Critic: Tom Roberts
Pick: Pusha T – Daytona
Pusha T’s ‘Daytona’ is an instant modern-day classic. Suppressed to seven tracks and a runtime of 21 minutes and eight seconds, you will not be disappointed. Pusha snarls his brags over Kanye West’s production, confidently asserting himself amongst the top five and with albums like this, he may have a claim. ‘If You Know You Know’ is a fantastic way to kick start the album, having Pusha freestyle before being suddenly dropped into a Kanye beat. Then finishing with Infrared, which is a fantastic chess move, enticing Drake to bite before finishing him off with an absolutely savage diss track (The Story of Adidon). If you haven’t listened then you must, otherwise, if you know, you know.
Critic: Chris Heley
Pick: Jason Aldean – Rearview Town
2018 was the year that for the first time in my lifetime a “country” artist had a sustained period in the UK top 40. Florida Georgia Line with Bebe Rexha reached 11 in the UK charts with “Meant to Be”. The success of which undoubtedly will have drawn new ears to pop-country music. Personally, if you have been drawn to country off the back of that track give Rearview Town by Jason Aldean a listen. Aldean released his 8th album Rearview Town back in April and the album doesn’t disappoint in terms of what you would expect from one of country music’s most forthright rockers. Favourite tracks include hit single “You Make It Easy”, the title track “Rearview Town” and “Getting Warmed up”, which exemplifies Aldean’s ability for up-tempo lyrics almost akin to rap, all of which will translate excellently into Aldean’s notorious live shows. If you’re looking for something a bit different to listen to and want to foray into country music I highly recommend this album.
Critic: Jack Channings
Pick: Mist – Diamond in the Dirt
While probably not being the most successful or famous album of the year, Mist’s ‘Diamond in the Dirt’ is a tale of redemption through musical success. A Birmingham born rapper with a flair for the luxurious. The reason I believe his album deserves a mention is that in 2014, he was imprisoned after a high-profile chase on the M6 involving 10 police cars. Since then, Mist has been on the straight and narrow dedicating time to his craft and artistry and it shows. The album itself has some big features, including Not3s, MoStack and Nines, with standout tracks being, coincidentally one of my songs of the year, Game Changer and Order it in. He also has a jokes Instagram.
KIDS SEE GHOSTS (Kanye West and Kid Cudi) – KIDS SEE GHOSTS
If Kanye had recorded the album on his own, then it would have been in my bottom five albums of the year. However, you get the feeling that West was more focused on this album than his own individual project, titled ‘Ye’. Kid Cudi, provides a delightful angle that would have been lost on a West solo project. Tracks like “Freeee” provide an appropriate alternative sound to Kanye’s heavy affirmations and ‘hard bars’. This is the case throughout the album and it leads to a cracking seven-track treat!
Critic: Luke McLoughlin
Pick: Eminem – Kamikaze
By absolutely no means my favourite album of the year, I just feel it had a bit more of an influence than people have given it credit for. Following the truly dreadful ‘Revival’ in 2017, the general consensus surrounding Eminem followed the same narrative… he’s finished, passed it, and however you put it nobody was excited to listen to a new Eminem album. Kamikaze was a secret release and, supported by a strong enough core, has definitely shown us that Eminem isn’t finished. He still has the capability to excite. Eminem has been a constant figure throughout my life, and I don’t want to see the legend diminished by something like Revival. So, I’m glad that he’s produced this respectable effort and I hope that it signals a genuine return to form.