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 Monday 4th, 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.
• Moneybagg Yo – Thoughts
Moneybag Yo – Thoughts
‘Thoughts’ is one of many standout tracks from Moneybagg Yo’s mixtape ‘2 Heartless’, released on Valentine’s Day 2018. Moneybagg raps his ass off while the beat is constantly changing and adding new layers to he song to keep things interesting.
A short comedic spoken sample leads straight into Moneybaggs opening hook, which is soon cut off by Moneybagg stating “Ay Sky, if I say anything that’s not raw as possible, Stop the song (Yeah)”. This leads straight into the solid bars that are present throughout the rest of the song.
As stated by Moneybagg, this song is basically just Moneybagg speaking his mind and saying what’s up, and lyrically is full of quotables and great one liners. On top of that, Moneybagg’s delivery, flows and rhymes on this track are absolutely top tier. Moneybagg touches on his loyalty to his squad;
“Fuck a feature I don’t vibe with em,
I got secrets, imma die with em,
I got N*ggas on the stand, imma lie with em,
Any action, Burst fire with em”
Flexes his status as a boss;
“First they pushed me to the side, ignored me,
Now I’m a young legend, reward me”
And also flexes his wealth;
“Back then all they did was doubt me,
Plenty chains on, my neck look crowded”
And that’s all just in the first verse.
The Second verse is also chock full of quotables and a whole range of different flows. I actually personally think the second verse is even better than the first, but I won’t spend forever quoting it as it would take forever. One of my favourite parts of the second verse is the beginning;
“She threw me off, ran to the blogs,
Spread lies on my alias (baby mama),
Had to make my circles smaller than ever,
Time to break down my radius (My Circles)”
Great rhyme, great analogy, and on top of that great delivery. This is just one of many standout moments in the second verse, I really highly recommend you just check it out yourself 😉
Verse’s aside, the hook is good but nothing amazing. It’s catchy, has a solid rhyme scheme, and sounds real good, but compared to the ridiculous verses and beat, the hook is just your average kinda hook.
The beat on the other hand, is full of layers and moments of greatness that really take the song to the next level. For the most part, the beat is just composed of a simple synth and some trap drums, but there are certain sections of each verse where the synth is substituted out for a real nice sounding piano. The piano just adds this extra layer of crispness, while also allowing you to focus even more on what Moneybagg is saying at the time.
Overall ‘Thoughts’ is an almost perfect track start to finish, from the intro to the verses to the hook to the beat, this is just a super well thought out song that was executed just as well. Moneybagg Yo had a fantastic year, with 3 great projects full of great songs, but this is one of the best in terms of lyrics and flows. If you enjoyed this I’d recommend checking out the mixtape it is from, or any of Moneybaggs other projects from the last 2 years
• Youngboy Never Broke Again – No Love
Youngboy Never Broke Again (AKA NBA Youngboy) had something like 8 projects last year alone, and of all of them ‘No Love’ is probably my favourite track overall. No love combines solid bars with catchy melodies over a piano led beat, and is truly taken to the next level in the refrain through Youngboys use of ‘sound effects’ as I call them.
One of the strongest parts of this songs is the chorus (and pre-chorus too). The chorus unsurprisingly touches on the topic of love, with the pre-chorus talking of his desire for love; “I got my head on steady, Going In I cant lose,
Just want your love to be genuine, I’m the one that you use,
And I won’t change for anything, I’ll give it all up for you”
Whereas the chorus itself talks more about giving up on that ‘ideal love’;
“… and baby I don’t need no love,
I just want some money and some drugs,
I’m turned up on the club,
Blow through the ceiling with my thugs”.
Sonically the whole pre-chorus and chorus sound great, with the solid rhymes bringing it all together and make it more memorable.
The song contains just one verse, which is like 30 bars of youngboy just going in, rapping about how he would do anything for his lover and for love. He sounds hungry throughout the verse, and you can really feel his emotion in certain lines. A stand out part for me is;
“Cause in the streets n*gga, we bang for our life,
For you I risked everything, I feel like I paid the price,
If you ain’t happy, I ain’t happy, I just wanna make it right,
I’m taking 20 pills a day might overdose through the night”.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the part of this song that I think truely makes this song amazing is the refrain, and Youngboys use of vocal sound effects. The refrain starts off with;
“On the block with the dog food, truck coming (Bop Bop),
Police coming (Wee-oo-wee), where the fuck to run now?”
, and it’s Youngboys delivery of the ‘bop-bop’ and ‘wee-oo-wee’ that is fantastic. Not only is it real creative musically, but it’s sounds great, and was one of my favourite moments of 2018.
The beat compliments the song nicely, primarily composed of just some drums and a subtle piano melody. There are certain moments where extra layers are added to the beat, such as the pitched up vocal sample in the background that comes in about 1:10 into the song. It’s subtle but a real nice touch.
Overall, ‘No love’ has extremely high highs, and some of the best single moments of any song in 2018. If it weren’t for the Unnecessary outro (that is pretty much just a waste of 50 seconds) then this would be a top 10 contender. The catchy hook plus the amazing refrain has kept me coming back to this song constantly, and I’d highly recommend this song as an entry point for Youngboy, as it’s a good showcase of both his rapping and singing abilities.
• Kevin Gates – Servin H
Servin H was a personal standout from Kevin Gates’ 2018 album ‘Luca Brasi 3’. Not only is the song super catchy, with a good hook and verses, but it scratches my itch of wanting Gates songs that go as hard as ‘Paper Chasers’ from Gates’ 2013 album ‘Luca Brasi Story’.
Although fairly simple, the beat is real crisp and allows Gates to really shine. One of many great Guitar led beats of 2018, Servin H combines a laid back guitar riff with thumping bass and rattling hi hats, and although the beat doesn’t vary much throughout, it actually lends itself well to Gates who is seemingly going Ham for nearly 4 minutes straight.
The hook on this is short and sweet, just being 4 lines repeated twice, but melodically it sounds fantastic, and the best part of the hook is that the transitions from verse>hook and hook>verse are nice and quick and seemless, so Gates is going straight from hook to verse without wasting any time in between. This allows the song to pretty much be great for every second of the song which is rare these days.
The standout feature of this song is easily Gates’ flow on the verses. The first few listens I didn’t even pay attention to the lyrics, I was far too drawn in by how hard Gates goes constantly, how hungry he sounds, and how effortless he makes it all seem. The way he goes from singing a beautiful hook to rapping hard for 16-24 bars is spectacular, and I’d say he is one of the best in the game at doing so. As I paid more attention I realised the song is actually full of great lines too, including one of my favourite little lines of the year;
“New firearm in the arm of my garments”.
In summary, Servin H is the kinda Kevin Gates song I hope to hear every time I peep one of his projects. A good mix of him showcasing his singing skills and also flexing his rapping ability. I feel the first 10 or so seconds could be cut, so it just starts off strong right out the gate, but other than that it’s another almost perfect song, and one of my top 3 or so Kevin Gates songs ever.
• Lil Wayne – Can’t Be Broken
As someone who began listening to music around 07-08, hearing rap songs with pitched up female vocal samples and Lil Wayne rapping bars and bars was the norm for a while, and many of my favourite songs in my early days followed this formula well. I feel like that’s part of the reason ‘Can’t be Broken’ from Lil Wayne’s ‘Tha Carter 5’ resonated with me so much, and why I ended up enjoying it enough that it made the list. It just scratched an itch that doesn’t get much scratching in this day and age.
The song starts with a mellow piano, and with the pitched up female vocals that act as the chorus for the song. Not only is the hook a great bit of nostalgia for people like myself, but it sounds great, is catchy, and also features some great harmonies by weezy himself.
The chorus may be chill and laid back, but the verses are absolutely stuffed with solid bars, quotables, and some of the most ridiculous rhyme schemes of 2018. On the first verse alone, starting with
“They could do all they can do,
But they can’t break unbreakable”
Wayne starts a multisyllabic rhyme scheme, which continues on for the remainder of the whole verse. Not only is he rhyming the same 2 syllables (the ‘ay’ and ‘Oo’ sounds), but he does it 27 times in one verse, and then does a similar thing in the second verse. I felt like this song, as well as ‘Dedicate’ are the only songs from Tha Carter 5 that featured rapping on the same level as his rapping on Dedication 6.
As can be expected, not only is Wayne flexing his ability to rap and rhyme well, but he fills his verses with some exceptional quotables and metaphors. Some personal favourites are, from the first verse;
“They scared to face the truth,
Because they hate the view,
They taste the juice,
I hope it make ‘em puke, I’m breakin’ loose”
“I made the loot,
When money went from army green to navy blue,
I said ‘Salute’,
Bulletproof, I Gave ‘em proof”
And from the second verse;
“Cause I facilitate about a mill a day for like a million days,
At least the bills are paid, the children safe,
Wanna get away? No, I’m here to stay”
“I’m smokiness icky watching Ricki Lake,
I got a lawyer that turn any case into a pillowcase,
My killers straight, let’s do some Q&A,
You saw the news today, got news to break and rules to break,
It hurt to say they want Lil Tune to break,
It’s worth the wait, commercial break”
Although honestly I could write up any section of lyrics from the song and have it as a standout.
Overall, ‘Can’t Be Broken’ is a spectacular song all round, which not only proved that Wayne can still rap his ass off after 20 years in the game, but shows that the use of pitched up vocal samples can still sound fresh in this day and age, and is a sound I personally think is under-utilised these days. If you enjoy the song I recommend checking out his amazing live performance of the song here, where he has Halsey perform the hook.
• Moneybagg Yo – Lower Level (ft. Kodak Black)
‘Lower Level’ is one of many standouts from Moneybagg’s 2018 album ‘Reset’ (if there’s like 10 standouts, do any of them stand out?). Lower Level showcases both Moneybagg and Kodak Black rapping about how despite the money, they are the same people, just richer, better off versions of the same people.
The beat, though simple, is extremely well made and compliments the lyrics well. The bass hits at the right times, the beat drops out at certain times, and overall the guitar-synth like beat created a good canvas for the two artists to really shine in terms of their lyrics and delivery.
Lyrically, both Moneybaggand Kodak are on point, with verses full of emotion, speaking on how they have had worse days (the lower level), and about how they are better off now that they are successful. In Moneybaggs first verse he raps;
“‘Member all the days I was Robbin just to come up (come up),
Lookin’ for a lick late night til the sun up (remember),
Sippin ‘Tuss straight out the bottle, put the cup up (yellow),
Thinkin’ bout your fuck ups while you light the blunt up”
And Kodak carries on the notion of being on a lower level in his verse with;
“I done been broke before, I done been in the rain,
Ridin’ round spendin’ and things, now I’m in fendi and things,
Got me on Xannies and things,
All I be feeling is pain”
Not only are the lyrics descriptive, but both artists voices are full of emotion, which really helps set the mood for the whole song.
Another thing that makes this song a standout is the chorus, which is extremely catchy and well written. Also, Moneybagg is extremely good at keeping you on your toes, and experimenting with song structure, and ‘Lower Level’ has a good example of this, where at the end of Kodak’s feature you would expect another hook, but instead Moneybagg comes in and spits another solid verse. This is just a minor detail that Moneybagg does extremely well throughout a bunch of his songs. Finally, Moneybagg Yo is, in my opinion, the best in the game when it comes to ad Libs. Rather than feeling like just an extra bit at the end of each line, Moneybagg utilises ad libs to connect together lines, to finish up bars, to fill space, and often even has rhyme schemes within the ad libs. Although this song isn’t the best example of it, it does contain a great example, when Moneybagg raps;
“Money never changed me (nope),
It just changed my situation (I just changed for the better),
Got n*ggas in the hood, can’t leave the state of Tennessee (Why?),
They on probation”
It’s a subtle addition that I think puts Moneybagg a level above most of his contemporaries.
Overall I think this is a stunning song all the way through. From the simple but well constructed beat, to the emotive stories told by both rappers, to Kodak’s amazing feature, to Moneybaggs creativity when it comes to structure and ad libs. Even though this isn’t my favourite Moneybagg song (not even my favourite from the album), I think it would act as a great starting point for anyone looking to get into either Moneybagg Yo or Kodak. ‘Lower Level’ also has a video which fits the mood of the song well, and can be checked out here.
Are you familiar with any of the above songs, and if so, what are your opinions on them?
If not, you should really give them a listen and let me know in the comments below what you think.
– Shan –