Being a site that spotlights good Detroit music, it would be a travesty to not highlight some of the best projects this year. There have been so many good projects from so many Detroit artists. We could have gone to almost 15-20 solid projects, but we opted for 10 to highlight the really good ones. There are a number of artists that don’t make the list such as E.Will (The Revelation), Oba Rowland (Northland), Willie Mac Jr. (Inc University: Back To Cool), Tay B (AFNC) and a few others and that says nothing bad about their music, but more about how much good music came out of Detroit in 2018. If you slept on any of these above or the ones I’m about to list off, go back and check them out. You won’t regret it.
Honorable Mention: Bandgang Javar – Rose
Release Date: July 17th, 2018
Must Listen: “How Can I Stop Pt.2,” “All I Got,” + “Scamman”
The intro to Javar’s come back home project is a newscast of alleged crimes that members of Bandgang may or may not have committed. The first lines you hear from Javar are then “Yeah it’s true I made a killing off scamming/Got caught with half a million in a focus red-handed.” From there, the talks about scams, the super braggadocious lines about money and clothes, and Javar’s calm flow are on display with each song. He’s confident to say the least and clearly happy to be free on the streets after beating a case he shouldn’t have made it out of. It’s very feature heavy, but as a member of Bandgang, of course, there will be a lot of features. On “Get It” Javar says “They same I’m lame cause I ain’t got a lot of friends/ But if this rental make it back I can buy a Benz/If it don’t, my lawyer a get me off again we a pay the judge off before I do another bid,” and that’s a culmination of everything that Rose is about in 15 songs.
10. Peezy – No Hooks
Release Date: July 28th, 2018
Peezy dropped the great “I’m Good, Pt. 5” early in the summer, and then announced a new tape No Hooks shortly after. Obviously, this is a tape that’s all raps without any hooks. That works for Peezy here because on every song he’s basically just flowing on each song. No Hooks has no features and that plays Peezy up too because it’s just him getting off a lot of great raps. We can’t wait to hear what Peezy has in store next.
9. Tee Grizzley – Activated
Release Date: May 11th, 2018
Must Listen: “2 Vaults,” “Time” + “Bloodas 2 Interlude”
Tee Grizzleys’s Activated is easily the most star-studded affair that’s on this list. Appearances from Chris Brown, Lil Yachty, Jeezy, Moneybagg Yo are all present for Tee’s debut album. Tee comes through with his best work as a whole to date with Activated for many reasons. Some of the features deliver stellar performances, Tee’s aggressiveness is top notch and he manages to sprinkle in a good blend of street anthems, purposeful songs and even a couple songs for the ladies. With the help of all his industry connects, Tee was able to craft one of the best albums out of Detroit in 2018.
8. Payroll Giovanni – 4-1 P
Release Date: June 3rd, 2018
Must Listen: “4-1 P,” “Cartier Wishes,” + “Hypnotized”
It’s great to know that despite finding a ton of success alongside Cardo, Payroll Giovanni is still able to return to his Detroit roots. His second tape of 2018 4-1P is him not abandoning his day 1 fans and dropping a self-produced tape for the streets. From the jump, it’s obvious what Payroll is trying to accomplish with the “4-1 P” being a 3-minute onslaught of what he embodies as a Detroit artist. Over the course of the 12 track effort, he brings a few Doughboyz along for some great verses and makes sure to double down on the fact that he’s a Detroit artist through and through. This album could have honestly made it on this list off the strength of Quis’ verse on “Hypnotized” though, and that’s no lie.
7. Drego & Beno – Sorry For The Get Off
Release Date: July 12th, 2018
Drego & Beno are undoubtedly the hottest duo in Detroit right now. After “Hands Down” took off it was no telling what they could do to top that, then they dropped “Bloxk Party,” which featured Sada. Not one to let their moment pass, they then dropped their tape Sorry For The Get Off. SFTGO is 15 songs packed with the back to back style they’ve adopted and got their name off of. At times it can be slightly repetitive, but when they’re hitting, they’re on point. “Approach It” is one of my favorite songs out of Detroit this year and songs like “Recipe 2” and “Hold on Stop” are a clear peek into how good these two are together.
6. GT – Relentless
Release Date: January 12th, 2018
Detroit music enthusiasts had been waiting for a full-length GT tape for years and at the top of the year GT finally delivered. He didn’t let anyone down either, dropping one of the hardest projects out of Detroit easily. GT has one of the most distinct voices in Detroit and once you pair that with his great flow and ability to pick beats you get a lot of hits and very few misses. He’s a master at flipping old school beats and samples and the release of “25 Reasons” propelled this tape into the spotlight before it even dropped. He got great verses out of Drego & Beno, WOP, & Peezy too. This is one of the oldest tapes on this list coming out a few days into the new year, and with it being #6 that means it had a lasting effect for sure.
5. Chavis Chandler – One Winged Angel
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018
Not the traditional sound when it comes to Detroit music at all, but easily one of the most talented rappers in the city for years at this point is Chavis Chandler. He paints Detroit in a different light than the average artists and for that, his music sticks out. One Winged Angel is a beautiful listen through and through top to bottom. Some songs are dedicated to Chandler’s amazing rap skills, some are dedicated to showing off his singing abilities, and some are dedicated to simply showing off how talented Chavis is musically. Overall, he drops one of his best efforts to date and a standout of 2018.
4. Supakaine – Just Like My Neighbors
Release Date: July 13th, 2018
Must Listen: “Pure Jam,” “Just Like,” + “Drug4L”
One of my personal favorite artists in Detroit right now is Supakaine. He’s been dropping dope music for a while, but his last two releases are head and shoulders better than past projects and with each tape, he shows great progression. The growth he showed on Just Like My Neighbors is incredible, with no songs sounding out of place and Kaine really finding his lane on this one. Every verse has depth to it, every hook is rooted in realism, and every beat compliments both those notions. A month later, this is still heavy in my rotation and I don’t see it leaving anytime soon. There’s a lot of gems to unpack and a lot of game to be put up on. Thanks, Kaine.
3. All Star JR – Organized Crime
Release Date: February 1st, 2018
The songs on here that are good, are nothing short of amazing. JR should strongly consider doing a 10 song tape where he’s just over a plethora of K Money beats and using samples. Both those things are a strength on the tape. K Money gives JR some of his best work production wise, and JR manages to make sure he doesn’t miss when on those beats. When he sticks to the traditional Detroit sound the songs don’t stand out as much, but still are very good. At 21 songs it is a little lengthy, but that doesn’t kill JR like it usually does other artists. Skip straight to “Million Dolla Thoughts” if you need to hear something flipped perfectly. That is one of the best songs from the city this year, and this tape is one of the best.
2. Dame Dot – Courtesy of The Mafia
Release Date: March 1st, 2018
There’s no better 1,2 punch on this list than “Courtesy of The Mafia” and “Spend Some Money.” The follow up with “Epiphany” isn’t half bad either. The opening words to the tape are “I just paid for a bitch bundles and the installation/Got the nails and the toes, none my bitches basic.” After that Dame raps nonstop for nearly 3 minutes and drops quotable line after quotable line. If you’re looking for what Detroit music is this is it in it’s best form, this is it. Aggressive, fast, street talk, all of its here on Dame Dot’s 14 song tape. The beats are moody, the raps are compact and Dame Dot sounds hungry as if he hasn’t eaten in weeks. The feast? Every beat he came across that ended up on Courtesy of The Mafia.
1. Payroll Giovanni & Cardo Got Wings – Big Bossin’ Vol. 2
Release Date: January 26th, 2018
Must Listen: “Mail Long,” “5’s and 6’s,” + “Deep”
Detroit wanted the follow up to Payroll Giovanni and Cardo’s Big Bossin’ for so long after the first release. The two suffered from push back after push back, but when they came with it, they made sure they put their best foot forward. Cardo provided some of his most luxurious beats and Payroll floated on each and every one of them. He talked about the highs and lows of the game, how he got to where he’s at today and everything in between. He gets a dope track out of E-40 playing on the origins of the term “Mail” a stellar verse from Jeezy on “Dopeman Dreams” and the “BYLUG Outro?” Don’t get us started. Payroll is the only artist on this list twice and with good reason, he’s not missing musically. Knowing him, he’s probably working on more heat for us as we speak. Can he top this though?