So last year I made a list of my 10 Favorite Albums of 2018, and coming up with that list was relatively difficult because of the wide variety of great music releases we had in 2018. Great albums were dropped from artists like Travis Scott, Pusha T, 21 Savage, and Saba. It was a strong year for rap music, and many people expected that run of dominance to continue into 2019.
Only, it didn't.
2019, for me personally, was a very weak year for rap music and music as a whole. I listened to a lot of different albums this past year, and some of them may have sounded pretty good upon initial release, but there weren't many that held long-term replay value. As a matter of fact, I found myself returning to a lot of 2018 and 2017 releases more than music that came out this year.
Nonetheless, there were still some great projects that dropped this year, and there are enough to compile my top 10 favorite albums of 2019. Just like last year, these are my personal favorites and these are not based off critical ratings, as this list would look much different if that was the case. These are the ten albums that I found myself returning to the most of the course of the past 12 months, and the albums that I enjoyed listening to the most as well. Without further adieu, let's hop into some honorable mentions and some projects that just barely missed the cut.
(Cactus Jack's "JACKBOYS" released after I made my list, so I was unable to include it and it will be effect in the 2020 rankings.)
"CrasH Talk"- ScHoolboy Q- I was very excited for Q's release following "Blank Face LP", and this project definitely delivered some great tracks like "Floating", "Tales", and "Dangerous". ScHoolboy gets a little more personal in this release with some of the tracks on the record, and there isn't as much brash and anger stemming from his voice as there was on his previous projects. It was a great record, but there were too many skip-able tracks on the album to be on my top 10.
"Brandon Banks" - Maxo Kream-From Houston, Maxo Kream has kept a relatively low profile over the years, but he's slowly gained some more popularity after his last two album releases, and his strong verse on Dreamville's "Oh Wow....Swerve". Maxo gets some great features from Travis Scott, ScHoolboy Q, and A$AP Ferg on this project, and the introduction to the project, "Meet Again", is one of the better tracks from this past year. Maxo keeps improving with every project, and it'll be interesting to see how he progresses with future releases.
"Bandana"- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- This album has to be on my honorable mentions list simply because I haven't given it enough listens, but the tracks that I have listened to have been incredible. These two have an unreal musical connection, as Madlib continues to widen his arsenal of impressive releases over the years. Pusha T delivers a great verse on "Palmolive", and "Crime Pays" has one of the best beats that I've heard all year.
"All My Heroes Are Cornballs"- JPEGMAFIA- Just like "Bandana", AMHAC is on the honorable mentions list because I haven't listened to it enough. I gave his 2018 release, "Veteran" a chance over the summer, and was impressed with the style in his production and voice, as there was a lot going on sonically. The same can be said on this album, and what really impresses me on this project is his vocal talent, as it's shown on tracks like "Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot" and "Free The Frail". With more listens, Peggy and Freddie could find themselves in this list down the road.
10. Lil Keed- "Long Live Mexico"
I'll be honest, I hated Lil Keed when I first heard him.
I was introduced to him on Young Thug's "Slime Language" last year and was really unimpressed with him. So when "Long Live Mexico" rolled around, I didn't think too much of it. However, I listened to "Pull Up" with him, Lil Uzi Vert and YNW Melly, and really liked that record, so I figured to give the rest of the project a shot. It took a couple listens, but I ended up really enjoying the majority of this project, although the first half of the project is much stronger than the second half. The first thing you notice about Lil Keed is his vocals, as it's strikingly similar to Young Thug, which is probably a big reason why I enjoy his music since I'm a fan of Thugger. The first song on the project "Ride The Wave", has a dreamy-like beat that reminds me a lot of Travis Scott's "YOSEMITE" off of ASTROWORLD, and for me, personally, that's the highlight of the album. There are some great features on this album from artists like Gunna, Young Thug, and Lil Gotit, but Keed is the star performer of his project, as he should be. This was one of my go-to albums in the gym this year, and it secures the #10 spot on this list.
-"Ride The Wave"
-"Oh My God"
-"Million Dollar Mansion" feat. Young Thug
9. YBN Cordae- "The Lost Boy"
YBN Cordae had arguably one of the most anticipated albums this year, and he's made it clear in such a short time that he is the most diverse and talented rapper out of the YBN trio. The first thing I noticed on this project is that Cordae is heavily influenced by J.Cole, from his delivery to his lyrics to his overall rapping ability. It's obviously not a bad thing as Cole is one of the most successful rappers of our decade, but it's interesting given what his fellow YBN teammates (Almighty Jay, Nahmir) have shown us thus far. I was really surprised with the diversity of this album, with songs like "Family Matters" and "Way Back Home" showing signs of melody that I wasn't expecting. Pusha T and Chance the Rapper both come through with impressive features, but "RNP" with Anderson .Paak steals the show with Cordae and Paak trading bars back and forth on a funky and retro beat. Hell, even the skits in this album are entertaining. Overall, this album met and possibly exceeded my expectations, and I'm very excited to see what's next for Cordae.
"Broke As F*ck"
"RNP" feat. Anderson .Paak
"Bad Idea" feat. Chance the Rapper
8. Earl Sweatshirt- "FEET OF CLAY"
So I didn't have "Some Rap Songs" on my top 10 albums of 2018, and that's only because I listened to it once, didn't care for it much, and left it there. That was a mistake on my part, because I returned to it once again in 2019 and fell in love with it, and I can officially say that it's one of my favorite albums of all time. With that being said, I was very excited for this EP when it was announced shortly before Halloween, and it definitely did not disappoint. While I will say that it sounds like seven "Some Rap Songs" throwaways, the content is still a lot to take in and is very engaging. Something about the distorted and dark production really resonated with me and Earl continued that trend on this project, especially on tracks like "TISK TISK/COOKIES" and "4N". Earl's lyricism is still top-tier like always, and features from Mavi (who almost sounds like a clone of Earl) and Mach-Hommy elevate the listening experience as well. If this project was longer than 7 songs and 15 minutes, this could have easily made its' way into the top 5. Oh, and you can't talk about this project without mentioning "EAST", which brings the use of an accordion to another level. Sure it might sound like something straight out of an Italian bakery from 1928, but it is still FIRE.
"4N" feat. Mach-Hommy
7. Roddy Ricch- "Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial"
Roddy Ricch emerged onto the rap scene as one of the top rookies of 2019, and he helped solidify that status by hopping on songs like "Ballin'" with Mustard and "Racks In The Middle" with the late Nipsey Hussle. His standout performances on those tracks had fans excited for his debut album, and while his personality can seem very standoffish and quiet, that changes when he's rapping. Roddy starts his album off with three gems in "Intro", "The Box", and "Start Wit Me", with the transition between the latter two songs being very smooth. Roddy Ricch is another versatile that can use his voice to his advantage whenever his pleases, but he can also get into his bag and rap as he pleases. The final song on the album "War Baby" is where Roddy really dives into his rough upbringing and the things he was experienced to, and the choir that is brought in during this tracks is simply beautiful. That song blew me away, and the entire album was one that really surprised me and grew on me very quickly.
"Start Wit Me" feat. Gunna
"Peta" feat. Meek Mill
6. Rich Brian- The Sailor
One of the most slept-on rappers from this past year has been Rich Brian, and the musical transformation that he's undergone from his 2018 release; "Amen"; to 2019's "The Sailor". Over a span of 12 songs and 44 minutes, Brian addresses a wide variety of topics, including his love life, his transition to America and the music scene in the U.S., and just enjoying life. "100 Degrees" sounds so uplifting and carefree and is a perfect song to play at any party, and "Slow Down Turbo" has so many beat switches it makes Travis Scott's "SICKO MODE" look like a basic record. Although some of the lyrics in this project are basic and corny, Brian is also relatively new to the English language as he hails from Indonesia, and the lyricism in "The Sailor" is still a massive upgrade from his previous release. As far as features go, Brian primarily dominates the project, but his 88rising counterpart, Joji, delivers a great addition to the project's final track, "Where Does The Time Go". The final line in that track is "If you need something to believe in, you can come believe in me." After repeatedly listening to this album, it's safe to say that you can believe in Rich Brian, who is cementing himself as one of rap's unsung rising stars.
"Slow Down Turbo"
"Where Does The Time Go" feat. Joji
5. Future- "SAVE ME"
Sad Future is a different type of monster.
Future had two different releases this year, and while I did think "The WIZRD" was a good project, the 7-song EP "SAVE ME" easily reigns superior this year. First off, the aesthetic that comes with this project was so appealing to me, and as weird as the cover art is, it fits the dark and lonely atmosphere that Future creates within this project. Tracks like "XanaX Damage" and "Love Thy Enemies" bring the loneliness aspect of this EP to another level, considering one-liners such as "I only call you when I'm faded" and "If I want you there I know there's something wrong". The introduction to "St. Lucia" is incredible, and the song as a whole is easily one of my top 5 favorite tracks released this year. "Please Tell Me" and "Government Official" are two more vintage bangers on the album that still stick within the concept of the project, and "Shotgun" and "Extra" are two more tracks that show off a more emotional side of Future Hendrix. This would be much higher, but just like Earl's project, it's still only 7 tracks which is why it's slated at the #5 spot. But, this is the type of Future that I enjoy the most, and I'm thrilled to say that every song on this is a hit.
"Please Tell Me"
"Love Thy Enemies"
4. Pi'erre Bourne- The Life of Pi'erre 4
Most of us know about Pi'erre Bourne as being the sidekick producer to Playboi Carti among other artists, and I firmly believe he's one of the best trap producers in rap. I didn't really listen to much of his discography before TLOP4, but I figured to give it a shot because it's Pi'erre, and the production was bound to be insane.
I was right.
One word can describe this album perfectly: TRANSITIONS. Every song flows perfectly from one to the next, making it an album that I have no problem with listening through the entire way. The first three songs on the album, "Poof", "Try Again", and "Feds" are all gems in my opinion, as the production goes insane on those records. Throughout the album you don't receive much lyrical content, which is what I was expecting, but the tone in his voice matches his own beats perfectly, especially on tracks like "Routine" and "How High". When I saw that there were no features (especially no Carti) I was disappointed, but after listening to this album over and over again, Pi'erre does more than enough to suffice, and this self-made album is one of my favorites of 2019.
3. Offset- "FATHER OF 4"
Because it was released in February, it's easy to forget that Offset dropped his solo album this year and not in 2018 like the rest of the Migos. Personally, I've always thought that Offset has been the most talented member of the Migos and would have the most success if he were to go solo, as he can deliver on basically every aspect of being a successful rapper. And, with "FATHER OF 4", Offset showed why he is the best out of the Migos, and easily dropped the most impressive project out of the three. Offset brought his usual trap demeanor, his addicting flow, and his killer ad-libs, but Offset also showed us a much more personal side of him as well. On the self-titled intro, Offset basically sent an apology to all of his children for not being there enough while they were all growing up, which was really cool to hear about. On "North Star" he addresses a possible lean addiction, on "Don't Lose Me" he dived right into his cheating scandal with Cardi B and broke down the development of their relationship, and on "Red Room" he discusses his near-fatal car crash that could have prevented him from being able to drop this album. A lot of this project is also dedicated to how Offset was able to reach his success, especially with tracks like "Came A Long Way" and "How Did I Get Here". The album is also filled with an lineup full of stars, and rappers like Quavo, 21 Savage, and Gunna really showed out on their features. However, Offset is the undeniable star of the show, and his performance was one of the best of 2019.
"On Fleek" feat. Quavo
"Legacy" feat. Travis Scott, 21 Savage
2. Young Thug- "So Much Fun"
The name of this album perfectly describes what Young Thug brought to the table in 2019. FUN.
Being one of the trap pioneers, Young Thug has been one of the most consistent rappers of the decade, as he's dropped a lot of great projects over the years. with "So Much Fun" being another addition to that club. J.Cole was an executive producer for this album, and he definitely helped Thugger pick some great songs to put on his album. There are a lot of features on this project, but if I'm being honest, Young Thug washes most of them. Artists like Doe Boy, Lil Keed, and the king of features, Gunna, perform exceptionally well on this project. I will say this until the day I die, but Young Thug's voice is truly an instrument, and he shows that off on tracks like "Ecstasy", "What's The Move", and "Jumped Out The Window". The deluxe version also came with three great tracks in "Diamonds","Hop Off A Jet" and the remix to "Hot" to add to the great songs in the original version, and Young Thug was easily of 2019's best artists by a rap standpoint. There's no real theme to this project and you can probably find at least one absurd Thugger lyric per song, but this album is really about having fun, and Young Thug is truly one of the most fun artists to listen to, and he shows why on "So Much Fun".
Favorite Tracks: "I'm Scared" feat. 21 Savage, Doe Boy
"Big Tipper" feat. Lil Keed
"Diamonds" feat. Gunna, Pi'erre Bourne
1. Tyler, The Creator- IGOR
The evolution of Tyler, The Creator is something truly special.
He started with bizarre projects like "Bastard" and "Goblin", then turned in some promising projects in "Wolf" and "Cherry Bomb", really broke through in 2017 with "Flower Boy" which might encapsulate his overall artistic ability the best, and then there's "IGOR". Sure, you can argue that's it's not really a rap album, but it does have its' moments, so we're counting it as rap. First, the production on this album is unreal, as the synthesizer really made an appearance on this one. Every feature came as a surprise, which makes the listening experience so much better for me because you truly have no idea what's coming. Artists like Playboi Carti, Charlie Wilson, and Solange were some standout additions. What I really like about this album is how relatable it is, as it's centered around something we've all felt before: heartbreak. The whole album is developed around a character who's fallen in and out of love, narrated in 12 songs. In tracks like "EARFQUAKE" and "I THINK", Tyler's clearly falling for someone, but that only leads for him losing that loved one on tracks like "RUNNING OUT OF TIME" and "NEW MAGIC WAND", which brings an energy that would do well in any mosh-pit. "PUPPET" deals with the overprotective nature of a relationship and some of the negatives aspects of being treated, well, like a puppet. The ending of this album, especially "GONE, GONE/ THANK YOU" and "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?" explains the ending of the relationship and where the couple can go from there, including the possibility of being friends. Tyler really let his emotional side loose on this album, and while it came at the expense of his rapping ability, he continues to demonstrate why he's one of the most versatile and entertaining musicians of our generation. From a pure artistic standpoint, this is the best and most impressive album that was dropped not only in Tyler's discography, but in all of 2019, and it tops my list for favorite album of 2019 by a slim margin.
"NEW MAGIC WAND"
"A BOY IS A GUN*"