The 20 Best Projects of 2019

All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, Alex McKillop

20. Blue M&M 4- Peewee Longway

Atlanta rap veteran Peewee Longway is still going really hard, as is evident with the release of Blue M&M 4, one his best tapes in a while. Peewee gives you exactly what you want from him on here, super smooth, bouncy flows over soulful, southern trap production. In a world where everyone seems to be copying Travis Scott or Young Thug, it’s actually very refreshing to hear someone doing some classic, to the point trap music. Fans of Longway are bound to enjoy and if you haven’t listened to him before, you should give this tape a listen.

Best Tracks: Wakanda, Fiji Water, Frost Bite, Side Chicc, Lon Lon, Fux wit Shorty

19. COLD AT NIGHT- Slayter

New York up and comer Slayter came with one of the most surprising and unique tapes of the year that may have flown under many people’s radars. I hadn’t heard about him before the G Herbo supported single, “COLD AT NIGHT.” After going to check out the tape I can say I was extremely impressed. Slayter has a very unique sound, combining singing, classic New York sounds and trap to make for a release that sounds like nothing else released this year. Slayter puts a ton of emotion into these songs as he either croons or aggressively drops bars over the haunting production. For such a lowkey artist, the quality of this tape is incredible and definitely should not be slept on.

Best Tracks: MHM, DYCKMAN, SOMETIMES I CRY, COLD AT NIGHT

18. Over It- Summer Walker

Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Atlanta singer Summer Walker really blew up off of her new album Over It. This is a really sweet, glossy R&B album with beautiful vocals, great songs and really nice production, mostly handled by London on Da Track. Summer Walker goes into stories of broken relationships and heartbreak with her lovely voice. She really shows off her talent on “Playing Games,” a somber song that is criminally short and leaves the listener wishing it would go on (there is an extended version with Bryson Tiller but honestly the original is better). This album just sounds great and features some really catchy songs. Summer Walker is supported with some serious features from 6LACK, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Usher and Drake.

Best Songs: Body, Come Thru, Me, Playing Games, Girls Need Love

17. SO EMOTIONAL- KEY!

Key does a lot with a little on SO EMOTIONAL, which has only 8 songs and runs for just about 20 minutes. Key gets in his BAG on this tape, bringing a bunch of broken hearted songs with his unconventional delivery and ridiculously over the top bars. No time is wasted on this tape, as there is little room for error on such a short project. Some of the best songs of the year are on here from one hip hop’s most underrated artists.

Best Tracks: WHY, MIAMI TOO MUCH, NATURALLY, FALL HARD

16. So Much Fun- Young Thug

After years of underselling, it seemed like Young Thug would never get the mainstream recognition he so greatly deserved. This finally changed with this summer’s So Much Fun. The title is perfect because to put it simply, Young Thug presents a bunch of fun songs for his fans to enjoy. It features the bright instrumentals and beserk delivery that have made Young Thug the legendary rapper he is today. The album is packed full of features and bangers to make for a very fun listen.

Best Tracks: Sup Mate, Hot, Surf, Bad Bad Bad, Jumped Out the Window, I’m Scared

15. Back From Hell- Goonew

Goonew’s third release of 2019, coming shortly after he was nearly fatally shot, is aptly named Back From Hell. This is the most refined tape from one of the most consistent rappers coming out of the DMV. Most of the production is handled by producer Sparkheem, who supplies Goonew with spooky, banging beats. Back From Hell also sees Goonew experimenting with smoother instrumentals on songs like “What it Was,” and “Dance Party.” Goonew’s whispered charisma is all over this tape, bringing every song so much personality and character.

Best Tracks: Back From Hell, Moesha, She Luv It, Bussin Dat Bitch

14. Netflix and Deal- 03 Greedo & Kenny Beats

Despite being behind bars for the next twenty years, 03 Greedo recorded enough before going away to keep fans satisfied with dope music. The eccentric LA auto crooner links up with one of the most in demand producers, Kenny Beats, for a really great tape. Greedo moans and wails over Kenny’s hard hitting beats, ranging from the cut throat “Paid In Full,” to the sweet “Soul Food.” Greedo’s outlandish delivery brings so much personality to the tape and the way he finds different pockets throughout each verse makes for some really awesome songs. The feature list on this is also no joke with Freddie Gibbs, Vince Staples, Maxo Kream, KEY!, OhGeesy and Buddy all making an appearance. Really great tape. Free Greedo.

Best Tracks; Paid In Full, Beg Your Pardon, Payback, Soul Food

13. Baby on Baby- DaBaby

2019 was the year of DaBaby and this album is what started it all off. After building a sizeable fanbase off of tapes like Baby Talk 5 and Blank Blank, he took the mainstream by storm with Baby on Baby. This tape works as a great introduction to DaBaby and what he’s all about. The energy on this tape is at maximum for the quick 30 minutes that DaBaby gives his listeners. He’s a very talented rapper with flawless flows; highlighting his larger than life personality. With smash hits like “Suge,” on the tracklist, Baby om Baby, was definitely the most exciting release of the year.

Best Tracks: Pony, Babysitter, Carpet Burn, Backend

12. The Unluccy Luccy Kid- Sheff G

Brooklyn rapper Sheff G had an excellent release this year with The Unluccy Luccy Kid. Sheff G brings a more melodic flow to the drill sound that is blowing up in Brooklyn right now. This tape really kills it on consistency. You can put this tape on and enjoy every song so much you will be surprised that it’s over and you didn’t even think to skip a song. Every song is catchy and quick, begging to be replayed over and over again. Sheff G really knows how to craft a great song and has really carved out his own lane, somewhere in between the melodies of A Boogie and the aggression of Pop Smoke. Overall great release.

Best Tracks: Breesh, Feel Ah Way, Flows, All My Life, Automatic, Emotionless

11. Meet the Woo- Pop Smoke

Pop Smoke took over New York this summer with possibly the best single of the year, “Welcome to the Party.” This song was like nothing anyone had ever heard with Pop Smoke’s booming gruff voice over British producer 808Melo’s dark drill production. Shortly after “Welcome to the Party,” blew up Pop Smoke capitalized on his buzz and dropped Meet the Woo, a short, precise tape loaded with the hardest songs of the year. There is no one who sounds even slightly like Pop Smoke which is what makes him and this tape such an exciting listen. There’s nothing extra about this tape, you come for Pop Smoke bangers and that’s exactly what you get. What’s not to like?

Best Tracks: Welcome to the Party, Hawk Em, Better Have Your Gun, Dior

10. Richer Than the Opps- Retch

New Jersey underground veteran, Retch dropped one of the meanest tapes this year with Richer Than the Opps, a title as disrespectful as the music on it. Retch pushes his unique voice to the extreme over dark trap beats, while dropping vicious bars about his enemies and his past. As always Retch’s flow is extremely refined and his songs are filled with hilarious one liners that give listeners an insight into how he views the world. Retch really is one of the most one of a kind and underrated rappers in the game, and though he may never receive the recognition he deserves, he continues to deliver fantastic music for his fans.

Best Tracks: Keep Bangin, Fed Up, Gang Shit, Dead Friends

9. The Plugs I Met- Benny the Butcher

Buffalo’s Benny the Butcher has turned a lot of heads over the past few years for his impressive lyricism and his hardcore hip hop sound in a world dominated by trap. The Plugs I Met is a short, vicious release from one of the best new school lyricists in the game. Benny paints rich pictures of his life as a drug dealer over haunting production to make six of the most intense songs this year. His rapping ability is really next to none in the new school and this is definitely a tape that fans of hardcore hip hop should check out. This album is packed full of bars and vivid imagery, all delivered with flawless flows and aggression, Benny enlists some super heavy weight rappers to spit with him such Pusha T and Black Thought. Despite being on the same track as legendary lyricists like them, Benny really holds his own and proves he is not to be messed with.

Best Tracks: Took the Money to the Plug’s House, 18 Wheeler, 5 to 50

8. Party Pack Vol. 2- Shoreline Mafia

Shoreline Mafia seems like the biggest group in hip hop right now that is getting no mainstream coverage. Their numbers are serious and they have built up a cult following making the best music on the West Coast at the moment. Party Pack Vol. 2 delivers exactly what it promises, a combination of West Coast and trap bangers to turn up the party. OhGeesy and Fenix Flexin come through on every song sounding extremely slick. Their flows are completely effortless, making every song very memorable. The tape even includes an unexpected feature from underground legend Curren$y on the player’s anthem “Chandelier.” It’s a tight release, with only 9 tracks, but with the quality delivered, you’re guaranteed to be more than satisfied.

Best Tracks: Wings, Fell in Love, Carribean, Chandelier

7. Freewave 3 & Days B4 3- Lucki 

2019 is the first year in Lucki’s lengthy career in which he has released two mixtapes. Though I thought about this one for quite some time, I can’t say which one is better and am just going to include both of them. Both of these tapes are fantastic and yet very different. Freewave 3 is crushingly dark, with Lucki deep in the thralls of drug addiction and broken relationships. On Days B4 3, Lucki is still not in a good place but it seems like things might be getting better. Lucki has come so far as an artist and it really shows on these tapes. Freewave 3 is the culmination of all the sounds he has been building over the past few years and Days B4 3 sees Lucki venturing off into new sounds. As always, Lucki’s flows are super unique, his lyrics are very personal and he stacks quotable on top of quotable on top of quotable. This man really is the underground Drake.

Best Tracks (Freewave 3): Politics, More Than Ever, Of Course You Won’t, 2012 Summer

Best Tracks (Days B4 3): 4 The Betta, Way 2 Rare, Husk Skit, Left 4 Dead

6. King of R&B- Jacquees

For his controversially titled second album, Jacquees enlists T.I, the man who called himself the king of the South for much of his career, to kick everything off. He acknowledges those who came before him while also confidently stating that he is now the king of R&B. It’s a perfect start to this superb album. Jacquees brings many classic aspects of R&B and incorporates them trap instrumentals and flows. It’s a traditional take on R&B updated for 2019 and it sounds great. This album is absolutely loaded with bangers, along with softer ballads to make for a very complete and satisfying record. This album will keep you coming back to not just your few favorite songs, but a large chunk of the album. With an album this good and little competition among male singers, is Jacquees correct in his claim?

Best Tracks: Come Get It, Good Lovin, Out the Ordinary, New New, Verify

5. Dum and Dummer- Young Dolph & Key Glock

Memphis rap veteran teamed up with his signee and cousin Key Glock for one of the hottest tapes of the summer. I’m not usually a fan of long projects but Dum and Dummer slaps throughout its lengthy 22 track run time. Most of the production is handled by newcomer, Bandplay who crafts banging beats with some of the hardest hitting percussion you will hear this year. The tape is a combination of solo and duo tracks which gives the tape nice variety. The combination of Dolph’s boss mentality and Glock’s youthful energy makes for a tape bursting with charisma. With the hottest duos in the game coming with banger after banger, this tape is bound to be bumping on your speakers regularly.

Best Tracks: 1 Hell of a Life, Black Loccs, It Feel Different, Water on Water on Water, Dum & Dummer

4. Ignorance is Bliss- Skepta

After four long years, Skepta finally dropped his highly anticipated follow up to Konnichiwa- Ignorance is Bliss. The UK grime legend brings some of the best rapping and production that you will hear this year. Most of the album is self produced and these beats sound absolutely amazing- from the hypnotic “Bullet From a Gun,” to the claustrophobic “No Sleep,” Skepta flexes his musical chops with a variety of alluring sounds. These beats are real ear candy. Skepta brings his usual aggressive braggadocio on many of the tracks but also shows a much more introspective side to himself than we have heard before. After a legendary album like Konnichiwa, Skepta was under immense pressure to deliver something fantastic and Ignorance is Bliss is most definitely that. It has a diverse range of sounds and moods and presents everything that we love about Skepta while also going directions he has not gone before.

Best Tracks: Bullet From a Gun, Redrum, No Sleep, Going Through It, Love Me Not

3. Sli’merre- Young Nudy & Pi’erre Bourne

Atlanta rapper Young Nudy and producer Pi’erre Bourne came up together with Pi’erre handling much of the production on Nudy’s early tapes such as Slimeball and Nudyland. With Pi’erre being one of the hottest producers right now and Nudy steadily growing his name, Sli’merre was a highly anticipated release from fans. To put it simply, this project delivered on all fronts. Pi’erre is at his best on this tape, delivering psychedelic, bassy instrumentals to match Nudy’s zany, off the wall flow. Whether it’s the beautifully subdued “Sunflower Seeds,” or the absurd energy of “Call Dat Bitch Homicide,” Nudy sounds comfortable and confident, crafting bizzarre verses and hooks that will stick in your head. As always, Nudy completely disregards the traditional rules of rapping and delivers his train of thought flow, which is surprisingly catchy. This tape is one of the most unique and lively releases of the year for fans and newcomers alike.

Best Tracks: Shotta, Extendo, Gas Station, Call Dat Bitch Homicide

2. Brandon Banks- Maxo Kream

For the past few years, Houston MC Maxo Kream has been proving himself to be one of the best lyricists in the game with projects like Maxo 187, Persona Tape and Punken. This year Maxo Kream made his major label debut with his best project to date, Brandon Banks. On this album, named after his father, Maxo brings the intricate storytelling and witty bars that fans have come to love and hones in on the quality even more. Maxo delves into topics such as prison, his upbringing, dealing with his new found success and most importantly, his tumultuous relationship with his father. He effortlessly delivers ear catching flows and bangers while packing so much content and depth into each song. Maxo enlists some incredible features on this album from the likes of ScHoolboy Q, A$AP Ferg, Megan Thee Stallion and even his brother KCG Josh, with whom he trades verses on the heartfelt banger, “Brothers.” This is a massively enjoyable album for any setting and proves that Maxo Kream is one of the most talented rappers in the game.

Best Tracks: Meet Again, 8 Figures, She Live, Pray 2 the Dope, Brothers

1. African Giant- Burna Boy

The album of the year definitely goes to Burna Boy’s African Giant. The Nigerian Afrobeat star took over the world with an album jam packed full of tunes perfect for the hot summer. Burna Boy croons his way through graceful, smooth production featuring bouncy percussion and very pleasant saxophone flourishes. This album is pretty much 19 hit songs back to back. Burna really knows how to craft an earworm that you will be singing to yourself all day long. This album is just such an entertaining experience that is guaranteed to put you in a good mood. There’s really too many good things I can say about this album so I’m just going to leave it at this- listen to this album. You won’t regret it. 

Best Songs: All of them

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