Say what you like, 2018 has been a marked year for music. While critique is very serious business, we are also human and what we like is all the more special than the critical appraisal of an album. For the next month, every day, you will find our staff picks for our favorite facets of music from best features to worst songs and everything in-between, based solely on what strikes us as diehard music fans first, and critics second. It's been an incredible year for hip-hop.
These are our most unforgettable hip-hop moments of 2018.
Mac Miller’s Untimely Death
My immediate reaction to this news, in Slack and in the real world, was one very wounded "No." Every day, the news feels no more or less true. Rather, Mac's absence is like a thin veil of loss that brushes up against the skin without warning. There will never be another motherfucker realer, never anyone more special to me than Mr. Mac motherfucking Miller. —Donna-Claire Chesman
2018 was an exciting year in hip-hop, but it was also marred by death. None hit me harder than the passing of Mac Miller, who meant so much to so many of us. His legacy lives on, but too soon. So it goes. —Ben Taylor
Future’s “Falsetto” on “King’s Dead”
There have been certain guest verses in hip-hop that have had the unique ability to immediately captivate the entire community, stimulating meaningful conversation: Eminem on “Forgot About Dre,” Kendrick Lamar on “Control," and… Future on “King’s Dead”? Back in June, in the DJBooth Slack chat, the staff was particularly divided about whether or not Future’s verse on this Black Panther soundtrack cut was actually any good; I left my phone for five minutes and missed a feverish, 50-message debate. Ultimately, whether you enjoy Future’s spontaneous “falsetto” or not, you can’t deny its influence. It gave us some priceless reactions and incredible memes, and it simply proved Future knows what it takes to make a hit. La di da di da... —Stephen Barston
2018 felt like it was at least five years long, so crammed with bullshit, albums, storylines, gossip, and drama it was near impossible to stay caught up on everything. And that's just the Kanye news.
Spending his year shamelessly suckling at the teat of celebrity, gobbling up clout in whatever rainbow-haired form it presented itself, and promoting dangerous rhetoric at every turn, Kanye West spend his 2018 making sure everyone in the world was constantly updated about what Kanye West was doing, as much as we didn't want him to be doing those things and pleaded with him to stop. There were some highs, but 2018 was the year of Ye the embattled genius exposing himself as Kanye the very lost, not very intelligent, MAGA-hat human. Sad! —Brendan Varan
Pusha-T’s “The Story of Adidon”
I’ll never forget May 29, 2018, because that’s the day I figured out it was no longer cool to have kids or have friends who require hospital visits or have a dad with goofy outfits or to ever speak with anyone on Instagram ever again. Pusha-T’s infamous Drake diss was like watching someone checkmate another person in one move. However Pusha came about the information he did, the strategy employed should be studied in history books for ages on how the art of war actually works. “The Story of Adidon” was exactly what Leonidas did to Xerxes at the end of 300, showing the world even that no one in rap is truly an untouchable god. Drake may have dominated almost every aspect of hip-hop in 2018, but rest assured, there will be a small, cocaine-stained asterisk next to his name and a faint “Yugghck” echoing in the distance behind him wherever he goes. —Matt Wilhite
It felt like hip-hop froze in place when Pusha-T visited Funk Flex at Hot 97 to premiere a little record called “The Story of Adidon.” A diss track so brutal that Drake was forced to take to the Notes app to respond, "The Story of Adidon" sent shockwaves across the internet and placed a sizable dent in the armor of one of our generation’s most dominant artists. With its scathing bars, bombshell revelations, and the haunting cover photo showing the Toronto star in blackface, there was simply no way the song wouldn’t take off the way that it did. —Kenan Draughorne
Interacting daily with a community of rap nerds on the internet, I often lose sight of the fact that the things I lose my mind over rarely if ever have a cultural impact outside of this curated bubble. With this in mind, “The Story of Adidon” stands out as an incredibly rare exception, because within an hour of its release, every single text chain I subscribe to started blowing up with friends and family members sharing their amateur readings of Pusha-T’s lyrics. Inspiring countless memes, sparking a debate about the morality of battle rap, and forcing the biggest artist in the world to rewrite the year’s biggest album, it’s hard to think of any one song released in the past few years that had a greater splash radius than this one. —Hershal Pandya
Wars are won by the cunning foxes who are sly as they are strong. Pusha-T’s victory over Drake in their brief but electrifying feud was strictly the result of the dirt he gathered like a private investigator. Yes, “The Story of Adidon” is TMZ gossip in rap form, but the shock of, “You are hiding a child” will live on in our minds for all eternity as the greatest gender reveals of all time. —Yoh
Kendrick Lamar Winning the Pulitzer
Whoever thought that hip-hop would take it this far? Pretty much everyone who started this art form. Kendrick Lamar being the first rapper to accept a Pulitzer is a feat I wish I could keep on repeat in the back of my brain every time I have a bad day. Validation from awards ceremonies normally isn’t worth all the fuss, but seeing Kendrick Lamar humbly accept an award that Bob Dylan couldn’t even be bothered to show up for is proof that this rap shit isn’t going anywhere. —Dylan "CineMasai" Green
Eminem Calling Me a “Yahoo Motherfucker”
When I foolishly decided that writing about music was something I wanted to pursue, I dreamed of getting bylines in Rolling Stone, The FADER, and XXL. As reality has set in, I’ve had to settle for a 46-year-old Eminem calling me a “Yahoo motherfucker” being my crowning achievement so far. For those who fortunately haven’t heard Kamikaze, there’s a skit called “Em Calls Paul” where an angry Eminem goes in on an unnamed blogger who derided him for rhyming “rhymes” with “chimes.” For those who unfortunately haven’t read my brilliant and hilarious work, I wrote an article last year making fun of the 20 worst lyrics from Revival (a generous number), which opened with that, um, well-ventilated line (“Such a breeze when I pen rhymes / I just got that air about me like wind chimes”).
Obviously, I can’t say for sure whether Eminem was reacting to my piece, and I probably wouldn’t even be talking about it had my fellow music writer Eric Skelton not pointed it out (I may be snarky, but I’m not thirsty). In any case, it’s a surreal situation that will forever make me chuckle, regardless of whether I ever land a Rolling Stone byline.
Oh, and one last thing: I’m familiar with internal rhymes, Em. That doesn’t make your recent output any less dreadful. —Andy James