Best Projects of 2018

It’s safe to say Los Angeles had an incredible 2018. Artists in the city are hungrier than ever as the wins are starting to roll in, and as a result we’ve been blessed with treasure troves of new music at every turn. Whether they were high-energy cuts for the function, or breezier sounds perfect for California sunshine, there was always something out there for you to sink your teeth into, and now co-signs from artists like Drake and Meek Mill are putting even more eyes on the city heading into 2019.

That being said, it’s time to look back on the past 12 months and separate the best from the best, and acknowledge the artists, songs and projects that made it such a note worthy year. Without further ado, here are our top 15 bodies of work from 2018.

15. Kee Riche$ – Raised Off Rosecrans

Kee Riche$ has spent 20 years off Rosecrans, and it certainly shows on his most impressive project to date. It’s the passion for his craft, community and comrades that truly makes the album connect, especially on introspective cuts like the title track “Raised Off Rosecrans.” When the energy eventually rises on “Why Not,” it’s a raging firestorm, with a swirling intensity that’s anchored by hammering percussion underneath it. Switching up the sound from track to track, Kee brings plenty to the table on Raised Off Rosecrans, and it pays off. – Kenan Draughorne

14. Rob Vicious – Trapatlantic

Rob Vicious of Shoreline Mafia decided to take control of a project outside of the collective. As the name suggests, this project is more trap-heavy than their other releases and this divergence pays off. Rob is the ringleader here making a heavier sound, as Rob likes to shout more than the other members. The intensity makes for interesting moments with a crazy feature from Da$h and more digital/industrial sounds on tracks like ‘Dirty.’ This project also contains Shoreline’s biggest (viral) hit of the year “Bands” which is indicative of the power of Traplantic. We’re glad Rob took the time to separate himself from the pack, which ultimately served to strengthen the pack itself. – Moises Valencia

13. Westside $tew – Fidel Cashflow Vol. 2

Westside $tew is going to be next, and this isn’t just us gassing him up. Fidel Cashflow Vol. 2 might be the best album you never heard this year, and as soon as you press play you’ll be mad at yourself for not checking it out earlier. Bang it in the whip or cool out and smoke to it; either way, you’re sure to enjoy. – Chase Meë

12. AzSwaye – Swaye FTR

AzSwaye might be the angriest man in Los Angeles, and it shows on Swaye FTR. His vicious, antagonistic bars hit hard over Joog FTR’s beats, who handles the entirety of the production for a true AzCult x HitMob collab. Their chemistry is shining on tracks like “Ride Ain’t Free,” with the brooding atmosphere setting an ominous tone for Swaye’s boisterous proclamations. When he welcomes in guests like A$ton Matthews, AzChike, and Ralfy the Plug, they all fit into the environment nicely to complement Swaye and ensure the project delivers at its utmost potential. – Kenan Draughorne

11. KB Devaughn – For Me, Not U

KB Devaughn immediately caught the attention of LA after cosigns from Compton’s varsity players in Boogie and Buddy. In the time since, he has only lived up these nods. His low, gravely voice keeps you interested through hard bars, varied flows and decidedly unique melodies. He’s the type to write entire songs, synthesizing all aspects of his talent into the robust tracks.

For Me, Not U is the album that cemented his place on our artists to watch list. This project mixes West Coast funk with Gospel vibes, and classic, conscious hip hop with contemporary shit-talking. KB is in control of every part of this project, which is a feat considering the orchestration from producers like Dezzie Gee and Keyel. It’s necessary for KB to tap these kinds of talented producers to match his charisma and insight, and keep him on his path toward brighter pastures. – Moises Valencia

10. 1Take Jay – Wait Hol Up

LA had itself a year. Artists like Rucci, 1TakeJay, AzChike have set themselves up for the next level, with the leader of the One Take Boyz especially blowing up the parties with “Arco,” “Bleed Em” and “NBA.” All these and more come from his Wait Hol Up album, filled with bangers throughout to solidify Jay’s lofty status in the city. – Chase Meë

9. Rucci – El Perro

Rucci’s barking ad-libs are littered all over El Perro, and are one of the main reasons why the project lands on our year end list. His delivery is as sharp as ever, adding a snarling tone to stadium-sized hits such as “Light It Up.” When he chooses to get more pensive on downtempo songs like “Bodak Rucci,” he’s just as captivating, rapping in a much more beleaguered voice that finds him preaching his dedication even as he approaches his breaking point. – Kenan Draughorne

8. Almighty Suspect – Yung Demon

Demons are whispering in the ear of Almighty Suspect from the very first second on Yung Demon, and as the project unfolds it only grows more haunted. The 17 minute project lives in a twisted world from start to finish, as Almighty sends out shots without remorse against any who oppose him. On “Iaintit,” Almighty and AzChike combine once again for a rattling track that sees them doing what they do best; talking their shit over a skeletal beat that ensures you feel the weight of their words. – Kenan Draughorne

7. Buddy – Harlan & Alondra

Buddy might be the most polished artist on this list, having earned a major label deal with RCA while still having plenty of potential to climb further into public perception. Harlan & Alondra is purely some LA shit, with relaxed, West Coast soundscapes that set a perfect vibe for the summer. It’s one of the year’s most impressive debut albums, and one we’ll look back on fondly as the one that shot him to the moon. – Chase Meë

6. AzChike – My World

AzChike went from a rising star to one of the city’s most prominent names over the course of 2018, and My World is the body of work that solidified his spot among LA’s elite. His first full length effort, the 12-track project puts his sly, arrogant way of dissecting beats on full display. Cuts like “Myself” & “The Shit” serve as a declaration of Chike’s importance to the city’s budding hip-hop scene, as one of the artists that is truly bringing LA back. Thunderous production from LowTheGreat, LDThaMonsta, S.prod, Deuce Smoov & other master chefs contribute to a menacing tone throughout, the perfect way for AzChike to let you into his world. If he wants it, 2019 is his. – Sebastian Juarez

5. Roddy Ricch – Feed Tha Streets II

Few people seem to be more excited at the mere prospect of rapping than Roddy Ricch. Throughout Feed Tha Streets II, his agitated delivery and ever-present inflections add refreshing enthusiasm to each song, while the uptempo beats match his energy to keep it rolling along. Hits like “Every Season” find Roddy at his best, uncovering new melodies while scampering up and down the scale at every turn. After rapidly ascending earlier this year with the success of “Die Young,” Feed That Streets II arrives at the perfect time to solidify Roddy’s momentum, and ensure his trajectory continues to soar next year. – Kenan Draughorne

4. Blueface – Famous Cryp

Blueface has that flow pisses people off, because of his common choice to go on beat and simply talk his truth. It didn’t matter to Cash Money, as they signed him anyway and have been enjoying his meteoric rise as of late. Famous Cryp is full of the bangers that have become anthems for the city, with “Thotiana,” “Dead Locs” and “Respect My Cryppin” all coming from the tape. He’s got the deal, the Drake DM, and plenty more off the strength of this tape, so you’d be wise to check in before he skyrockets even further. – Chase Meë

3. 03 Greedo – God Level

Greedo is in his bag on God Level. The staggering 27 track project presents all sides of the one-of-a-kind artist, oscillating between hard-hitting bangers and delicate, melodic cuts. His raspy, auto-tuned hums strike a chord in the soul on songs like “In My Feelings,” while on “Onna Way to the Paper” he’s filled with the cheerful hope of future prosperity. LA has come to expect nothing less from 03, and once again, he came through with a gem. – Kenan Draughorne

2. Kalan.Frfr – TwoFr

Kalan.Frfr’s presence on TwoFr is truly electric, thanks to his sparkling, melodic delivery that never fails to add heightened dynamics when he enters the scene. Beats from producers like Paupa, Hollywood and Bruce24k are brilliantly colorful without distracting from the artist holding the spotlight, filling the background with complex percussion and bright synths. It might be the sunniest project on this list, but it’s still in heavy rotation as we approach the winter months, giving it the kind of replay value that should place a whole lot of attention on Kalan in 2019. – Kenan Draughorne

1. Rucci x 1Take Jay – The Winning Team

This project truly cemented 1TakeJay and Rucci as major players in LA’s music scene. “Intro” sets the tone early with it’s moody piano, that explodes as Rucci comes in yelling “NORF” with his infamous delivery. The ride doesn’t relent for 14 whole tracks, with a number of songs like “Tax Season,” “Can’t Tell Me Shit,” “Chupa Mi Pito,” and “Weed, Pills & Drank” standing out while seeing the two artists doing what they do best.

1TakeJay and Rucci have proven they can pump out hits with ease, and the resonating impact made by this tape makes it the project of the year. Additionally, it’s some of the finest work by Mixed By Crook, who makes every sound clean and crisp with the bass drums hitting just right and the rapper’s voices coming in with full presence. The Winning Team went for gold this year, and they’ve got it. – Moises Valencia