It’s no easy task to rank the top songs of a genre for a full year, and it’s especially difficult when that genre is as all-encompassing as hip-hop. And it was an amazing year as hip-hop dominated the charts and massive albums like Scorpion, Astroworld, and Kamikaze exploded. Without further ado, our top 25 hip-hop songs of 2018.
Run the Trap’s Top 25 Hip-Hop Songs Of 2018 | SoundCloud Playlist
25. Mac Miller – Self Care
This is a good example of a song that absolutely had to make the cut. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and Mac Miller was an example of an underrated puzzle piece in the American hip-hop culture. His song “Self Care” rocketed through the charts following his passing from a drug overdose, as many connected with the message in a year that brought mental health to the forefront of American conversations, especially within the music community.
24. The Carters – APESHIT
Beyoncé and Jay-Z have always been a super team, but when they teamed up to release one of the year’s biggest hits in “APESHIT”, everyone lost it. The beat is simple, but the rappers’ lines and flow are flawless. The track references their come up through the game to their current life of luxury, a theme found throughout much of The Carter’s rap discography. Also, “APESHIT” was one of Barack Obama’s favorite songs in 2018, so there’s that.
23. A$AP Rocky – Praise The Lord
Popular within meme culture as well as the radio, A$AP Rocky‘s “Praise The Lord” was one of this year’s top hits. This song also was part of a growing movement within the UK Rap Scene, as it featured the prominent UK rapper Skepta. As part of his album Testing, A$AP Rocky discusses his religious and spiritual beliefs, landing him at number twenty-three on the list.
22. Eminem – Killshot
Aim. Fire. “Killshot.” That’s exactly what Eminem did to poor Machine Gun Kelly, in a diss track firing back at Kelly’s “Rap Devil” diss track. As most diss tracks are, this track is entirely focused on the lyrical elements, including Eminem’s typical amazing word play and heavy burns.
21. SR3MM – Powerglide
Contrary to the Eminem track, this song is mainly driven by Mally Mall, Jean Hovart and Mike Will Made It’s incredible production – no disrespect to SR3MM. A catchy and pop-styled hip-hop song, “Powerglide” was probably on your Spotify’s repeat earlier this summer.
20. Lil Baby – Drip Too Hard
The lead single from Lil Baby and Gunna’s debut collaborative album, Drip Harder, “Drip Too Hard” is part of Lil Baby’s explosion into the rap scene. Both the song and album title are homages to Lil Baby and Gunna’s respective “Hard” and “Drip” series of mixtapes and albums. Keep an eye on Lil Baby as he continues his progression in the rap scene, with his lead single landing him at twenty-one on the list.
19. Lil Peep & XXXTENTACION – Falling Down
An alternative version of the song “Sunlight On Your Skin” which features iLoveMakonnen,
“Falling Down” instead features XXXTENTACION and was made after Lil Peep’s death. There was some alleged controversy, as Lil Peep’s team claims that Peep had no intention of releasing that version of the song due to XXXTENTACION’s history. iLoveMakonnen, who was featured on the original version of the song, said on his Instagram that he was “honored to have co-written this song that X was inspired to be a part of, shortly before he died”.
18. Post Malone – Better Now
Post Malone might be hip-hop’s favorite nice guy. Known for his hilarious internet antics, Posty has risen to the top as a fan favorite. In “Better Now”, Post Malone reminisces about a past relationship, claiming both he and his ex miss each other though both are trying to mask their feelings. Both feel that they let each other down in some way but it was never their intention. Post suggests if they met up with each other again there is a possibility they could hook up again. In a top sad boy rap song of 2018, “Better Now” lands at number eighteen
17. Travis Scott – STARGAZING
As you have heard across rap this year and will see as this list continues, 2018 found many popular songs to have choppy arrangement, with some combining seemingly different songs into one unique track. “STARGAZING” continues the trend, opening up with an atmospheric feel as Travis Scott describes the experience of an unpredictable psychedelic trip. Switching between his regular cadence and an auto-tuned falsetto, Scott alludes to his drug use and relationship with Kylie Jenner and their daughter Stormi. The song then switches into a much tighter, more aggressive mix, where Scott goes absolutely in. The song title could be a reference to Houston’s iconic ties to astrological exploration, with NASA’s Mission Control Center being located in Travis’s hometown. It wouldn’t be surprising, as Scott makes references to Houston multiple times throughout the album.
16. Drake – Nonstop
Quickly stepping out of the nameless/faceless/objective writer persona, I have to say “Nonstop” is my personal favorite rap song in 2018. TayKieth, who has produced tons of songs on this list, absolutely murdered this song…like MURDERED it. The song opens up with that incredulously large sub-loop, paired with a perfectly mixed kick and beautifully crisp, high-end drums. The production on this song is A1, and there simply isn’t enough to be said about it.
Drake’s vocals enter stage left, introduced by the definitive statement that he “just flipped a switch,” setting the tone for the incoming tirade about his nonstop success in the rap scene. Many of Drake’s lyrics also allude to the conflict he faced with Pusha-T and Kanye West over the summer, and Drake confirmed on HBO’s “The Shop” that he channeled much of his frustration from that into tracks like “Nonstop”.
15. Kanye West – All Mine
The top song on his 2018 album Ye, Kanye talks about the topic of infidelity. Happily married to Kim Kardashian, West goes on to talk about controlling his desires while in a committed relationship. With his line “letting the genie out the bottle,” West alludes to an action that cannot be reversed, such as cheating. Kanye goes as far to call out many celebrities for their infidelity, including Tristian Thompson, who was exposed for cheating on his then-pregnant partner Khloe Kardashian, Kanye’s sister-in-law.
14. Lil Wayne – Uproar (feat. Swizz Beatz)
In an album that was supposed to be released in 2014, but was delayed for multiple years due to conflict with Cash Money Records label-boss Birdman, Lil Wayne warns his enemies to stop playing with him before he causes an “Uproar”. Ecstatic to see the New Orleans native back in action, fans across the globe clambered to get a listen to Wayne’s newest release, and they were not disappointed.
13. Travis Scott – Butterfly Effect
Produced by Murda Beatz, “Butterfly Effect” builds on the quintessential Travis Scott spacey ad libs and builds an environment to match, with a beautiful repeating melody and soft percussion. The ‘butterfly effect’ is the concept that small causes can have large effects. Travis Scott is also using a double-entendre with “butterfly” wherein as he refers to the doors on his Lamborghini car. First released as a single off his ASTROWORLD album, “Butterfly Effect” is one of the top songs off Scott’s album, landing number thirteen on the list overall.
12. Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake – King’s Dead
We’ve already discussed how great the music video for “King’s Dead” was, and almost a year later it seems that this song is deserving of a top honor. Our original article for the music video, which was released the same day the Black Panther was released in theaters, could not have predicted the quality of the epic soundtrack.
11. Migos – Walk It Talk It
So many more songs from Culture II could be included on this list, but as mentioned in the article’s preface, we can only pick 25. “Walk It Talk It” was clearly the most popular song off of Culture II, with over 300,000 streams on Spotify alone. In “Walk It Talk It,” Migos and Drake take jabs at fake people around them who can’t walk the life that they talk about. As some of the top artists in the game right now, Migos and Drake are clearly walking it like they talk it, landing them at number eleven on the list.
10. Kanye West & Lil Pump – I Love It
Weird music video, great song. Kanye West teamed up with Lil Pump to create one of this year’s top songs in “I Love It.” Sure, Kanye may be struggling with some issues in the public eye, but his production skills haven’t lost their touch.
The video debuted at the inaugural Pornhub Awards in Los Angeles, California. Kanye linked with PornHub following an interview in which Jimmy Kimmel asked Kanye if having daughters had changed Kanye’s attitude toward women, to which he replied, “Nah, I still look at Pornhub.”
9. BlocBoy JB – Look Alive (feat. Drake)
An homage to his hometown of Memphis, BlocBoy JB‘s “Look Alive” was a standout of the year. Featuring Drake, the track was released via OVO Sound and is easily his most successful track to date surpassing over 505 million streams on Spotify. This track lands up-and-comer Blocboy JB at number nine.
8. Drake – Nice For What
Drake’s “Nice For What” takes the cake as the female empowerment song of 2018. With relatable lyrics supported by a New Orleans styled bounce beat, Drake and Murda Beatz aim to create something women can “cut up to.” With female driven lyrics littered throughout the song, the message is further supported by NOLA’s Big Freedia, a figure of empowerment within the rap scene.
From a sonic perspective, “Nice For What” is known for its choppy arrangement. At one point, BlaqNmilD abruptly cuts the beat, leaving just the kick and female vocals before the listener is suddenly warned to “watch the breakdown,” transitioning the song back into its high energy, percussive bounce beat. Drake and his team absolutely destroyed this song, leaving “Nice For What” at number eight on the list.
7. Juice WRLD – Lucid Dreams
Juice WRLD‘s “Lucid Dreams” explores the pain of a breakup through the metaphor of a Lucid Dream, a state of awareness during one’s dream that allows the dreamer to control the reality they are perceiving. As Juice goes through the stages of his breakup, he aims to control his mental reality by simply forgetting his ex, pushing aside the universal stress and heartache that comes after any breakup. Nick Mira’s beat puts the listener in the mind of Juice’s dreams, as soft, atmospheric bells dance around while Juice delivers his promise to control his reality and emotions.
6. Cardi B– I Like It
Complete with horns, Latin Grooves, and an infectious trap beat, Cardi B flaunts her Latin heritage in “I Like It.” Released as a part of her album Invasion Of Privacy at the top of the year, Cardi B won over thousands of new fans, and established herself as one of the top artists in today’s age. The song samples Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 boogaloo song “I Like It Like That”, and guest features Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Colombian reggaetón star J Balvin.
5. Drake – In My Feelings
The “In My Feelings” challenge was one of the most viral video challenges of 2018, as thousands of American’s found themselves dancing to the beat, their moves synchronized to the famous catchy chorus. As the song shifts from Drake’s emotional rant, the City Girls come in and crush a hook layered over a sample of Magnolia Shorty’s “Smoking Gun,” a New Orleans styled bounce track originally produced by BlaqNmilD. This is the second bounce track on the top 25, both of which were produced as part of Drake’s Scorpion.
4. Childish Gambino – This Is America
This Is America. Don’t catch you slipping up. Childish Gambino‘s internet sensation was easily the most woke song of 2018, with its famous music video decrypting the hype song as much more than just a summer banger. Gambino’s commentary spoke to the day to day internet nonsense that is distracting the American people from addressing today’s important social issues. On top of the important message “This Is America” brought to the forefront of conversation, the beat, play-on-words, and cinematography of the music video were grade A works of art, landing “This Is America” at number 4 on 2018’s list.
3. XXTENTACION – SAD!
With over 780 Million streams on Spotify, XXXTENTACION‘s “SAD!” is clearly a top 5 song of 2018. A somber song about love, “SAD!” has resonated with millions of rap fans this year.
2. Travis Scott – Sicko Mode
Nothing is more hype than sitting in a club, and all of the sudden you hear those infamous, horn-like chords that open up the song. Travis Scott‘s “Sicko Mode” was an instant hit upon its release. With a dynamic and tight mix that features lines from Scott and Drake, listeners found themselves on an ASTROWORLD roller coaster, with twists and turns as the song progressed across its three sections. As one of the ultimate turn up songs of 2018, “Sicko Mode” lands at number two on the list.
1. Drake – God’s Plan
“God’s Plan” is by far the most popular hip-hop song of 2018. With 1.1 BILLION streams on Spotify alone and another 900 million on his epic music video, Drake cemented himself as the top hip-hop artist of 2018. There isn’t much more that needs to be said about the number one song on this list, as it has been on repeat the entire year across clubs, radio stations, and Spotify playlists.
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