I’m forever in discover mode, always looking for the next record that moves me and 2019 proved no different. I uncovered an entireley brilliant bunch of musical creations across the eve of this new decade we’re entering. As we engage the era of the playlist in it’s prime these fifty albums and some honorable mentions garnered the majority of my leisurely listening time last year. This is my honest break down of what I was rocking with most in 2019. Every one of these albums caught my attention in a positive way and I believe each and every one of them deserves some shine. It’s a blessing to have this much fantastic music to take in & each and every one of the artists on this list bring something unique to the table. Hopefully you can discover something new yourself as you dive into the 50 Albums That Invaded My Playlist In 2019.
50. SiR - “Chasing Summer”
Last but not least, TDE’s R&B prodigy SiR had me attentive throughout “Chasing Summer”. I found myself coming back to the album throughout the year. “You Can’t Save Me” & “Hair Down” feat. Kendrick Lamar especially got some playlist time in 2019.
49. Taylor Bennet - “The American Reject”
An enjoyable eight records which happened to lead to my discovery of singer Bianca Shaw who grabbed my attention on “Kids N the Sky”. Taylor Bennett gives us a shorter project than his brother who stops by on “No One Outside’ but Taylor shows his own talents throughout “The American Reject”.
48. Rich Brian - “The Sailor”
One of the wildest music videos I watched in 2019 “Yellow” came from Rich Brian’s eccentric release “The Sailor”. A guest spot from RZA and a direction I’m not afraid so say I didn’t see coming, Rich Brian switches his style up and delivers a more matured and interesting offering than some of his previous music may have hinted at.
47. Shane Eagle - “Dark Moon Flower”
I didn’t get to spend as much time with this album as I’ve wanted to so far, but I’ve got a few solid listens in and that was enough to invade my playlist just enough to make the cut. No doubt if more time had been spent with this it’s surely could’ve ranked higher. It’s mellow with some darker tones but continues to give definition to Shane Eagle’s creations.
46. Baybro - “No One Is Coming “ EP
All twenty two minutes of “No One Is Coming” is worth its value in time across the brief EP. A solid introduction for those first discovering Baybro who gives off TDE vibes. “2 A.M.” dives deep as Baybro tries breaking down his thoughts, and further more on the standout “Unconditionally” feat. Booster & KO8iE.
45. Murs & 9th Wonder - “Brighter Daze”
One of two Murs & 9th Wonder combo albums on this years list. This was the less exciting of the two for me, but by no means is that a diss to “Brighter Daze”. When these two join forces I’m all ears and this effort is no different. “How to Rob With Rob” was my pick here.
44. Beware - “Learning Together 2”
The only strictly instrumental release on my list, Beware kept extremely busy throughout 2019 but one particular release had me submersed. “Learning Together 2” is a lo-fi spectacle perfect for throwing on in the background for smooth vibes on a lazy day.
43. Schoolboy Q - “Crash Talk”
The “Tales” on this album hit hard, and TDE’s Schoolboy Q gave us his fifth album “Crash Talk”. It’s packed with persona, energy, that provides hype but is serious when it needs to be.
42. Marlon Craft - “Funhouse Mirror”
I caught wind of Marlon Craft from a feature he had with Masta Ace and than an appearance soon after on Danny Brown’s interview show Danny’s House. In the end, my interest was peaked and I was led to “Funhouse Mirror”. Another emcee of the new school to keep an eye on.
41. Snoop Dogg - “I Want To Thank Me”
Go ahead and thank yourself Snoop Dogg. Well deserved to say the least across a storied career that still remains as strong as ever. There was a few features that were lack luster to me but my favorite songs on the album were the solo efforts like “Let Bygones Be Bygones” & “Focused”.
40. 2 Chainz - “Rap or Go to the League”
“Threat To Society” stood out to me, which production wise was more in my realm. However “Rap or Go to the League” was a enjoyable record that surprised me. 2 Chainz isn’t the most intricate, technical rapper, but he doesn’t need to be. This was a fun listen with some deeper moments.
39. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal - “Hiding Places”
I was late to the game on this discovery, a sleeper that gained ground fast. I never had heard of either of these two but I’m glad I stumbled across “Hiding Places”. It has a whole Run The Jewels sort of vibe to it but with a flair of it’s own. The production is spacey and out there & is prime for the verbiage being carried over it.
38. Travis Thompson - “Reckless Endangerment”
As an emcee Travis Thompson has found his sound and perfected it. His lyricism, storytelling, and beat selection are all solid & “Reckless Endangerment” gives us the most cohesive representation of the emcee to date. I’ll be excited to see where future endeavors lead as he develops his style further.
37. Joell Ortiz - “Monday”
“Monday” was one of the more relatable albums for me in 2019. A lot of the subjects touched on this album had the dad me like ahh yeah, that! “Anxiety”, “Screens”, & especially “Learn You”feat. Big K.R.I.T. showed me a version of Joell Ortiz I definitely want to hear more from.
36. People Under The Stairs - “Sincerely, The P”
A grand exit? The hip-hop group announced their final hoorah and bowed out with grace in this honorable goodbye. An album that feels like a blast from the past, yet timeless. All good things come to an end, and if this is truly the last People Under The Stairs release it’s a respectable close.
35. NF - “The Search”
The Michigan rapper had quite the successful 2019. “The Search” has been a major success for NF, that album definitely has its radio friendly moments, but there are often personal lyrics that give us a deeper insight into the artist’s life. Technically NF is able to tackle a variety of flows & speed in his raps well maintaining his message.
34. Blu & Oh No - “A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night”
My favorite project from Blu since Below The Heavens. A new producer pairing with Oh No. More features than maybe necessary but I still thoroughly enjoyed this album. “It Never Rains in South L.A.” was that standout for me here.
33. Waterr & Ty Farris - “Bulls Vs Pistons”
One of the greatest basketball rivalries of all time paralleled by two emcees from their respective cities. Waterr & Ty Farris bridge Chicago & Detroit. It’s bars over BS for sure, and the contrast here is enough to give two sides but together these two provide top notch lyrical scrimmage with “Bulls Vs Pistons”.
32. Murs & 9th Wonder - “The Iliad Is Dead And the Odyssey Is Over”
It was a busy year for Murs & 9th Wonder but this was my favorite result of the rapper/producer combination in 2019. It’s was the more adventurous project in my eyes. I never would have thought one of my favorite songs on an album would be titled “Ga$ Station Gucci Belt”. The Living Legend continued to cement his stories throughout the dawn of this new decade.
31. Anderson .Paak - “Ventura”
An opener donned with an incredible Andre 3000 verse kicks off another solid effort from Anderson .Paak. Created the same time as Oxnard but released a few moths after. I prefer Oxnard but that is a personal preference. There’s less energy here than the previous but it’s calmness is executed well.
30. Jonnie Morris - “Jonnie, Be Good” EP
At only six records it packs its punch with quality over quantity. The Detroit emcee Jonnie Morris follows up 2018’s critically acclaimed “It’s All Beautiful and All Good” with a short but potent EP. “You Can’t Stop Me” was a top song for me in 2019. Looking forward to what’s coming in 2020!
29. Earthgang - “Mirrorland”
The third proper album slid in shortly after ROTD III to add fuel to Dreamville’s powerful 2019 run. “Swivel” had me pressing repeat. “Blue Moon” & “This Side” as well. The delivery of EARTHGANG’s lyrical journeys creates a unique vibe that is ever changing over “Mirrorland” in a good way.
28. Ketch P - “Gift Certificate"
Back from hiatus the polished emcee brushed his shoulders off with fifteen killer cuts for your listening pleasure. Ketch P undeniably has bars, and we are definitely gifted with a slew of bangers here. “Middle Finger Trophies” feat. Bubba Rock & Rim, “Top 10’s & Buff’s”, & “Death Soup” feat. Guilty Simpson & Paradime for starters on another terrific release from the Middle Finger Music camp.
27. Chance The Rapper - “The Big Day"
It’s a bigger sound that Chance has developed into as an artist. A sound that took a moment to grow on me from what I was used to from previous efforts. I’m glad I let it soak in, because the album is packed full of shining moments including “Roo” where he collaborates with his brother Taylor Bennett on one powerful family record that stood out.
26. Danny Brown - “uknowhatimsayin”
A fifth full length effort from another one of Detroit’s heavy hitters Danny Brown. Working alongside Q-Tip “uknowhatimsayin” is a combination proven well. “Best Life” & “3 Tearz” feat. Run The Jewels garnered a lot of airtime for me and were my albums top picks.
25. Dreamville & J. Cole - “Revenge of The Dreamers III”
A special ten day recording session in January 2019 birthed a culmination of art from it’s laundry list of talented artists and emcees. “Revenge of The Dreamers III” is the brainchild of J. Cole & Dreamville. For a ten day session of creation we are treated to an interesting variety of voices, some whom I was familiar, and some fresh to my ears. There were moments I didn’t care for, but when it’s on, it’s on & was overall excellent.
24. Pouya - “The South Got Something To Say”
This guy brings a different sort of energy to the table, songs like “I’m Alive” get stuck inside your head, in an album that has a solid chunk of catchy moments. Pouya is definitely in a zone of his own, but he has made that zone his own. He delivers an album that was very enjoyable, in a mood raps sort of way. Interested to hear where he goes next.
23. Finale - “62”
Ten years after his 2009 critically acclaimed debut “ A Pipe Dream And A Promise” Finale is still here delivering some of the finest penmanship & verbal deliveries. Longevity is rarely achieved in hip-hop but “62” proves ten years later that not only is Finale still here, he’s here to stay. “Bad Apple Syndrome”….”F.A.M.I.L.Y.”…. nah just go listen to this incredible work of art before Finale plucks it away?! Heavy Rotation.
22. Benny The Butcher - “The Plugs I Met”
Short and to the RAP. This man can rap. Undeniable. This short package of seven delivers yet another Griselda project on the list. What can I say, they invaded my playlists all year long and “The Plugs I Met” although short is not understated. Every feature a powerhouse from Black Thought to Pusha T. It’s no wonder the Griselda team been on everyones timelines.
21. Atmosphere - “Whenever”
Number Ten. The tenth album from Rhymesayers founders Slug & Ant more known as the underground hip-hop group Atmosphere that has built a lasting legacy over the years. “Whenever” is the grown man rap we’ve come to know Slug for, and he is as much of himself as ever all over “Whenever”. This is as evident as ever on the standout song for me “Postal Lady”. Ten albums later, they still got it!
20. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - “Bandana”
I don’t want to hear anybody’s excuses anymore after listening to “Bandana”, this man Madlib produced this thing from his phone. The future is a crazy place but veteran producer laces Freddie Gibbs with an exceptional batch of production and features. “Situations” & “Education” feat. Yasiin Bey & Black Thought were my favorite records across this gem.
19. Valid - “Mihajlo”
Valid has one of the hardest work ethic’s in Detroit hip-hop, well, hip-hop in general. Constantly delivering, “Mihajlo” delivers a personal, developed, and definitive album for Valid. Songs like “Bottled” feat. Elzhi & Jessica Care Moore and “Old Tale” feat. Aaron Taylor supply standout moments in an album packed with quality music and storytelling. Valid has further stapled his name in the books of Detroit hip-hop.
18. Westside Gunn - “Flygod is an Awesome God”
It was the year of Griselda and the individual members each had their multiple shining moments splattered everywhere this year. “Flygod is an Awesome God” is a jewel moment for those addicted to raw bars in your face street rap that Westside Gunn devours whenever applicable. Not to mention production from Alchemist, Daringer, Evidence, and Madlib provide backdrops that drive imagery with Gunn’s sharp slicing vernacular.
17. Pete Rock & Skyzoo - “Retropoliton”
A masterful pairing of legendary producer Pete Rock and Brooklyn emcee Skyzoo. I’ll be honest before this project I’ve kinda slept on Skyzoo outside of a few features that made me familiar. Damn, I’m awake now. “Retropoliton” is the rapper/producer combination that rarely arrives, and every so often allows an emcee to breath verbiage in spectacular fashion.
16. Common - “Let Love”
The veteran emcee settles into a sound of his own that breathes years of becoming as “Let Love” gives us the Common we’ve known to well, love. An emcee of the truest form who breathes poetry into his flows over soulful vibes perfect for a lazy afternoon. I had a chance to catch Common live in Detroit soon after this release and the presence this man possesses on stage is powerful. This album was powerful.
15. Savior Monroe - “Lost Innocence Awakening”
“I told my past self youngin’ don’t lose yourself….” opens up “Past Self” one of my overall favorite records of the year. Savior Monroe encapsulates what storytelling is over this journey of a record that struck me in awe. The Mark Cooper produced “Never Satisfied” is another standout among many on this concept masterpiece.
14. Nolan The Ninja - “Sportee”
“Sportee” is what I envision old school hip-hop heads praying one when they wish for more music. Nolan The Ninja is one of the most fierce Detroit emcees and his knack for boom-bap vibes is fine tuned and delivered with precision. Standout records for me were “Oranges” feat. Jaye Prime & “Morals” feat. Boog Brown & Charlie Smarts.
13. Boogie - “Everything’s For Sale”
I’m not going to lie, when I first discovered Boogie I instantly thought he was about transition into mega-stardom. His sing-song delivery and deep subject matter had a certain uniqueness to them and the music videos I had witnessed of his prior are living breathing messages. Yet, this album felt overlooked to me which is quite alright, let’s give this greatness some time to grow. I for one consumed “Everything’s for Sale” often last year & anticipate the future of Boogie’s musical endeavors.
12. Rapsody - “Eve”
It was one hell of a year for Rapsody. Delivering her second studio album with “Eve” and a track-list donning the names of the woman who inspire her she cemented her placed in hip-hop in 2019. This was a definitive album for Rapsody, her beat selection is top notch here, her bars are heavy hitting, and the minimal features allow for her to shine bright with this outstanding album.
11. Brother Ali - “Secrets & Escapes”
When I heard an Evidence produced Brother Ali album dropped the fanboy inside me did a little dance. It wasn’t busting moves for no good reason either as Brother Ali delivers my favorite album of his since his debut “Shadows On The Sun”. Add a standout verse from Pharaohe Monch, among other great appearances across production the pairs perfectly with Ali’s artistry.
10. Mark Cooper - “The Allspark”
Mark Cooper, the undisputed leader of Nerdcore rap in the Detroit area is back as Player 1 in this epic continuation of his story. Follow along on this nostalgic journey to discover “The Allspark“. No impersonations here, real voice actors, immense production, & a story that will have you lost inside it. This isn’t a game to stop playing though, “The Allspark” consumed it’s fair share of ear time for this hip-hop enthusiast right here!
9. AGiLE SOCiETY - “GOLDEN RATiO”
Melodic, musical, and packed with all sorts of depth. AGiLE SOCiETY’s first release, a culmination of the artistry, mind, vocals, & production of JRGotTheHiTS & AiRiN ARTiSAN is a mega powerful hello. A living, breathing story of golden proportions “GOLDEN RATiO” was the most unique release of the year for me. Excellent features arrive from the beginning with standout verses from T-Henn, KO8iE, & VA88.”Golden Child” is mine and both my sons favorite cut from the album.
8. Gang Starr - “One of the Best Yet”
It’s as if DJ Premier is supplying us with a time machine into the past with “One Of The Best Yet“. Fifteen years after losing a legend Guru, we get to hear his voice as if he was still here with us. This album crafted by Gang Starr counterpart DJ Premier is a fitting celebration of one of the most talented emcees and hip-hop producer/rapper combo’s ever. It sounds as timeless as ever, and provides a Gang Starr album in 2019 in honorable fashion.
7. Clear Soul Forces - “Still”
Clear Soul Forces (Noveliss, L.A.Z., E-Fav, and Ilajide) stormed into 2019 right out the gate, and “Still” caught my attention all year long. I found myself coming back to it throughout the year. The talented Detroit super group adds to their growing catalog of consistent quality music & “Still” is one of the best albums out this year.
6. Griselda - “WWCD”
Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher and producer Daringer. Meet Griselda. If you were alive in 2019, listen to hip-hop or follow it on any basis you must have been sleeping if you didn’t come across one of those names last year. A movement that has led to this Shady Records debut “WWCD“. A bar heavy, raw hip-hop, mega-group effort that spits out quotable on quotable with sharp backdrops orchestrating it all.
5. Black Milk - “DiVE”
Making my list for the second year straight after last years “Fever” is another outstanding piece of work from producer/rapper Black Milk. The opening gem “Save Yourself” provides powerful entry into eleven songs that are feverishly dope. This time around though it’s all about “DiVE“, a hip-hop treat worthy of diving into.
4. Little Brother - “May The Lord Watch”
Nine years. That’s how long it had been since Phonte, Big Pooh, & 9th Wonder had last joined forces for an album as Little Brother. The nine years was worth it in the end. “Picture This” was on repeat, repeat! “Everything” on this album but song itself and well, everything, is a recollection of the Little Brother sound we know, slightly updated, but polished as ever in this outstanding return destined for playlist real estate.
3. YBN Cordae - “The Lost Boy”
Another newcomer YBN Cordae caught me by surprise with “The Lost Boy“. I honestly hadn’t really heard of him before this album. I got pulled in by “Bad Idea” featuring Chance The Rapper and was drawn in further. I wasn’t disappointed in my findings, and the Grammy nominated “The Lost Boy” debut from rapper YBN Cordae is not a common matter. A versatile album shows multiples styles from straight up bangers to more calm storytelling approaches. A terrific first outing.
2. Kota The Friend - “Foto”
The wonderful thing about 2019 for me was the discovery of quite a few new artists to my listening realm. Kota the Friend was one of such said artists. “Foto” was a vibe all of it’s own. Lyrical, personal at times, and even introspective, all driven by production that comes off like lo-fi meets up-beat but maybe somewhere in the middle? “Birdie, Sedona, & Bagel’s” are my three favorites off an album that has me anxious to see where Kota the Friend leads us with future projects. Sometimes it’s just about how the music makes you feel when you hear it, and I feel like listening to this picture over and over.
( ALBUM OF THE YEAR ) 1. Apollo Brown - “Sincerely, Detroit”
A defining moment for Detroit hip-hop in an era of excellence from a city and surrounding area packed full of pen sharp, bar-packed, substance filled, authentic raps that breathe life into the listeners headphones. Producer Apollo Brown accomplished something extremely special when he combined fifty plus of Detroit’s finest talents for a project that shines at every audio angle. Each record across this compilation style album brings a slight twist, a new sound, yet in-between it’s differences it also assembles together for the perfect song to song vibes when played through. It definitely invaded my playlist like no other release this year. “God Help Me” was also my most played record of the year featuring Black Milk, Ketchphraze, & DJ Los. That’s not discounting any other songs across “Sincerely, Detroit” at all. This is a rare adventure, for I can not recall or remember hearing an album with fifty plus emcee’s on it where I can’t say there’s a song I didn’t like. Stand-out verses from Trick Trick, Elzhi, Kid Vishis, VStylez, Ty Farris, Valid, and many more. Let’s be real, Apollo Brown’s masterpiece of Detroit’s illest will still be invading my playlist for 2020 and beyond.
Just 50 was hard. These are five albums that I had either close to the cut or just needed a little more listening time with. I still believe these projects deserve shine this year!
VStylez - Thornton Melon (Vinyl Edition)
I’ll be listening to “Thornton Melon” for years to come and well the vinyl edition added some additional greatness it was ranked very highly on last years list. As so being originally released in 2018, the vinyl specialties still have me providing an honorable mention in 2019.
38 Spesh - 1994
A trip down memory lane in hip-hop form, and an enjoyable culmination of artists span the project.
Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
My favorite non hip-hop album of 2019. I don’t care what anyone says this album was genius to me and I can’t wait to hear more.
Tech N9ne- N9na
As often as he drops new music I continue to find myself enjoying his releases & N9na was no exception.
Quelle Chris - Guns
Not afraid of of a variety of styles and subjects “Guns” is a deep, yet powerful record amassed with quality records front to back.
Each and every project on this list including the honorable mentions impacted me musically in some way or another in the past year. You may agree or disagree with some of my selection, you may even question some of my omissions, but even I have a rough time ranking & building this list amongst a massive amount of quality releases to sift through. If there is anything you think I’ve missed or could recommend for a listen let me know in the comments below. Salute to all the hard working artists out there pushing to the next level, and thank you for tuning into my top fifty break-down. – COMMi$$ION
COMMi$$ION (Joe Commisso) has spent half his life embedded in hip-hop one way or another & is driven towards making a positive impact on the art form any way he can contribute. From early beginnings, he entered the Detroit hip-hop scene as a graphic artist designing for a variety of local rappers. All this well secretly honing his own records behind the scene & building a network of driven artists like him by his side to develop their sounds. Now he currently heads the web side of things for DetroitRap.com as Chief Editor, releases his own music, & continues to provide graphic services for the community.
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