Updated: Jun 27, 2020
2019 brought a lot of new sounds, new vibes, and new faces, that drowned in our oversaturated world of music. A lot of classic albums dropped last year from Tyler, The Creator, Solange, Dreamville, and DaBaby, but I've always been a fan of the underdog and want to shed light on some people who made a statement in 2019. This list features artists who either made an impact in the industry or rebranded themselves during 2019 with great albums that went under the radar.
5. Pierre Bourne: The Life Of Pierre 4
Producer/Rapper, Pierre Bourne became famous for making beats for Playboi Carti. Bourne created the sound for Carti’s self-entitled debut album, and as a result, Bourne has risen as one of the top producers in Hip-Hop. Songs like “Magnolia”, “Wokeuplikethis” (feat. Baby Pluto), and “dothatshit!” off of Carti's debut, open the doors for Pierre to go on and work with artists like Drake, Kanye, and Jeffrey. On his 2019 album, The Life Of Pierrre 4, Bourne shows that he can hold his own as a solo artist. Maybe this was the case the whole time? Anyways, he starts the album with his hit song “Poof”, which sets the tone for the rest of the listen. It’s an album you'll listen to from front to back once you find the gems that you like.
4. Jaden: Erys
Jaden Smith’s 2019 album Erys is a follow up to 2017’s Syre. Syre introduced the average listener to Jaden’s music for the first time but rebranded Jaden’s image for people who were already familiar with his sound. Erys is the inverted version of Syre theme-wise and in actual spelling (duh!). Erys sounds like it was created in the dystopic futures displayed in movies like Blade Runner. It’s meant to be chaotic distorted and less melodic than his previous sounds. You can tell that going on tour with J. Cole and Young Thug really inspired Jaden. He's way more mature on this tape, and his songs are built for performing. He stays in the same circle of artists with features from A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator, Kid Cudi, and even Trinidad James on this album. He makes it known that these great artists are vital to the songs, but pulls his own weight as well. He also utilizes WILLOW’s voice only when he needs.
3. Snoh Aalegra: Ugh, Those Feels Again
Snoh Aalegra’s angelic voice floats over the bright keys and deep bass’ that envelope her lyrics. The Swedish singers hit “I Want You Around” peaks as the albums top song, and was featured in many radio playlists across all streaming platforms. However, other songs like “Whoa” and “Toronto” really shape her sound and gives fans a sense of what they can expect from her work. I love her image. Her soft voice and slick lines blend well with the mellow beats playing the background. Ugh, Those Feels Again is a great listen and definitely calm vibes during Quarantine.
2. Baby Keem: Die For My Bitch
Baby Keem was on the rise in 2019, and “Orange Soda” was an underground club anthem. The energy was insane. Baby Keem’s young arrogant and willing to die for his bitch. In “Stats”, the first song on the album, Keem displays his brash ego and lyricism, but he balances it with the vulnerability of songs like “ Honest” and "Apologize". I believe Keem used this album to explore the different flows that he could use during his rise to stardom. He's paving his way and doing it with diligent mentoring from those around him.
1. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana
Released the last week of June, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib crafted a classic in Bandana. In fact, I believe that this album deserved a grammy nomination for 2019. I know the numbers in comparison to other superstars aren’t outstanding, but when this album dropped all the Hip Hop heads were bumping it and that should matter. It’s like a couple of weeks ago when the Jay Electronica album dropped, we may not be bumping it now, but at the time all the Hip-Hop heads were listening. Madlib’s classic sample-heavy melodic rhythms were designed for the clever dope rap that has been a staple of Freddie Gibbs repertoire. Songs like “Fake Names”, “Situations”, and “Crime Pays” do a great job of capturing the blend between Gibbs and Madlib. In some ways, this duo reminds me of Pusha T and Kanye West, Pusha even features on Freddie’s album on the song called “Palmolive” (feat. Pusha T & Killer Mike). I believe this was the most underrated album of 2019.
2019 was a really good year for artists on the rise to show their potential. There were no big names like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, or Ed Sheeran, storming the music industry and overshadowing lesser-known talent. Although these are my Top 5 Underrated Album of 2019, I'm open to hearing what other albums people think should be on this list.