2018 continued Hip Hop’s mainstream dominance, with a hoard of impressive rap hits. As a matter of fact, rap regularly topped charts across the globe. By the late 2010s, it was no longer a surprise to see a rap song on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. As usual, new talents emerged, and burst onto the scene. Specifically, artists like Juice WRLD, Gunna, and Lil Baby gained prominence, each with their unique styles.
Trap music continued its impressive run of dominating the charts, and established itself as the most popular subgenre of Hip Hop. However, the sonic landscape of rap continued to evolve. Moreover, there was a rise in experimentation in production techniques, as well as innovative beats. Above all, 2018 was a year to remember for rap music, boasting incredible Diamond-certified hits that withstood the test of time half a decade later.
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Post Malone – “Psycho” Ft. Ty Dolla Sign
2018 continued Post Malone’s reign as far as rap hits go. “Psycho,” the trap-infused track, was released to overwhelming mainstream success. The single was lauded for its melodic sound, catchy beat, and reflective lyrics. It was the third single from Post Malone’s sophomore studio album, Beerbongs & Bentleys. Following its release, “Psycho” became a hit, and helped push Post Malone further into the mainstream. The song achieved remarkable commercial success, peaking at number one on the Hot 100 chart. Furthermore, “Psycho” has sold over 10 million units, becoming one of Post Malone’s several Diamond-certified singles. It topped the Hot Rap Songs chart for one week in June.
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XXXTENTACION – “SAD!”
“SAD!” is a poignant and emotionally charged Hip Hop track that gained immense popularity following XXXTentacion’s tragic passing. The song was released as the lead single from the rapper’s second studio album, and remains one of his most iconic records in his catalog. “SAD!” incorporates elements of Hip Hop, emo, punk, and rock music, with a melancholic and emotional vibe. It only stayed on top of the Hot Rap Songs chart for one week, but its popularity and impact did not wane even after leaving the peak position. The song also replicated this feat on the Hot 100 chart. “SAD!” leaped from number 52 to number one the week after the 20-year-old’s untimely passing.
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Cardi B – “I Like It” Ft. Bad Bunny And J Balvin
“I Like It” was released as the fourth single from Cardi B’s debut studio album, Invasion of Privacy on May 25, 2018. The song quickly became one of the biggest rap hits of 2018. Furthermore, the Latin music influence lent to its global appeal. “I Like It” successfully blended Hip Hop with elements of salsa and reggaeton, which significantly contributed to the growing popularity of Latin music in the United States. The diamond-certified single is one of the biggest songs from Invasion of Privacy, which went on to win Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. “I Like It” peaked at number one on the Hot 100 chart, and also snatched the topmost position on the Hot Rap Songs chart for one week.
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Juice WRLD – “Lucid Dreams”
Juice WRLD became known for his emo rap style, as well as his distinctive vocal delivery. “Lucid Dreams” is one of his most recognizable rap hits, and was a defining song of 2018. Its raw and emotional lyrics, coupled with the song’s production made it an anthem for heartbroken and disillusioned listeners. “Lucid Dreams” was a breakthrough moment for the rapper, and catapulted him to stardom, a status he barely enjoyed before his unfortunate demise in December 2019. The song topped the Hot Rap Songs chart for one week. However, it was blocked from reaching the top spot on the Hot 100 chart by Maroon 5 and Cardi B’s “Girls Like You.”
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Childish Gambino – “This is America”
This thought-provoking song by Childish Gambino garnered widespread attention and acclaim upon its release. “This is America” became a groundbreaking Hip Hop track that powerfully commentated on contemporary American society. Ironically, the song has maintained relevance due to ongoing discussions about the issues it addressed in 2018. “This is America” won four Grammy Awards including, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. As one of the biggest rap hits of 2018, the song achieved remarkable success worldwide. “This is America” topped both the Hot 100 chart and the Hot Rap Songs chart for several weeks.
Travis Scott – “SICKO MODE” Ft. Drake
“SICKO MODE” is a highly acclaimed Hip Hop song known for its unconventional structure. The iconic single in Travis Scott’s discography features multiple beat switches and transitions throughout its runtime. The song is often celebrated for its innovative production and dynamic sound that helped showcase Scott’s versatility. Its impact on internet culture is notable and contributed to solidifying its place as one of the standout rap hits of 2018. “SICKO MODE” enjoyed significant chart success, peaking at number one on both the Hot 100 chart and the Hot Rap Songs chart. On the rap chart, it stayed on top for 10 weeks.
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Drake – “God’s Plan” – Drake
In 2018, Drake had three chart-topping rap hits, but “God’s Plan” was undeniably the biggest of them all. The song was released as the lead single from the rapper’s fifth studio album, Scorpion, and went on to become a mega-successful track. Scorpion was a large commercial triumph, and “God’s Plan” was one of the three songs from the album that topped the Hot 100 chart, as well as the Hot Rap Songs chart. Furthermore, the song pulled off the impressive feat of emerging as the number one song on both the Hot 100 and Rap Songs year-end charts. The “God’s Plan” music video was widely acclaimed by fans for showcasing Drake’s humanitarian acts.