MMM Staff Picks: Carlton Rolle’s Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2019
#10. Smif N Wessun – ‘The All’
Smif-N-Wessun comes back on the map with their sixth album, The All. This album brings a deep sense of nostalgia while listeners enjoy solid, soulful sounds. The Brooklyn duo dive into hip-hop to leave listeners feeling invigorated by the energy. The All is a well-rounded album that brings fans together in to the heavy flow of the group’s style.
#9. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – ‘Bandana’
This rapping duo created a follow-up to their Piñata album. Bandana is a sharper delivery with greater emphasis placed on the creative side. The duos’ rhythm flows so seamlessly at times that it’s difficult to remember it’s two people. Both Freddie Gibbs and Madlib pull deeply from a grimy energy that almost feels untamable. Without being afraid to travel the darker side of music, Bandana is a must listen.
#8. Rapsody – ‘Eve’
Released in 2019, Eve feels like an instant classic album. Many of the tracks can be listened to on repeat. Throughout the album, Rapsody sounds confident, intelligent, and cool as f*ck. Rapsody brings up concepts of female empowerment and Black consciousness. The tracks connect to refined ideas about navigating in the world at large.
#7. FKA Twigs – ‘MAGDALENE’
MAGDALENE is a deeply experimental album that invokes a sense of alienness. Comparing herself to the biblical figure Mary Magdalene, FKA Twigs uses the relation to explore her sense sexuality and openness. The album is filled with heartbreaking moments of raw emotion and distorted sound. FKA Twigs channels the medieval times through a modern lens. Listeners definitely feel the heaviness of FKA Twigs vocal expression MAGDALENE.
#6. Jamila Woods – ‘LEGACY! LEGACY!’
Jamila celebrate Black art in her second album LEGACY! LEGACY! The artist pays homage to influential icons in the industry such as Frida Kahlo, Octavia Butler, and Sun Ra. Drawing heavily from different influences, this album doesn’t embody just one genre, but multiple. Jamila speaks from each influence she names a track after accurately capturing the heart of the person. In doing so, she gives bits and pieces of her life as well. LEGACY! LEGACY! brings political thought, personal stories, and rhythmatic music together.
#5. Solange – ‘When I Get Home’
When I Get Home experimented with the structure of Solange’s voice. Listeners are taken through a loop of emotions. In many ways, Solange expands from her delicate A Seat at the Table to emphasize connections and vibes. When I Get Home is much more vague and heavy on the mood felt. This soulful album experiments with sound in a new and interesting way to keep fans listening to the album continuously.
#4. Ari Lennox – ‘Shea Butter Baby’
This sensual album is a whole vibe. The warm tones of Ari’s voice mixed with the deep lyrics she sings creates an experience that leaves listeners craving more. Shea Butter Baby has an intimateness surrounding it to create wholehearted experiences of soulful sexiness. Ari brings soul, funk, and blues into musical harmony with R&B without feeling overwhelmed.
#3. Flying Lotus – ‘Flamagra’
Flying Lotus’ music resonates deeply through hip-hop and electronic genres. Flamagra brings jazz for the forefront of the artist’s perspective. Each track feels crafted to bring instances of sublime chaos to crystal pure energy. The jazzy funk plays throughout the album, but listeners hear other sounds of IDM and soul as well. Flamagra’s emotional, technical, and musical scale is absolutely thrilling to listen to.
#2. Andy Stott – ‘It Should Be Us’
It Should Be Us brings the forces of electro-club music to a deep, slow grind. Tracks on the album bring a heavy sense of Stott’s atmospheric style to listeners. Stott delivers songs that seem as though they don’t come together until the bass drops. While known for that on other albums, Stott doesn’t allow any song to build too heavy on vocals. It Should Be Us is an intriguing change in Andy Stott’s music.
#1. Tyler, The Creator – ‘IGOR’
IGOR is a surreal breakup album that explores vulnerable emotions, hostile notions, and the desire for happiness. Tyler’s production and songwriting has created an album that further drives him toward greatness. In many songs, Tyler sounds sad, passionate, optimistic, and even a bit angry at the same time. If anything, tracks feel like the life after a hard storm. IGOR is an album of self-help anthems through introspection. Refined and emotionally charged, Tyler pushes fans to embrace the deeper path of love and overcoming the pain of a breakup. This is easily his best album to date (and one that I will listen to many more times.)
Written by: Carlton Rolle