Camiele’s 100 Favorite Albums of 2018
10. Anderson .Paak – Oxnard
Anderson’s pen has amplified. He’s reached a new level of lyrical veritas. He’s taken his adoration and knowledge of break beats and rare grooves and integrated them so much cleaner in this ode to his Californian home city.
More focused than both Venice and Malibu. There’s a level of emotional intent and consciousness here that adds another level of his artistry, picking up where the elegance of the former albums’ production left off. Oxnard shows Anderson at his most elevated.
One can only wonder how much he can level up before he reaches his final form. AND NATURALLY WHEN DRE GETS A HOLD OF YOUR ALBUM BELIEVE IT’S GONNA BE ABOVE AND BEYOND ANYTHING ALREADY OUT THERE. THE ONLY ONE DRE HAS TO TRY TO TOP IS DRE!
9. Lupe Fiasco – DROGAS WAVE
Heavy, thoughtful, precise music. This permutation of Lupe is insightful and armed with a vicious intellect. He’s always (even at his worst) been prone to use his wordplay to paint very vivid scenarios. With Drogas Wave, he’s managed to use the trans-Atlantic slave trade as his lyrical backdrop, and he does it with incredible dexterity and respect to a trauma that continues to haunt my people and frames our narrative of existence in this country. Bravo to Lupe for adding his name to the list of those constantly fighting in this new Negro Revolution.
8. JID – DiCaprio 2
Five seconds… That’s all it took for me to fall in love with JID’s flow. Five. Entire. SECONDS! This man’s delivery and wordplay are just… obscene and rude. There’s an awful lot of Kendrick in this yung’in, even more of his proclaimed musical hero, Li’l Wayne. But more than that, there’s just an awful lot of passion and power in what he has to say and how he says it. 30 seconds in, and DiCaprio 2 is easily one of the best hip-hop albums of 2018.
7. Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
Heaven and Earth is just an explosion. Absolute brilliance. This is why we need more jazz in the world, for legendary pieces of work like this. Kamasi Washington is the epitome of what West Coast jazz was and is all about. Free, loose, measured with wildness at the sides. His range and ability to paint such aural landscapes with the scope of his sound is astonishing. Legendary status without breaking a sweat.
6. Decadent – Decadent
No one should be surprised that Decadent is near the top of my list. Their debut LP is just a Master Class in soul, blues, funk, rock, and all the things that make up the human heart. They are an absolute paragon of how to make music that lasts not just the test of time, but the test of human emotion.
I could just bathe them in superlatives, but none of them would come close to just how powerful their work is to me. B alone was enough to put the album where it is. But backtracking throughout the tracklist, there’s just so much magic: the solemn dexterity of Disease, the bare-bones elegance of Ausgang, the swag of Peter Parker… This album is just riddled with excessive amounts of… well, decadence.
5. The Internet – Hive Mind
Elegant smoothness. That’s the best way to describe Hive Mind. The Internet have matured to an incredible level, mixing their brand of sophisticated musicianship with a sharper ear for the technical. They move and groove just as beautifully as ever before.
It’s always amazing to see the progression of a band from their origins to where they are, and The Internet just gets better with age.
4. Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Jack White is a force of nature!
Boarding House Reach is just pure funk, soul, blues-rock at its finest. The multifaceted musician has been around for so long that it’s easy to forget that he keeps being able to reinvent himself with every album, while still holding true to that 16-bar blues that birthed him.
3. Black Thought – Streams of Thought Vol. 1
First fifteen seconds, Black Thought manages to get off about five or six bars without breaking a sweat. This man has bars on bars on bars. So many bars, you think he’s trying to give somebody alcohol poisoning! Just… nobody bodies lyrics like this legend. Point blank.
While I didn’t get around to hearing Volume 2 (I know… shame on me), the first in the (thus far) two-part saga was enough to nearly stop my heart!
2. Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells
Bold. Sensual. And oh-so gloriously musical. Esperanza Spalding is the epitome of the type of musician I’ve always wished I could be and whom I’d give almost anything to work with, to learn from.
Everything she does is really a lesson in control, musicality, and composition. She’s a queen among paupers. Everything she does is geared to make you reconsider what you know about music and lyricism. She unabashedly creates poetry in every song. Bow down!
The only thing separating my #1 and #2 is pure preference of craft. And really that can shift with the weather. I adore Janelle’s wordplay and magical lyricism. I adore Esperanza’s musical scope, her aural depth and poetry. It was a toss-up in the end, and in the end Janelle edged my dear Esperanza by the smallest wisp of preference.
1. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
The list of features, without even having listened to it, is enough to prove (if you didn’t already realize it) Monáe’s musical vocabulary is vast and bottomless.
Working with Brian Wilson, one of the most incredible musical minds ever conceived, means you’re not only serious about the craft. You want to reintroduce the world to its boundlessness, something Monáe does every time she releases an album. There are clear drops of Stevie Wonder from what’s been dubbed his “Golden Era” between 1972 and 1979 when he was undoubtedly at his most creative after having discovered the Fender Rhodes (leaning heavily toward Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants). There’s a glorious slant to the sound that shows just how far above and beyond the rest of her ilk she is.
Any “edgy” child who proclaims there’s no good music, or, my personal favorite, “They don’t make music like they used to”… You’re absolutely right. They make it better and with as much if not more soul. If you’re deluded into believing otherwise, you don’t really care enough about music to simply listen, and you’ve obviously never listened to Ms. Monáe. Shame on you.
Political. Sensual. Ballsy. Emotional. Dirty. Dirty Computer is everything you could possibly want from an album and then some. Jane honestly deserves every accolade rained down upon her for this masterpiece.
And that will do it for 2018! This really was a fun ride. Maybe 2019 is the year I’ll manage to actually listen to 150 albums! Which, of course, will make things even harder for me. That being said, I love going on this musical journey every year. There’s just so much damn good music in the world! And you’ll all agree, we need it now more than ever.
Did some of my favorites make your list? Were some of the rankings unexpected? Let me know. And also let me know what I missed! Because I’m sure there were at least 100 more that missed my radar or I just couldn’t get to!
Here’s to 100 more wonderful pieces of music in 2019!