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The Songs I Wore Out: TTT Media 2019 End Of Year Music Staff Review

Editors Note

As the likes of musical powerhouses such as Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, and even Drake were relatively quite this year without releasing full length projects, it's fair to say the absence of the A-list acts made way for a new emerging class of stars who cemented their place within the culture. In 2019, controversy helped propel new artists who lived on top of the charts throughout the year, legendary acts reunited and gave us that nostalgic feel again, and some of our more reliable artists delivered once again with virtuoso performances. With algorithms dictating what's "hot" on Apple Music or Spotify, and music label relationships swaying who gets a Grammy nomination, its easy for some incredible music to get caught up in the shuffle and lost deep under the million playlists on digital streaming platforms. With their ears to what's "hot", as well as to the musical gold that flew under the digital radar and wasn't credited for its excellence, here, the TTT staff ranked and gave opinions on their top 5 Hip-Hop and R&B albums of 2019.

Alaetra Chisholm's Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of 2019

5. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana

4. Little Brother, May The Lord Watch

3. Rapsody, Eve

2. Goldlink, Diaspora

1. Dreamville & J. Cole, Revenge Of The Dreamers 3

Dreamville’s third installment of the Revenge of the Dreamers series proved to be a solid and impressive collaborative album that truly stood tall throughout 2019. Considering the pace of the streaming era and the mounting anticipation surrounding album releases, it can be tough to find music that sticks. With that in mind, ROTD3 held me down at many points throughout the year. With cuts that transport you to any mood, and an insane list of featured artists and collaborators, it was almost impossible to not enjoy this album from start to finish. As a listener, I could hear the cohesiveness in each track, as the chemistry between the artists through the wise pairings translated perfectly into the music. It also felt good to see so many artists and creatives from North Carolina taking part in the Dreamville Sessions and featured on the album.

Songs I Wore Out: "Under The Sun", "Don't Hit Me Right Now", "Sleep Deprived", "Costa Rica", "Sunset"

Alaetra Chisholm's Top 5 R&B of 2019

5. Lucky Daye, Painted

4. Anderson .Paak, Ventura

3. Summer Walker, Over It

2. Solange, When I Get Home

1. Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby

Ari Lennox’s Shea Butter Baby was everything I needed in the midst of a trying year. As Ari’s debut album and the follow-up to “Pho”, Shea Butter Baby gave me the deeply soulful satisfaction I’d been looking for. Her voice seems to melt over each song, showcasing her unique sound, vocal growth and maturity as both an artist and a woman. Covering topics such as anxiety, life lessons, and the ever-changing abyss that is sex, love and relationships. Her sound takes the shape of a warm blanket covering the listener with a soft veil of safety and security. Ari’s subject matter and personal reflections make Shea Butter Baby more than a debut album; it serves as a rite of passage for the young, Black, independent woman who’s navigating her way through life’s ever-changing landscape.

Songs I Wore Out: "Chicago Boy", "BMO", "New Apartment", "Whipped Cream"

Je'Ron Chester's Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of 2019

5. SAINt JHN, Ghetto Lenny's Love Songs

4. Burna Boy, African Giant

3. Rapsody, Eve

2. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana

1. Tyler, the Creator, Igor

Tyler, The Fucking Creator! A breath of fresh air in a hip-hop scene that has been suffocating from the cookie cutter and monotonous sounding artist. I know I tend to say that a lot in regards to the sound of the current music shift, but when you listen to Igor and the details in each track, you can hear the difference for yourself and understand my exact sentiments on the state of modern hip hop. I’ve been tired of contemporary rap for a while. I've been yearning complex artistry that requires digging deep and progressing the sound of music in its entirety. Igor raised the bar for all of music. Igor was a hip hop sound track about love, which quite frankly has been missing from the genre (minus a few upper tier artist). Overall, Hip hop has been deprived of a true love story, and Tyler provided what the game has been missing; true artistry, vulnerability, and love. Thank you Tyler.

Songs I Wore Out: "Running Out of Time", "A Boy Is A Gun", "New Magic Wand"

Je'Ron Chester's Top 5 R&B Albums of 2019

5. Daniel Caesar, Case Study 01

4. Solange, When I Get Home

3. SIR, Chasing Summer

2. Summer Walker, Over It

1. Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby

From the beginning of Shea Butter Baby, Ari Lennox turned the world on to her unapologetic and undeniable sex appeal. Ari perfectly embodies the, “good girl in the streets, but a freak in the sheets” persona. Shea Butter Baby explores the sex appeal of womanhood from a black woman's perspective. More specifically, a black woman exercising the freedom to love herself through self care. Ari gets her point across with twelve tracks that surely liberates black women's sexual desires, while also speaking her truth on dating in her twenties. As a black man, my position is to simply listen and be appreciative. At the end of the intro track, “Chicago Boy”, Ari sets the record straight for the men who will be along the ride that is, Shea Butter Baby. She tells all the men in the studio session to leave because she needed the space to be the woman she's been wanting to be throughout this album. She needed space to be a woman with her own mind and desires. With Shea Butter Baby, Ari has a traditional R&B album that speaks to the current generation in a way that will stand the test of time.

Songs I Wore Out: "BMO", "Chicago Boy", "New Apartment", "Shea Butter Baby"

Mike Palmer's Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of 2019

5. Roddy Ricch, Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial

4. Mustard, Perfect Ten

3. Gunna, Drip or Drown 2

2. Rick Ross, Port of Miami 2

1. Young Thug, So Much Fun

In any other case, Rick Ross would’ve been first on my list because he's one of my favorite artists. However, Young Thug surprised me with So Much fun because I was never the biggest fan of his music. I’ve occasionally went through his discography to search for records I liked, but this was the first time I actually like one of his projects from top to bottom. It’s a great project and I haven't stopped playing it since it released.

Songs I Wore Out: "Hot","Sup Mate", "Bad Bad Bad"

Mike Palmer's Top 5 R&B Albums of 2019

5. Chris Brown, Indigo

4. Tory Lanez, Chixtape 5

3. Jacquees, King of R&B

2. Summer Walker, Over It

1. Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby

Simply put, Shea Butter Baby was amazing. The raw sound of her voice behind great production was nothing short of a masterpiece. One of my gauges for a good R&B album is to be able to play it around elder generations with no complaints. I knew Shea Butter baby was a hit when my 50 year old aunt asked me if listened to “Ari’s new joint”. From beginning to the end, Shea butter baby is without a question my favorite R&B album for 2019. 

Songs I Wore Out: "New Apartment", "Broke", "BMO", "I Been"

Jon Olangi's Top 5 Hip-Hop Albums of 2019

5. Jim Jones, El Capo

4. Little Brother, May the Lord Watch

3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana

2. Rapsody, Eve

1. Wale, Wow... That's Crazy

If you've been following Wale since the mixtape days, then you are aware that the DC rapper has been on a constant search for validation from not only his peers, but from publications and music gatekeepers such as the Grammys. Most of us recognize Wale as one of the best artists, poets, and lyricists of our generation, but it seemed he was never fulfilled by our praises, more so annoyed by those who didn't get him or his music. On his 6th full length album, I can confidently say Wale has his most complete work in his career with, Wow... That's Crazy. The album represents Wale fully immersing himself into his artistry with a freedom that doesn't care for outside validation. From records about black love, therapy, growing up with African Parents in America and the isolation that stemmed from their lack of empathy; all the things that I resonate with personally was expertly captured musically by Wale with a record for every mood or feeling.

Songs I Wore Out: "Set You Free", "Love Me Nina", "50 In Da Safe" "Love & Loyalty"

Jon Olangi's Top 5 R&B Albums of 2019

5. Solange, When I Get Home

4. PJ Morton, PAUL

3. Baby Rose, To Myself

2. Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby

1. BJ the Chicago Kid, 1123

Over that past couple of years, it was almost certain that BJ the Chicago Kid was a guest feature on one of your favorite albums. From elite performances on Kendrick Lamar's "Kush & Corinthians", School Boy Q's "Studio", Anderson .Paak's "Waters", and many more classics, there's a reason your favorite artists are calling up BJ to put a hook or even a simple harmony on their records. In regards to traditional R&B, BJ is the last of dying breed in a genre that continues to be modernized by autotuning, and topics that rarely reflect on the soul, rhythm and blues that is at the core of R&B. Following up his 2016 debut album , In My Mind, BJ came back with a perfectly balanced R&B album that emphasizes the traumas and joy that exist in love and life. 1123 was recently nominated for Best R&B Album by the Grammys, and my favorite record off the album, "Time Today" was also nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance. As little confidence as I have in the academy to get this one right, I certainly wont need them to tell me that 1123 was undoubtedly the best R&B album I heard in 2019.

Songs I Wore Out: "Time Today", "Feel The Vibe", "Get Away", " Reach", "Close"

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