Uproxx already published our best hip-hop EPs list list earlier this week, but that hasn’t stopped a few artists from sneaking out late entries hoping to beat the year-end Christmas rush. LA hitmaker Kid Ink has been teasing his third brief release for a couple of weeks, while Chicago rebel Vic Mensa is putting out his own seven-song follow-up to his 2017 debut, The Autobiography.
Meanwhile, two of hip-hop’s buzziest names are dropping their albums amid some turbulent personal issues. While Offset still seems to be reeling from his split with Cardi B, his as-yet-untitled solo album is on the docket for release on his birthday this Friday. The other big release this week comes from Kodak Black, who has been one of rap’s most controversial stars, spending almost as much time in prison during his career as out of it. However, he’s generated a ton of excitement for his next album with viral single “Zeze” and his guest verse on “Wake Up In The Sky” from Gucci Mane’s album last week, despite his impending trial for sexual assault.
With only two more weeks to go in 2018, there may yet be a few surprises under the tree from rappers like 21 Savage, who pushed his album back to December 21 last week after “forgetting” to release it on the day he’d tweeted out previously. As the big name releases slow up, though, now might be the perfect time to check out some of the hip-hop you may have missed, forgotten about, or simply overlooked on our 50 Best Albums Of 2018 and 20 Best Rap Albums Of 2018 lists.
Kid Ink, Missed Calls
Kid Ink is a certified hitmaker who has hustled his way into the limelight since 2012, with songs like “Show Me,” “Main Chick,” and “Be Real” highlighting a career that’s racked up plenty of platinum hardware despite being pretty quiet for the last couple of years. After a cameo spot on Black-ish spin-off Grown-ish earlier this year, it looks like Ink is prepping a return to the spotlight in 2019. First, though, he’ll test the waters with this seven-song sampler which features appearances from buzzy names like Lil Wayne, Saweetie, Rich The Kid, and Valee.
Kodak Black, Dyin’ To Live
We’ve already seen controversy sell big once this year, as Tekashi 69 outsold Travis Scott to take a hotly contested no. 1 spot on the sales charts, despite being locked up on racketeering charges just weeks before the album’s release. Kodak faces a similar situation, with a litany of charges hanging over him threatening a 30 year sentence if convicted of assaulting a young woman after one of his shows. And, just like Tekashi, Kodak has a viral single climbing the charts in the form of “Zeze” featuring Offset and Travis Scott. His name is also on the tip of listeners’ tongues after the fiery conclusion of his recent Hot 97 interview, which means he could have a surprise hit on his hands. Whether that’s a good thing or not probably depends on your perspective of hip-hop fans supporting artists accused of abusing women.
Offset’s been surprisingly quiet about the impending release of his long-awaited solo debut. After the smash success of Migos’ “Bad And Boujee,” many fans tabbed him to be the breakaway star of the trio, which may be why his album was scheduled last on the agenda for the year, after Quavo and Takeoff each released their own solos. Of course, he could have been set back by the news that his wife Cardi B is soon to be his ex-wife, but hopefully, he doesn’t pull a 21 Savage and forget his own release date.
Vic Mensa, Hooligans
Vic Mensa has had a busy year, despite not having much in the way of new music for most of it. It seemed like his name was always in the news for one reason or another, mainly pertaining to his firebrand personality and willingness to be outspoken on a number of hot-button topics from gun control to the Israeli occupation of Gaza. His BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher verse calling out XXXtentacion’s abuse accusations drew fire from irate fans as well, but ultimately, his 2018 might just be judged on the body of work he’s been teasing for the last few months. While singles like “Reverse,” “Metaphysical,” and “Empathy” displayed even more musical experimentation, day one Vic fans are likely hoping that Hooligans is marked by a return to more of an “Orange Soda” vibe.