2019, a year of break out artists, inevitable club anthems, authentic hip-hop, an RnB rebirth and experimental vibes, a strong way to close out this decade of music. Each of the albums listed below are ikonic and quality, lyricism and the insatiable hunger for real music paved the way.
15. Jim Jones El Capo: Jim Jones is a veteran in the game without question and his El Capo album listened like pure New York hip-hop with features from some of the greats like Jadakiss, Maino, Fat Joe and Rick Ross to name a few. However, this album was underrated and under publicized but it includes some of the best hip-hop of the year; a must listen!
14. SAINt JHN, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs: It’s hard to categorize a sound like SAINt JHN’s because he tugs on musical genres of hip-hop, soul, island vibes and more. His album Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs represents his versatility in the best way from intoxicating melodies in songs like “Wedding Day” to harder hitting anthems like “Trap” featuring Lil Baby; he’s unapologetically multifaceted. While his current ‘IGNORANt Forever Tour’ portrays him as a rock-star of sorts as well and of course his feature on Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift turned him into an international sensation this year – ikonic!
13. Dave East, Survival: Harlem. Hip-hop. Bars. Dave East went off in this album and left a piece of his narrative on there for the world to hear. Laced in 20 tracks amid features from Nas, Fabolous, Rick Ross, Teyana Taylor and more its a full body of work, one of the best this year.
12. Kevin Gates, I’m Him: Kevin Gates, one of the most distinct rap voices of our generation, delivers a classic featureless album to add to his discography. Listening to his music is a unique experience with an even more distinctive lyrical offering. Each track is a definite bop, one of his best works to date, in my opinion.
11. Megan Thee Stallion, Fever: Megan solidified her stake in the rap game with this album. More than just a fly-by-night Houston Hottie, she’s proved that she’s hear to stay and that she’s fully capable of making hit records. The “Cash S***” emcee holds a bulk of the album down by herself, a gallant but noteworthy choice and it’s gifted her the acclaim she deserves.
10. Kash Doll, Stacked: We waited years for this album and the Detroit Bombshell delivered. Finally out of the perilous grip of her former contract, she’s now able to release the music she wants, when she wants and we’re happy for her. This body of work is personal, it’s not just about the glitz, glam and designer drip but a true glimpse into the narrative of Kash Doll. The Detroit bred spitter packs this project with club anthems like “Ice Me Out” and “Buss It,” RnB jams like “No Lames” featuring Summer Walker and records like “Paid B*****s,” “Krazy” featuring LouGotCash and “Cheap S***” that are all laden with her idiosyncratic personality – a truly diverse album.
9. Missy Elliot, Iconology: Almost a decade and a half later, yet somehow right on time, Missy Elliot delivered a five-pack entitled Iconology – a fitting name for a truly ikonic body of work amid features from Sum1 and Acapella. Iconology hearkens like experimental, cool-vibes infused with uptempo production and an aura of pure fun with records like “Throw It Back” and “Cool Off.” Kicking this project off with twerk something tendencies before she slips into mesmerizing RnB sounds with “Drip Demeanor,” which marvels in Missy’s irrefutable pen, ear for melody and sure fire production savvy. A brief offering but a well crafted addition to this years catalog.
8. Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby: This album has not received the acclaim it deserves but this is one of the best RnB albums of the year, hands down. A project that can be enjoyed from beginning to end with no interruptions. The young songstress seemed upset by her Soul Train Award potential snub but hopefully she never stops doing what she does best – creating music that can last in and out of time.
7. Burna Boy, African Giant: Grammy nominated for ‘World Music Album’ for African Giant alongside Beyonce’s The Lion King: The Gift nomination for ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ where he executed track eight “JA ARA E,” it’s safe to say, its been a big year for Burna Boy. This album is classic and will be celebrated as such!
6. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You: Lizzo’s riding high on a wave of success, freedom in her music and unparalleled confidence. The Atlantic Records signee represents the perfect experimental vibe sifting from deep-rooted hip-hop content to pop inclinations. The Houston native rapper, singer, actor, flutist and songwriter sets not limits for herself thus catapulting her light-years ahead of any potential competition. With over one billion streams on Spotify alone, it’s been a grand year for her and many more.
5. Dababy, Baby on Baby: The breakout artist of the year and a true hit-maker, Da Baby’s Baby on Baby project turned him into a viral phenomena and he’s garnered one billion streams on Spotify alone this year.
4. Billie Eilish, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO: Billie’s a viral sensation! The young gem has over 40 million followers on Instagram and has sat on the couch of Ellen DeGeneres. Her highly anticipated debut album melts into the worlds of lyrical depth and personal narrative amid a Goth infused, deep-toned experimental vibes. Eilish leaves listeners with a full stomach after ingesting this project. The production is flawless, the quality is unmatched – a dope album, one of this years’ best.
3. The Game, Born 2 Rap: This isn’t just “West Coast Rap,” this is ‘EVERYBODY RAP.’ The Game released his ninth studio album Born 2 Rap last week, laced in 25 tracks amid features from D Smoke, Ed Sheeran, Dom Kennedy and Nipsey Hussle to name a few and this is one truly phenomenal body of work. This album also marks as his alleged farewell from hip-hop and, although we hope its not true, this album is an ikonic exit. If you didn’t already respect The Game as an emcee, you have to now. One of the most solid projects of the year, it’s just damn good hip-hop.
2. Summer Walker, Over It: The 23-year-old sensation Summer Walker recently released her debut album Over It and has turned the industry upside down with its debut, premiering at No 2. on the Billboard 200 amid garnering 134,000 equivalent album units in its first week, according to Billboard, thus earning this album one of the largest streaming weeks ever for an R&B album by a woman. Every record on this album is a hit and this album is one of the best debuts by a female RnB singer this decade.
1. Rapsody, Eve: Rapsody’s Eve is the most pivotal album of 2019. She solidifies her rising position in music greatness and it’s not because she’s “good for a female rapper,” but because she’s superb on any front. Hip-hop is typically viewed as a male’s sport but MVP’s like Rapsody are proving that any sex can dominate this genre of music. Who’s really rapping like Rapsody right now – nobody. She’s a student of hip-hop yet an even better teacher and Eve displays just how timeless she will be.