1. Igor by Tyler, the Creator
Tyler does not stop surprising us. He’s had quite an evolution since his Bastard days. Igor is in a lane of its own and is a generational album. It’s a career defining album that showcases his superb and idiosyncratic production style, his reflective songwriting and many great songs. The mixing of the album is intentionally sloppy but works beautifully. His features are fitting and not overbearing.
2. thank u, next by Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has had a chaotic couple of years, but she is at the top of the game right now. This record is pop but doesn’t sound generic. The songwriting is strong, the
production is tight and the album feels cohesive.
3. uknowhatimsayin¿ by Danny Brown
This album collides the forces of two hip-hop legends, Q-Tip and Danny Brown, together to produce one of the best albums of the year. Danny Brown maintains his wild originality but is a bit more cool. He sounds more
relaxed and this records feels therapeutic. “Best Life” has a similar message to "YOLO" but is nowhere near as cheessy.
4. Jesus is King by Kanye West
Is this a hip-hop album? Is this a gospel album? Does it matter? Kanye sounds reborn on Jesus is King but still has that "it" factor that makes him stand out. The Sunday Service Choir carries the weight on this album, but doesn’t overshadow Kanye’s passionate delivery of mostly religiously-related lyrics. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy this album; it’s a standout record regardless.
5. Bandana by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
Bandana is the hardest album to come out in 2019. Madlib is an absolute monster behind the boards. His beats perfectly complement Freddie Gibbs’ fast, furious lyrical onslaught. This album shows that both artists are on the top of their game and they’re both veterans. The samples are on point, the raps are on point, the features are on point. It's one of the best hip-hop records in recent memory.
6. Revenge of the Dreamers III by Dreamville and Various Artists
It seems like everybody who’s somebody in hip-hop showed up for the making of this collaborative project that truly is a dream for hip-hop heads. Each artist outshines each other but everyone is doing it for the love.
7. Flamagra by Flying Lotus
Travelling to outer space must feel like listening to a Flying Lotus album. This behemoth of an album, with trippy album artwork, is an epic. It’s a musical journey that covers funk, hip-hop, pop, video game soundtracks, jazz and more. This 27-song album has something for everyone; if you’re not already a Flying Lotus fan. Listening to this album might just make you one.
8. Tears of Joy by MIKE
MIKE is partially responsible for influencing the new lo-fi, gritty, and choppy style Earl Sweatshirt used on Some Rap Songs. MIKE’s album slipped on the radar this year but should not be overlooked. It’s a wonderfully produced album that features a unique sounding recording and rapping style.
9. WWCD by Griselda
Although WWCD (What Would Chinegun Do?) just dropped, I selected it because it combines Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine. All three members of Griselda records released albums this year that could easily make my top 10 list.
10. CASE STUDY 01 by Daniel Caesar
Case Study 01 made me an instant Daniel Caesar fan for life. His voice is reminiscent of Frank Ocean and Leon Bridges, yet it feels brand new. The opening sequence of the album is spectacular, especially “CYANIDE.”
11. When I Get Home by Solange
This album screams originality and genuinely straight up amazing art. Solange’s voice soars like an angel and the production on this masterpiece is thrilling. Solange handles most of the production, and When I Get Home features many exciting collaborators like Pharrell, Tyler, the Creator, Gucci Mane and Playboi Carti.
12. LEGACY! LEGACY! By Jamila Woods
Jamila Woods is one of the most exciting new voices in R&B. She reminds me of SZA, Janelle Monae and Jorja Smith. The tracks on this album all pay homage to Woods’ heros.
13. PSYCHODRAMA by Dave
The best grime album to come out of 2019 and one of the best albums of the year period. Dave’s PSYCHODRAMA is full of tough beats, master storytelling and brutal honesty.