2018 has been a personal roller coaster, often going at breakneck speeds. In such times, music has continued to be one of the most important ways I slow down and remind myself of the anchors I care about – and the lenses through which I viewed the wider world. These are the albums that etched themselves in my ear, my heart and my mind.
#30. Championships, Meek Mill
Meek Mill deserves every accolade he gets this year. A symbol of weathered triumph in a country that’s stacked against people of colour, Meek digs into the depths of his struggle, every ounce of pain evident in his impassioned vocals, every moment of redemption bursting in the more upbeat tracks. Championships strikes the balance between socially conscious and personally joyful music in a way that signifies the mantle Meek has clearly fought to take on.
#29. Be More Kind, Frank Turner
Guileless – and so necessary in this mess of a world we’re living in. Frank Turner’s gentlest album is also one of his most poignant, and the simplicity of his lyrics speak clearly of the anxieties so much of us in this world, and quietly speaks of the balms we still have for us. Love, compassion and kindness are at the heart of Be More Kind, and there could scarce be better guides for our time.
#28. Tha Carter V, Lil Wayne
Finally. That was what the collective sigh of hip-hop spelt out when Tha Carter V was released unto the world. Like so many others, I hit play on this album with quite a bit of uncertainty. But we needn’t have worried – C5 is the legendary Wayne’s best in years. He sounds reenergized, having an immensely satisfying amount of fun with his cutting flows and wild lyrics – but it also features a rapper gazing wistfully at his personal past, and the years of his life he’s given the game. The result is an enjoyable, fitting recap of Weezy’s legacy, his wisdom and charisma, with a clear eye to his future as one of rap’s elder statesmen.
Listen to: Uproar ft. Swizz Beatz, Let It All Work Out
#27. Ringos Desert, ZHU
This electronic spectacle oozes retro swagger, while still being distinctly modern. A testament to the album as a spectacle, ZHU’s pulsating, sleek soundscape acts as fertile grounds for his singularly effective use of vocalists, including himself. The mix of sultry and sweltering works to create a moody LP that sounds as good in the club as it does in your headphones.
#26. I Need to Start a Garden, Haley Heynderickx
This album was one of my favourite discoveries of the year – a tender, distinctly millennial meditation on loneliness and coping. Haley’s voice, effortlessly moving between ethereal and tremulous, cleaves through the spare instrumentation, only to deliver conversational observations that are, at once, startlingly intimate. There is a veneer of tongue-in-cheek humour that runs through the album, reflective of the existentialism that our generation grapples with everyday. If you could make music out of a firefly lantern, I Need to Start a Garden is what it would sound like.