A Year In Review: 2018's Best New Rappers

Below is a list of the best new rappers to make an appearance in 2018. Artists were chosen by their musicality, quality of music, marketability, persona, and overall influence.

Lil Baby

Label: Quality Control Music

It has been quite the year for Atlanta based artist Lil Baby who launched his career into the spotlight this year with his notable album Harder Than Ever including features from Drake, Moneybagg Yo, Gunna, Young Thug, Lil Uzi, Offset, Hoodrich Pablo Juan, and Starlito. Lil Baby is one of few young artists with a Drake feature to not be eclipsed by it. Lil Baby has continued to push out quality music following his debut album with a joint project entitled Drip Harder alongside Gunna. Lil Baby capped off the year with the release of his third project Street Gossip which included features from Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, and more. Lil Baby’s hustle does not go unnoticed so keep him as an artist to watch as we head into 2019.

Standout songs: “This Week,” “Pure Cocaine,” “Exotic,” “All Of A Sudden,” “Drip Too Hard”

Cardi B

Label: Atlantic Records

Backed by a marketing genius, the Bronx Queen and former ‘Love & Hip Hop’ cast member, Cardi B quickly became a viral sensation with her debut single “Bodak Yellow” in 2017. With the demand for music high, Cardi and her team released her debut album Invasion Of Privacy providing some of the most chantable songs and club anthems of the year. The project broke records as Cardi became one of the hottest names in the genre and in the press. Cardi has released music alongside notable artists including J Balvin, Migos, Chance The Rapper, Kehlani, 21 Savage, SZA, and more. Her unique no fucks given persona have won over many as she continues to make waves in the industry including becoming the first female headliner of Rolling Loud’s Hip Hop Festival.

Standout songs: “Bodak Yellow,” “Money,” “I Like It,” “Ring,” “Bartier Cardi”

Saint JHN

Label: Godd Complexx/HITCO

Saint JHN was definitely an overlooked artist this year. Though his name did not make as many waves as other artists on this list, Saint JHN pushed out one of the most cohesive and fluid albums in the rap industry this year. Collection One delivered charismatic flair and catchy braggadocious lyrics on top of smooth beats perfect for times you’re just trying to catch a vibe. Interested to see what Saint JHN delivers next.

Standout songs: “Reflex,” “3 Below,” “Nigga Shit,” ““I Heard You Got Too Litt Last Night”

Gunna

Label: YSL Records

Atlanta trap rapper Gunna dropped his third installment of his Drip Season series as he was dragged into the spotlight. Drip Season 3 is his most focused and cohesive project to date. The 17 song project is flooded with odes to stunting. Gunna ,who is signed to Young Thug’s label YSL, partnered with Lil Baby later in the year to release their joint project Drip Harder.

Standout songs: “Pedestrian,” “Almighty,” “Drippin,” “Helluva Price,” “Top Off”

NBA Youngboy

Label: Never Broke Again, LLC/ Atlantic Records

Baton Rouge artist NBA Youngboy made his debut with 20-track album entitled Until Death Call My Name Reloaded in April. The project included radio hit “Outside Today.” This was followed by an 8-track EP, Master the Day of Judgement. Despite legal trouble, NBA Youngboy still made time to drop a mixtape called Decided in September. His music releases quickly began to oversaturate the market putting the quality of his releases in question while he released a total of 8 projects this year when albums, mixtapes, and EPs are combined. Nonetheless he still earns a spot on the best new rappers of 2018.

Standout songs: “Outside Today,” “Diamond Teeth Samurai,” “No Smoke,” “No Love”

Tierra Whack

Label: Interscope Records

Tierra Whack brought her world to us through a 15-track, 15-minute visual album, Whack World. Though some called the project risky, it  was a work of art and one of the best albums to release this year. Be sure to look out for what her unique style brings next.

Standout songs: “Hungry Hippo,” “Flea Market,” “Bugs Life,” “Hookers”

Juice WRLD

Label: Interscope Records

Chicago’s emo-trap rapper Juice WRLD had his first major label debut with Goodbye & Good Riddance which took listeners on a journey through his breakup ending with the most up-beat track of the project “I’ll Be Fine.” Juice WRLD later partnered with Future on a joint project titled WRLD On Drugs.

Standout songs: “Lucid Dreams,” “Fine China,” “Armed and Dangerous”

Rico Nasty

Label: Atlantic Records

Rico Nasty gained popularity when her songs “Smack a Bitch” and “Poppin” made their way into HBO’s show Insecure. Rico released her debut album Nasty in June of this year. With a raspy voice and care-free attitude, Rico dishes out catchy tunes equipped to make any female feel like a bad bitch.

Standout songs: “Poppin,” “Smack a Bitch,” “Guap,” “Countin’ Up”

City Girls

Label: Quality Control Music

Rap-duo City Girls ,comprised of JT and Yung Miami, took off after their inclusion on Drake’s “In My Feelings.” The tag team of vixens released their debut album Period earlier this year followed by a second release titled Girl Code. The albums were finished just before City Girls lead lyricist JT began serving time for credit card fraud leaving Yung Miami to hold it down for the group until her release.

Standout songs: “Twerk,” “Season,” “I’ll Take Your Man,” “Period,” “Where The Bag At”

Joyner Lucas

Label: Atlantic Records

Massachusetts rapper Joyner Lucas had his major record debut with 508-507-2209 in the summer of 2017. Seemingly overlooked, Joyner was brought into the spotlight this year in a collab project with Chris Brown called Angels & Demons and his music beef with Tory Lanez.

Standout songs: “Winter Blues,” “Lovely,” “I Love,” “Stranger Things”

Sheck Wes

Label: G.O.O.D. Music/Cactus Jack

Though Sheck Wes is more of a hype man than a rapper, his ability to go viral cannot be overlooked. His hit songs “Mo Bamba” and “Live Sheck Wes,” can be heard hyping up crowds at concerts, parties, and music festivals across the country. Wes released an autobiographical album called Mud Boy in October.

Standout songs: “Mo Bamba,” “Live Sheck Wes,” “Chippi Chippi”