Clairo — Immunity
Genre: Pop, R&B
Clairo is the face of bedroom pop but on Immunity she manages to break free of the room that catapulted her to worldwide recognition. Delving into more upbeat production, Clairo is polished and confident, evolving her lo-fi aesthetic into a much more mainstream sound.
Rick Ross — Port of Miami 2
Rick Ross is an ageing veteran in a young man’s game. A sequel to his often overlooked debut album, Port of Miami 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel for the rapper but instead sees him sticking to his guns. Less bombastic and more introspective, Ross proves that he still has things to say after 12 years in the game.
Young Thug — So Much Fun
Genre: Rap, Trap
Rap nerds like to paint Young Thug as a living legend and for good reason. His eccentric delivery and inimitable flows have unarguably heavily influenced hip-hop of the past 5 years. So on So Much Fun, he enlists said influenced rappers as guests and proves that no one can really outperform the OG.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — Infest the Rats’ Nest
This Melbourne-based band is the musical equivalent of a swiss army knife. On Infest the Rats’ Nest, they delve into thrash metal and do an incredible job at it. The weird concept and awkwardly hilarious lyrics aside, the performances by the band are just impressive on all fronts. Fiery and aggressive, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are so obnoxiously good.
Little Brother — May the Lord Watch
A 10-year break wasn’t enough to whittle away the irresistible chemistry between the rap duo of Big Pooh and Phonte. Despite the absence of their longtime producer 9th Wonder, May the Lord Watch manages to prove that Little Brother’s brand of jazzy conscious hip-hop still very much has a place in 2019.
BROCKHAMPTON — GINGER
Genre: Rap, Pop
The All-American boy band is depressed and GINGER is their way of coping. There’re no bangers here, at least not the level of their past efforts. Instead, we’re given a toned-down, heartfelt version of BROCKHAMPTON that they’ve always hinted at but haven’t explored on.
Half•Alive — Now, Not Yet
Genre: Pop, Dance
Now, Not Yet is dance music but quirkier. Half•Alive’s brand of pop music is decidedly more inspired by indie rock than songs that rule the charts today. It’s almost entirely 80s like in its aesthetic but updated for a modern, contemporary audience.
Baby Rose — To Myself
Genre: R&B, Soul
Baby Rose is a singer that would have FLOURISHED in the 60s. Equipped with a voice that sounds like a freshly baked waffle in warm honey, To Myself feels like a record that has been weathered by life’s many obstacles. It’s an album that is confident and heartbreaking.
SAINt JHN — Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs
Genre: Trap, R&B
Saint JHN scratches an itch that fellow auto-crooner Don Toliver does, but the difference between the two is that JHN has much better pop sensibilities. He sticks to what he’s good at and barely veers away from the sound that many other trap rappers have done before him. Yet, he’s reliably consistent. With no track on here that lags or drags, being perfectly generic is fine as it is.
Rapsody — Eve
The most underrated MC in the game, on Eve, Rapsody proves that she stands head above shoulders above nearly all her contemporaries today. An album dedicated to the black women that have inspired her, Rapsody crafts a concept album that doesn’t sacrifice its sound for the sake of its message.
Lana Del Rey — Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Lana Del Rey will go down in history as pop royalty, and Norman Fucking Rockwell! will also solidify her case as one of the most poignant songwriters of this generation. Returning to the echoey, lo-fi sound of her early records, Lana’s pen is sharper than ever and her cultural commentaries are still as irresistible as it used to be.
SiR — Chasing Summer
There’s no shortage of rap-inspired R&B in 2019, in fact, there’s too much of it. Yet, SiR’s Chasing Summer feels like a breath of fresh air despite being cut from the same cloth as its contemporaries. It’s smooth and suave, but more importantly, it’s just very, very good.
The Alchemist — Yacht Rock 2
At this point, Alchemist has nothing left to prove in his already illustrious career. On Yacht Rock 2, he just provides more of the usual. Incredibly luxurious beats paired with impeccable rapping from a variety of indie rappers, there’s nothing more you could ask for from the legendary producer.
G Flip — About Us
Hailing from Melbourne, G Flip’s debut is a masterclass of pop-rock that’s reminiscent of the inescapable sound that ruled the charts in the early 2000s. About Us is youthful, brash and, ultimately, heartwarming. It’s one of the best debut albums of the year.