The Best Albums of 2018

2018 was a great year for music. From Travis Scott's 'ASTROWORLD' to Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter V,' here are Complex’s 50 best albums of 2018.

best albums 2018 complex
Image via Complex Original
best albums 2018 complex

There were many ways to make an album in 2018. Artists like Drake and Migos put together long, streaming-friendly projects that left little on the cutting room floor. Meanwhile, G.O.O.D. Music headed to Wyoming and experimented with a seven-song format that stripped each project down to its most necessary elements. Across the board, we heard stories about artists who tinkered with albums until the very last moment, turning in verses mere hours before files needed to be uploaded to streaming services.

No matter how the music was created, there sure was a lot of it. Somehow, the pace kept accelerating, and every Friday we were treated to more material than we knew what to do with. This was a memorable year for hungry newcomers and established veterans alike, and there were many more than 50 great releases. These are Complex’s picks for the best albums of 2018.

51. Migos, ‘Culture II’


50. Earl Sweatshirt, ‘Some Rap Songs’

some rap songs artwork

49. Mariah Carey, ‘Caution’

mariah carey caution

48. Kamasi Washington, ‘Heaven and Earth’

Kamasi Washington

47. The Weeknd, ‘My Dear Melancholy,’

The Weeknd

46. Playboi Carti, ‘Die Lit’

Playboi Carti

45. Anderson .Paak, ‘Oxnard’

anderson paak oxnard

44. SiR, ‘November’


43. Westside Gunn, ‘Supreme Blientele’

supreme blientele art

42. Popcaan, ‘Forever’


41. Metro Boomin, ‘Not All Heroes Wear Capes’

not all heroes

40. J Balvin, ‘Vibras’


39. Empress Of, ‘Us’

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38. Teyana Taylor, ‘K.T.S.E.’

ktse teyana

37. Kacey Musgraves, ‘Golden Hour’

Kacey Musgraves

36. 03 Greedo, ‘God Level’

god level 03 greedo art

35. Drake, ‘Scorpion’

drake scorpion artwork

34. Roc Marciano & DJ Muggs, ‘KAOS’

kaos artwork

33. Jeremih and Ty Dolla Sign, ‘MihTy’

mihty artwork

32. Vince Staples, ‘FM!’

vince staples fm artwork

31. Rae Sremmurd, ‘SR3MM’

Rae Sremmurd

30. Denzel Curry, ‘TA13OO’

denzel curry ta1300

29. Meek Mill, ‘CHAMPIONSHIPS’

meek mill championships art

28. Royce Da 5’9”, ‘Book of Ryan’

Royce da 5'9"

27. Jacquees, ‘4275’


26. 6lack, ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’

6lack east atlana love letter art

25. Robyn, ‘Honey’

robyn honey

24. Post Malone, ‘Beerbongs & Bentleys’

Post Malone

23. Smino, ‘NØIR’

smino noir artwork

22. The Internet, ‘Hive Mind’

internet hive mind cover

21. J.I.D, ‘DiCaprio 2’

dicaprio 2 artwork

20. Noname, ‘Room 25’

noname art

19. Lil Wayne, ‘Tha Carter V’

tha carter v artwork

18. Currensy, Freddie Gibbs, and the Alchemist, ‘Fetti’

fetti roma art

17. Tierra Whack, ‘Whack World’

tierra whack

16. Saba, ‘CARE FOR ME’


15. Kids See Ghosts, ‘Kids See Ghosts’

kids see ghosts large 2

14. Janelle Monáe, ‘Dirty Computer’

Janelle Monae

13. Lil Baby and Gunna, ‘Drip Harder’

drip harder artwork

12. Mac Miller, ‘Swimming’


11. Cardi B, ‘Invasion of Privacy’

Cardi B

10. Blood Orange, ‘Negro Swan’

negro swan

9. Kendrick Lamar and Various Artists, ‘Black Panther: The Album’


8. The Carters, ‘Everything Is Love’

the carters artwork

7. Nipsey Hussle, ‘Victory Lap’

nipsey hussle victory lap

6. Jay Rock, ‘Redemption’

jay rock redemption artwork

5. Ariana Grande, ‘Sweetener’

ariana sweetener

4. J. Cole, ‘KOD’

J. Cole

3. Travis Scott, ‘ASTROWORLD’

astroworld artwork

2. Pusha-T, ‘DAYTONA’

pusha t daytona artwork

Label: G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam Recordings

Released: May 25

Do you remember where you were when Flex dropped “The Story of Adidon” on Hot 97? I was in the office with a couple of coworkers when we heard Push say “easy money” over the beginning of the JAY-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” beat. Why is this relevant? Because Push’s methodical slaying of rap’s Goliath, for better or worse, made us appreciate DAYTONA even more. While artists scramble to drop 20-song mixtapes and albums in a chase for streaming numbers, a rap veteran like Pusha-T instead delivered a flawless seven-song album, easily the best out of G.O.O.D. Music’s Summer of Seven wave of releases.

Pusha may take forever to give us full-lengths—this is his first album since 2015’s Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude—but they’re usually worth the wait. He exceeded expectations with DAYTONA, though. He wastes no time as he begins his onslaught with “If You Know You Know,” an ode to current and former drug dealers spoken in a language only they can relate to. Then comes the “Heart ’N Soul” sample on “The Games We Play,” masterfully sped up and looped by Kanye West. Push sounds like a maniacally confident villain over his very own theme music. Just like anarchy was the Joker’s calling card, throwing subliminals and boasting about drug money have always been Pusha’s.

The underrated “Come Back Baby” sounds like something Jigga would’ve rapped over on The Blueprint. It brings the best out of Push as he delivers my favorite line on the album: “If we go by connections made/I can still climb ladders when complexions fade.” He’s one of the handful of street rappers who have been able to cross over to the corporate side with ease; Rick Ross and JAY are the only others who come immediately to mind. King Push’s lyrics lend credence to his truth-telling persona. On “Infrared,” he tells his truth once more, as he references the Cash Money sub-fest that is “Exodus 23:1” and re-ignites his beef with Drake. 2018 will be remembered as the year Pusha won, in every sense of the word. —Angel Diaz




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