Rap needs to exhale in 2019 — last year was a hectic one — but it probably won’t. We’re a few weeks in and it’s already looking like the nonstop pace set by the genre’s biggest artists in 2018 is here to stay. A simple rule of thumb for the new way of life: Rappers either compete with an endless stream of new releases or they cease to matter. Last year, we saw once-major acts like Kanye West and Eminem hit false notes in an attempt to keep up, while newer stars like Travis Scott, Cardi B and Tierra Whack pushed through to define a year in which the expected was consistently subverted. As 2019 goes on, look for A-listers to try to win back some of their critical capital and recent arrivals to the top of the game attempt to continue to seize their moment, all while more emerging artists seek to devour even more of the pie.