2018 Albums of the Year: The Travelers Club List

Best Albums of 2018

From Black Panthers’s star-studded soundtrack to Tierra Whack and Earl Sweatshirt’s separate experimentations with brevity and dissonance, agree on some or not, these were the albums that topped our lists as a collective. Read through and see if you feel the same.

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10. Kendrick Lamar - Black Panther: The Album

What was originally supposed to be just an accompanying piece to the Black Panther movie became it’s own cinematic world under the influence of Kendrick Lamar. Curated by the superstar rapper, and featuring pop sensations such as Khalid, SZA, Travis Scott, and The Weeknd, as well as alternative figureheads like Vince Staples, Mozzy and Sjava, the album emphasizes the beauty and power of black art, not as a relic, but as a modern art-form that largely constructs popular culture in itself, in all it’s dimensions. In this way, Lamar’s soundtrack redefines the scope of what soundtracks could be.

STANDOUT: Kendrick Lamar ft. SOBxRBE, “Paramedic”


9. Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts

Cool things Kanye did this year:

  1. Make Kids See Ghosts with Kid Cudi.

  2. ???

  3. Tweet out “Fuck Sicko Mode’ then immediately tweet out “I actually like Sicko Mode” right after because same

STANDOUT: Kanye West x Kid Cudi, “Reborn”


8. Gunna - Drip Season 3

“Gunna’s Drip Season 3 is exquisite thot music at it’s finest. I’ve never heard music that matches someone’s outfit like Gunna’s does. (except maybe Atmosphere’s boring ass music). If Tyler Perry movies were made for BET Uncut, I’m sure the soundtrack would be exclusively Gunna.” - Mondi

STANDOUT: Gunna ft. Young Thug & Lil Baby, “Oh Okay”


7. Justice - Woman Worldwide

STANDOUT: Justice, “Love S.O.S. (WWW)”


6. Tierra Whack - Whack World

“Whereas some artists still hold onto the idea that albums should play out like four tape VHS box sets, Tierra Whack’s World World sounds like someone meandering through viral YouTube clips, complete with jump cuts, explosive edits and dance numbers. With 15 short tracks playing out in only 15 minutes, the album delves into styles that range from hip hop, R&B, country, down to some track that honestly sound like some Nick Jr. shit (‘Fuck Off’), yet it all works. This eclecticism and ability to take shape in so many bodies while remaining a cohesive whole is what makes Whack World so unique, absurd, and digestible, and if anything is could describe our our digital landscape, it’s those three traits. It’s music for the present in a present that seems like such a strange future.” - Andy Internets

STANDOUT: Tierra Whack, “Cable Guy”


5. Pusha T - Daytona

STANDOUT: Pusha T, “If You Know You Know”


4. Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs

‘“Imprecise words,” begins the opening track of Some Rap Songs, a short excerpt taken from a James Baldwin dialogue. In reference to the album, it’s both literal and completely contrary. Taking strides as an artist from the days OF socks were the hottest thing in Zumies, Earl Sweatshirt’s music has grown from barred up adolescent angst to a slow experiment of words and sounds. It’s reflective of transitions made from artists of the 19th century—a once young desire to prove raw talent through details finds itself transfigured by time and wisdom into saying the most with the least. “Just the concept of brevity,” Earl explains in a recent Vulture interview, “It’s been made evident to me that I’ve become kind of obsessed with simplifying shit.” In that experiment, some see all, while others see nothing.

This simplification, of course, often leads to alienation. In Some Rap Songs, the sounds of samples and tapes looping intertwine like human voices against metal, with Earl dissecting only the most important of what he’s trying to say, as if it’s being conceived, contemplated, and recorded in real-time. On face value, it’s the antithesis of what Earl initially became renowned for. There’s no multisyllabic rhyme schemes, no punchlines, no beats that follow a trace of formal conventions. Instead, it’s music that stutters with every step, lost in it’s own chaos trying to understand itself—it’s the sounds of alienation. In that regard, Some Rap Songs doesn’t just tell you what that feels like, it makes you feel it along with him.” - Andy Internets

STANDOUT: Earl Sweatshirt, “December 24”


3. SOPHIE - OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES 

STANDOUT: SOPHIE, “Immaterial”


2. Vince Staples - FM!

STANDOUT: Vince Staples, “FUN!”


1. Playboi Carti - Die Lit

“Some of Playboi Carti’s biggest detractors like to say that his music and approach to hip-hop is too “one note.” Hi-hat, kick drum, sub bass, snare or clap and some synth melodies. Then you throw on some ad-libs, a catchy hook and call it a day. But on 2018’s Die Lit, Carti takes that one note and stretches it beyond hip-hop, adopting a punk rock mindset. 

It’s safe to say that I’m from the old school of internet and viral rap. You know, Soulja Boy, Wale, Kid Cudi and Lil B. We are the generation that passed the baton to the Lil Uzi Verts and Lil Yachtys of the world. When Yachty first said, “soundcloud rap is like punk rock,” I definitely understood what he meant, but it didn’t resonate yet. You’re still seeing a lot of the glamour of rap in today’s music. However, if you want to talk about an album that is visceral, pounding, and glamorous all at the same time then Die Lit is exactly that. I mean, just look at the album cover. It encapsulates that perfect medium.

The album opens up with “Long Time,” which has an amazing pulsating synth that almost sounds like a telephone dial tone. Off top, Carti’s sentiments, “I ain’t had shit for a long time,” brings you to his mind space heading into the rest of the album. It’s like when Kanye said, “You know white people: Get money, don’t spend it/ I’d rather buy 50 gold chains and go ignant.” The intro is followed up by “R.I.P.”, a distorted, dusty and absolutely disgusting banger that would make Ronnie J proud. The song itself sounds elementary, which provides the perfect backdrop for Carti to discuss his spearheading of, as well as the criticisms against, the mumble rap movement.

“Lean 4 Real,” “Shoota” and “Choppa Won’t Miss” all sail as smooth, epic and beautiful anthems. The guest appearances play off Carti very well; even Nicki Minaj fits right in on the flirty and quirky “Poke It Out.” The album isn’t saddled down by guests (ahem 6ix9ine), and Carti is well represented as a solo act.

While the album may be long, the length has allowed for it to grow over time, as I’ve discovered new favorites since the album’s initial release. It didn’t start out as one of my top picks for 2018, but it managed to hold my attention much longer than most hip-hop albums did this year.” - Nik Bates

STANDOUT: Playboy Carti ft. Skepta, “Lean 4 Real”


SOME OF THE TEAM’S FAVORITES

Luis Travels.jpg

LUIS TRAVELS

TC DJ / PRODUCER

In no order:

  • Handbraekes, #3 - EP 

  • Seven Davis Jr., Set Was Here, Pt. 2

  • Playboi Carti, Die Lit 

  • DJDS, Big Wave More Fire 

  • Soulwax, Essential 

  • Maribou State, Kingdoms in Colour 

  • SOPHIE, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

  • Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs

  • Gorillaz, The Now Now

  • Vince Staples, FM! 


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D. DE LEON

TC DJ TEAM / PHOTOGRAPHER

  1. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Tearing Out the Seams

  2. Vince Staples, FM!

  3. Pusha T, Daytona

  4. Kanye West, ye

  5. Brockhampton, Iridescence

  6. Justice, Woman Worldwide

  7. Thomas Roussel, Ed Banger 15

  8. Aminé, OnePointFive

  9. DJDS, Big Wave More Fire

  10. Action Bronson, White Bronco


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ANDY INTERNETS

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

  1. Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs

  2. Tierra Whack, Whack World

  3. Kids See Ghosts, Kids See Ghosts

  4. SahBabii, Squidtastic

  5. Mitski, Be The Cowboy

  6. Vince Staples, FM!

  7. Lil Wayne, The Carter V

  8. Meek Mill, Championships

  9. Rosalia, El Mal Querer

  10. Tirzah, Devotion


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MARCO LAGUNA

FOUNDER OF ‘BROKE AND POUR’

In no order:

  • MGMT, Little Dark Age 

  • Vince Staples, FM!

  • Justice, Woman Worldwide

  • Dirty Projectors, Lamp Lit Prose

  • Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther: The Album

  • Ought, Room Inside The World

  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex & Food 

  • Gorillaz, The Now Now

  • Sophie, Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

  • Deafheaven, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love


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LUIS ROMERO (TWO TONE)

OPERATIONS / MARISCOS CONNOISSEUR

  1. Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther: The Album

  2. J Cole, KOD

  3. Pusha T, Daytona

  4. Tierra Whack, Whack World

  5. Meek Mill, Championships

  6. Aminé, OnePointFive

  7. SiR, November

  8. Lil Baby & Gunna, Drip Harder

  9. Jeremih & Ty Dolla $ign, MIH-Ty

  10. Jorja Smith, Lost & Found


Bryan Romero

BRYAN ROMERO

DESIGNER / PHOTOGRAPHER

In no order:

  • Vince Staples, FM!

  • Action Bronson, White Bronco

  • Novelist, Novelist Guy

  • Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist, Fetti

  • Anderson .Paak, Oxnard!

  • Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs

  • Pusha T, Daytona

  • Remy Banks, Champ Hoody Music EP 2

  • Kids See Ghosts, Kids See Ghosts

  • Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther: The Album 


Ernie

ERNESTO GUTIERREZ

DESIGNER / PHOTOGRAPHER

  1. Mac Miller, Swimming

  2. Vince Staples, FM!

  3. Novelist, Novelist Guy

  4. Justice, Woman Worldwide

  5. Pusha T, Daytona,

  6. SOPHIE, Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

  7. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!

  8. Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs

  9. Brockhampton, Iridescence

  10. Action Bronson, White Bronco


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MARTIN SALAZAR

PRODUCER / PHOTOGRAPHER

  1. Tierra Whack, Whack World

  2. Jeremih & Ty Dolla $ign, Mih-Ty

  3. Gunna, Drip Season 3

  4. Pusha T, Daytona

  5. Matt Ox, Ox 

  6. Kanye West, ye

  7. Teyana Taylor, KTSE

  8. Travis Scott, Astroworld

  9. Rosalía, El Mal Querer

  10. Kids See Ghosts, Kids See Ghosts


Nik Bates

NIK BATES

PRODUCER / ‘ROUND TWO’ LA

  1. Kids See Ghosts, Kids See Ghosts

  2. Playboi Carti, Die Lit

  3. Kali Uchis, Isolation

  4. Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs

  5. Mitski, Be The Cowboy

  6. Sleep, The Sciences

  7. Superorganism, Superorganism

  8. Kendrick Lamar, Black Panther: The Album

  9. Tirzah, Devotion

  10. Snail Mail, Lush


Mondi

GOD BODY MONDI

PRODUCER / RADIO HOST (FWM)

  1. Key!, 777

  2. Blueface, Famous Cryp

  3. Lucki, Days B4 II

  4. Vince Staples, FM!

  5. Gunna, Drip Season 3

  6. Matt Ox, Ox

  7. Medslaus, Poor Boy

  8. Amine, OnePointFive

  9. Z-Money, Chiraq Mogul

  10. 03 Greedo, God Level


Jordy.jpg

JORDY OLAES

BOY WONDER

In no order:

  • Vince Staples, FM!

  • Lil Baby, Street Gossip

  • Eyedress, Sensitive G

  • SOPHIE, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

  • Gunna, Drip Season 3

  • Playboi Carti, Die Lit

  • Young Thug, On the Rvn EP

  • Rossi Rock, The Main Chambelan

  • Ski Mask the Slump God, STOKELEY

  • Mac Miller, Swimming


Ryo

RYO MIYAUCHI

MUSIC WRITER

  1. Haru Nemuri, Haru To Shura

  2. SHINee, The Story of a Light

  3. Skee Mask, Compro

  4. Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

  5. EMPiRE, EMPIRE STRIKES START!!

  6. Park Jiha, Communication

  7. DaBoii, Neva Lookin Back

  8. Bali Baby, Baylor Swift

  9. Kensuke Ushio, Liz and the Blue Bird

  10. I-LP-ON, AANET

STAFF