As the year comes to a close, there are many things to look back upon. Hip-hop alone had a lot of highs and lows, with lots of great albums but no full-length releases from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big Sean and more artists we hoped we would get projects from.

Although there were a lot of artists we wish we could’ve heard more from, we got a pretty good collection of albums in 2019 from various artists. There were many albums that were well-received by both average listeners and critics alike. Here are 5 of the best hip-hop albums of 2019:

Igor by Tyler, The Creator

How can we talk about hip-hop albums of the year without Igor by Tyler, The Creator? The album is a true masterpiece front to back. Tyler stepped out of his comfort zone a lot to create one of the most obscure yet beautiful albums of not only 2019, but the past few years at least.

Igor is yet another great stepping stone on Tyler’s path of maturity, as his albums have become more personal and experimental. Igor doesn’t rely heavily on rapping, but the rap and R&B influences throughout the project are what make it a hip-hop masterpiece.

Tracks like the chart-topping “EARFQUAKE” are like no other that has been released before, especially by Tyler. By providing a new style that we didn’t know hip-hop needed, Igor will remain a notable album across all genres for years to come.

ZUU by Denzel Curry

Denzel Curry dropped the perfect anthem for his hometown, Carol City, Florida, and South Florida as a whole with ZUU. Curry has always had a great blend of hardcore hip-hop with more laid-back melodies, and that’s exactly what ZUU provides.

Songs like “RICKY,” “AUTOMATIC,” “P.A.T. FEAT. PLAYTHATBOIZAY,” and others are beautifully-created raw, almost hardcore hip-hop tracks that Curry truly shines on by using an aggressive voice with instrumentals that blend with him and his delivery perfectly.

Others like “WISH FEAT. KIDDO MARV” and “BUSHY B INTERLUDE” provide infectious hooks with verses and beats that are just as catchy. Overall, Curry clearly made an album that remains versatile throughout with no filler-tracks or skippable songs. ZUU is a perfect blend of aggressive and melodic tracks, making it one of the best of the year.

The Lost Boy by YBN Cordae

YBN Cordae released his debut album, The Lost Boy, in July. With the album, Cordae proves he is an elite songwriter and musician at the young age of 21. The Lost Boy is one big collection of beautifully-told stories by Cordae, with songs that paint portraits of his childhood, his mental health, and the ups and downs of fame.

The album has given Cordae multiple 2020 Grammy Award nominations, and they are well deserved because of Cordae’s pure talent that is shown all throughout this project. Tracks like “Bad Idea (feat. Chance The Rapper)” and “Thousand Words” are passionate tracks filled with great stories and emotions expressed by Cordae in unique ways that give the tracks something new.

Cordae is clearly an artist that will be here for the long run, and The Lost Boy is proof that Cordae’s versatility and uniqueness will help push him to the top. The album is a great mix of conscious hip-hop with Cordae’s own personal twist, which makes The Lost Boy one of the top albums of the year.  

Psychodrama by Dave

Dave, a London native, released his debut album, Psychodrama, back in March. The album takes us through certain traumatic events that Dave has experienced growing up, and how each experience has shaped him into the person he is today. Psychodrama contains great storytelling along with amazing beats that bring out some of the darkest-sounding instrumentation that I’ve heard on a hip-hop album all year. 

The album starts with a track titled “Psycho” and it kicks off the album’s theme very well by Dave explaining how the things that he has experienced are what has made him the way he is. Dave then takes us on a journey through his childhood growing up on the track “Streatham” and continues to take us through his head with some emotionally disturbing yet beautiful tracks like “Lesley (feat. Ruelle)” and the final track “Drama.”

Psychodrama is a near-perfect album, and Dave released the debut at the age of 20, which makes it much more impressive. Dave, very easily, created an album that keeps listeners engaged throughout the project, and Psychodrama is hopefully the first of many albums by Dave that will be in the “Album of the Year” conversation.

CrasH Talk by ScHoolboy Q 

After a three-year hiatus, ScHoolboy Q returned with an album that was extremely captivating. Once again, Q mastered his braggadocious style of rapping, but he also incorporated heartfelt, even somber sounding tracks that were reflective of his mental state during the recording process of CrasH Talk.

The versatility is what makes CrasH Talk such a remarkable album on all levels. Tracks like the intro, “Gang Gang,” “Numb Numb Juice,” and “Die Wit Em” are tracks filled with trap-inspired beats and clever one-liners that will be sure to make the listener replay the song as soon as it’s over.

“Tales,” “Black Folk,” and “Dangerous (feat. Kid Cudi)” are other tracks where Q brilliantly steps out of his comfort zone and speaks on issues like his past struggles with addiction, his youth, and struggles with being a Black man in America. Throughout CrasH Talk, Q clearly showed that he is as versatile as ever, and there’s no reason as to why he won’t continue to dominate for years to come.