The album release schedule for 2018 got off to a relatively slow start before picking up as we reached closer to the halfway point. Still, there's been a number of projects to appreciate. J. Cole brought music with a message in KODJanelle Monáe shined with her first solo release in more than four years, and Kendrick Lamar displayed his range in curating the Black Panther album.

On top of that, Cardi B and Pusha-T more than delivered on highly anticipated projects, while newer acts like SOB X RBE and Lil Skies showcased why they're here to stay. And while Kanye West has been a source of controversy as of late, the Chicago rapper and producer also proved he has some gas left in the tank musically with Ye.

The rest of 2018 seems promising as we look toward more music that will shape our collective playlists. Until then, these are the best albums of the year (so far).