While not quite as prolific as in 2018, 2019 was another fruitful year for hip-hop. Personally, I listened to over 90 albums, from Lil Pump to Tyler the Creator, enjoying most along the way. After spending countless hours and far too much of my time listening to music this year, here are the 10 best hip-hop albums from 2019:
10. YBN Cordae - “The Lost Boy”
With the best debut project of any rapper in 2019, YBN Cordae sounds like a seasoned veteran on “The Lost Boy.” Lead singles “Have Mercy,” “RNP” and “Broke as F***” are particularly impressive thanks to crisp, easily digestible lyrics, and the album feels cohesive from top to bottom.
9. Denzel Curry - “ZUU”
Following up his hard-hitting 2018 album “TA13OO,” Curry’s “ZUU” is an energetic summer anthem, which seems fitting considering Curry’s hometown of Carol City, Florida. Curry’s relentless energy shines through on every track, namely “RICKY” and “BIRDZ,” making each repeated listen 29 minutes of adrenaline-inducing glory.
8. Stormzy - “Heavy Is the Head”
Perhaps the biggest name in UK hip-hop, Stormzy addresses his legacy in the aptly titled album “Heavy Is the Head.” Stormzy shows off his full range of song types on the album, from the rapid, bar-spitting intro track “Big Michael” to the introspective “Crown,” and closes with the pop hit “Vossi Bop.” Only his second full-length studio album, “Heavy Is the Head” is his most captivating project yet.
7. Young Dolph and Key Glock - “Dum and Dummer”
Memphis natives Young Dolph and Key Glock come together on “Dum and Dummer,” an album that perfectly encapsulates the trap lifestyle of drugs, guns and girls. Each of the 22 tracks on the album is loaded with with crisp 808s and thumping bass to match as the duo spin delights such as “1 Hell of a Life” and “Water on Water on Water.”
6. Dreamville - “Revenge of the Dreamers III”
Despite 35 different artists and 27 producers working on the Dreamville label’s collective album “Revenge of the Dreamers III,” it is a cohesive work where the artists bring their lyrical best. The intro track, “Under the Sun,” sets the stage with verses from Dreamville’s founder J. Cole and feature guest DaBaby, while “Down Bad,” “Wells Fargo” and “Costa Rica” give other label members JID and Bas their deserved time in the spotlight.
5. 2 Chainz - “Rap or Go to the League”
“Rap or Go to the League” showcases classic 2 Chainz elements in the bass-rattling “Statute of Limitations” and the college athlete anthem “NCAA.” Beyond his typical material, 2 Chainz takes a different route with other tracks. He reflects back on his life and mistakes he has made on “Threat 2 Society,” celebrates his successes on “Money In The Way” and remains introspective on the soulful “I’m Not Crazy, Life Is.” The contrasting styles result in one of his best albums in years.
4. DaBaby - “KIRK”
My award for best year in hip-hop has to go to DaBaby, who led the charts throughout the entirety of 2019. March saw the release of the energetic “Baby on Baby,” which featured hits like “Suge” and “Goin Baby.” It was soon followed by September’s “KIRK.” Each of the album’s 13 tracks compliment each other in substance and style, as “BOP,” “VIBEZ” and “RAW S***” showcase DaBaby’s impeccable flow and humorous bars.
3. Schoolboy Q - “Crash Talk”
With his first release in nearly three years, Schoolboy Q’s “Crash Talk” was worth the wait. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, Schoolboy Q’s vocal talent shines as he continually changes styles and makes the album an enjoyable listen. “Gang Gang,” “Floating” (featuring 21 Savage) and “Water” (featuring Lil Baby) are energy-inducing hits, while “CHopstix” (featuring Travis Scott) and “Lies” are lighter, poppier songs.
2. Offset - “Father of 4”
While Migos members Quavo and Takeoff dropped solo albums in 2018, Offset’s 2019 release “Father of 4” shines as one of the best albums of the year. On the album, a contrite Offset apologizes for his mistakes in life, especially in terms of his children, but vows to do better in the future. He teams up with wife Cardi B to show unity on “Clout,” while “Legacy” and “Tats on My Face” are classic Migos-esque songs with topics of flashy jewelry and fast cars, and both display Offset’s rapid flow and vocal talent.
1. Young Thug - “So Much Fun”
While his individual songs had skyrocketed to the top of the charts, Young Thug had never created a chart-topping album. That changed in 2019 when “So Much Fun” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 and remained in the Top 10 for 13 weeks. Hit single “The London” is included on the album, while Gunna and Young Thug combine for the album’s iconic hit “Hot.” Young Thug delivers enjoyable lyrics and flow on every verse he has, with songs “Bad Bad Bad,” “Jumped Out The Window” and “Circle of Bosses” adding to the energy and success of the album. At just over an hour, Young Thug’s quality truly shines through and makes it an enjoyable listen.
As a bonus, you can also check out my playlist with the best hip-hop from 2019: