Graphic: Evanka Williamson
Okayplayer's 19 Best Albums of 2019
Graphic: Evanka Williamson
In our albums of the year list, we collected 19 albums that have varying points of view. There are albums from rookies trying to leave their mark, veterans shifting their artistic direction, semi-stars trying to gather momentum, and artists following up on a classic.
When we did our mid-year album list, back in July, we called 2019 a "wacky" year for albums: The reason? We still hadn't seen the massive event album that we've seen, essentially, every year this decade. (The exception being 2014 — an excellent but lowkey year in music.) And unless Rihanna or Frank Ocean shocks us within the next week, or so — or if Kanye West drops an album that people actually enjoy listening to — there won't be an event album to drop this year.
And that's fine. It just means that 2019, won't be dominated by any one artist. Which makes this list — and other publication's best albums of the year list — more interesting.
It allows for some diversity. In our albums of the year list, we collected 19 albums that have varying points of view. There's albums from rookies trying to leave their mark, veterans shifting their artistic direction, semi-stars trying to gather some momentum, and artists following up on a classic.
It's a fitting way to end an erratic decade of music. It's a decade that started out with uncertainty, with profits from music sinking rapidly, even though listeners' passion seemed to be endless. Now, with 2020 approaching, we are again in a stage of uncertainty, with profits being rising rapidly, despite listeners' passion and retention level waining. Who knows what 2029 will bring. Will people even be making lists anymore? Will people even be listening to music anymore?
Those are weighty questions to examine another time. Instead, read our 19 Best albums of 2019 list below.
19. Maxo — Lil Big Man
“My clock been ticking, I’m just tryna get myself right,” Maxo declares on "Time," Lil Big Man's album opener. There are many lines that embody what Maxo's album is about, and this is one of them. The want to build yourself into the person you know you're capable of being, only to wonder if you'll achieve that before your inevitable departure. It's a relatable and sobering listen, Maxo's vulnerable and direct lyrics grounded by soulful production that provides a base for the rapper's reflection. He thinks back on advice his parents have given him; friendships and relationships that have run their course; the hope of being acknowledged as the talented rapper he is and his close ones behind bars able to see his success on a TV screen someday. In its brevity, Lil Big Man showcases why Maxo is one of the most promising young rappers out now. A coming of age project that beautifully captures the melancholy of trying to find and understand yourself, hopefully before it's too late. — Elijah Watson