Dive Into GRAMMY Nominated Talent with Our Top Ten List
Over the past year artists have released creative work that has resonated with audiences around the globe.
In respect to these efforts, we have compiled a list of the ten most compelling records released in 2018.
Each album provides a window in the artists’ life, as well as a period in time that is remastered for our entertainment.
Review the following compelling records from this past year.
Mac Miller – Swimming
Produced by: Larry Fisherman (Mac Miller)
Released date: August 3, 2018
Nominated for a GRAMMY: Best Rap Album
One of the most significant moments in music during 2018 was the death of Mac Miller.
Before his passing Miller released his fifth studio album titled Swimming.
The video for ‘Self Care’ provides a visual story that displayed Miller fighting with mortality.
Swimming has a dark blue theme to several songs that reflects Miller’s mindset during the recording process.
Aside from being overcome by drugs, Miller was passionate about music. He is comparable to a contemporary version of Tom Petty. Both of these musicians produced amazing music, but I feel the world would have loved to have seen these individuals overcome the drugs that aided to their demise.
Contributions to Swimming include: Dev Hynes, J. Cole, Dâm-Funk, DJ Dahi, Tae Beast, Flying Lotus and Cardo. In addition, the album has no credited features, but provides vocals from Dâm-Funk, Dev Hynes, Snoop Dogg, Syd, Thundercat and J.I.D.
His death marks another young artist to overdose on extremely dangerous substances. The album and his life will transcend for many generations. His talent is on another level. One of messages within Swimming was a personal development period of Miller’s life. It reminds me to take care of ourselves and each other.
The Revivalists – Take Good Care
Produced by: Dave Cobb
Release date: November 9, 2018
The Revivalists are currently the hottest export from the city of New Orleans. Their recent hometown performance at the Voodoo Music + Arts Festival hosted tens of thousands of fans.
‘All My Friends’ provides a robust track that continues the band’s momentum moving into the new year.
Take Good Care was released in November on Loma Vista Recordings, and distributed by Concord Music Group, Inc. The album features more downtempo tracks in comparison to previous releases. These beat structures may have been influenced by Dave Cobb as the producer.
After listening to their previous two albums, I would like to hear more guest spots from New Orleans on their next album. The band has so many directions they can go at any second on stage and in the studio. This album is loved by many people that review it online, but I sense some listeners, like myself, are looking for a more authentic sound from New Orleans.
Overall, I find the concept of taking care of oneself and others is extremely important. In an era of self-destruction, it is vital to be supportive with one another.
Eminem – Kamikaze
Produced by: Eminem & Company
Release date: August 31, 2018
Nominated for a GRAMMY: Best Rap Song
The second most influential moments in music during 2018 was Eminem’s release of Kamikaze.
As a person that has listened to Eminem for the past 20 years, I have seen hits and misses of his work. To be real honest, I primarily enjoy his work when Dr. Dre is in charge of production.
In the track ‘Lucky You’ Eminem claims to have sold his soul for a GRAMMY. This line in the song is very compelling to me. I doubt he will win the award for Best Rap song with this track. He would have to beat Drake. (Which if you look at the people who might have sold their souls for success, Drake appears to be the biggest sellout.) My suggestion, if you are going to sell your soul for a GRAMMY, do it when Drake is not releasing any work.
Additionally, I had a member of the press tell me that the news industry would suck my soul dry. After a decade of publishing work, I haven’t lost my soul, and no amount of money or fame will ever be worth giving it up.
If hiphop were a hornet’s nest, Eminem used his lyrics from his latest project to metaphorically tear the nest, (the hornets carried out by certain people he has beef within hiphop) off a tree and stomp on it like a honey badger. Now, is that the best use of his energy? That is debatable. It not only re-established Eminem’s career, but he helped build attention for other people, despite his disapproval of them. His self-awareness is unmeasured.
On the track ‘Greatest’ Eminem takes some shots at the press. The problem with his mindset is that, like many people, he groups the press all in one lump sum. There are people in all occupations that work to make a positive and negative difference in the world. As humans, we need to support those working to make a positive difference in each group and reduce our generalizations of others.
It is ironic that Eminem takes shots at the press while helping manage a radio show on SiriusXM.
Overall, the album was a success at stirring the pot. Hopefully the next album will feature hiphop heavyweights. If Eminem wants to think outside the box; he could invite everyone he insulted from Kamikaze into the studio to work on music together.
Sofi Tukker – Treehouse
Produced by: Jon Hume
Release Date: April 13, 2018
Nominated for a GRAMMY: Best Dance/Electronic Album
The musical duo from New York has been winning over fans worldwide. After breaking out into the mainstream with the use of their song ‘Best Friend’ in an Apple iPhone X commercial, the electronic masterminds have been staying busy with live shows.
Treehouse will mark the second GRAMMY nomination for Sofi Tukker. Personally, I have had the album playing on repeat, and when asked by a fellow co-worker what my current favorite song is, I replied with ‘Best Friend.’
At the end of October I was able to interview, and experienced the duo live in New Orleans. Their live performance was refreshing and electric.
The album crosses over into pop music, but still provides substance and authenticity to New York.
First Aid Kit – Ruins
Produced by: Tucker Martine
Release date: January 19, 2018
After making their mark on the music industry in 2010, the Swedish duo of sisters took some time off to record and produce Ruins.
Their time was well spent. It is inspiring to see highly talented musicians not be controlled by capitalist greed.
A band could decide to capitalize on their fame by cranking out record after record, but that can lead to less than ideal results.
Ruins reminds listeners that First Aid Kit is firmly in control of their own destiny.
The songs are slow, depressing, and reminds me of Sweden. Since I am a fourth generation Swede, I can say that cold weather is depressing, and having a soundtrack to match up with the climate is fitting.
The album lacked a certain level of commercial appeal that the GRAMMY selection committee is looking for, but the album does deliver on acoustic soul.
Rufus Du Sol – Solace
Produced by: Jon George, Tyrone Lindqvist, and James Hunt
Release date: October 19, 2018
Rufus Du Sol had a breakout year in 2018 with the release of Solace.
This year started for me covering Decadence NYE in Denver. I was looking for the press room on the second night, and ran into Rufus Du Sol’s management. I joked with them about the wifi password, and went out to the stage area to see the band performing live. From that moment, I started to build more interest for the band.
The band would relocate from Australia to Los Angeles during some of the recording process on Solace.
Over the summer, I would see the band getting added to lineups for summer festivals. They would test out new material on the road at these events.
A close friend suggested we go to the Voodoo Music Festival last October. I would drive from Denver to New Orleans and back to see them perform along with other musicians.
The management team and I reconnected after Voodoo Fest, and we started talking about setting up an interview with the band, along with other coverage from their Colorado run. Their press team dropped the ball, and I ended up still going to one of their shows in Denver.
Their Solace tour was an example of a mid-level band trying to come to grips with success, it takes someone that is almost famous to see it in others. I tip my hat to these musicians despite having less than ideal press management.
Solace is one of my favorite albums of 2018.
Kanye West – Ye
Produced by: Kanye West & Company
Release date: June 1, 2018
Kanye’s five track project known as Ye went on to hit the number 1 spot for Billboard 200, but may have lacked depth overall.
Also known as the “Wyoming Sessions” this record feels like a vacation to nowhere. I understand that West has a love/hate relationship with attention. That being said, as a listener I demand more from a musician that is trying to put an album together while on also getting away from it all.
This album is compelling in nature in regards to the mental health state of Kanye during the recording process.
He mentioned taking medication for mental illness during 2018, and also mentioned he stopped taking his meds throughout the year. This helped provide a look into a pop stars life that is struggling with pharmaceutical drugs like many Americans.
Overall, I understand his point of view on politics. I agree with his passion to break down stereotypes within political parties, but find his method to bringing awareness to that idea less than ideal.
Thunderpussy – Thunderpussy
Produced by: Sylvia Massy, Mike McCready
Release date: May 25, 2018
Aside from having the most compelling band name on our list, their self-titled album delivers the ruckus to fans worldwide.
The group is based out of Seattle and brings a southern rock sound to the northwest.
Their high energy translates well on record, as well as onstage.
This album kicks the door down metaphorically for the band.
They have broke through the glass ceiling, and are currently on tour supporting their first release.
MGMT – Little Dark Age
Produced by: MGMT
Release date: February 9, 2018
The artist integrity behind MGMT may be the greatest of all time.
These two musicians have the power to create pop classics on par with The Beatles, (they both used a similar process of taking hit songs and reworking them into their own sound), but would rather firmly hold up their middle fingers to the music industry.
Columbia Records must be pulling their hair in hope that the duo will want to cash in on their own talent, but after their first series of hits, the duo has purposely defied what the mainstream wants, and how they want to be remembered. That being said, this body of work is not up for a GRAMMY.
Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Produced by: J. White, Cassius Jay & Ayo N Keyz
Release date: April 5, 2018
Nominated for GRAMMYs: Album of the Year, Best Rap Album, Record of the Year, Best Rap Performance, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
The debut release from Cardi B provided a radio anthem for 2018 with ‘I Like It.’
Google felt it is necessary to inform me to 81 percent of the people that listened to the album liked it overall.
The songs on this record had an easy-to-dance to vibe to them. Overall, it may have lacked depth.
When content is easily consumed and enjoyed by a large amount of people, usually the content has to be so easy to absorb it often lacks substance. That being said this album was nominated for five GRAMMY awards.
Here is a quick toast to all the musicians out there. You all rock. You make life worth living. Cheers to 2018.