Top Twenty of 2019

Mr. Hong – Midnight – S/R A few years back, a young kid from The Bay emailed me to let me know about an instrumental EP he had release called Colors. It had potential, but there are a lot of young producers out there releasing decent instrumental EPs out there with potential that never find their voice or are just content to keep pumping out some generic downtempo beats. Mr.

Noveliss - Sword of Nature

Noveliss is an emcee from Detroit who came up as part of the crew Clear Soul Forces. Over the past few years, he's concentrated on his solo career, which has allowed him to explore his love of anime and other parts of Japanese culture through his hip hop. Just last year, he released a project called Cerebral Apex, which was essentially the soundtrack to a manga he wrote with artist Aaron Hendrick.

Terem - Still Growing

Seattle label illect has been having a good 2019, with some standout releases including albums from Rel McCoy and Sareem Poems & Newselph. What you might not expect from the label, though, is an instrumental release from a French producer. Well, however unexpected, they've paired up with an artist by the name of Terem to release an EP called Still Growing. Still Growing might be an unusual release after all the boom bap and other emcee driven hip hop that illect has put out over the years, but that doesn't mean it isn't good.

CRASHprez + knowsthetime - I'ma Die Anyway

It seems like just yesterday that I was going to see a freshman at the University of Wisconsin who performed under the name of CRASHprez open up for all of the hip hop shows in town. While he had plenty of potential in those days, it was even more fun to see him mature and come into his own during my time in Madison. That growth lead to the excellent 2015 album, more perfect.

The Other Guys - Autumn in Analog

The Other Guys are a production duo from D.C. that have worked with everyone from Tanya Morgan to Substantial, as well as plenty of releases just as a duo. Back in 2016, they released an album called Life in Analog, which was full of soulful beats meant to represent the daily grind. They returned to a similar aesthetic this summer when they announced the start of a seasonal series by releasing Summer in Analog.

1520 - Mosquito Fly & Starships

1520 is the collaboration between MC Nomadic Poet of the Legendary Planets Crew and producer Drematic XL, both veterans of the London underground hip hop scene. As students of hip hop might catch on, the name of the group comes from the address of the apartment building on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx where Kool Herc and his sister, Cindy Campbell, threw a party that is largely acknowledged as the birth of hip hop.

Royal Air Moon - Derrière la nuit

Royal Air Moon is a producer from Nantes, France, who up until this point was relatively new and unknown, with just one release to his name, Hush. Fortunately, though, it was heard by the fine people at The French Touch Connection, who are now teaming up with him to release his latest EP, Derrière la nuit. Derrière la nuit isn't an EP that will blow you away at the beginning, but as you continue to listen to it, you'll begin to hear what TFTC must have heard when they listened to Hush.

Trademarc - Blood Meridian

Trademarc is an artist and person who has had quite the journey to this point. Back in 2005, he made a collaborative album with his cousin, John Cena, You Can't See Me, which was a great success and led to his involvement in the WWE for the next couple of years. He then formed the group East Coast Avengers with Esoteric and DC The Midi Alien, who then found some notoriety from their single “Kill Bill O’Reilly” back in 2008.

Mega Ran - AGES, Vol. 1

Mega Ran has been going strong all decade long, constantly touring, and releasing a million different projects over the years, from concept albums to mixtapes and collaborations, along with the traditional EPs and LPs as well. It's only in this context that 2019 seemed like a lighter year for Ran, despite the fact that he released a collaborative album with MC Lars earlier this year. And it's not like he hasn't been playing shows and working on other projects (including a Black Materia re-release coming next year), we just haven't seen the end result yet.

Chris Orrick & The Lasso - I Read That I Was Dead

Back in October of last year, Lando Chill released an album produced by The Lasso, Black Ego. Besides being a brilliant piece of art, this album symbolized the end of an era for the two, as they both moved out of Tuscon. Chill moved on to Los Angeles, and Lasso moved back to Michigan. Then this spring, Lasso released his solo debut for Mello Music Group, The Sound of Lasso, which was an excellent instrumental album, and marked a new era for the artist.