What a year it has been for Austin Hip Hop. 2018 is dare I say the best year ATX Hip Hop has had in decades. With the progress and strides made in 2018 Austin is primed for the industry to have heavy sets of eyes from the industry on it. 2018 was a year jam packed with so many great albums that I forgot what all came out, and that made it hard to pick just 10 of the best releases. Nonetheless here are The Breaks’ pick for the 10 Best album releases from Austin Hip Hop(in no particular order).
Coming out of the Mona Lisa Music Group based here in Austin, Shirt Off Fe who is seen to many as the face of the label/collective came with a short, sweet, energetic, powerful EP with, Fe In The City Vol.1. With songs like Hayu (How You Came In), and Sonic Boom themed after Street Fighter set the tone and energy for this EP. I honestly have to say I was personally pleasantly surprised with the songs, sound quality, production, etc. This was a clear standout from the year.
2018 was filled with a lot of artists that emerged from all parts of the metro area, one being the campus of Texas State University. TX State seems to be serving as an incubator for artists. Austin artists are out there creating some great music, one of which is Nomi Sutton. Ms. Sutton and her sultry voice randomly popped up one day and has garnered quite a bit of steam behind it. She released her first project in Recovered that spawned her single, Ride, that many people seemed to enjoy this year. This was a surprise project in terms as how good it was. For it to be a debut project Nomi made a positive impact. A new R&B voice has risen up in the City of Austin.
The People’s Champ, is someone that everyone feels like they can relate to, know, just want to be around, and feels like they represent the people. That is The Teeta. The young veteran/young OG released his first full length project in a few years. The release really showed that Teeta is in fact the People’s Champ. The city really got behind The Teeta and this project, once again having one his projects trending via social media. The Teeta also graced the cover of the Austin Chronicle, and appearing in a write up by Pitchfork, all off this project. In stunning Teeta fashion the album was filled with great quotables, and intense production. It gave you the frat house party side of Teeta as well as a more introspective side with a song like Me & God. The Teeta showed yet again he is primed for the spotlight with this release.
Where do I begin with this album? The anticipation, the production, the singles, the artwork, I mean everything going into this album was amazing. Judith was an album I felt like showed why Austin is dubbed Weird City. A guy from Bastrop, TX took the Kanye West influence and created a sound thats specific to him. Deezie Brown rapped about a luxurious lifestyle, pitfalls, all on these Bladerunner, electric sounding types beats that emphasized his lyrical ability. This was an album that resurged Deezie and showed folks just how talented he is.
The fact that I forgot this album came out this year shows that there were a lot of great albums that were released. With that being said, this was the premier R&B album released in Austin. This young woman has had an amazing year and this album was part of it. The album gave us great songs like Push, that made you wanna dance, Coffee So Black and Not A Lover to name a few put you in your feelings thinking about a special someone. With her singing on this album you can feel her pain and range of emotions on every song.
Y2 over the years to be one of the most hard working and underrated artist in the Austin Music scene. With dropping a previous project this year, Y2 comes back in mid-December with Y and boy he didn’t disappoint. Y2’s signature squeakish voice he gives you banger after banger such as, Tra3 Young, Gods, Knottie Pippen, and more. Y digs deep deep into Texas Rap roots all the while making things unique and original.
As I spoke on the artist cultivation thats taking place on the campus of Texas State University, the crown jewel or jewels in that is the collective that is PNTHN. Covering the Austin Chronicle early this year, the collective released their album Potluck. The lead single Chumbucket sets the tone for the album that comes off a bit Brockhampton-esque. The hard pounding beats and lyrics to accompany, Potluck was for sure one the year’s best and brought a but more attention to the collective.
While nationally R&B has had a resurgence, the same has been happening in Austin. One of those artists bringing eyes to the genre in the Capital City is, Jake Lloyd. The genre bending crooner released his self titled album in January and boy did it leave an impression. The lead single Str8nge Frute got people paying attention, but the entire album made people really listen. Album cuts like Mile and Dram showed that Jake has been slept on as a performer and song writer.
The young Austin, TX phenom released probably one of the most anticipated projects. While it probably wasn’t the best project in some eyes, you can’t deny that Quin is more than likely the face of Austin Hip Hop at this point, and when he drops he makes noise regardless. This album more or less solidifies the hype surrounding Quin. I believe this only sets the tone for whats in store from this young artist.
Double disc albums are always ambitious, yet artists stay attempting them. I’ll be the first to admit when J Soulja announced iLLSZN would be a two sided project I was skeptical. Nonetheless he went through with it and stunned everyone. Never afraid to voice how he feels slept on when it come to the scene in Austin, Soulja definitely woke people up with this album. Taking the Matrix theme Soulja created music that captured his emotions from traumatic events that took place in his life this year, and that same music reflected how he grew and rose from it all. Songs like Impossible, Cycles, Talk About It, depict J Soulja going through turmoil and overcoming. While songs like OK, Whats Up, and the lead single Boomin, have Soulja uplifted and inspired. J Soulja arguably released the best project of the year.