10 Rap Albums That Raised The Bar(s) In 2019

After a decade of unbridled innovation, 2019 felt like a tightening of the reins in hip-hop, delivering stellar albums where artists rapped with back-to-basics clarity and precision.
Source: Brad Barket

By the time DaBaby's second album, Kirk, debuted at No. 1 this fall, the North Carolina rapper was already on his way to supernova status thanks to his first album, Baby on Baby, released just six months earlier. There was something special about him: funny, personable, entertaining in a way you couldn't contain in a frame. What really struck a chord, though, was that he was a traditionalist — rapping and enunciating in line with the form as it sounded two or three decades ago. DaBaby blew up this year because he was different in the context of his moment, the latest breath of fresh air in a genre that has always moved in cycles.

In the last decade, blogs lost their sway and social media chipped away at regional walls, allowing rap music to stretch and unhinge. Language loosened, flows got weirder. Future and Young Thug practically birthed an entire subgenre of melodic trap, whose sounds crept into EDM, R&B, even country. A 16-year-old on house arrest who recorded as Chief

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