End of The Year Music Selections for Every Vibe
2018 is coming to an end and we’re certain you’ve all been inundated with end of the year music picks. Here are our end of the year picks organized by mood and vibe. If you want to skip directly to our Spotify playlist click here
thought provoking lyricism
JID, DiCaprio 2
DiCaprio 2 may have been our most anticipated rap release of the year and JID did not disappoint! The fiery East Atlanta wordsmith dropped off his second project under the Dreamville label this Fall and it's already being credited as one of the best rap albums of the year by the likes of Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, XXL, Complex, and many other respected urban sources. JID is skilled at the art of storytelling and knows exactly how to engage his listeners through his lyrics, painting vivid images with each verse, leaving fans craving more bars and double entendres. JID is a breath of fresh air from the usual trap heavy sounds we’ve come to love from Atlanta’s dominating music scene. Expect more heat from this kid in the future.
Standout tracks: 151 Rum, Off Deez, Tiied
J. Cole, K.O.D
10 years into his career, J.Cole continues to outgrow himself lyrically and sonically with what has proven to be one of his most cohesive works to date. The title K.O.D. is a triple entendre itself (King Overdose, Kids on Drugs and Killing our Demons) and serves to spark an expansive conversation on the effects of addiction as a whole. Drugs, sex, fame and money -- all vices Cole has talked about having experienced in previous projects are at the core of K.O.D which is not only a cautionary tale but also shows Cole’s maturity as a now 30 something man who has lived and learned all while lacing his tracks with a consistent delivery and flow to convey it all.
Standout tracks: Window Pain, The Cut Off, BRACKETS
versatile projects that can be listened to in various settings
The Inglewood native has been consistently blessing us with honest, unidealistic contemporary R&B for the past few years. After signing to TDE in 2017, he managed to keep up with the standards of excellence set by labelmates Kendrick Lamar and Sza. In his most recent work he fuses chopped up jazz pianos with finely selected samples, solidifying himself as an artist who can capture the essence of R&B with a new school approach. He speaks openly on his failures in relationships, becoming a man and self-acceptance, setting a tone for what is hopefully a trend of emotional maturity being the new normal for young men today.
Standout tracks: D’Evils, War, Something New
Tobi Lou, Tobi Lou and The Juice
Quench your thirst with Tobi Lou and The Juice, the 7 track EP doesn’t fall short of fulfilling your urge to keep listening over and over. Simply put, Tobi Lou creates carefree hip-hop that you can let loose to. With the Juice, we get a lighthearted and refreshing departure from the seriousness of vulnerable R&B and the vapidness of commercial hip hop that somehow manages to capture the essence of the sounds emanating from both genres.
Standout tracks: Lavender Town Pt. 1, High Score, Knock Knock
VanJess, Silk Canvas
The sister duo effortlessly channels that classic 90s R&B sound no one can seem to let go of while adding a new spin. A cohesive project that plays straight through like a loop, Silk Canvas gives us a getting ready for girls night out vibe. The duo teamed up with bop-worthy music makers such as Masego, Goldlink and Berhana giving this project a vibe of fun, youthfulness that keeps you coming back for more.
Standout tracks: Addicted, Honeywheat, Control Me
Bas, Milky Way
Dreamville veteran, Bas delivered his 3rd studio album Milky Way in a social and political climate where conscious masterpieces as such are appreciated more than ever. The very first bar of this project “and you know they be lying like Kellyanne Conway” and cuts like “Barack Obama Special', set a tone of truth telling and consciousness. In his own words, this project is about “finding ground and not poisoning your own well”. The French-born, Queens bred rapper elevates his craft with each project but we wouldn't expect anything less from the Dreamville camp.
Standout tracks: Icarus, Barack Obama Special, Designer
Not since the days of tall tees and Air Force Ones has someone from St. Louis captured our attention and hearts like Smino. The rapper continues on his path of distinctively country flows and effervescent storytelling on his project NØIR which gives a glimpse into Smino’s range as not just an MC but a musician and storyteller.
Standout tracks: Hoopti, MF Groove, Fenty Sex
if you don’t have these in serato, you’re slippin’
Vince Staples, FM!
FM! is easily the most bop worthy project of the year. With the majority of production done by Kenny Beats (formerly of the duo Loudpvck), that project gives west coast flavor that makes us wanna ride down the coast line with the windows rolled down and the stereo blasting. Though Vince Staples has gained a reputation for having issues with the culture of mainstream hip-hop, this project certainly should be bumped on every radio station and in every club -- you could probably throw a party just playing this on repeat.
Standout tracks: Feels Like Summer, Run The Bands, No Bleedin
Of the many female rappers taking center stage right now, LeiKeli47 proves to be one of the most versatile.Though her identity is still largely a mystery (we’ve never seen her without a mask), Acrylic gives listeners a chance to get to know the Bed-Stuy native through interweaving stories of womanhood, black culture, love and life in the hood. The project jumps from vogue-worthy 808s to Caribbean inspired tempos to mellow tunes that flex 47’s soulful sensibilities, successfully keeping listeners engaged and on their toes.
Standout Tracks: Iron Mike, Girl Blunt, No Reload
Denzel Curry, TA13OO
TA13OO takes listeners through the many dimensions of societies darkest corners such as drug glorification, social media facades, and the seemingly never ending addiction of clout chasing. Ironically enough Curry delivered these crucial woke messages over aggressive bass heavy instrumentals showing us that lyricism and storytelling doesn’t have to be compromised for the sake of creating hard hitting bops.
Standout tracks: CASH MANIAC, SIRENS, CLOUT COBAIN
sounds for relaxation, reflection and romance
We’ve showed love to this British songstress quite a few times, and who can blame us? With her sophomore project Saturn, Nao expands on her reflective storytelling on love, relationships and navigating through a transformative period of life.. As a more tender departure from her previous work “For All We Know”, Saturn gives us the opportunity to sit with her deeply personal songwriting and unique vocal stylings against the backdrop of an astrological metaphor. When Saturn returns, it is a marker of rebirth and reconnection with ourselves and who we are, Nao does a lovely job of conveying this on her latest offering.
Standout tracks: Love Supreme, Orbit, Saturn
Tom Misch, Geography
Speaking of Brits, we love us some Tom Misch. The 23 year old phenom won over hearts as an underground producer dishing out heat on his SoundCloud for a few years before gaining a massive following this year after the release of his debut studio album Geography. Of the many Gen Z musicians out, Misch sets himself apart with mature, musically inclined rhythms in his production and vocal delivery, crafting songs that are sure to age like fine wine.
Standout tracks: Lost in Paris, It Runs Through Me, South of The River
Tay Walker, One Way Street to Nowhere
If you don’t recognize Tay Walker’s name, you’ll definitely recognize his voice. A former member of The Internet, Walker’s voice was prominent on noteworthy projects Purple Naked Ladies and Feel Good. As a solo artist, he has released 1 EP and 2 solo projects. In his most recent work, One Way Street to Nowhere, Tay hones in on a sound that is often associated with the mid to late 90s neo-soul era. Real instrumentation, sincere vocal delivery and mellifluous runs fuse together on this hidden gem.
Standout tracks: CTCL, Run Away, The World
sexy, elusive and moody
One might claim Choker descends from the shadows of a Frank Ocean-esque vibe but is that really a bad thing? Considering, Chokers mysterious yet captivating aesthetic and niche for composition, blending RnB with unfamiliar sounds makes his 2018 project Honeybloom a beautiful listening experience for the modern art enthusiast. The experimental production on Honeybloom is stellar and displays Chokers unique artistic abilities as a songwriter/composer only at the young age of 21. Can't wait to see what this talent has up his sleeve in 2019!
Standout tracks: Drift, Rocket, Daisy
Ilham's debut album 41-10 is a gem we didn't know we needed. Sharing her deepest relationship experiences, she writes from a place of longing for real love. A product of NYCHA, the title 41-10 pays homage to her Queensbridge upbringing making her all the more relatable to the everyday person who is also in search of meaningful connections. 41-10 is best played on a late night when you are in the depths of your feelings with a bottle of wine or a tightly rolled J.
Standout tracks: last night, say less, we'll be alright
Lykke Li, so sad so sexy
By now, Lykki Li should be considered a veteran of indie pop and in her latest album so sad so sexy she gives us all the moodiness we love her for. Ambient sounds fused with trap inspired production create a sound that is modern but still true to the core of Li’s unique brand of emo music.
Standout tracks: sex money feelings die, better alone, bad woman
musical offerings to heal the mind & soul, best listened to while burning sage or palo santo
Saba, Care for Me
Saba has become a wizard of fusing stripped down, minimal production with gut wrenching testimony on urban life in Chicago. On tracks like “Smile” and “Heaven All Around Me” Saba lets out his pain with in an unencumbered and hopeful tone, giving listeners a space to rejoice in triumphing over trauma, strife and the pains of personal growth.
Standout tracks: Busy / Sirens, Calligraphy, Grey.
Blood Orange, Negro Swan
If the title alone isn’t telling enough, Negro Swan is best described as a portrait of the modern day Black experience from the point of view of a queer Black man navigating through a toxic climate of hypermasculinity. Negro Swan is a celebration of the freedom we all yearn for but that is often denied by societal norms. This record is chock full of bold statements and references that speak directly to the audience it was created for -- from an interlude featuring trailblazer and activist Janet Mock to a Project Pat samples and gospel hymns from the Black church. A mesmerizing celebration of the African diaspora, Negro Swan is soothing to the soul and serves as an amazingly cathartic body of work.