Inevitably, things get missed. We listen to as much as we can at RMR, tough choices must be made when deciding what gets space throughout the year. Because there was so much good hip-hop out this year, and because we can, here are a few hip-hop albums of 2019 that didn’t get their dues when dropping.
3 Hip-Hop Albums of 2019 You Need To Hear
Your Old Droog – It Wasn’t Even Close, Transportation
In 2013, Your Old Droog had many people convinced he was Nas rapping under a different name. The Coney Island, New York rapper who is of Ukrainian descent (‘Droog’ is Russian slang for ‘friend’), appeared on a mixtape with a flow and tone that bore a striking resemblance to the Queensbridge legend. Droog maintained zero social media presence and initially elected to let his music do the talking, causing rumors to swirl about his identity.
Fast forward to 2019; Droog’s identity is now well-known, and he has a self-titled full-length, multiple EP’s and a slew of collaborations in the rear-view. He topped this in 2019 by putting out TWO outstanding studio albums. The first, It Wasn’t Even Close, released in April and was already on many critics’ top ten lists. The Mach-Hommy-produced gem features boom-bap beats, ominous organ samples, and guest spots from rap legends MF DOOM and Roc Marciano.
This was followed a mere eight weeks later by Transportation, an ode to the many modes of getting around New York City. This second effort has zero guest spots and production from frequent Droog collaborator Mono En Stereo. On tracks like the opener, “Stillwell Baby,” Droog’s witty rhymes sit nicely over more jazz-and-blues-laced samples, gritty drums, and acoustic bass lines.
Murs & 9th Wonder – The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over
This is the seventh collaborative album between Carolina-bred producer, 9th Wonder, and Los Angeles rap fixture, Murs. Earlier projects, like Murray’s Revenge (2006), are considered underground rap classics. Yet the pair announced earlier this year that Iliad is their final offering.
The album kicks off with The Hulk, a signature 9th Wonder beat laced with a piano chord sample. Across 12 tracks there are appearances by Rapsody, GQ, and Heather Victoria. Iliad is a solid addition to the Murs and 9th Wonder canon. Murs’ familiar themes of love and loves lost are present, as is the warm, heartfelt production of the Soul Council, which is the name representing the collective of 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Nottz, Eric G, AMP, Kash, and E. Jones.
Bun B & Statik Selektah – TrillStatik
Boston beatmaker, Statik Selektah, and Houston rapper, Bun B, recorded TrillStatik in a single 12-hour session that live-streamed on YouTube. The result is a continuous list of collaborators that are near and dear to the duo. Seventeen guests litter the album’s tracklist, lending a mixtape feel to one of 2019’s most competent rap albums.
This pairing might not seem like an immediate, natural fit. Selektah is a veteran of East Coast boom-bap, and Bun is a founding father of Southern rap. But from the moment Method Man appears on the second track, “Still Trill,” the differing styles fit nicely together. Bun raps confidently over Selektah’s polished production, and the Murderer’s Row supporting cast fans out across fourteen tracks. Fat Joe, Westside Gunn, Smoke DZA, Big K.R.I.T., and Talib Kweli are a few of the more noteworthy supporters. This is a testament to the deep stable of collaborators the producer and rapper have worked with over decades in the game.