1. The Drowned God – I’ll Always Be the Same
I experienced a week-long bout of the flu this January—probably my punishment for not getting a shot. This was prior to the release of I’ll Always Be the Same, but the single “Less Than an Exit” was stuck in my head during those days. Given my terrible headache and being quite sapped of energy, the song felt strangely affirmative. Since that time, numerous songs by The Drowned God have echoed in my head, and they’ve been among my most-listened-to artists this year. I awarded the album four stars in my review, and I’ll Always Be the Same has proven memorable for its emotion and creativity.
2. The Devil Wears Prada – The Act
While I found Transit Blues to be a mixed bag (see review here) for its deviation from Prada norms, the experimentation mostly succeeds here. The Devil Wears Prada demonstrate creativity in a way that’s quite alien to metalcore, and although I don’t enjoy every song, tracks like “Switchblade,” “The Thread,” and “Numb” rank among some of their best.
3. Krum & Theory Hazit – Muddy Squirrel Tape EP
Krum and Theory Hazit both released solo albums this year, but out of the bunch, I like this EP the most. Utilizing instrumentals from Evidence’s (Dilated Peoples) beat tape which also released this year, Krum and Theory Hazit come together for a cool DIY project. At just under 10 minutes, it’s a short offering, but Krum brings some the best bars I’ve heard from him lately, and both emcees sound fantastic matched with Evidence’s underground production.
4. Kanye West – Jesus Is King
Did anybody see this coming? Intuitively, I would be inclined to say that Jesus Is King was one of the most surprising releases of 2019. I’m including this album on my list because of its novelty, wonderful sounding choir, and high-quality production. It’s different than what I usually listen to, given that I enjoy underground hip-hop and have little knowledge about gospel music. However, taking it for what it is, I think it’s well-executed and you can read more of my thoughts about the album here.