Well, friends, it's been one hell of a year - especially for the music scene. As 2018 draws to a close, the Blanguage team has been reflecting on some of the music that has blessed our ears the most over the past 12 months. We've spent time hand-picking a perfect highlight reel that showcases the best tracks 2018 has produced. While we look forward to a new year, we hope you take a little time to pick out some of this year's gems and add them to your collection. Just for you, our Top Tracks of 2018. Words by Cole Dennis.
1. BUDDY - SHAMELESS
The second track from his debut album, ‘Harlan & Alondra’, Buddy dazzles us with his funk infused hip-hop. Featuring Guapdad 4000, the pair spit verses that document the initial highs of making it big in the music scene when you’ve come from nothing. That beat coupled with their no-holds-barred lyrics and charisma makes you feel like you made it too.
2. TRAVIS SCOTT - COFFEE BEAN
The final track from one of the most stunning albums of 2018, Astroworld, Scott mellows our souls with the perfect outro. In a rare exposé regarding his relationship with Kylie Jenner, we are treated to a much softer and vulnerable version of Travis Scott than we are used to. This break in character is matched with a similarly soft, yet beautiful, production style that you can’t help but succumb to. Coffee Bean is masterful and a definite highlight of not only the album, but the entirety of 2018.
3. DANIEL CAESAR - WHO HURT YOU?
Well, we waited most of 2018 to hear anything from the Toronto-born R&B superstar and boy, he did not disappoint with his first release of the year. Notorious for love songs that leave both men and women alike deep in their feelings, Caesar flips the script with this one. Crooning over soft R&B chords, he details a life now filled with ‘strange new addictions picked up on the road’. The track reveals a more shallow and jaded version of Daniel that we’re all very much here for.
4. MAC MILLER - JET FUEL
Our favourite pick from the Grammy-nominated ‘Swimming’, this particular track has a tragic irony to it in the wake of Miller’s recent death at just 26. Over a hypnotic guitar - provided by the enigmatic Steve Lacy - Mac shares with us how he uses drugs and addiction to deal with his problems. Given the details surrounding his death, it makes the song all the more poignant. Rest in power, Mac!
5. CHILDISH GAMBINO - FEELS LIKE SUMMER
Part of the ‘Summer Pack’ Gambino released back in July, Feels Like Summer was everything you didn’t know you needed at the time. Gently singing over slow, rhythmic chords the track perfectly reflected those long, hazy days we were all enjoying. If this wasn’t part of your summertime playlist for 2018, be sure to include it for 2019 … and every year beyond that. It’s an essential.
6. RAVYN LENAE - CLOSER (ODE 2 U)
Taken from the ‘Crush - EP’, Lenae shows her evolution from her project Moon Shoes released back in 2016. Co-produced by The Internet’s Steve Lacy, this track emanates all the new-school groove that the band has become famous for. With Ravyn’s faultless voice floating over the top, Closer is impossible not to bop your head and smile to - a simple, feel-good love song that’s not to be missed.
7. SKEPTA FT. WIZKID - ENERGY (STAY FAR AWAY)
The first official collab between the North London superstar and Nigeria’s finest and what a banger it was. Without a doubt, one of the soundtracks for 2018. Over an Afro-beats infused track, Skeppy delivers his usual devilishly playful verses, while Wizkid provides one of the catchiest hooks of the year. Espousing a message we can all get down with - positive vibes only, please.
8. TEYANA TAYLOR - GONNA LOVE ME
Taken from the last of 2018’s infamous releases by Kanye West, ‘K.T.S.E’, this track from Teyana Taylor is magical. Sampling The Delfonics, Ye’s production is, as always, supremely on point with this one. Taylor’s silky voice details the difficulties we’ve all faced in a relationship; overall though, that person is worth the ups and downs. Relatable and soulful, this is definitely one of our favourites to come from the series of albums produced by Kanye this year.
9. THE INTERNET - IT GETS BETTER (WITH TIME)
On their most cohesive and polished album yet, the groovy R&b group from LA released a real gem. The song was written by their incredibly talented leading lady, Syd, after her own battles with depression. In a year where mental health has had the spotlight it deserves, this track is not only relevant but gently uplifting.
10. IAMDDB - DRIPPY
In the words of Julie Adenuga herself, Iamddb is “the most exciting artist to watch this year” - and we wholeheartedly agree. The young lady from Manchester has indeed had quite the year - this song from her fourth studio album, ‘Flightmode Vol. 4’. Drippy is an excellent representation of the artists musical style; both intense and versatile.
11. JJ FT. ELIZA - DON'T MAKE ME
A scintillating collaboration between two UK artists that have undergone rebranding - Jesse James Solomon and Eliza Doolittle - this particular track is one of the sexiest releases of 2018. The two Londoners go back and forth over a slow burning bass that leaves you feeling the heat.
12. CHE ECRU - BEFORE I DIE
An artist from Blanguage’s ‘Ones To Watch’ for 2019, Che Ecru proves to us why he deserves to be on that list with this one. Written, produced and delivered over that new-age bounce by the man himself, ‘Before I Die’ is … well, it’s just fun. Listen to the lyrics, you’ll see what we mean.
13. NONAME - BLAXPLOITATION
Politically charged. Undiluted. Powerful. These are some of the things we’ve come to expect from Noname - another major talent from the hotbed of music that is Chicago. Dancing over a funky up-tempo bass line, her lyrics drip with irony as she addresses the reality of the black struggle in America today. Sliding in between movie clips taken from the 70s, Noname uses these to show that little has changed between then and now.
14. MULHERIN - FRIENDS
From their gorgeous EP ‘Human Nature’, the identical twins that make up Mulherin dropped something special with this one. Melodic and hypnotic; this track showcases the moody electro R&b, for which they’re becoming famous, spectacularly. We’re expecting big things from the brothers in 2019.
15. SABA FT. CHANCE THE RAPPER - LOGOUT
What is about Chicago and producing some of the most socially conscious artists of our generation? Here we have two Chicago natives speaking on the damaging effects that social media is having on our generation. Taken from his debut LP, ‘Care For Me’, Saba certainly did not waste his chance to collab with a giant like Chance. Spitting only the truth over his customary blend of hip-hop and jazz, the piano that melts gently under the beat makes for a stunning combination on this pick.
16. ARI LENNOX - WHIPPED CREAM
If this is the first taste of what we can expect from her debut album, then let’s just say we’re going to be eating good. The singer has seen increased spotlight this year - under the close mentorship of J Cole - and for good reason. On ‘Whipped Cream’, Lennox is reminiscent of the Corrine Bailey Rae we came to adore around a decade ago. This one is soulful, smooth and her voice is simply delectable.
17. JEREMIH & TY DOLLA $IGN - THE LIGHT
If you’re talking about feel-good songs that came out of 2018, this has to be a part of the conversation. Nothing too deep to think about here - just good, old fashioned sex. Sampling Keni Burke’s Rising To The Top - one of the best disco tracks to come out of the 80s - there is no wonder you can’t help but groove to ‘The Light’.
18. DAVE AND FREDO - FUNKY FRIDAY
How could we miss this? In terms of the evolution of British rap, this track was a groundbreaking moment. The collaboration between Dave and Fredo made it to number 1 in the UK charts - knocking Sam Smith and Calvin Harris off the top spot. Let that sink in. The track slaps, no doubt - but what’s special about this is the fact that the culture got behind it and we made history. Big ups to everyone that supported.
19. A$AP ROCKY FT. SKEPTA - PRAISE THE LORD
This wasn't just one of the catchiest tracks of 2018, but it also tops this year's list of iconic collabs - Skepta once again making huge strides in bridging the trans-Atlantic gap between the UK and the States. There’s just something about that flute riding over those heavy trap drums that makes it impossible not to chant along with. Apparently Rocky said they came up with the track on LSD - we can definitely see that. Genius.
20. BUDDY - TROUBLE ON CENTRAL
Two picks on our list for the Compton-born rapper and both fully deserved. Harlan and Alondra is as good as it gets in terms of debuts; Pharrell’s protégé has proven why he deserves to be the latest “Chosen One”. This particular track is a favourite - humble, raw but somehow still manages to make you groove. Buddy raps about the frustrations that come with being broke and wishing for more - something, we’re sure, we can all relate to.
21. ANAÏS - NINA
Anaïs, the London-based singer, dropped her single ‘Nina’ right at the top of the year that touches on the fearlessness that Nina Simone promoted in all of us. This well-orchestrated song is accompanied by a video shot in Gorée, Senegal and directed by Campbell Addy. The stellar production and profound lyrics deservedly lands this masterpiece on our Top 50 list.
22. BUTCH DAWSON - FEEL NOBODY
Baltimore, stand up! Butch Dawson really let us know that a storm is coming with his efforts this year. The original Swamp Boy dropped his track Feel Nobody in the spring yet we didn’t get the visual until October. Nonetheless, it was worth the wait! ‘Feel Nobody’ is hauntingly good and the flow sticks in your head; but we ain’t mad at all.
23. SNIPS, WILLIAM STOWE - THE PRODUCT
What happens when a veteran of the UK Hip-Hop & DJ scene pairs up with a spoken word poet from Hackney? … Magic. You may have heard the name William Stowe on the poetry scene or seen him around Shoreditch rubbing shoulders with his peers - but it’s safe to say no one expected what Snips & Stowe created. The instrumental to ‘The Product’ is a heavy bassline with prominent saxophone and percussion elements blended with conscious words from Stowe on gentrification and rising crime to create the most refreshing House song to be released in a while.
24. AFRONAUT ZU, LEVELLE LONDON, XVR BLCK - MARTIANS
Afronaut Zu, Levelle London & Xvr Blck team up to create pure fire. ‘Martians’ touches on love as an infection, addiction and as an escape. Afronaut & Levelle’s delivery on this track shows their musical maturity to create something that we’ve never heard before. All we ask, so that this moment is complete, is a VISUAL. Please!
25. SHECK WES - MO BAMBA
Guaranteed to turn up ANY rave at ANY time, some would call this THE song of the year. Named after Sheck’s popular pro-ball player homie, Mo Bamba had ravers breaking their necks with this catchy anthem.
26. KOJEY RADICAL - IF ONLY
Kojey definitely wasn’t playing this year, especially producing this follow-up to his stellar album ‘In God’s Body’. The flow is gritty, the beat is raw and the lyrics are unapologetic - it’s only going to get better in 2019.
27.WEYLAND MCKENZIE - NAVIGATION
This lyrical gem, featured on Weyland’s recent ‘North East’ EP, is a reflective odyssey of his musical journey, dealing with the industry and navigating through the snakes and the fakes. Accompanied by crisp visuals, courtesy of his team ABOE, next year is looking extremely bright.
28. OSCAR #WORLDPEACE - NO WHITE GOD
London rapper/producer, Oscar #Worldpeace came through swinging with this powerful song, touching on white supremacy and police brutality - a constant theme throughout his ‘IC3’ EP. Denouncing the negative labels that society has thrown upon us, Oscar stands tall in his truth.
29. OJERIME - GREASY
Ojerime’s ‘Greasy’ is an embodiment of the 90s, a time capsule to a place where the Mary J’s and Aaliyah’s reside. A relatable anthem for when your bae ain’t acting right, we’re looking forward to what Ojerime has in store for next year.
30. KADIATA - ON TAP
Everybody knows there is nothing quite like London in the summer and this year, it was absolutely blazing! But what's a summer’s day without an anthem which resembles your flex? South London's very own, Kadiata, has been there to attend to those needs, which included releasing a video right at the dawn of summer. Ever infectious with the confidence, this multi-talented artist is someone to keep your eyes on.
31. KADEEM TYRELL - LET ME KNOW
On the second day of January, wasting no time in attempting to conquer the year ahead, Mr. Vocals of Silk came through with the perfect around-the-way, "Crush on You" style tune. Shortly after in February, the public delightfully received a portrait style visual, to accompany the already highly addictive track. By the time his 6 song EP ‘Feels’ dropped in April, this song had already become a favourite earworm for many!
32. KLEIN - COLLECT
A cinematic quality may be the first thing you notice about much of Klein's music. This particular song features a narrative which is verbally laced by New York-based multi-disciplinary artist, Diamond Stingily. The track draws us into thinking about memory, childhood and identity. Musically, the synths contrast with the focus on tone and accent to make for an enticing and smooth soundscape. Far from your average and one to keep on your watch list for the unique factor.
33. AMINE - REEL IT IN
The quick-witted Oregon native was introduced to the scene with a comic quality and a penchant for entertaining. Since his arrival, he hasn't slowed down, constantly proving he has the bars & flow to match. His August drop ‘Reel It In’ from the ONEPOINTFIVE project certainly did not disappoint. The cherry on top? A video featuring Ricky Thompson, plus a Gucci Mane remix!
34. JEAN DEAUX FT. KARI FAUX - WORK FOR ME
An undeniable bop that will have you bouncing from the jump! Jean Deaux gives us bars, punchlines and a flow that is reminiscent of Missy, all whist letting us know she's a boss and means very serious business. This single from her EP 'Krash' also features another favourite, Kari Faux, who also ain't playing.
35. AMBUSH BUZZWORL - JUMPY
‘Jumpy’ dropped right in time for summer 2018 and had us jumping all over the gaff! The catchy rap song from Ambush quickly became an anthem and solidified its popularity with a remix featuring Chip & Skepta. North London stand up!
36. TIANA MAJOR9 - MR. MYSTERIOUS
This jazzy joint from Tiana had us in our feels from the first listen. An ode to a mysterious crush, this song is so potent you'll find yourself fantasizing a crush that doesn't even exist. Tiana's angelic melodies will have you firmly in your feels!
37. MAC AYERS, BRAXTON COOK, JACK DINE - ROSES
The three minute sax intro to this one will honestly have you melting in your seat. This song reminded us how musical instruments can make you feel and, funnily enough, it comes from Mac Ayers’ debut album titled 'Something To Feel’. Come rain or shine, this song will make you feel something.
38. JAMIE ISAAC - DOING BETTER
On ‘Doing Better’ we hear Jamie Isaac reflecting on love. Such honesty coupled with a pure self-reflection over the slightly boom-bap beat is sumptuous. Jamie Isaac has had a very good few years in music since his debut project in 2016. We hope to see more and more from the dude in 2019 - and certainly more videos, like the ‘Doing Better’ video here.
39. KISH! - BENZO
Benzo, heard on Frank Ocean’s BLONDED RADIO, is a fruitful hit from the young Kish! as he glides effortlessly over this beat.The underground scene is going to be a powerful force reaching further than just the UK. Kish! is tracking around 2,500+ listeners in the USA and that, without a doubt, is only going to increase. Listen to the latest by himself now: ‘Be Mine’ - Kish!, Rada & L!MA.
40. LOUIS CULTURE - LOCAL
‘Local’ is a certified groove by the underground, emerging artist! Louis Culture is currently electrifying South London. His mix of speech and singing is something worth keeping an eye - or ear - on. All praise to Louis Culture!
41. BIIG PIIG - FLIRT
Big Piig blessed our ears with some beautiful music this year - a highlight certainly being ‘Flirt’. The Irish native has shaken the scene and is dazzling the neo-soul genre along the way. The NINE8 collective have a strong addition with Biig Piig; the 20 year old star is going to ruffle more feathers in 2019.
42. UNKNOWN T - HOMERTON B
Unknown T’s ‘Homerton B’ was released in August and quickly jumped onto the UK’s biggest Drill Tracks of the year. This track definitely solidified Unknown T’s position with UK scene as the East London driller managed to take “Homerton B” to the Top 100 Chart without a label.
43. BURNA BOY - YE
‘Ye’ is arguably Burna Boy’s biggest song to date, as the single taken from his classic album ‘OUTSIDE’, can be heard shutting down parties from Abuja to Birmingham. Burna Boy has solidified himself as one of Africa’s current greatest artists. He has managed to infiltrate the hearts of people worldwide and has been indirectly responsible for some defining viral moments within black culture this year. From Kanye West dancing in Nigeria to OSH getting signed to Columbia records for his ‘Ye’ remix and slogan “My Ye is Different From Your Ye”.
44. RAGZ ORIGINALE - ENDLESS
Ragz Originale created an amazing body of work with his album ‘Nature’, but especially with the song ‘Endless’. Ragz came with a warm and wavey vibe perfect for when you’re at home in winter chilling with bae.
45. PLAYBOI CARTI & SKEPTA - LEAN 4 REAL
Playboy Carti and Skepta successfully collaborated again to make a great tune. Skepta has started to master these UK/ US collaborations as they perfectly balance and stay true to both artists. The flows and ad-libs on this track are straight fire.
What do you think of our list? What tracks would be on your top list of 2018? Sound out below!