Micah’s Picks: Best of 2019

TOP 10 ALBUMS

01. Tyler, The Creator – Igor
Tyler’s music keeps getting better and better. He is more focused than ever, while taking creative risks that I don’t think anyone else could pull off. The production in Igor is patient that it takes its time to find musical high points and doesn’t try to repeat them too often. This carefully calculated and rewarding musical backdrop allows Tyler’s vocal delivery to sound amateurish, but not half-baked or out of place. Tyler sings on Igor more than he has on any of his previous projects, and while he does not have a powerful or always on pitch voice, he finds pockets and melodies that are unmistakably him. I have no idea what Tyler will do next, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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02. Anderson .Paak – Ventura
Oxnard/Ventura was originally supposed to be a single album, but I’m thrilled that Anderson .Paak and Dr. Dre took the time to separate those sessions into two bodies of work. Ventura is the smooth soul album I’ve been waiting for since I heard songs like “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” off his album Malibu. This album is fantastic from front to back.

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03. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
Madlib took a lot of risks production-wise on the highly anticipated sophomore album from the MadGibbs duo, finding an airier and more futuristic sound that propels Gibbs into deeper pockets as he spits some of his most personal bars to date.

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04. Bon Iver – i,i
This album is a more straightforward effort from Justin Vernon than his previous album, 22 A Million, and while the highs aren’t quite as high, the album makes up for it with consistency. The songs here are powerful in their composition and performance, and I think too many critics overlooked this as one of the best albums of this year.

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05. Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿

It took awhile for this album to click for me, but this much more laid back Danny Brown is a really nice change of pace from the comically zany and high-pitched vocal delivery that he’s known for. Executive produced by Q-Tip, this is probably the longest it’s taken me to “get” a Danny project, but it might be the most re-listenable.

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06. Whitney – Forever Turned Around
Part of the reason I’m including this in the top 10 is because I totally missed Whitney’s debut album is 2016 and while this album isn’t quite as good, it is still a great listen from front to back that becomes more cozy and familiar with each listen. My favorite Rock album of the year.

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07. James Blake – Assume Form
The mysterious James Blake returned in 2019 to put out his first album in three years and he hasn’t missed a step in his creative growth. Embracing more hard hitting elements of Hip Hop and R&B, this album does a good job of grabbing the listener’s attention and keeping it with thoughtful lyricism and enthralling vocal performance all framed by the immaculate production that his audience has come to expect.

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08. Maxo Kream – Brandon Banks
The flow, the production, the incredible storytelling and lyricism; this album has everything I could have asked for from a rising star in the Hip Hop landscape. Every song is trunk-knocking and I cannot believe how effortless Maxo sounds over the kind of production that would outshine other emcees. Songs like “Meet Again” and “Change” let you know that Maxo’s songwriting will keep him in the game for a long time.

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09. DaBaby – Kirk
Kirk is a really really fun listen. The songs are direct, the flow is impeccable and the lyrics are more personal that I was expecting from the new “hot thing” in 2019. DaBaby makes the most of the 35-minute run-time, making songs that are anthemic, introspective, and most importantly, give your speakers a work out.

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10. Maggie Rogers – Heard It In a Past Life
This is my guilty pleasure album for 2019 and it would have ranked higher if I hadn’t already been listening to its best songs for years already. It makes sense that it takes time for an artist to finish their first project, but after listening to “Alaska” and “Dog Years” for two to three years already, there wasn’t enough new material for this album to be ranked higher.

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TOP 10 SONGS

01. Tierra Whack – Only Child
You must be the only child because you’re so stingy / I just wanna go buck wild when you don’t defend me”

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02. Lil Nas X – Old Town Road (Remix) (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)
Cheated on my baby / You can go and ask her

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03. Maxo Kream – Drizzy Draco
Boss persona, that’s my feng shui, I got Badu just like Andre / Send my Crips to do a blitz, I get you killed for less than three stacks”

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04. Anderson .Paak – Make it Better (featuring Smokey Robinson)
It’s easier to walk away / Than to look for what would make you stay

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05. Frank Ocean – In My Room
I’m not fake patient, I don’t fake sick / That kind of coffin don’t need lean / Rest in peace

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06. Bon Iver – Faith
Am I dependent in what I’m defending? / And do we get to know what faith provides?

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07. Sturgill Simpson – Mercury in Retrograde
But as soon as I chopped it all off / It just grew back thick and brown / I keep tugging on the thread / Hoping it all might come unraveled

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08. Tyler, The Creator – Are We Sill Friends?
Are we still friends? Can we be friends?

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09. Pusha T – Coming Home (featuring Lauryn Hill)
You see they gave us crack, but started wagin’ a war / All these lies they steady tellin’ me / Before Obama, we had Eric B.

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10. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib –  Practice
When I was going through problems at home, I should have prayed more / Dear Lord, but I didn’t / So I’m tangled in this position

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2 Chainz – Threat 2 Society
2 Chainz – Statute of Limitations
Anderson .Paak – Come Home (featuring Andre 3000)
Anderson .Paak – Make It Better (featuring Smokey Robinson)
Anderson .Paak – Reachin’ 2 Much (featuring Lalah Hathaway)
Anderson .Paak – Winners Circle
Anderson .Paak – Yada Yada
Anderson .Paak – King James
Anderson .Paak –  Chosen One (featuring Sonyae Elise)
Anderson .Paak – Jet Black (featuring Brandy)
Anderson .Paak – Twilight
Anderson .Paak – What Can We Do (featuring Nate Dogg)
Andrew Bird – Cracking Codes
Ari Lennox – Chicago Boy
Ari Lennox – Broke (featuring J.I.D.)
Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored
Beast Coast – Left Hand
Benny The Butcher – Crowns for Kings (featuring Black Thought)
Benny The Butcher – 18 Wheeler (featuring Pusha T)
Big K.R.I.T – K.R.I.T. HERE
Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
Billie Eilish – All the Good Girls Go To Hell
Billie Eilish – My Strange Addiction
Billie Eilish – Bury a Friend
BJ The Chicago Kid – Feel the Vibe (featuring Anderson .Paak)
BJ The Chicago Kid – Worryin’ Bout Me (featuring Offset)
BJ The Chicago Kid – Reach (featuring Afrojack)
Blu & Oh No – The Robbery (featuring Montage One & Tristate)
Blu & Oh No – Facing Time
Bon Iver – We
Bon Iver – Holyfields,
Bon Iver – Hey, Ma
Bon Iver – U (Man Like)
Bon Iver – Faith
Bon Iver – Marion
Bon Iver – Salem
Bon Iver – RABi
Brockhampton – No Halo
Brockhampton – Sugar
Brockhampton – Ginger
Carly Rae Jepsen – Now That I Found You
Chance the Rapper – All Day Long (featuring John Legend)
Chance the Rapper – Do You Remember (featuring Benjamin Gibbard & Bon Iver)
Chance the Rapper – Eternal (featuring Smino)
Chance the Rapper – Get A Bag (featuring CalBoy)
Clairo – Closer To You
Clairo – North
DaBaby – Intro
DaBaby – Off the Rip
DaBaby – Bop
DaBaby – Gospel (featuring Chance the Rapper, Gucci Mane & YK Osiris)
Danny Brown – Change Up
Danny Brown – Dirty Laundry
Danny Brown – Best Life
Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿ (featuring Obongjayar)
Danny Brown – Combat
Dj Khaled – Just Us (featuring SZA)
Dj Khaled – Higher (featuring Nipsey Hussle & John Legend)
Dominic Fike – Phone Numbers
Dominic Fike – Rollerblades
Drake – Money In The Grave (featuring Rick Ross)
Dreamville – Down Bad
Dreamville – Ladies, Ladies, Ladies
Dreamville – 1993
Dreamville – Rembrandt…Run It Back
Dreamville – Sunset
Earl Sweatshirt – Farms (featuring Stoney Willis)
Earl Sweatshirt – El Toro Combo Meal (featuring Mavi)
Flying Lotus – More (featuring Anderson .Paak)
Flying Lotus – Remind U
Flying Lotus – Say Something
Flying Lotus – The Climb (featuring Thundercat)
Flying Lotus – Pygmy
Francis And The Lights – Take Me to the Light (featuring Bon Iver & Kanye West)
Frank Ocean – Cayendo (Sango Remix)
Frank Ocean – DHL
Frank Ocean – In My Room
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Crime Pays
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Palmolive (featuring Pusha T & Killer Mike)
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Fake Names
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Flat Tummy Tea
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Situations
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Giannis (featuring Anderson .Paak)
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Practice
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Cataracts
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Education (featuring Yasiin Bey & Black Though)
Free Nationals – Apartment (featuring Benny Sings)
Free Nationals – Time (featuring Mac Miller & Kali Uchis)
Gang Starr – Family And Loyalty (ft. J. Cole)
Gang Starr – Bless The Mic
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings
Injury Reserve – Three Man Weave
James Blake – Can’t Believe The Way We Flow
James Blake – Where’s The Catch (featuring Andre 3000)
James Blake – I’ll Come Too
James Blake – Power On
James Blake – Don’t Miss It
JPEGMAFIA – Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot
Kaytranada – 10% (featuring Kali Uchis)
Kevin Abstract – Big Wheels
Kevin Abstract – Georgia
Kevin Abstract – Peach (featuring Bearface, Dominic Fike & Joba)
Lana Del Rey – Mariners Apartment Complex
Lil Nas X – Old Town Road (Remix) (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)
Lil Nas X – Old Town Road
Lil Tecca – Ransom
Little Brother – Everything
Little Brother – Sittin Alone
Lizzo – Juice
Maggie Rogers – Overnight
Maggie Rogers – The Knife
Maggie Rogers – Retrograde
Maggie Rogers – Burning
Maggie Rogers – Back In My Body
Maxo Kream – Meet Again
Maxo Kream – Change
Maxo Kream – 8 Figures
Maxo Kream – Drizzy Draco
Noname – Song 31 (featuring Phoelix)
Prins Thomas – Feel the Love
Pusha T – Coming Home (featuring Lauryn Hill)
Rapsody – Cleo
Rapsody – Ibtihaj (featuring D’Angelo & GZA)
Rapsody – Hatshepsut (featuring Queen Latifah)
Robert Glasper – Treal (featuring Yasin Bey)
Schoolboy Q – Numb Numb Juice
Schoolboy Q – 5200
Sturgill Simpson – Remember To Breathe
Sturgill Simpson – Make Art Not Friends
Sturgill Simpson – All Said And Done
Sturgill Simpson – Mercury In Retrograde
Sturgil Simpson – The Dead Don’t Die
Tame Impala – It Might Be Time
Tierra Whack – Gloria
Tierra Whack – Only Child
Tierra Whack – Wasteland
Toro Y Moi – Fading
Travis Scott – Highest in the Room
Tyler, the Creator – Earfquake (featuring Playboi Carti, Devonte Hynes & Charlie Wilson)
Tyler, the Creator – Running Out Of Time
Tyler, the Creator – A Boy Is A Gun
Tyler, the Creator – What’s Good (featuring Slowthai)
Tyler, the Creator – Gone, Gone / Thank You (featuring Mild High Club & King Krule)
Tyler, the Creator – I Don’t Love You Anymore
Tyler, the Creator – Are We Still Friends?
Vampire Weekend – Unbearably White
Vegyn – Debold
Whitney – Giving Up
Whitney – Used To Be Lonely
Whitney – Before I Know It
Whitney – Song For Ty
Whitney – Valleys (My Love)
Whitney – My Life Alone
Whitney – Forever Turned Around
Willie Nelson – Come on Time
Willie Nelson – My Favorite Picture of You
YBN Cordae – Have Mercy
YBN Cordae – Bad Idea (featuring Chance the Rapper)
YBN Cordae – RNP (featuring Anderson .Paak)
Young Thug – What’s the Move (featuring Lil Uzi Vert)
Young Thug – The London (featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott)
Your Old Droog – Gyros
Your Old Droog – RST (featuring DOOM & Mach Hommy)
Your Old Droog – Bubble Hill
Your Old Droog – Babushka
Your Old Droog – My Plane
Your Old Droog – Train Love
Zack Fox & Kenny Beats – Jesus Is the One (I Got Depression)