I was planning on writing your typical ‘Top albums of 2019’ list but this year was garbage when it came to music. Big names like Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna took the year off and everyone who did drop projects released some real mid. Get these wack ass B-sides OUT of my ears.
So instead of pretending as if I’ve listened to any of Lizzo’s music, let’s instead highlight the few projects that should be required listening to anyone that considers themselves a fan of music. Which should be everyone. How do people exist that don’t like music? Who hurt you?
But anyway, here are 10 albums of 2019 you NEED to listen to:
Honorable Mention: 2 Chainz – Rap Or Go To The League
Every 2 Chainz album feels like it came out in 2017 so I forgot that Rap Or Go To The League was released this year. But that album gets better every time I go back and listen to it. This would be on the list as opposed to just an honorable mention but I didn’t want to make this a Top 16 list because no one would click on it.
1. Danny Brown – U Know What I’m Sayin?
Danny Brown’s unorthodox voice spitting over unorthodox beats. Why do I need to say more words here? In a year where the superstars of rap genuinely remained silent, outside of Kanye West exploiting religion to sell sweatshirts to Christians, we needed guys like Danny Brown to step up and fill the void.
2. Big Thief – Two Hands
There’s a lot of celebration for Big Thief’s album ‘UFOF’, and it’s well deserved. That was one of the best albums for sure. But then a few months later they dropped Two Hands and you need to put UFOF down and turn up Two Hands which is astronomically better.
Two dope albums in one year??! Your fav could never.
3. Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs
Jessica Pratt’s voice sounds like a hallucination that comes to you when you’ve been stranded on a deserted island for a week with no food and you start seeing ghosts. I feel like her music should be playing as Mary Tyler Moore throws her hat in the air standing in the middle of Colombus Square Park. (I know the Mary Tyler Moore Show takes place in Minnesota but New York over everything).
4. Stella Donnely – Beware Of The Dogs
Australian singer/songwriters like Courtney Barnett and Stella Donnelly have unique abilities to write sort of stream of consciousness lyrics that present complicated ideas in such precise easily digestible terms.
Stella bounces from a heartfelt song about her friend being a rape victim to a ballad about her frustrations about the government seamlessly. This album is probably one song too long but now I’m just getting nitpicky because I haven’t said anything negative in awhile and I don’t know who I am anymore.
5. Benny The Butcher – The Plugs I Met
The Plugs I Met made me throw my Timbs on with the Knicks Starter jacket ready to pickpocket tourists in Times Square.
Also I have no idea what Jadakiss meant when he started his verse on Sunday School with “It’s a shame what we did to the highway” but it was fire and the perfect soundtrack to a home invasion. Do not make eye contact with me when 5 To 50 comes on. There WILL be a skirmish.
6. Rico Nasty – Anger Management
[Rico Nasty voice] KENNYYYYY.
Kenny Beats is one of the best producers in the game right now seemingly always working with the best young rappers out including Rico Nasty whose beat tracks are thanks to Kenny. I compare Rico and Kenny’s musical relationship to Metro Boomin and 21 Savage. They both bring out the best in one another.
7. Julia Jacklin – Crushing
There is something incredibly dope about hearing a young woman discover her own power and reclaim her body back after a breakup. Julia follows the footsteps of her fellow Australian mates and writes very concise lyrics. She’s also a far better singer than those women and dropped a damn near perfect album.
8. Crumb – Jinx
Full disclosure: Jinx is my favorite album of the year and was essentially the soundtrack of my 2019. Moody jazzy anxiety music. My life. The way Lila Ramani, the lead singer of Crumb, repeats lines as if she’s chanting them directly to you is mesmerizing
“This city is dense and it makes me tense”. Yo, SAME.
9. MIKE – Tears of Joy
MIKE mumbles poems over soul beats. I shouldn’t have to sell this album any further but I’ll add that Tears of Joy has an emotional layer as MIKE lost his mother this year. Tears of Joy ends with a voicemail MIKE’s mom sent him before her passing. That shit is emotional as hell.
“My son, I love you so much. You are such a golden child. My blessed boy. You shall be blessed forever. Ever.” My heart. *shakes fist at sky* DAMN YOU, MIKE.
10. Florist – Emily Alone
Back-to-back albums from artists who lost their moms this year. Let’s get the fuck out of 2019 immediately before someone else gets hurt. Mad trauma.
Emily Sprague is the lead singer of the band Florist and Emily Alone is her complete solo project in which she wrote every song, played every instrument and produced the entire album herself and you can feel that intimacy from the second you hit play on track one.
11. Action Bronson – Lamb Over Rice
Sometimes I forget why Action Bronson is popular. Vice has an entire channel dedicated to Action Bronson TV shows that aren’t interesting or funny yet he continues to be in my face. I can’t even watch the 5-hour long Irishman movie on Netflix without seeing Bronson.
And then he drops this album with The Alchemist and I’m quickly reminded that he can rap when he’s not pretending to be a chef.
Oh, and Alchemist outrapped him. Just throwing that out there. His producer had better bars. Something to think about.
12.Rosie Lowe – Yu
I have NO idea how Rosie Lowe got a Jay Electronica verse but that alone is enough to get on this list.
13. Cate Le Bon & Bradford Cox – Myths 004
Cate Le Bon had one of the best solo albums of 2019 and Bradford Cox, the lead singer of Deerhunter, also put out a great album with his band, but the two of them quietly dropped a joint project suuuuper under the radar.
First, it will ALWAYS be cool finding out that two artists you like are like, good friends but it’s next level exciting when they actually work together especially in this situation with Cox being from Atlanta and Le Bon being from the made up country ‘Wales’ that I only hear about when Christian Bale is on a press tour.
14. Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet
Guru passed away 10 years ago but somehow these new unreleased bars sound like they were recorded a month ago. Gang Starr truly made timeless music. Mozart. Michael Jackson. DJ Premier. That is the Mount Rushmore. I know there are four faces on Mount Rushmore and I only gave three names. Put DJ Premier up there twice.
15.Earl Sweatshirt – Feet of Clay
I won’t pretend as if I’m cool with Earl releasing a 7 song 15-minutes album. Thanks for nothing, dick. The problem with such a short album is that one bad song can sour the whole project but I’m a big enough Earl fan to take this unfair treatment. I’m in an abusive relationship with this rapper.