song up into ‘Top 50’ territory.

• A$AP Rocky – Fukk Sleep

‘Fukk Sleep’ from Rocky’s 2018 album ‘Testing’ is a track that I feel like really slipped under the radar initially, and was one of the most underrated on the album. It started getting a bit more traction once the Music Video dropped (which is amazing by the way, check it out here), but I still feel Rocky doesn’t get the credit he deserves for how good this song is

From the mood-setting beat, to Rocky’s amazing bars, to the 10/10 feature from FKA Twigs, this song really is exceptional. The only gripe I have with the song is that I feel the intro goes for a little too long, and that you could cut 10-15 seconds from the 30 second intro to make it a little bit more short and sweet. But yeah, other than that this is a near perfect example of experimental A$AP Rocky done right.

From the start the beat sets a real scene, it makes you feel like you’re in a dark place, and it’s the middle of the night, and there’s just people everywhere just droning on like zombies. But there is also this layer of polish or class to the beat, which makes me feel like I’m surrounded by rich zombies, like I’m in a casino at 4am with a bunch of cocaine snorting accountants, or I’m in a warehouse playing poker with a bunch of rich nobodies.

As can be expected, Rocky flows over the beat with ease. His melodic delivery on the hook is smooth and catchy, his transitions between verses and hooks are done well, and most importantly, the actual bars on the verses are real crisp. And, on top of all this he is constantly changing up his flows and deliveries on the song. Subject wise it’s nothing really new, touching on making it from ‘nothing to something’ in terms of money, as a musician, and even as a figure in the fashion world. A standout couple of bars for me personally is the simple;

“Got new bags under my eyelids,

New bags up in my closet,

New bags like I went shopping,

New bags on new bags”

Now, I can’t mention this song without touching on the stunning feature by FKA Twigs. As the third and final verse of the song, her verse acts almost as an outro, and is such a beautiful way to close out the song (despite there being another chorus after). The hook from Rocky transitions into the angelic voice of FKA Twigs perfectly, as she starts with “They call me a bitch…” and continues to hold your attention easily for the remainder of her verse. If the idea of the song is ‘fuck Sleep’, then this is staying awake to the point of hallucinating and hearing the angels. Not only is her verse amazing, but the backing vocals she provides before and afterwards add an amazing layer to Rocky’s vocals as well.

Overall, I think this is like peak experimental Rocky. One of my favourite songs of his, maybe my favourite, and one of my favourite features from a female vocalist ever. I hope to see them work together again, and hope Rocky continues to experiment moving forward because I really feel he is capable of not only having great ideas, but actually being able to put them into motion too

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