Hip-hop albums are either way too long or way too short. At least, that’s what you’d guess from the narrative surrounding album length that currently rages on the internet and social media. As the highest profile rappers of the modern generation look to extended tracklists to take full advantage of current industry streaming metrics, the debate about perfect album length has surfaced as one of the main concerns of hip-hop discussions online.
While some fans advocate for shorter album lengths, recent releases from the likes of Chance The Rapper, Young Thug, and DRAM have left those same fans clamoring for more material from their favorite rappers. Meanwhile, albums from Drake, Migos, and Post Malone practically dominated the charts for the entire year — Drake alone has spent four weeks straight at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while Post hasn’t left the chart in the 12 weeks since its release.
Below, we take a look at both the longest albums of the year and the shortest to determine which among them have been the true gems of 2018.
Drake, Scary Hours EP
Consisting of two singles, “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity,” this January release not only charted highly but also signaled the trend of extremely short EPs to follow, while serving as the first introduction to Drake’s upcoming full-length album.
Wale, Self Promotion EP
11 minutes and 26 seconds was all it took for Wale to reestablish himself as one of the preeminent lyricists of the generation.
DRAM, That’s A Girl’s Name EP
Clocking in at 12-minutes, 20 seconds, DRAM’s return to music after a two-year gap took some broad swings at wildly varied genres and knocked all of them right out of the park.
Young Thug, Hear No Evil EP
Released in April, this three-song, 12-minute, 36-second EP is a contradiction of sorts; Thug had previously promised not to release any music in 2018 as a tribute to his deaf brother, but wound up releasing this EP dedicated to him anyway.
Chance The Rapper, “I Might Need Security” singles
While technically not an EP or an album, Chance’s midnight release of four related singles, tied together by their abstract covers, could very well constitute a complete collection of music. All four singles, including the Arthur-meme-referencing “I Might Need Security,” are so good, we’ll smudge the rules.
2 Chainz, The Play Don’t Care Who Makes It EP
2 Chainz’ four-song EP bridges his 2017 release Pretty Girls Like Trap Music and his upcoming Rap Or Go To The League with just enough of his signature wit to hold fans over and remind them why he’s still king of the trap.
Desiigner, L.O.D. EP
After a number of false starts, Desiigner finally released the long-awaited L.O.D. as a holdover to his as-yet-unfinished debut album. While it won’t do much to help him escape the comparisons to Future, it is a solid collection.
Pusha T, Daytona
The first of Kanye West’s short, GOOD Music experiments remained the best after the five album run was finished (although Kids See Ghosts is clearly in the running and may hold up longer). It’s a shame the album itself was nearly overshadowed by the drama surrounding it.
Tierra Whack, Whack World
Coming out of nowhere featuring 15 one-minute tracks and accompanied by a dazzling video component, Whack World was as complete and concise an artistic statement as any other debut of the streaming era.
Post Malone, Beerbongs Bentleys
At just over an hour long, Posty’s Stoney followup has more than enough music to satisfy his fans and annoy his detractors. While it received lukewarm reception from many critics, it hit No. 1 and stayed there for a good long while.
Nipsey Hussle, Victory Lap
Surprisingly, Nipsey Hussle’s major label debut edges out Post Malone’s supersized offering despite having fewer tracks. However, Nipsey’s propensity for creating dense, lush soundscapes and fully fleshed-out concepts may have contributed to the longer average track length.
Tory Lanez, Memories Don’t Die
Like his fellow Toronto native Drake, Tory isn’t fond of making incisive edits to his projects, preferring to use as much material as he can to get his point across — in this case, 70 minutes worth. Unfortunately for Tory, Memories comes a little too close to mimicking Drake’s in other ways, despite preceding Scorpion by three months.
Flatbush Zombies, Vacation In Hell
Although Flatbush Zombies’ second album is a minute longer than Tory Lanez’ 2018 release, it never feels overwhelming in the same way, varying its aggression just enough to make each track sound fresh.
Wiz Khalifa, Rolling Papers 2
For his sixth studio album, Wiz returned to the title of his much-maligned Atlantic Records debut and though the sequel doesn’t do much to redeem the original, Wiz carefully references many of the high points of his career so far while continuing to expand his sonic palette.
Despite being shaken up by Pusha T’s salacious salvos, Drake stuck to what he’s good at — moody introspection, celebratory anthems, and catchy lovelorn ballads. The results have stoked complaints that The Boy could use an editor, but I’m sure his four weeks at No. 1 will keep him from worrying too much about the haters.
Rae Sremmurd, SR3MM
Although technically three albums, the brothers Brown released both their solo albums and their third group effort as one collection, neatly dodging speculation of solo splits and continuing to cash in on their familial chemistry at the same time. While Jxmmi’s solo section stands out as the clearest artistic statement, there are shining moments throughout.
03 Greedo, The Wolf Of Grape Street and God Level
Greedo’s intense work ethic somewhat mitigates his recent sentence on gun and drug charges, leaving behind not just one but two of the year’s longest projects as a testament to his unique talent. However, most music fans would undoubtedly trade some of those tracks for Greedo’s continued freedom to create for a longer time instead.
Migos, Culture II
The poster children for extra-long albums, Migos knew their followup to 2017’s Culture would have to feel like a major event. Although Culture II has moments where it tends to drag, it accomplishes its goal of remaining near ubiquitous when you realize that there are enough singles on the 106-minute long album to carry the trio into the next election year if need be.
Snoop Dogg, The Bible Of Love
Surprisingly, the longest album of the year comes from one of rap’s eldest statesmen. While technically The Bible Of Love is Snoop’s debut gospel album, the Dogg has been synonymous with hip-hop for so long, it’d feel like a sin not to include an album of his on this list.