Standout Debuts of 2018, I

Updated: Jan 23, 2019

It's about that time! As 2018 comes to a close, it's time for a recap. This year was most certainly the year of the releases where almost every week there were 10-15 projects released. Among the slew of releases, we had some pretty dope debut projects from new artists.

Here is part one, where we take a look at the debuts released in the first quarter.

January 8th - Maxo Kream, Punken

Apple | TIDAL

Maxo Kream finally releases his long-awaited debut album, Punken. The 14-track project features the likes of D. Flowers, Trippie Redd, and 03 Greedo, while produced by Sonny Digital, Ethereal, Tommy Kruise, Teddy Walton and more.

A hustler at heart, if that trap life isn’t for you there are many special moments amongst the fuckery. He indeed gives more emotion as he takes moments throughout the album to reflect. With just the second track, Maxo flexes his storytelling skills as he paints a picture of these colorful characters who were always in and out of his grandmother's house. There’s always that relative who steals money, you still love them just hide your shit. There’s the uncle that got you high for your first time, and the auntie that won’t snitch on you to cops but sure as hell will tell Grandma. That same auntie who will smoke all your shit, but of course you can’t tell on her.

However harsh or funny (or crazy as hell), those are the times that define you. As he shares it with the world, these are the times that defined Maxo Kream: “Grinding with your family through the struggle / Hold them down regardless.”  Take a listen for yourself, and see what the Texan has to tell you.

January 19th - Justine Skye, ULTRAVIOLET

Spotify | TIDAL

Featuring Jeremih, PND, and Wizkid, Justine Skye takes complete control on her debut album, ULTRAVIOLET. From the beginning, her voice command your attention. In her own pop-R&B style, she sings on about modern love. 

"I hope...for women to be more confident and take more control in their relationships. That's something I never used to do. I was that girl that would stop everything for someone. This is focusing on myself right now. Obviously, I still need some love and affection, but I'm young. I don't need to be that invested in a relationship." - Billboard

Whether it be crushing on a guy, indulging in a fling, or simply moving on from a relationship, Justine Skye is straightforward and breathes confidence on ULTRAVIOLET. She has put her all into her debut, so check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

February 16th - Nipsey Hussle, Victory Lap

Spotify | TIDAL

After years of push backs and setting the scene, Nipsey Hussle finally delivered his debut album - Victory Lap. Fresh off his deal with Atlantic, where he moved over his independent label AllMoney In, Nipsey has been busy trying to take over the world.

“I wanted to learn how to do it myself, as an artist and as a company. I built a company at the same time I built a career. I built a label at the same time I built a career. I suffered at times and I benefited at times because of it. There was no infrastructure that I came into. I had to learn through trial and error -- I made a lot of mistakes, and I did a lot of things right. It was the route that I believed in and what was destined for me.” Billboard

Nipsey consistently strives to motivate, preaching that you learn through “trial and error.” Certainly the most accurate album title this year as Victory Lap is the end result of working hard and not letting failure deter you. It’s about having that determination and patience it’s needed to achieve your goals. Nipsey Hussle will have you ready to conquer the world and take a Victory Lap in celebration.

March 2nd - Mozzy, Spiritual Conversations

Spotify | TIDAL | SoundCloud

Mozzy bears it all on Spiritual Conversations. While its title gives some insight, the project overall is dark and personal - tapping into Mozzy’s personal Spiritual Conversations. It’s relatable content, that gives you the feels. Pior to its release, Mozzy sat down with Billboard to talk about the EP, his upcoming debut, Gangland Landlord, and more.

"I wanted to give people myself. So it’s tapping into my spirituality, basically just having a conversation with God. We don’t tend to have conversations with God unless we broke… or something traumatic happened… It’s basically me reflecting on my life, on everything I been through. It’s only a few songs. I’m really prepping for Gangland Landlord, that’s what we’re really working towards."

Certainly a prolific newcomer, the Sacramento native is a rising star who even landed a spot in the Black Panther: The Album along side Kendrick Lamar. The six-track EP features the likes of YFN Lucci, Jay Rock, Ravyen Justice and more. The content of Spiritual Conversations takes a while to settle in, but man, when it does… listen for yourself. You can also catch his sophomore project, Gangland Landlord, that dropped just months after his debut.

Valee, GOOD Job, You Found Me

Spotify | TIDAL

With a distinct Chicago sound, Valee delivers his G.O.O.D Music debut, GOOD Job, You Found Me. Valee just talks his shit over menacing and gritty production, Valee’s sound is certainly unique but interesting. Even in it’s simplicity, GOOD Job is far from simple. It’s structureless from a label of structured rappers. While Valee has a long way to go, and his debut EP is far from perfect, Valee may just have more up his sleeve. Don’t sleep on the kid just yet!

March 9th - SAINt JHN, Collection One

Apple | TIDAL

After spending years behind the scenes, SAINt JHN decided to step up and release his very own debut album - Collection One. Coming in at 13 tracks, the Brooklyn native brings on a sole feature from Janelle Kroll.

The singer-songwriter-rapper plays along with a soundscape of prominent synths and muted drums. Melodic trap with a hint of popish neo-soul - SAINt JHN makes the sound his own. And while the sound resembles that of Kid Cudi and Travis, this is SAINt JHN. Collection One is SAINt JHN. The emotion in his voice tells you that this is his story. Whether it be something he experienced, or part of his surroundings, the kid knows what he’s talking about. From the first second to the last, something tells me this is just a glimpse into the world of SAINt JHN. There’s so much more kept in his vault.

Arin Ray, Platinum Fire

Spotify | TIDAL

Arin Ray takes to his debut album to make a name for himself. The Cincinnati native wants people to know his real sound, as he felt restricted when competing on ThE X-Factor back in 2012. After all this time, Arin Ray finally felt ready to put himself out there with Platinum Fire.

Recruiting Ty Dolla $ign, DRAM, Childish Major, SiR, and Terrace Martin, his features add an interesting element that provides a good dynamic and balance. Platinum Fire is perfect for setting the mood just right. It's an atmospheric album with both sultry and simple feel good vibes. The music takes over like a body high, as Arin lulls you into a relaxed state of mind. It's that, or you'll be crooning right along with him - either way, you're feeling his music.

Geno Five, The Feels

Apple | Spotify | TIDAL

Just when you think all hope is lost with this new generation (yeah, I said it), a new class of young lyricists emerge. The future of Hip Hop is looking alright.

Enter Geno Five.

The Jersey-native released his debut project that will give you all of The Feels. At eight tracks, The Feels is a content-heavy serving. From bangers, relationship tracks, to the introspective joints - Geno offers it all. You'll think you'll want more, but I recommend you sit and digest.

The cadence, diction and storytelling will have you thinking Geno is much further along in his career. Ugh, the metaphors and symbolism - for a writer, it's like being a kid in a candy story. Even sonically, The Feels consists of a soundscape that ranges from J Dilla-inspired sound to heavy hitters, with both mellow and light beats in between. The combination of content and soundscape will have you head-bopping and practicing your rapper hands.

The Feels is the inner workings of a kid in his early 20s, who's just trying to process relationships, society and what he wants out of life. You'll feel his hunger. You'll feel his humility. You'll feel his anger. You'll feel the immediate need to jump around and scream "WE THE CREW." Yeah, his crowd control is that strong.

Geno Five is most certainly the Vibe. Watch out for this kid.

Here are more debuts that released first quarter:

Lil Skies, Life of a Dark Rose - Apple | TIDAL| Spotify | SoundCloud

Bandhunta Izzy, Code Blue - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify | SoundCloud

Rich Brain, Amen - Apple | Spotify | TIDAL

Towkio, WWW - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

YFN Lucci, Ray Ray From Summerhill - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

Saweetie, High Maintenance - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

Aaron Cohen, See Red - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify | SoundCloud

XXX, ? - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

Chuck Strangers, Consumers Park - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

Rich Homie Quan, Rich As In Spirit - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

Rich the Kid, The World Is Yours - Apple | TIDAL | Spotify

Part Two ->

#MaxoKream #JustineSkye #NipseyHussle #Valee #GenoFive #ArinRay #Mozzy #SAINtJHN #debut #review #writtenbysade

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