2018 was a confounding year in hip-hop. Songs called "I Like It" and "I Love It" coexisted. As did "Lucid Dreams" and "Barbie Dreams"; "Sad!" and "Bad!"; and "Feefa," "Fefe," "Keke," "Bebe" and "Zeze." Yet artists more than made up for the occasional lack of originality with some unabashedly enjoyable music—go-to records for fans on aux cord duty. Tyga and Offset's "Taste" goes up at any function. Ditto for Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode" and Rich The Kid's futuristic "Plug Walk."

Indeed, it was a year when hip-hop had fun, dominated by certified vets and hungry newcomers alike. Drake padded playlists with inescapable No. 1 hits like "God's Plan," the Lauryn Hill-sampling "Nice For What" and "In My Feelings," with its direct homage to New Orleans bounce. Meanwhile, newbies like YBN Cordae made their mark, too. The traditionalist spitta with a millennial's edge put hip-hop on notice when he stood up for his generation with "Old Niggas," an indirect response record to J. Cole's finger-wagging "1985 ('Intro to the Fall Off')."

For all of the party records, diss tracks captivated fans' attention as well. From the aforementioned Cole shot at Lil Pump to Eminem's MGK diss "Killshot," which leapt to No. 3 on the pop charts immediately after its release, listeners couldn't get enough of rappers calling out names and dropping big bars on each other's heads.

This year we partied with Cardi, hit up the ATM at the big bank, praised the lord (and the rap devil) and even went apeshit from time to time. From diss tracks to future karaoke staples, hip-hop offered shock, excitement, the Shoot dance and a whisper song for a new generation. Now, XXL rounds up the best, most lasting tracks of the year (in alphabetical order). If you like it, we love it.

  • "1985 (Intro to 'The Fall Off')"

    J. Cole
  • "All The Stars"

    Kendrick Lamar Featuring SZA
  • "Apeshit"

    The Carters
  • "ATM"

    J. Cole
  • "Audemar"

    Young Thug Featuring Tracy T
  • "Barbie Dreams"

    Nicki Minaj
  • "Better Now"

    Post Malone
  • "Big Bank"

    YG Featuring 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj and Big Sean
  • "Bigger Than You"

    2 Chainz Featuring Drake and Quavo
  • "Bounce Out With That"

    YBN Nahmir
  • "Don't Come Out the House"

    Metro Boomin Featuring 21 Savage
  • "Drip Too Hard"

    Lil Baby and Gunna
  • "Fefe"

    6ix9ine Featuring Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz
  • "God's Plan"

  • "Gucci Flip Flops"

    Bhad Bhabie Featuring Lil Yachty
  • "I Like It"

    Cardi B Featuring J Balvin and Bad Bunny
  • "I Love It"

    Kanye West and Lil Pump Featuring Adele Givens
  • "If You Know You Know"

    Pusha T
  • "In My Feelings"

  • "Killshot"

  • "King's Dead"

    Jay Rock Featuring Kendrick Lamar, James Blake and Future
  • "Last Memory"

  • "Leave Me Alone"

    Flipp Dinero
  • "Look Alive"

    BlocBoy JB Featuring Drake
  • "Lucid Dreams (Forget Me)"

    Juice Wrld
  • "Mickey"

    Lil Yachty Featuring Offset and Lil Baby
  • "Moonlight"

  • "New Patek"

    Lil Uzi Vert
  • "No Stylist"

    French Montana Featuring Drake
  • "Nuketown"

    Ski Mask The Slump God Featuring Juice Wrld
  • "Old Niggas (J. Cole '1985' Response)"

    YBN Cordae
  • "Paramedic!"

  • "Plug Walk"

    Rich The Kid
  • "Powerglide"

    Rae Sremmurd Featuring Juicy J
  • "Praise The Lord (Da Shine)"

    A$AP Rocky Featuring Skepta
  • "Rap Devil"

    Machine Gun Kelly
  • "Sad!"

  • "Sicko Mode"

    Travis Scott Featuring Drake
  • "Smile Bitch"

    Lil Duval Featuring Snoop Dogg and Ball Greezy
  • "Stir Fry"

  • "Taste"

    Tyga Featuring Offset
  • "That's On Me"

    Yella Beezy
  • "The Story of Adidon"

    Pusha T
  • "This Is America"

    Childish Gambino
  • "Tints"

    Anderson .Paak Featuring Kendrick Lamar
  • "Topanga"

    Trippie Redd
  • "Uproar"

    Lil Wayne Featuring Swizz Beatz
  • "Walk It Talk It"

    Migos Featuring Drake
  • "What's Free"

    Meek Mill Featuring Jay-Z and Rick Ross
  • "Yes Indeed"

    Lil Baby Featuring Drake

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