If there is one thing that I can say with absolute certainty about 2019, it is that the music landscape is in as good of a place as it has ever been. This year was filled with so much excellent music from so many genres; from Trap to Metal to Indie to Pop to Rock to whatever else you listen to, there were multiple great albums that came out this year for pretty much every kind of music listener. In fact, this list was actually pretty tough to make because of all the albums that I felt were very good; I am sure as I read through article and edit it later, I will be kicking myself for not remembering to talk about certain records. I will give you a few honorable mentions right a way to check out after you are done listing to the album I actually wrote about below; some albums not included in this post that I still loved from this year are Brandon Banks by Maxo Kream, Planet Y2K by LiZ, Dior Deposits by Guapdad 4000, and Bait Ones by Jai Paul. Like always, this list is not necessarily in order; I, will admit, though, that the bottom five are definitely my five favorite albums of the year. With all of that being said, thank you for reading this article about m favorite albums from 2019. Let me know which of these albums you love in the comments below, please!
FLOOR SEATS – A$AP FERG
Because of all of the hype surrounding the plethora of new great music artists that have been popping off in 2019, it is easy to forget that there were multiple good albums that came out this year by some of the best hip hop artists of the early to mid-2010s. One of the artists that had a very good album come out this year that fits into this category is A$AP Ferg. Floor Seats seemed to be a stripped back and more traditional album for A$AP Ferg, to be honest; it seemed like he was really trying to get back to his roots with this album. Floor Seats contains a lot of less sophisticated instrumentals than we have come to expect from Ferg in recent years; this album has a truly bare-bones New York sort of feeling to it, with most of the instrumentals being simple but brash, with pounding 808s and ringing horns that remind me of late 90s to early 2000s New York hip hop. Ferg has always been the kind of artist to try to help out people lower than him and help up and coming artists shine, and some of my favorite elements of this record are the features. From MadeinTYO to Rico Nasty to Asian Doll, this album is full of excellent collaborations; I will always respect how A$AP Ferg loves to help out other great artists that have not had his sort of success yet. If are into the early 2000s New York party rap music, I know you will be into Floor Seats, so please listen to it and tell me how much you love it after you do.
FINE LINE – HARRY STYLES
When Harry Styles started to release singles for Fine Line at the beginning of last autumn, I assumed that this album would not come out until about halfway through 2020. In the past, the rollout for major label pop albums like this usually would take at least half a year; I guess with how streaming works, the music landscape does not really give artists the opportunity to take that long to roll out an album, because you will be forgotten if you do not take advantage of any virality the singles from an album acquire. Whether or not he was sort of forced to put this album out faster than he had wanted to, I was pleasantly surprised when Harry dropped Fine Line halfway through December, because singles from this album like ‘Adore You’ and ‘Watermelon Sugar’ got me very excited for this record. Harry Styles’ Fine Line is a cute story about a love that was lost for Harry; as the album progresses, we see him fall in love, break up, and move on, and it gives the album a very relatable feeling to it. This record seems to be Harry’s ode to all of his favorite styles of retro rock music; there are elements of 70s British pop-rock, reggae-rock, adult alternative, and folk music on this record, and Harry Styles excels at each of these different styles of rock. Fine Line is a really sweet and easy album to listen to; it is not overly creative or unique, but it really does not need to be.
FEVER – MEGAN THEE STALLION
As I stated in both of my posts about my favorite songs from this year, there are not many artists that had as big of a year as Megan Thee Stallion did. I mean from her excellent performances she had on the XXL Freshman List, the multitude of awesome features she did, the multiple videos of her that went viral this year, and her collaboration with the Queen Nicki Minaj, it would not be that crazy if someone had forgotten that she actually released a whole album last spring. That album, Fever, was Megan’s major-label debut, and it is an excellent depiction of who she is as an artist. There are songs on this album that are super fun as hell and are meant to party to, and songs that are hood as hell and are meant to fuck shit up too. Megan seems to have a split personality that is half Texas hood rat and half party animal, and these elements are so prevalent on this album. For the party animal vibe, listen to the songs ‘Money Good’ or ‘Simon Says.’ If you feel like being a hood rat, listen to ‘Realer’ or ‘Cash Shit.’ If you are a fan of dirty South/Texas style trap music, I know that you will love this whole record.
BABY ON BABY – DABABY
Speaking of artist that had massive 2019s, the only new Hip Hop artist that may have had as big of a year(or maybe an even bigger year) as Megan Thee Stallion is Dababy. I mean, this man reached Future Hendrix levels of success in 2019, as he actually had 2 separate studio albums go number one. These albums were not even connected in anyway; they literally came out at opposite times of the year and had nothing to do with each other. Although the second album, Kirk, had my favorite Dababy song of the year (‘Bop’), I actually think that Baby on Baby is a better overall album. This album is so tight and thematically sound, and each song really seems to feed into the next one so well. Kirk is a bit more experimental for Dababy, which is fine, but it is obvious that Baby on Baby was crafted in a way more succinct manner Regardless, both of these albums are super witty and fun and fresh and they are so fun to party to, and I think that Kirk and Baby on Baby are assertions that Dababy is going to be a superstar in the rap game for a long time.
BUBBA – KAYTRANADA
I have to be honest, for the most part, I had the albums that I wanted to write about for this list pretty much picked by the second week of December. As most writers do, I wanted to try to get ahead and get my outline done as early as possible, and I assumed that would be safe to do because most artists do not release new albums between the second week of December and the second week of January(this is because of the holiday season and the fact that most people probably are not looking for new music to listen to during this time). Kaytranada and Harry Styles broke that mold, though, as both of them released awesome albums halfway through December that I could not leave off of this list. If you are a fan of funky dance music in the vein of Daft Punk or Regard or Rufus du Sol, I think that you would love Kaytranada’s Bubba. This album is so eclectic and diverse; although every song has a neo-funk vibe to it that sounds like it could have come from 1977 and 2077 at the same time; every song has a different sort of undertone, ranging from Latin music to hip hop to 90s R&B. It is pretty amazing how Kaytranada can highlight so many different kinds of music on an album while still making sure the album keeps a similar underlying theme and tempo. Kaytranada’s Bubba was definitely one of the best dance albums of 2019, and if you need some new music to either play at your weekly get-togethers or need something new to work out to, you have to check this one out.
ZUU – DENZEL CURRY
When I first listened to Zuu, I had wondered if it was a sort of transitional record for Denzel Curry. Most fans of his music have become accustomed to in your face and distorted instrumentals to go along with dark and violent lyrical themes, oftentimes presented with different characters that Denzel has created. But this record is not really like that at all; it is way more chill and laid back and ultimately fun than most of Denzel Curry’s music has been in the past, and it is a total switch up from what his fans are used to. I do not know if this sort of non-abrasive style is something that he is going to pursue even more with his next record(I honestly highly doubt this), or if this is just a little break from the intensity he is used to for his own artistic sanity(I feel like this is very likely, but I actually really like this laid back way of rapping and singing that Denzel performs with on Zuu. This is actually sort of more of a party or kick back album than anything; all of the instrumentals are fun, light, and fresh, and most of the lyrical is pretty unsubstantial when taken at face value. I think that this form of rapping actually really emphasizes how crisp and diverse Denzel’s flows and vocal abilities are, and it shows that he does not have to be intense and deep to still be a good rapper. If you like Denzel Curry and are interested in hearing something a bit different from him, I think you will really like Zuu if you have not already listened to it. If you did listen to it and did not like it, try to let go of your judgments and give it another chance, because it is very good for what it is.
DEDICATED– CARLY RAE JEPSEN
It is sort of a weird feeling to admit that you are a bit disappointed in something that you love, but I have to say that I feel that way about Carly Rae Jepsen’s album Dedicated. For those of you who do not know(you should really go check out my article about her after you are done reading this because that would make me happy), I have been a massive Carly Rae Jepsen fan for such a long time. In fact, her album Emotion is easily one of my favorite pop albums of all time. Because of how I felt about that album, it would probably be pretty tough for Dedicated to live up to it, and in my opinion, it kind of didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Dedicated still contains a bunch of awesome songs; in fact, ‘Want You In My Room’ is literally one of my favorite songs of the year. But it sort of felt like this album was more directed at making flash in the pan bangers instead of making a super cohesive album. Like I said, there are a lot of great songs on this album, but it just is not as well put together and thematically on point as some of her previous work has been. Y’all should still all go listen to ‘Want You In My Room’ right now, though, because it is just such a fun song.
NETFLIX AND DEAL – 03 GREEDO AND KENNY BEATS
It always seems like there are way too many excellent rappers in prison at any given time; it truly feels like the government is trying to keep this industry down sometimes. From Kodak Black to Bobby Shmurda to Max B, it is almost certain at this point that there will always be multiple popular rappers from the current(and former) era that are behind bars during what would probably be their musical prime. One rapper who is in this predicament but is not letting it stop his career is 03 Greedo. Since he was locked up last year, Greedo has dropped multiple awesome rap projects, with none of them being as good or complete as Netflix and Deal, his collaboration with super-producer Kenny Beats. 03 Greedo has always expressed a deep love for movies, and he says that back in his trapping days he used to just sit at home and watch trapping movies while he dealt. Because of this, he and Kenny decided to give this record a theme, as every song refers to one of 03 Greedo’s favorite drug dealing movies. Netflix and Deal are super cool in this way, as every song seems to lyrically and sonically directly refer to the movie that it is supposed to be referencing. This album is really fun and groovy and is full of so many great trap bangers; if you missed this record and are into trap, I highly recommend because Netflix and Deal are seriously great.
uknowhatimsayin¿ – DANNY BROWN
Another album that felt like it was sort of an emotional transitional record in a way for an artist that is usually very upbeat and intense was uknowhatimsayin¿ by Danny Brown. Compared to most pretty much every release of Danny Brown’s in the past, uknowhatimsayin¿ is very tame; it is honestly pretty weird to hear Danny rap in such a laid back and non-excitable, and a lot of his biggest fans had to take a little while to get used to it. I will even admit that upon first listen, I was not a huge fan of this record, as it is really not close to what anyone would be used to for Danny Brown. But upon multiple listens, the beauty of this record rushes to the forefront. It is obvious that uknowhatimsayin¿ is an ode to all of the artists that inspired Danny to rap in the first place; it is very easy to hear the influences that artists like the Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Pharcyde had on this record. When you actually listen to this album closely and analytically, you will come to realize that Danny is still rapping in the same way and rapping about the same things, even if he does not sound as passionate as he once did. It is sort of like as he has gotten older he has become the cool uncle, and although he still cares deeply about the things he always has, he is a lot calmer because everything has been put into perspective for him. Overall, even though this as intense and in your face as most of Danny Brown’s music has been in the past, the quality is still definitely there. I am excited to hear if he follows this mellow tone in the future or if this really was a transition to something even bolder. Either way, I know it will be great because to this date everything by Danny Brown has been.
THE LOST BOY – YBN CORDAE
As I mentioned previously in this article, 2019 was a year were up and coming rap artists truly shined and left their mark on the industry. One of the young rappers that accomplished that feat this year was YBN Cordae. Cordae had an awesome and huge year for himself; not only did he have some excellent performances as an XXL Freshman in their cypers and freestyles, but he also received a Grammy nomination for his debut record, The Lost Boy. People who were fans or the trippy acid-trap style of music that a lot of mixtape rappers made in the mid-2010s for DatPiff would definitely love this record; in fact, the flow and overall sound of this record reminds me a ton of early music from people like Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and J. Cole. Besides the lead single, ‘RNP,’ this is not a very hype or very bold rap album. Cordae picked a variety of chill and jazzy instrumentals to rap on for this album, and it really highlights his lyrical ability and infectious flows. If you need a new album to listen to during your kickbacks or smoke sessions, The Lost Boy would be a perfect album to check out. Even though there is not anything overly bold or original on this record, it shows off the skills of a really good lyricist who is probably going to be a staple within the industry for a long time.
THE SAILOR – RICH BRIAN
Another newer Hip Hop artist that had a very big year as 88rising’s Rich Brian. Brian released his second full-length album in as many years, and this one really showed how much he has grown as an artist in such a short amount of time. One very cool thing about this album is how different each song is from each other; it is obvious that Brian wanted to push his own boundaries with this record, as the plethora of different sounds and variety of influences make this very evident. Brian also seemed to try to incorporate a lot of traditional Asian melodies into the songs of this album; quite a few of the songs are actually driven by instruments like the mandolin and sitar. This is a very non-typical hip hop album, and it does take a bit of getting used to. I promise there is something for everyone on The Sailor, though, and I highly recommend checking this one out if you like hip hop and want to hear something other than trap.
IMMUNITY – CLAIRO
If you have been paying attention to this blog lately at all, it should be pretty obvious that I have become a huge Clairo fan over the last few months. I mean, just in my last article which was about some of my favorite songs from the second half of the year, I wrote about her three times, and I honestly think I could have included a couple more songs she was featured in if I had wanted to. Clairo’s Immunity is a beautiful soft pop-rock album that uses elements of R&B and soul, as well as a few light trap beats, to craft a super pretty and unique sound. My favorite thing about Clairo’s music is how sincere here lyricism is. On the songs ‘Bags,’ ‘Softly,’ and ‘Sofia,’ for instance, we see Clairo for from realizing she has a crush on a girl, to her debating whether or not these feelings are okay for her to have, to here accepting the feelings and realizing she is in love. It is such a pure moment, and in the world that we currently live in, we could use more of these. If you are into indie/alternative music or pop-rock, please check this record out if you haven’t because it is seriously great.
MIRRORLAND – EARTHGANG
Earthgang is yet another new hip hop artist that used 2019 as their coming-out party. The difference between these guys and most of the other “new” artists on this list, though, is that they have actually been grinding in the underground for a long time. Earthgang has been making music with each other since the early 2010s, slowly honing their sound and style to become of the funkiest and most unique hip hop artists making music today. Mirrorland is actually the group’s first album produced by a label, with that label being J. Cole’s Dreamville. It makes a lot of sense that they would sign to Dreamville over other major labels because of their actual sound; not only do they possess the talent to be very lyrically sophisticated like J. Cole himself, they have a jazzy and 70s funk undertone to their music that is very prevalent in other Dreamville artists like JID. If you are a fan of Anderson.Paak’s sort of funk rap thing he does, you will love Mirrorland. This is easily one of the biggest and boldest and most colorful albums of the year; every song is completely different from one another, and they are all equally as fun. Mirrorland is a really excellent debut for a very excellent artist, and I know for certain that these guys are going to be at the forefront of the hip hop game for a long time because there is no one quite like Earthgang.
I’M HIM – KEVIN GATES
I have believed that Kevin Gates is severely underrated for a pretty long time, and unfortunately, that notion did not change much for me in 2019. Part of the reason that he is so underrated from his own mistakes and legal repercussions; if Kevin Gates hadn’t gotten arrested twice in the last four years when he started to garner some hype from the industry, or if he hadn’t gone viral for saying some pretty weird stuff multiple times, I feel like he would be a way more popular artist. I mean, if one actually listens to his music, it is easy to tell why his fans think he is so elite; Kevin Gates has one of the most commanding and interesting flows and voices in trap music, and his witty lyricism and ability to tell stories through his songs is unmatched. I had really hoped when I’m Him came out, Kevin Gates would be propelled to the top of the game and become a superstar in the Hip Hop community, but unfortunately, this album was not nearly as big or popular as it should have been. The coolest thing about I’m Him is the fact that it has 0 features or guest verses even though it is 18 songs long; Kevin Gates is such a diverse and solid rap artist that he is able to make a song as long as this with no features and make sure that it never feels stale, as every song sticks to the overall theme and the instrumentals are different enough from each other to make every song unique. Overall, I’m Him is a very good trap album by a very underrated trap artist, and if you have not listened to it yet and love hip hop, I highly recommend it.
LONG LIVE MEXICO – LIL KEED
Out of all of the new or up and coming rappers that made a major splash in 2019, I have to admit that I am probably the most excited for Lil Keed. Ever since Young Thug billed Keed as his protege and heir to the YSL throne last year, I have been paying attention to him and have been really into his music. To say that Lil Keed is just a more eccentric and extended version of Thugger is an understatement; He does definitely sound like Young Thug a lot, but in my opinion he has more of an R&B nature to his music that is softer. It sort of reminds me of Kevin Gates, who also makes a lot of music that sounds like a combination of R&B and trap. One way that he is a major extension of Thugger, though, is through his vocal range. It is almost like every sound Young Thug can make, Lil Keed can do it in a more intense way. This whole album is pretty awesome, but if I could suggest one song, I would go with ‘Oh My God.’ This is a song that really highlights the R&B nature of his music, and some of his best and most eccentric vocal patterns from this record are on this track as well.
1000 gecs – 100 gecs
If I was to give an award to the album that is definitely the weirdest one on this list but is also one of the best albums on this list, I would have to give that one to 1000 gecs. This album seemed to burst on the EDM scene out of nowhere last spring; I had never heard of 100 gecs or the artists that make up the group. Dylan Brady and Laura Les, before March of 2019, and now I can not wait to hear what they have coming for us next. 1000 gecs is easily one of the coolest and unique pieces of electronic music to come out this year. On this record, 100 gecs took all of their favorite kinds of music from the early 2000s, including heavy metal, screamo, emo-punk, ska, hip hop, and Y2K pop, and gave it a super intense bubblegum bass makeover, complete with Alvin and the Chipmunks-style vocals and speaker rattling synth melodies that are just full of bass. This is the album on this list that I just need y’all to trust me on and give it a shot. It is nothing like anything you have heard before and it is so fun and different, and once you begin to appreciate it for the silly and weird thing that it is I know you will love it as I do.
HOT PINK – DOJA CAT
Doja Cat is one of those artists and internet personalities I have been following for a while that I have always gone back and forth on. It has always been obvious that she is very talented musically and that she has a style and voice that is so individual and her own, but when she has made serious music in the past, she always seemed to revert to whatever is popular at that time instead of embracing her weird nature and interests and doing her own thing. Up until Hot Pink, with the exception of her banger of a collaboration with Rico Nasty, ‘Tia Tamera,’ I have actually preferred her meme and joke music as opposed to her “real” music. Hot Pink is way different than her more serious music from the past, though. It is obvious that Doja had specific sounds and styles she wanted to accomplish on this record, and she did so very delightfully. My favorite elements of this album are all of the 90s dance music and funk-trap instrumentals that are embraced throughout the project. I also love how she is able to transition so smoothly between vocal pitches, whether she is rapping or singing. Hot Pink was definitely a great breaking out party for Doja Cat, and I think that this record shows that she could be the next Nicki Minaj.
CUZ I LOVE YOU – LIZZO
Out of all of the musicians on this list, it would be tough to argue that any of them had a bigger year than the Queen Lizzo. Although the narrative online in a lot of places seems to be that she burst onto the scene in 2019 seemingly out of nowhere, this actually very far from the truth. I, for one, understand how hard Lizzo has been grinding for years, as I have been into her for quite a while. As most readers of this blog know, one of my passions in looking for good local(Milwaukee, Wisconsin area or midwest in general) artists, and I discovered Lizzo a few years ago because she is from Minnesota. The sound of Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You is as big and bold and beautiful as Lizzo is herself. This record is so colorful and vibrant, taking elements of jazz, soul, R&B, trap, and boom bap to make sounds that are totally special to Lizzo that only she could make. If for some dumb reason you haven’t listened to this record yet, please bite the bullet and do it. I promise there is no way you will not end up loving songs like ‘Tempo’ or ‘Like a Girl, ‘ because they objectively rule.
ANGER MANAGEMENT – RICO NASTY
We have now made it into the section of the list that contains the albums that I really, really loved from this year. I know that I stated at the beginning of this post that there really is not an order to this list, but I will admit that the bottom four albums are definitely my four favorites from 2019. Anger Management was a collaboration from one of my favorite producers, Kenny Beats, and one of my favorite rappers, Rico Nasty, that came out last spring, and it is literally as great as a collaboration from these two should be. Every beat on this album goes so fricken hard; every song is so brash and loud and banging and in your face. And for how hard all of these beats go, Rico’s rapping goes even harder. Even though every song has a different flow and vocal pattern, they all have the same high level of emotion and intensity that make Rico Nasty so great. If you are a fan of hard, dark trap music and somehow missed out on this record, please listen to it now and let me know how great it is in the comments.
THANK YOU NEXT – ARIANA GRANDE
Out of all of the albums that are on this list, and especially of the ones that are near the bottom of the list, I would say that this album is by far the one that is the least debatable in its placement. I mean, whether you are just a casual listener, a music nerd like me, or a critic, it would be straight-up silly to not consider thank you, next as one of the best albums of 2019. As far as mainstream pop goes, I do not think this album could have even been done more perfectly. It is such a raw and emotional and sweet record, full of so many different cool types of instrumentals and sounds that show off how diverse of an artist Ariana is. I mean, there is a great reason that Ariana is the most streamed female artist ever and that she is considered to be at the pinnacle of the music world right now. When I saw her live, I described it like being courtside at the NBA Finals with Giannis and Lebron playing; in other words, there isn’t anyone else on earth that can do what she can do, which is what makes her so great.
SO MUCH FUN – YOUNG THUG
As much as I love the album Anger Management by Rico Nasty, it still is not as great as So Much Fun by Young Thug. This album is a straight-up masterpiece, man. Over the last couple of years, for as great as Young Thug is, he has gotten a bit of flack over the last few years for lack of creativity in his music. Sometimes when great artists get really famous and have a ton of success, their music can start to get stale because they have figured out what sells and have no reason to push their boundaries or do something different(Future and the Migos are good examples of this). For someone like Young Thug, who’s creativity through using weird beats and melodies and through his crazy vocal patterns is what has made him so great, becoming stale with his sound will not work. Young Thug must have realized this himself because this record has some of the craziest instrumentals and vocal fluctuations that Thugger has used to date, and he absolutely nailed it every single time. This album is full of so many great collaborations as well. From ‘Surf’ featuring Gunna to ‘What’s the Move’ featuring Lil Uzi Vert, each feature picked is perfect for the song they are included on, and Young Thug meshes with each of the artists’ featured perfectly. There is a reason that this album is so popular and that so many huge artists(like Drake, for instance) have talked about how great it is. So Much Fun is a damn trap music masterpiece.
CHARLI – CHARLI XCX
Usually I am not one for picking a definitive favorite record for any given year, but I would be kidding myself if I did not admit that Charli is most definitely my favorite record from 2019. I mean, the fact that I literally have the whole record downloaded into my most listened to Spotify playlist should be a good indication of that. This album is as close to perfect as I think an album can be. If you have been a fan of Charli XCX’s in the past, all of the things that have had made her stand out are perfected on this record. Charli is futuristic yet retro, robotic yet human, and carefree yet emotional. Charli truly captured magic with this album; every instrumental is awesome and fitting for the content of the track, and every feature matches up perfectly with every song as well. There is nothing that I even dislike about this album at all; everything about it is awesome. If you are a fan of electronic music or pop and have not checked this one out yet, please do yourself a favor then let me know how much you love it in the comments below.
I’m waiting for Songs For You by Tinashe to arrive in my mailbox. She’s my boo and I can’t wait to give her album a listen. I’m so glad that she went independent.
Yeah that was a good album as well!! I would consider it one of my honorable mentions. I agree!! She seems so much more free and happy with her sound though. That manufactured mainstream trap R&B thing wasn’t for her. I can’t wait to see what she does next and that boundaries she pushes now that she’s got her footing in the independent game!