Top 31 Music Albums of 2019 by benpaco (2019)
Man, this has not been a year that impressed me at all. So many halfassed albums that feel like a need to release *something* just because chronologically, it was time. So many failed experiments, or stylistic changes which are fine but not on par with artists' current quality threshhold. 2020 looks to be a great year, I'm really excited for new Pinegrove, 1975, Oh Wonder, Grimes, Foxing, Airborne Toxic Event, Tame Impala, even Green Day's "motown and soul" record sounds more exciting than most of what this year coughed out. There's half a dozen releases due Q1 2020 that I'd expect will be better than my AOTY. Bleh. Help. Send recs. Send good music. Make good music.
Not outta hope yet. Busta's Christmas mixtape taught me never to give up hope until January 1. But damn if there's been a whole lot of disappointing releases this year.
- Chart updated: 12/10/2019 06:45
- (Created: 09/04/2019 23:40).
- Chart size: 31 albums.
View the complete list of 40,000 charts on BestEverAlbums.com from The Charts page.
I'm gonna write a lot about this one because god I actually really like it. It's been a while since music put a genuine smile on my face - the last time (outside of the Petscop soundtrack release which was for non-musical reasons) was Stenographer Club, and the last album was last year. If you don't wanna read all this, the TL;DR - Ruby Yacht forever and ever and ever, if you like anything in the realm of "backpack rap" or "art rap" there's something here for you.
I've been following Hemlock Ernst since 2015, mostly because of his collaborators - first album was produced by Madlib, first feature was on a milo song. That's a pretty elite group, and here he joins one of my other favorite producers, Kenny Segal.
Segal is fairly prolific - 4 albums he produced on are in my top 10 this year. The man is one of a literal handful of producers that my brother (a music theory and performance major) is impressed by, and he's able to craft equally talented chill lofi beats to study to and genuine bangers. I keep a pretty close eye on what Segal is up to as well, though this is generally harder than Ernst as producers just get less shoutouts.
Fun aside - I once saw Segal live, opening for milo before playing in his band. A group of frat guys had shown up to the venue, apparently unaware of either act. Segal was playing excerpts from "happy little trees", so it was a half hour flow of chill beats, quiet moments, and fun samples. One especially high frat boy was really enjoying this, but everyone else in the group of about 8 was complaining loudly over the music. This is past just talking over the acoustic act - this is complaining about the act who can clearly hear you in a room with a capacity of 350. So finally, after one of the guys said "Man, I'm just not feeling this" I jumped in and chirped "Maybe you'd like it more if you didn't talk over the whole thing". A couple people around me gasped, one stranger patted me on the back after repeatedly making eye contract about these people, and I was suddenly hit with intense anxiety that this group of athletes who were clearly in various states of intoxication might not take kindly to being chided, but they ended up just leaving.
Anyhow, yeah, I've followed Ernst and I've defended Segal irl. These are guys I liked. I expected a lot out of this album. But same goes for a number of other artists this year, and I've been let down repeatedly. Even Segal's other main release with Billy Woods was just pretty good, not exactly mindblowing, and his bits of 37 GEMS were spectacular but unfortunately few.
Oh my god this exceeded expectations. It's not a perfect album - there's a few samples that are too long or flows that just don't really click, but when these happen, it feels like there was genuine collaboration here.
A fun aside - collaboration is different from cooperation, and it's really important to negotiate that difference. This was one of the main tenants of my last job, teaching kids the difference between the two. Basically, anyone can cooperate. Sharing is cooperating. Divide and conquer is cooperating. But to truly collaborate, you end up with something a little deeper. Either both of you achieve different goals by the same process, or you collectively produce a better product/idea/whatever than one is able to do alone. This is a weird definition discrepancy, but I ascribe to the latter, mostly because that's how I was trained. Really, really challenging to explain the difference to those under 6.
By this definition, we have collaboration. If Segal's production lags behind a little bit or goes a little extra basic for my liking, Ernst picks it up and goes HARD, like on "Down". If Ernst's flow is a little extra gimmicky or cheesey, you get a darker or more involved beat to contextualize it, like on "Jargonne". This is not the only album with great producer-rapper chemistry, but its among my favorites. I won't stand here and pretend that Ernst/Segal is the next DOOM/Madlib, Eric B/Rakim, Busta/Q-Tip, etc., but there's something really great and exciting here. I actively hope to hear them together again, which isn't a feeling I get all that often with these collaborative projects. And here we loop back to that meaning of collaborative - most of those projects don't feel truly elevating to both artist's craft, just a cool combination. This elevates two guys who were already really great.
It's worth noting that I've complained a good lot about this year for music, but there's one group that's really impressing me - Ruby Yacht. This isn't shocking to me - milo has impressed me for years, as maybe the first rapper whose music I fell in love with, but its hard to not feel impressed by a record label responsible for almost the majority of albums I liked this year, especially when that label (collective?) is so small and niche. Not everything out of the Ruby Yacht had me blown away, but all of it feels like trying to do something special, and in a year of underwhelming performances and unimpressive changes in style, that's something really special to see. Watch these guys. Watch them all.
American Football 2: A snoozefest but Mike's voice doesn't bug me anymore
American Football 3: The music is actually pretty good and Mike's voice is good [First added to this chart: 09/19/2019]
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Top 31 Music Albums of 2019 composition
|Chance The Rapper||1||3%|
|Teether & Stoneset||1||3%|
|Billy Woods & Kenny Segal||1||3%|
|King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard||1||3%|
|Hemlock Ernst & Kenny Segal||1||3%|
Top 31 Music Albums of 2019 chart changes
| Down 8 from 18th to 26th|
by Mike Patton / Jean-Claude Vannier
| Down 8 from 20th to 28th|
| Down 8 from 21st to 29th|
by A.M. Breakups
Top 31 Music Albums of 2019 similarity to your chart(s)
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