Top 50 hip hop songs of 2018 – Part 5 of 10

Hey all!

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 following 2 weeks. So, with that said, read on, listen to some of the songs, and let me know what you think.

• Tobi Lou – Just Keep Goin’

Tobi Lou was one of my top 2 discoveries of 2018 (shout out tierra whack), and released 3 projects last year. One of these, ‘Tobi Lou and The Juice’, ended up being one of my top 5 albums of the year, and from that project, 4 songs out of the 7 ended up in my top 100. I felt all of them were like a 9/10, but none were 10/10s. ‘Just Keep Goin’ ended up being the one I liked the most, and is therefore why it has a well deserved spot in my top 50.

One thing this song is a good showcase of is Tobi Lou’s versatility. Tobi raps at times, sings at others, and doesn’t shy away from using effects on his voice to really help him create the vibe he is going for, which on this song is a laid back, motivational one. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what this song is about, it’s a message to always keep going despite what you’re going through in life.

The lyrics on this track are motivational, but actually act as more of a message to Tobi himself, telling himself to keep on going no matter what. His delivery is clear, flows exciting, and on top of that there are lots of great lyrics. The following acts almost as the hook, being repeated multiple times throughout the song;

“I just wanna bop that beat (bop),

Hop Up in the Jeep (hop),

Put a little bitch in drive (vroom),

Fuck a nine to five (bye),

Disappear for weeks (gone),

Wash up on a beach (lost)”

This is extremely fun to listen to, flows nicely, and has great use of ad libs for an extra level of excitement. He also has some great little flexes throughout the song, my 2 favourites of which are;

“I just wanna cop some heat,

What’s that on my feet?

Oh, that came out this week,

When I walk it squeaks”

&

“Yeah, Jesus Christ superstar,

Bitch, I’m going super hard,

I got angels on my team,

They gave me wings and superpowers”.

I feel the delivery on these two parts, as well as the lyrics themselves make them two of the funnest parts of the song.

The beat accompanies the lyrics and the flow of the song amazingly, using a number of real dreamy synths along with some thumping bass, which is used sparingly to create this beautiful soundscape that really allows Tobi to shine lyrically and flow wise. Although simple, this is one of my favourite beats of last year just based off the vibe of it and the mood it creates. Along with the motivational lyrics it really relaxes you and makes you feel good. My only flaw of the song is the length. At over 5 minutes I feel it drags on a bit more than it needs to, and the last minute could be cut without making the song any worse.

Overall, Tobi combines some really pleasant singing with a wide range of flows, and sends a really motivational message through the lyrics, unsurprisingly to ‘Just Keep Goin’. All of this over the laid back beat create a super creative and enjoyable piece of music. If you enjoyed it, I’d highly recommend checking out any one of his 4 projects on streaming services, particularly ‘Tobi and The Juice’.

• RiFF RAFF – De Chicas

‘De Chicas’ by Riff Raff is one of my guilty pleasure of 2018, and is probably one of the least accessible songs on this list, and the one I would be least likely to recommend to a friend or family. I’m a big fan of Riff Raff, and have had his songs and albums as favourites before, so this was no surprise to me, but may be a surprise to others who still write him off as a ‘joke rapper’. The song features 2 southern legends, Big Tuck and Z-Ro, and is from Riff Raffs 2018 album ‘Tangerine Tiger’. It combines some surprisingly good flows and bars from all three rappers, and one of the most banging beats of the year to produce a final product that is one of my bangers of the year.

The beat is a good example of a beat being simple but very effective. It features rattling hi-hats and some super thumping 808s, almost feels like the bass is assaulting your ears in a good way. The main feature of the beat though is a piano riff which plays throughout, and is played in a lower tone at the start of each verse and the chorus, and a higher tone towards the end, which creates a really interesting sound as each rapper changes up their flow and delivery to fit the changing piano. One other subtle feature which makes this song great is the use of a distorted riff Raff laugh, which is sampled from the start of this song and then used throughout the song.

The hook is nothing too special, just a repetitive catchy hook which isn’t too surprising for a banger. Although lyrically repetitive, the changing piano and the use of the laugh sample make it not bad-repetitive, and is actually a hook I really enjoy.

I think all three rap verses are extremely solid, with Riff Raffs actually being my favourite, despite Z-Ro having probably the most versatility within his verse in terms of flow and delivery. Z-Ro also has one of my favourite one liners in the song;

“Confessin’ all my sins would give the preacher a seizure”.

The reason I prefer Riff Raffs verse is mainly because of his consistent, high energy delivery for the duration of his verse, as well as the great one liners contained within. Riffs lyricism has always been very unique, the way he describes things is really like no other, and if you were to read his lyrics you can almost always immediately tell they are Riff Raff lyrics. When done well, it is amazing effective, and this song is an example of that. His verse is full of quotables, but my favourite part is;

“Triple Chain, Thirty diamond rings, left it on a plane,

Private plane, leave the motor running, I’ll be right back mayne”.

Hilarious, a great flex, and the delivery of it is on point. And just as an example of the unique lyricism I was talking about, he follows this up with; “Tip the pilot, Teeth are ultraviolet”.

Overall, De Chicas is a super fun but also incredibly well made song, with clean production, solid bars, and impressive rapping throughout. If you happened to like this, I’d recommend checking out more of the ‘Tangerine Tiger’ album it came from, as it really didn’t get the attention it deserved

• Moneybagg Yo – Midnight Patek

Midnight Patek is the third entry in this list from Moneybagg Yo’s ‘RESET’ album, and his 5th over all, so by this point you’ve probably realised my love for Moneybagg Yo. He was my overall mvp for 2018 based on his output and his features, and this song is a perfect example of why. It’s a mix of all the qualities of Moneybagg that make him great; creative flows, solid bars, well crafted beats, a catchy hook and some great ad libs. He is also very creative musically, and this song has one of the best showcases of this, in which Moneybagg has my favourite use of sound effects in 2018, but I’ll touch on that a bit more below.

Just before I talk about the chorus and those sound effects, I just wanted to touch on the beat. Yet another song with an amazing guitar led beat. Certain parts of the beat feature the guitar subtly in the background, and have a certain somber sound, and at other times the guitar is at the forefront of the beat, having certain twang to it almost reminiscent of a old western movie. The bass in drums are also used excellently throughout, sometimes dropping out completely or changing to bring the users attention to the lyrics. Fantastic beat all round.

Now on to the chorus. This chorus is spectacular, like probably the most creative hook of the year. Simple explanation is that he has the same hook 3 times, the first time is just the hook over the regular beat, second time he delivers it over an altered version of the beat, and third time he substitutes out certain words for sound effects.

Longer explanation is, that not only is this hook catchy, well written and well delivered, but the diversity in its delivery within this song is insane. The first hook is pretty regular in comparison, with him just spitting solid bars throughout over the main guitar led, bass heavy beat. Some of those bars are;

“12 am, a n*gga just caught a body,

Midnight madness,

All black diamonds in this watch,

Midnight Patek,

She blow up my phone like a bomb,

When I’m not at home,

Midnight madness”

In the second hook, the lyrics are the same as the first, but for the first half of it the bass drops out completely and the rattling hi hats are substituted out for a simple clap. This is a simple change but an extremely effective one. Somehow, Moneybagg steps it up even further with the final hook, in which he has a sort of pre-chorus using the same lyrics I quoted earlier, but with sound effects in place of some of the words. I’ll explain the best I can, but I implore you go check this out for yourself, it’s one of my favourite things in 2018. He raps;

“12 am a n*gga just *sound of bullets flying around*, midnight madness,

All black diamonds in this *sound of watch ticking*, midnight Patek,

She blow up my phone like a bomb *sound of bomb being thrown and blowing up*,

Midnight madness”

The sound effects are exceptionally crisp and clean sounding, and executed perfectly, makes this hook like an 11/10.

I’ll try not to dwell too much on the verses, but the song features two verses, both of which I consider spectacular. Moneybagg’s delivery is as great as ever, he changes up flows constantly, rides the beat flawlessly, and all while rapping some really solid bars. Lyrically, this song seems to be mainly about 2 things, love and flexing his status. One of my standout sections from the verses is in the second verse, where Moneybagg raps;

“I heard it all before (Shit sound the same),

Let me reset my ears (Hold Up),

Aston Martin Flow (Skrrt),

Push a button to switch the gears (Hey)”.

Just some great sounding bars that showcase his effective use of ad libs.

Overall, another song I could easily go on about much longer. I enjoy every single aspect of this song, and feel like it would be perfect if it was cut short by ten or so seconds. With an amazingly well made and polished beat and those awesome sound effects, this is a great song on headphones, but I would recommend listening to it however you can or want. And once again, highly recommend checking out this album, ‘RESET’.

• Youngboy Never Broke Again – Permanent Scar (ft. Young Thug & Quando Rondo)

Some Youngboy songs are slow, emotion packed ballads, some are bangers, some are much more typical trap songs. Then there is ‘Permanent Scar’, which is probably the funnest sounding song he released across all 8 projects he had last year. It’s still packed full of emotion, it still bangs, but the upbeat Kenny Beats production, along with the spectacular chemistry with Young Thug and Quando Rondo just give this song a much more fun and boppy vibe.

The main feature of the beat is an organ/piano, which is playing in the background for the duration of the song. It gives the whole song an upbeat vibe, almost like something you would hear when a character is walking or skipping along in a cartoon. Something I’ve always liked about Kenny Beats is his smart use of drums, and this is no exception. The drums are subtle and don’t override the piano or the rapping, and are used sparingly throughout each verse and the hook, and sometimes not being used at all.

The hook on this is quite simple, but is undoubtedly catchy and fits the piano based beat perfectly, and in this case is delivered by Youngboy himself. The transitions from hooks to verses are also really well done, for example the first hook, which transitions into Thugger with some harmonies between the two rappers.

There aren’t a whole lot of stand out lines, but the whole thing just sounds so good. I think this is largely in part to the chemistry between the 3 artists, all of which are known for their mix of melodic sing-songy styles and also ability to rap great when needed. All three artists brought their best on this track, riding the beat seamlessly, with great deliveries and a range of flows. This gives the song a great consistency for the entire duration.

To summarise, I think all the different qualities of this song make it sound like one of the best made and most polished Youngboy songs so far. The Kenny Beats production, the quality features from both Thugger and Quando, and the catchy hook just come together to form a super enjoyable listen. Youngboy has crazy good chemistry with each of the featured artists, and if you enjoyed this song I’d recommend checking out his other collaborations with either one of them.

• Lil Wayne – Back From The 80’s

This is another track from Lil Wayne’s d6 mixtapes (d6 reloaded to be precise), and therefore won’t be on streaming, so download from datpiff or check it out on YouTube here. ‘Back From The 80’s’ features Lil Wayne spitting over Kid Ink’s ‘Tell Somebody’, and doing so in an incredibly fun, but also impressive fashion.

As mentioned above, the beat is basically the same as ‘Tell Somebody’, an upbeat, summery sounding vibe from Kid Ink. As can be expected at this point, Lil Wayne makes the beat his own. His utilisation of a range of flows, and the way he applies them as the song changes tempos really brings new life to a beat that I don’t find too exciting on the Kid Ink version. Due to the beat alone this is one of the funnest Lil Wayne songs of 2018.

The highlight of this song is really Wayne’s flows and delivery. He rides the beat effortlessly, despite it changing up multiple times during the song. His flows are fun, his delivery is clear, and the rhymes he uses at times are creative and sound amazing.

As usual, Wayne also packs the song full of amazing lyrics and metaphors. The structure of the song helps this, being one long 3 minute verse and then a spoken outro to close out the track (a funny one too).

Just to highlight one of my favourite moments of the song;

“This shit is sick and it get in your pores,

And then you a corpse, and then it’s the morgue,

Me imma hustle until it’s the Forbes,

I swore, it was no more than a chore,

The house by the water, condo by the shore”

There are many bars worth quoting throughout the 3 minute verse, but this is just one that showcases his insane delivery and rhyme schemes that are apparent in almost all parts of the song.

Overall this is just a really fun Wayne track, and showcases his ability to have fun without having to sacrifice anything that makes his songs great. I’m a sucker for a song with an unusual song structure, so enjoyed the loose structure of the song, and the lack of a hook doesn’t bother me. Although the spoken section at the end could be removed to make the song better, in the context of the album it’s enjoyable and quite funny, so it’s an enjoyable song all the way through.

Have you heard any of the above songs before? What are your thoughts on them?

If not, give them a spin and let me know what you think!

– Shan –

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