This week’s hip-hop preview definitely highlights the eclectic nature of the genre in 2018. Headlined by a comeback album from a rap pioneer, underlined by a posthumous album from one of rap’s most polarizing recent figures, and punctuated by an outrageous holiday-themed album from one of the west coast’s most exciting new groups, the variety on display is a microcosm of the dazzlingly wide array of musical palettes on tap from the best of rap in 2018.
There may be even more surprises on call as well. 21 Savage mysteriously tweeted out “12-7-18” with no context last month, which could indicate he has an album on the way as well. He’s certainly due; while his 2017 debut Issa was a solid standout that proved he bore hidden depths, he’s been relatively quiet ever since, at least on the solo front. Meanwhile, the improvement he displayed in guest verses on albums from Metro Boomin and Meek Mill sounds even more promising from a solo album standpoint. Trap music could certainly use an infusion of his deadpan wit and snarling disdain to balance out the melodizing and ostentatious flexing that the genre’s been on lately; rap may be pop, but it still needs an air of menace to maintain its cool.
Even if 21 doesn’t drop his album, the return of Ice Cube may help give rap back its bite; as one of the original members of NWA, Cube was one of the rappers largely responsible for both rap’s explosion into the mainstream consciousness in the early ’90s and its ability to terrify suburban white parents. But if stunting is more your speed, trap elder statesman Gucci Mane has his first release of 2018 on the way as well. The point is, there’s something for everyone; as we’ll see down the list, there’s even something for jolly old Saint Nick to help close out the year. Read on.