My top 50 albums of the year

BeFunky-collage.jpgI listened to a lot of music this year. Over 2500 hours to be precise. In case you’re wondering that’s over 150,000 minutes of music in just one year. That’s not bragging, by the way, I just wanted to really sell the fact that I listened to a lot of music this year.

Anywho, because of this, I’m not doing a top ten this year. No, I am doing a top 50 instead! Keep in mind these are only the albums I found worth talking about. I listened to way more than just this, but these were the best that came out this year. In my opinion, of course. The descriptions will begin as vague and short but as the list narrows trust me they get a lot more long-winded.

Now, with no honorable mentions needed, let’s get into the list.


50. Arizona Baby – Kevin Abstract (Hip-Hop/Pop/Alt R&B)

Image result for arizona babyBumpy at times but incredibly bold for Abstract to be so vulnerable.

49. The Fall of Hobo Johnson – Hobo Johnson (Spoken Word/Hip-Hop)

Image result for the fall of hobo johnsonHobo Johnson repackages the sound he’s worked to pioneer and it sounds pretty good.

48. Sonic Citadel – Lightning Bolt (Noise Rock)

Image result for sonic citadel lightning boltChaotic, high-octane, and every other adjective that can possibly mean neurotic.

47. Brandon Banks – Maxo Kream (Hip-Hop/Trap)

Image result for brandon banks album coverA little forgettable but nothing short of unique.

46. Heaven Surrounds You – Surf Curse (Indie Rock)

Image result for heaven surrounds you album coverSurf Curse has progressively gotten more introspective and this record really shows that.

45. JACKBOYS – JACKBOYS (Trap)

Image result for jackboys cover artA fun tape further exacerbating the chaotic Cactus Jack persona.

44. 1000 gecs – 100 gecs (Pop/Nightcore/Experimental)

Image result for 1000 gecsStrangely genius, taking every pop convention, turning it on its head and then smashing it with a hammer.

43. A Quiet Farewell, 2016-2018 – Slauson Malone (Experimental Hip-Hop)

Image result for a quiet farewellUnsympathetic and a little too obsessed with itself to be considered greater. No matter what it’s still a fine record and deserves a close inspection.

42. Life After – Palace (Indie Rock)

Image result for life after palaceAn absolutly beautiful record with lush production and vocals. Can never go wrong with Palace.

41. Flamagara – Flying Lotus (Hip-Hop)

Image result for flamagraThis has David Lynch in it. Need I say more? Flying Lotus is a genius producer.

40. Guns – Quelle Chris (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for guns quelle chrisAn incredibly blunt message about the use of guns in America disguised as a commercial rap album.

39. The Decalogue – Sufjan Stevens & Timo Andres (Piano)

Image result for the decalogue sufjan stevensThis record which consists of only piano music and no vocals said more than most other records did this year.

38. Ginger – BROCKHAMPTON (Pop/Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for ginger brockhamptonBROCKHAMPTON finally came out with a good record after the failure of iridescence. Thanks guys!

37. Deceiver – DIIV (Shoegaze)

Image result for diiv deceiver album coverThis album is deceivingly great. I’m so sorry. Just go listen do it.

36. Hi, This is Flume – Flume (Electronic/Wonky)

Image result for hi this is flume album coverFlume proves once again he’s one of the most creative producers living.

35. HAN – Berhana (R&B)

Image result for han berhanaA flight through the creative mind of Berhana. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I applaud that.

34. The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for the lost boy album coverAmazingly strong debut record. I cannot wait for what’s next. YBN Cordae is the lyrical rap revivalist we needed.

33. ZUU – Denzel Curry (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for zuu album coverZUU felt like an album of strange b-sides and it was still amazing. Denzel Curry never ceases to impress.

32. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo (Pop Soul)

Image result for lizzo cuz i love you album coverSome of the strongest vocal performances came from Lizzo this year. While I do find this record a little preachy at times I think it fits well.

31. Shea Butter Baby – Ari Lennox (R&B)

Image result for ari lennox shea butter baby album coverAri Lennox blends a delicate story of womanhood with her smooth vocals and charismatic instrumentals. Easily one of the smoothest records of 2019.

30. MIRRORLAND – Earthgang (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for earthgang mirrorland album coverEarthgang is one of the best Hip-Hop duos in the industry right now. The record never loses its charm and sticks to what the gang knows best.

29. IGOR – Tyler, the Creator (Hip-Hop/Neo-Soul)

Image result for igor tyler the creator album coverTyler’s newest effort didn’t resonate with me as much as it did with the masses but I still think its a very well made record with some standout tracks to boot.

28. Three Originals – Tobe Nwigwe (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for tobe nwigwe three originalsSkip the 40-minute podcast at the end and you’ve got the quintessential rap record.

27. The Sailor – Rich Brian (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for the sailor rich brianOne of the best showcases of personal growth ever put to music. Incredibly mature (except when it’s not).

26. May The Lord Watch – Little Brother (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for may the lord watchThe Hip-Hop duo return after a long hiatus to drop a record that reminds everyone of Hip-Hop’s more chill side. Some of the interludes are a bit heavy-handed but it’s a fine record.

25. Jesus is Born – Sunday Service Choir (Gospel)

Image result for jesus is born sunday service albumExceptionally raw and unrelenting in its message. This record truly surprised me with how far it really went to make its point.

24. Anger Management – Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for anger management ricoRico Nasty likes to scream. Screaming is coincidentally one the things she does best! Without a doubt one of the best female rappers in the game right now.

23. It’s a Whimsical Afterlife – Avenade (Experimental/Noise Rock)

This record is experimental, hard-hitting, and absolutely chaotic. It’s an indescribable ride of guitar hits and percussion slaps all couped into one cohesive collection of songs that all bleed into each other.

22. Breathe In/Out – Lysistrata (Punk/Rock/Alternative)

Image result for breathe in breathe out lysistrataLysistrata brings out the best from the early 2000’s punk rock that saturated the music market at the time. It’s an absolute delight to hear it perfected down to what feels like science to them.

21. Netflix and Deal – 03 Greedo & Kenny Beats (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for netflix and dealFrom beyond prison bars, 03 Greedo released a mixtape inspired by films he watched while dealing drugs. I think Kenny’s production is what sold this record for me. Some of the more concise work between two collaborators this year.

20. We Are Not Your Kind – Slipknot (Metal)

Image result for slipknot we are not your kind album coverTo be honest, this was Slipknot but tamer. However, that’s not a bad thing. I think WAYNK has a lot going for it and I’d be heart-pressed not to put it here. Corey Taylor as always steals the show with his colorful vocals.

19. Duster – Duster (Alternative/Indie)

Image result for duster duster album coverEverything Duster releases puts me to sleep, but like, in a good way. Their self-titled record can move from soundscape to soundscape with ease. If this wasn’t going to be on my list their compilation album would have.

18. uknowhatimsayin¿ – Danny Brown (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for danny brown uknowhatimsayin album coverIt’s genuinely difficult to describe the appeal of Danny Brown without using words that all mean crazy. His new record is polarizing and honestly kind of beautiful. As per most Danny Brown projects, it’s not for the faint of heart.

17. CASE STUDY 01 – Daniel Caesar (R&B/Soul)

Image result for daniel caesar case study 01 album coverFor some time Daniel Caesar was an artist who only impressed me on singles. However, his surprise album made me think differently. CASE STUDY 01 is a deep look into his own character and brings new meaning to introspection.

16. Fine Line – Harry Styles (Pop/Rock)

Related imageHarry Styles reminds me on this record of why I fell in love with his first studio release. The former One Direction frontman is one part heartthrob and all parts talented. Boys, don’t let toxic masculinity keep you from listening to this one. Okay?

15. All My Heroes Are Cornballs – JPEGMafia (Experimental Hip-Hop)

Image result for jpegmafia all my heroes are cornballs album coverAMHAC is JPEGMafia stepping way out of his comfort zone. Whereas Veteran was his breakout hit, his newest effort is a victory lap taking the scenic route. It’s more innovative and character-driven. No holds barred.

14. Bandanna – Freddie Gibbs & Madlib (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for bandana freddie gibbsMadlib collaborates with another rapper and makes a groundbreaking album again! Freddie Gibbs is one of the most talented rappers in the game right now and this album is indisputable proof of that. It’s focused but free-form. Unique but homely.

13. Un – Scott James (Alternative)

spliff.jpgScott James quietly released one of the most beautiful records of 2019 this year. The record feels like a brief walk through an empty meadow of flowers. It can be a little harsh at times but the whole experience is pretty.

12. Circuits – Chris Potter (Jazz)

Image result for circuits chris potterChris Potter is a master of Jazz. Everything on this record feels so deliberate and alive. Circuits feel so technical and rhythmic its the epitome of a modern-day jazz record. A must listen for anyone looking to get into jazz.

11. Chon – Chon (Math Rock)

Image result for chon chon album“Wow” was the first word I uttered when listening to Chon’s self-titled effort. I don’t understand how humans were able to play like this. It’s genuinely beyond me. 1000 percent effort was exerted onto this record and the music speaks for itself. Math Rock will never die so long as Chon continues to play.

10. Nothing Happens – Wallows (Indie Rock/Alternative)

Image result for nothing happensWallows are what every indie band should try to sound like. They have a sound that is simultaneously the true essence of the indie rock genre itself and yet wholly original. Do not even think about sleeping on this record. Something definitely happens here.

9. Everyday Life – Coldplay (Pop/Alternative)

Image result for everyday life coldplayColdplay has been in the business for some time now with a plethora of hits under their star-studded belt. Yet with every record, they only seem to push the envelope further. They’re relevant, topical and somehow capture the quintessence of pop itself.

8. i,i – Bon Iver (Experimental/Pop)

Image result for i i bon iverI don’t know how Bon Iver makes music often time’s it feels like they were just handed the perfect blend of experimental art-pop and like everything else. This record is impossibly made. It’s not only a record but a marvel of sound itself. By all accounts, we shouldn’t have been able to make this, and yet they found a way.

7. K-12 – Melanie Martinez (Pop)

Image result for k-12 album coverThe follow-up to her previous record Crybaby could not have been more well crafted. It’s the perfect continuation while remaining its own record. There are a lot of fun moments on this album that makes the listener go through a wave of different emotions. Another great pop record to add to the hefty list.

6. ANIMA – Thom Yorke (Soundtrack)

Image result for anima thom yorke album coverThom Yorke has rarely disappointed me. It seems like every piece of work he’s done for a film is bound to be blessed by God himself. It’s in the same style of something from a Radiohead record but with Yorke’s very personal touch and sensibilities. Experiencing the record is like watching a film in itself.

5. Blood – Kelsey Lu (Pop/R&B/Soul)

Related imageKelsey Lu innovates the pop genre at large by infusing so many different ideas and motifs into her debut record. We had a lot of good pop albums released this year and this one is no exception. It’s everything you want and much much more. This record is absolutely worth your time. I am very excited to hear what the cellist has next up her sleeve.

4. Is He Real? – IDK (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for is he real?Is He Real? is another album that grapples with the existence of God and the banality of the human experience. However this time it’s set to some of the most hard-hitting beats I’ve heard this year and narrated by IDK. It is blunt, introspective, and most of all original. There are some hot takes and truly deep moments on the record. It doesn’t always take one side over the other but it also isn’t necessarily neutral either. It’s complicated much like the concept of God itself. Fitting, to say the least.

3. Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for revenge of the dreamers 3 album coverI’ve always wondered what an album of only bangers would sound like. Many others have tried and failed to accomplish that difficult task. However, this year my wish was granted. Somehow J. Cole was able to grant over 50 artists with a grammy nomination this year thanks to the release of this monster of a record. Every song feels like an explosion in your face, even the slow ones! I genuinely don’t understand how this record was made in only ten days. It is truly a modern-day miracle and a bonafide work of art.

2. Suga – Kyle Dion (R&B/Funk)

Image result for kyle dion sugaKyle Dion’s debut record blew me away this year with its soulful melodies and retro-inspired sonic elements. Listening to it for the first time felt a lot like when I listened to Prince for the first time as a young boy. It takes you back to a simpler time where music was much more modest. Suga is Kyle Dion’s alter ego of sorts and takes the helm of the record. Much like the final album on the list, the production of the record is complimented well by the lush vocals from the crooner. There isn’t much else to say. I love this record and you should definitely give it a listen.

1. When I Get Home – Solange (Neo-Soul/R&B)

Image result for when i get home album coverI feel like I wrote a pretty comprehensive thesis on this record back in February but for the sake of this list, I am going to reiterate. Nothing this year has blown me away quite as much as this masterpiece. Even the interludes on this record are interesting and worth listening to. You know interludes? Those things where their only purpose is to break up the album and make the tracklist seem more deliberate? Everything about this record screams Houston. With every listen I just find something new. Solange without a doubt has one of the most unique and inspired musical styles of our generation. When I Get Home is a true testament to that fact and an album I believe everyone deserves to hear. If not for the wonderful performance by Knowles herself or the incredible production hear it because it’s a piece of history that is likely to never be forgotten.


Thank you all for following me through another year of this website. See you all in the next decade!

 

Duncan Hunter responds to my scathing letter.

Image result for duncan hunterThis article is going to a tad personal so please bear with me.

When I was in Highschool taking my useless AP Government class one of our projects required getting involved in politics itself. Our class had a lot of leeway on what we could do and one of the more easy options was emailing a letter to your congressman.

I live in California and our U.S. Representative for the 50th congressional district is none other than Duncan Hunter. I probably don’t have to do much to explain why that name should send a cold chill down your spine but in case, here’s a little refresher.

Last year Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on twelve criminal charges including wire fraud and campaign finance crimes. The prosecutors allege that they used over 250,000 dollars to fund their family activities like personal trips to Italy, buying school lunches and, my personal favorite, fly a relative’s pet rabbit to Washington.

So I sent an email to Duncan Hunter and absolutely tore him to pieces. I don’t have the original letter anymore and neglected to make a copy, so sadly I can’t show you everything I said. However, I vividly remember the main idea of it. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the letter.

  1. I listed every crime he committed and then blatantly called him a criminal
  2. I said, “I worry for our great state.”
  3. I said I had no faith in him as a representative
  4. I asked what he planned to do as our representative.
  5. I commented on how it was possible he’d be sent to prison while in office.

I sent the letter back in December 2018 and just last week I finally got my response from good old Duncan Hunter. I was surprised, to say the least.

Dear Fabian:

Thanks for contacting me regarding your views. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Like many in California’s 50th District, I believe it is crucial to maintain a strong military, rebuild America’s manufacturing base and create economic opportunity for all Americans.  It is important to remember the original intent of our founders to build a nation of liberty, common defense, and domestic tranquility.  In order to maintain that vision, we need to adhere to principles that do not trample on the rights of states and, most importantly, the rights of individuals.

Please be assured that I will continue to fight for these principles with your specific thoughts firmly in mind.  In the meantime, if I can be of any future assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Part of me wished for a more unprofessional response from Hunter but I was well aware that it was unlikely. To be honest, I didn’t even expect a response at all. I’m just glad he had to sift through my inflammatory message. If there’s anything I can take away from this, I’m glad no matter how small my voice is, I can still be heard.

Guess I can scratch this one off the bucket list.

 

Year in Hip-Hop retrospective

Image result for kanye west 2019

2019 has been anything but an underwhelming year. We saw hundreds of genre-defining projects released this year and it only implies a greater turnaround in the next decade. With so many different projects and artists to follow I thought it would be apt to sort through some of the most important things that occurred this year. Specifically within the rap industry. I’m going to do my best in keeping this in chronological order. However, I may jump around a bit.

21 Savage arrested by ICE

Image result for 21 savage iceThe year began with a very strange turn of events. On Feb 4th,  thought-to-be Atlanta-based rapper; 21 Savage was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency revealed, against his fan’s preconceptions, that he was, in fact, a U.K. born resident in America on an expired Visa. This lead to a plethora of individuals asking themselves the same question, “21 Savage is European?”

According to his lawyer, he spent a week in detention after his arrest. However, many feared the possibility of deportation for the 27-year-old rapper. This raised a much-needed conversation about deportation under the Trump administration and gained the attention of many influential figures in the industry. Its ramifications are still relatively unknown.

Nipsey Hustle dies at 33

Image result for death of nipsey hussleMarch brought with it the death of a very important figure in Hip-hop: Nipsey Hustle. He was reportedly shot in front of his own store, Marathon Clothing, in LA. He was one of three victims in the shooting. He was a Grammy nominee and a very prominent figure in LA.  A memorial service was held at the Staples Center on April 11th free of charge.

DJ Khaled temper tantrum

Image result for dj khaled and tylerRelated imageDuring the Summer DJ Khaled expressed his distaste for Tyler, the Creators album IGOR beating his own record: Father of Asahd on the billboard top 100. He threw a “temper tantrum” at his label and further criticized Billboard’s methods for calculating album sales. This apparent tantrum was so loud Tyler, the creator, in a rare moment of transparency, actually addressed Khaled’s grievances.

In an interview with Zane Howe, Tyler said: “No disrespect to Khaled or anyone… I’m on album five and six. And it’s work. It’s effort. It’s work. This is fucking whether n***as like it or not, bro, it’s so much work and detail put into this shit like—I’m so proud of myself.” Many considered this rap beef but it would seem neither party wanted any sort of trouble from this ordeal.

A$AP Rocky held in Swedish prison

Related imageA$AP Rocky was arrested on assault charges and held in Swedish prison for a month and later released only having to pay damages. This was one of the most unorthodox international cases the world has ever seen with interventions from big names like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and President Donald Trump.

While US intervention reportedly had no bearing on A$AP Rocky’s release it was still a monumental case. He later returned to Sweden three months later despite his previous statements claiming he wouldn’t.

6ix9ine snitches

Image result for 69 snitchingGoing back to February, Rapper 6ix9ine was made the butt of many jokes for “snitching” on many public figures including TREYWAY, Cardi B, and Jim Jones for being apart of the Nine Trey and Bloods gangs. I’m only including this here due to the fact main videos on the matter publically surfaced around September. Also, the memes surrounding it were pretty hilarious in my opinion.

Ye is born again

Image result for kanye west 2019Since early 2019 Kanye West had been publically holding “Sunday Services” for local residents in various areas in America. Following this was incredibly interesting behavior from Ye and the announcement of his newest studio effort Jesus is King.

West had effectively been “born again” and was now professing his allegiance to Christ. Many off-the-cuff statements were made. He said none of his music going forward would include any cuss-words and how rap was “the devil’s music.” Studio rules for his upcoming album also included West urging his collaborators not to have premarital sex while working on the record.

Jesus is King released at the end of October.

Nicki Minaj announces her retirement from music

Image result for nicki minaj quitting musicIn September Nicki Minaj in a surprise tweet revealed her intentions to quit music to start a family. The tweet read, “I’ve decided to retire & have my family. I know you guys are happy now. To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, in the box- cuz ain’t nobody checkin me” Many were unaware of what do do with this information and quickly disregarded the tweet as a joke due to the fact knowledge of a fifth studio album by Minaj was confirmed.

The tweet was later taken down and clarified. She apologized for its abrupt nature. The jury is still out on what her intentions are.

Frank Ocean releases two new singles

Image result for frank ocean prepIn early November Frank Ocean previewed many songs and released two new singles for what many believe to be an upcoming project. “DHL” and “In My Room” were given official vinyl releases along with limited-edition merch. In an interesting side note, a tweet by user MONTE VERCETTI revealed an overpriced listing on Grailed for an iPhone with Frank Oceans singles on it following its temporary removal from Apple Music.

Drake booed at Camp Flog Gnaw festival

Image result for drake booed off stageTyler, the Creator’s annual Camp Flog Gnaw festival was met with some controversy in mid-November due to its mystery guest not being who fans had initially thought. The mystery guest had been teased since its initial promotional line-up was revealed and many fans speculated it was indeed Frank Ocean who would be making a special appearance.

However, the narrative fans had created in their minds could not have been farther from the truth. What fans got instead were sets from A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, and Drake. Fans were displeased at Drakes’s surprise appearance and made their disapproval quite evident. After performing a few songs and telling the crowd “I got just one more song” each time after Drake was finally booed off the stage effectively ending the festival early.

Drake took it in stride and later made fun of the ordeal on his Instagram. In said post, Drake made the mistake of claiming Tyler, the Creator fans were all twenty, which we all know could not be farther from the truth.

XXXTentacion’s final release

Image result for xxxtentacionAt the end of November, late rapper XXXTentacion released what is now his final post-humorous project: Bad Vibes Forever. His death in 2018 sent a shockwave through the Hip-Hop community and it would seem like his influence if far from over. The subject of releases from late artists has been a hotly debated topic for some time now with X spearheading most arguments. It hasn’t received the most favorable reviews as of late so perhaps this may work against future releases.

03 Greedo releases a new mixtape from prison

Image result for netflix and dealA documentary on 03 Greedo and Kenny Beats’ most recent mixtape Netflix and Deal, was released in November detailing the process behind the album and its hectic production. Back in May 2018, 03 Greedo was sentenced to twenty years in prison on drug and gun possession charges. During this time, Greedo and Kenny were working nonstop to try and release the project before he would be sent to prison and it would seem all that hard work paid off.

Netflix and Deal is one of the more high-profile releases of this year and that’s likely due to the subject matter behind it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a star-studded list of features.

Goldlink’s strange tribute post to Mac Miller

Image result for goldlinkRapper Goldlink released a poor-taste Instagram post in supposed tribute to the late Mac Miller in late November. Many Mac Miller fans were displeased with his message, due to the fact that he seemed to diss Miller more than pay homage. Among these people was fellow collaborator Anderson .Paak who made a since-deleted response firing back at Goldlink.

In said response, Paak said, “Mac brought your a** on tour and opened up his fan base to you when you had nothing and this the type of appreciation you give.” Not long after Goldlink added to his sentiments stating that Miller was his “best friend.”

Juice WRLD dies at 21

Image result for juice worldEnding the year off on a sour note was the unfortunate passing of Juice WRLD. He suffered from a seizure after landing at Chicago’s Midway airport and later died at the hospital he was taken to. He was only 21.

Many fans found his death tragically ironic as he had previously rapped about dying at 21 on one of his singles about another late rapper XXXTentacion. Many fans posted tribute photos online and shared their condolences.

It’s been a very interesting year with many different twists and turns. While we are ending 2019 on a very sad note we are simultaneously left with a plethora of standout records that came out this year. My next article will be my top albums of the year, stay tuned!