Phew! What an eventful year 2008 has been? If you've been losing your faith in hip-hop because of all the disappointing rap albums that dropped in 2008, I hope you'll find this list to be a thorough guide to the year's best hip-hop music. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the best rap albums of 2008.
Proudly hoisting Michigan's hip-hop flag is the raw and captivating Guilty Simpson. On Ode to the Ghetto, Guilty captures the essence of Detroit with vivid snapshots about inner-city life. The tracks run the gamut from rage to angst, but mostly rage. Just don't play it while stuck in traffic on a bad day.
Sonically, Time:Line is more soul-hop than boom bap. Lyrically, though, it's hard-edged hip-hop at its underground finest. The album deals largely with preexistence, life, and afterlife. To that respect, the seamless transition between tracks makes Time:Line very easy to digest.
Every great artist experiences and expresses growth at some point in their career. Maturity is the dominant theme on II Trill. For every braggart anthem there are two thought-provoking gems. Ever gracious, Bun also dedicates a couple of heartfelt tributes to the memory of his late friend, Pimp C.
Akrobatik debuted in 2003, got lost in the shuffle, and kind of disappeared for five years straight. But you wouldn't know it from listening to Absolute Value. Ak is in top form here, tackling serious issues like societal imbalance and gang violence on "Rain" and "Front Steps Pt. II (Tough Love)" as effectively as anyone since Chuck D.
No pricey bangers from Timbaland. No market-tested concepts. No club-ready singles. Just a young New York MC mouthing off rhymes about life and death over some organic beats. At 42 minutes and 11 tracks, Each Dawn I Die's brevity allows very little room for missteps.
Musically, this is consistent with Jeezy's last two albums. Synth-heavy cuts and big-bass beats are prominent throughout The Recession, which an unbiased Jeezy dubbed "hands down the best album of the year." Lyrically, the Snowman is as entertaining as ever, ad libs and drug references intact. Fans will be delighted to see him branch out of his comfort zone and address social issues briefly.
"We share a comfort level that allows me to be at ease when it comes to recording and that natural sound translates into great music," Buckshot once said of his partnership with veteran hip-hop producer 9th Wonder. We have that musical chemistry to thank for the magical moments on Tha Formula, a follow-up to their 2005 debut, prophetically titled Chemistry.
Jake One's brief stint as a member of G-Unit's production crew gave him access to some major players. White Van Music is more than just a demonstration of this young producer's clout, as MCs like Talib Kweli, Young Buck, and MF Doom make notable appearances. The true magic of the album lies in Jake One's ability to pair the right artists with the right beats.