The 5 Most Slept-On Rap Albums of 2019

By Brandon Sasserson on December 23, 2019

The hip-hop genre has expanded into this ginormous web of various scenes and styles, encompassing impactful newcomers, rappers in the middle of their prime as well as seasoned veterans. 2019 represented another monster year for hip-hop with artists from all sides of the game contributing ear-turning music. As a result, quality projects from less famous rappers are bound to slip past rap fans’ radar. In my opinion, here are the five most slept-on rap albums of 2019.

Stalley – Reflection of Self: The Head Trip

After beginning his career as a member of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, Stalley decided to go independent in 2017. He left MMG after dropping his debut album “Ohio” in 2014, along with a few mixtapes with the label. After going independent, Stalley quietly released two albums that seemed to go largely unnoticed by the hip-hop community. Then, the rapper dropped a series of three strong mixtapes titled “Tell the Truth Shame the Devil,” which included features from Migos.

“Reflection of Self: The Head Trip” acts as a confirmation of Stalley’s full rebirth following his departure from Maybach Music. Laced with wavy, sample-heavy soundscapes, the head-bobbing instrumentation on the album acts as terrific settings for the rapper’s finely written bars and no-nonsense delivery. Stalley touches on the adversity he had to face in order to reclaim his current position in the game, as well as how he plans to continue on in his career and life. In tandem with his fascinating story of redemption, Stalley also sprinkles his verses with clever wordplay, which only enhances his stout lyrical performances. “Reflection of Self: The Head Trip” may be receiving less recognition than it should due to its scarcity of engaging hooks and choruses. Nonetheless, Stalley’s newest nine track album is a major high point in his discography and well worth more admiration than it received.

Favorite Track: “Hold It Up

EARTHGANG – Mirrorland

2019 has been a tremendous year for EARTHGANG because of their Grammy nomination for their part in “Revenge of the Dreamers III,” which is up for Rap Album of the Year. EARTHGANG also released their debut album under Dreamville Records, “Mirrorland,” a few months after the release of the compilation record that summer.

Despite these major milestones, the rap-duo still take in very minimal sales. Regardless, their newest output is an electric collection of infectious and unique tracks that consistently hit. The masterful production on “Mirrorland” is weaved with experimental samples and sound patterns that can be outlandish or melodic or both. However, EARTHGANG still infuses the circus-like madness of their rap album with fresh, new school trap sounds and vocal effects. Group members, Olu and WowGr8 employ an arsenal of flows ranging through different tempos along with an assortment of voices. “Mirrorland” is a vigorous listen both lyrically and sonically.

Favorite Track: “Avenue

Curren$y & Statik Selektah – Gran Turismo

Curren$y drops so many projects in a year that it gets tough for listeners to actually listen to all of them. Therefore, you may have missed his awesome collaboration with veteran east coast producer Statik Selektah. Selektah supplies sharp jazz and rock infused instrumentation that is supremely mixed to support robust bars. The features on “Gran Turismo” is a major high point as well, with precisely executed appearances from Jadakiss, YBN Cordae and others. Curren$y and Statik Selektah have collaborated numerous times prior to “Gran Turismo” and their familiarity with each other’s styles shines on the ten-track project.

Selektah and Curren$y make for a scorching duo as the producer’s beats mold fantastically with Curren$y’s cloud raps, which are lyrically whimsical and delivered with cutting-edge flows that are smoother than usual on this tape. There isn’t a track I can think of that stands out as a negative on “Gran Turismo;” rap fans may be missing out.

Favorite Track: “Nothin Less (feat. YBN Cordae)

Pivot Gang – You Can’t Sit With Us

Although Saba collected a fair amount of rewards and critical acclaim for his 2018 album, “CARE FOR ME,” I still felt like it was slept-on. Saba makes my list again as the lead man of Pivot Gang, and their newest project “You Can’t Sit With Us” challenges the team of Chicago based lyricists with a diversity of sonic environments. Each member has their own distinct delivery and style and it is cool to hear them pass the mic around throughout the track list. The tape is filled with personality and rhyme-for-rhyme collaborations that propel “You Can’t Sit With Us” to a level of quality that is arguably comparable to the Grammy nominated “Revenge of the Dreamers III” (minus the glitzy features).

Saba performs at an emphatic level as a lyricist throughout the album and his co-stars Joseph Williams, MFn Mello, and others excel in supporting their lead-man. There are hip-shaking bangers and soulful/delicate instrumentals incorporated into the project’s experience, and the majority of tracks are complemented with appealing hooks and choruses. “You Can’t Sit With Us” has a strong play-through from start to finish because of the variety of vibes they incorporate throughout. Its all-star lineup of contributing rappers also helps.

Favorite Track: “Death Row

Casey Veggies – Organic

“Organic” consistently kicks with vibrant, hyphy-esque west coast production that Casey Veggies tears through with fierce energy and crafty raps. The 26-year-old rapper hasn’t released a rap album since his 2015 release “Live & Grow,” but came into 2019 motivated dropping “Organic” as well as a collaborative project with Rockie Fresh. Veggies excels in keeping “Organic” riding at a high-pace with pleasurable sounds and cloud-rap instrumentation. Veggies also incorporates a fine roster of features for “Organic.”

Veggies’ newest output was also followed up with a deluxe edition that included five additional tracks later on in the year. Hopefully, “Organic” is a positive sign of things to come for Casey Veggies as he demonstrates a high level of talent and skill throughout the album. Veggies’ anecdotes and whimsical use of language stand out in a genre that is slowly losing its focus on lyricism and storytelling.

Favorite Track: “Dream$

Honorable Mention: Retch – Still Goin Up

“Still Goin Up” is the sequel to Retch’s 2017 output “Still Up,” which marked his first extended release since getting out of prison. The 2019 EP did not make the list because of its brevity. Retch dropped a full album titled, “Richer Than the Opps,” which came off as a slightly repetitive and one-dimensional collection of blood-thirsty, gangster rap bangers. However, Retch employs an extra level of focus and intensity with his EP, and the production on the tape has a greater variety of moods and complexity to it. Retch also shines with his clever, hard-hitting bars and machine-gun flows.

Favorite Track: “Sun Up

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