During the latter half of November 2019 I’m going to be doing a little write up on my top 50 songs of 2019. This is just a draft for now really, and is more accurately my top 50 songs from December 2018-September 2019. I’m without a computer at the moment so have been unable to listen to the last 7 weeks of music, but once I have caught up I will post a final ‘Top 50 of 2019’ list, which will be much more accurate.
I’ll be doing this in 10 parts (with 5 songs each), with the first being Tuesday 19th, and another coming out each day for the following 2 weeks. So, with that said, read on, listen to some of the songs, and let me know what you think, hopefully you discover some songs you enjoy!
• Dreamville – Down Bad (ft. Young Nudy, JID, Bas, J. Cole & Earthgang)
‘Down Bad’ further proves my point that 2019 is a year full of great posse cuts, bringing together 5 extremely talented artists for an absolute bop. With a catchy little hook, 5 solid verses and a real infectious beat, this song is crazy enjoyable from start to end. The song hails from Dreamville’s ‘Revenge of The Dreamers 3’ Album and features Dreamville members JID, Bas, J. Cole & Earthgang, along with up and coming rapper Young Nudy.
The beat on this one is quite interesting, combining a bunch of interesting sounds to create this strangely addictive instrumental, that overall gives me these real ‘Tony Hawk Pro Skater’ vibes. The main feature of the beat is a sound that will sound familiar to many hip hop listeners, this sample of Cypress Hill classic ‘Insane In The Brain’, and is combined with a hard hitting drum beat, some subtle bass and a number of other synths whose sound is just too hard to describe. The instrumental as a whole has this real fun skater vibe to it. JID handles the short hook, but delivers it in such a laid back nonchalant manner, helping it be super catchy while also having it break up the song a little.
This is obviously another track with so many artists that if I were to be anal and talk about each one of them in detail we would be here for a long time. I think Young Nudy is an amazing addition to the song, and think his intro sounds great and is a fantastic start to the track. I think if he were placed anywhere else in the track he may have been outshone by the numerous other rappers flexing their insane wordplay and incredible rap flows, but having his more laid back flow at the start of the track works perfectly. JID has a super impressive verse in every way, Bas follows up with probably the best rhymes on the whole track, J. Cole comes in next with some insane flows and bars over a slightly altered version of the beat, then Johnny Venus of Earthgang has the final verse which I would say is by far the best sonically. From Young Nudy’s slower, more laid back intro to Johnny Venus’s absolutely insane delivery and frantic flows on the final verse, this song has a real good progression and is just such a good listen from start to end.
Overall Down Bad is not only an impressive showing of lyrical skills and rap ability, but it’s also an extremely well made and thoroughly enjoyable song. The beat is a real earworm, Nudy’s intro is a great start to the track, and the chemistry between the Dreamville members is insane. One of the best songs on the album and one of the better posse cuts of the year.
• Skepta – What Do You Mean? (ft. J Hus)
Skepta’s 2019 album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ was full of high points, but the main track that’s really stood out to me from my first listen is ‘What Do You Mean’ featuring J Hus. This song is just an insane vibe all the way through, with some quality verses from Skepta and one of my top 5 hooks of 2019 supplied by J Hus.
The beat does a great job at setting the vibe for the song, combining this repetitious church organ synth with a low tempo, but hard hitting drum beat. There is also the presence of a mandolin or similar stringed instrument during the hook, and various other boppy electronic synths scattered throughout. It’s a strange combination of sounds, but the end product sounds incredible and sets this real mellow vibe. The hook on ‘What Do You Mean?’ Is handled by J Hus and is one of my favourite of the year, probably top 5. J Hus’ delivery and accent on the hook just make it sound incredible, even without the lyrics it would sound great. But fortunately even the lyrics are amazing, with the rhymes, wordplay and bars themselves all being impressive, with my favourite actually being the start of the hook;
“The hustle is still in my genes,
When I fell asleep I was still in my jeans”.
One final subtle touch that helps add to the enjoyability of the hook and the song as a whole is the way the hook ends, with Skepta coming in the bar immediately after J Hus’ final bar, just helping the song to flow seamlessly. On top of that, Skepta carries on the rhyme scheme used at the end of the hook in the start of each verse, a creative and fantastic little touch.
Skepta comes through with some of his best verses on the album, doing well to keep up the consistently high quality of the song set in place by the mellow beat and killer hook. As I mentioned, he starts off each of his verses by continuing on the final rhyme scheme of the hook, and he then continues on with impressive rhyme schemes and bars for the entirety of his verses, delivering it all with this real confidence and swagger. His flows are impressive, and his delivery always enjoyable, every line just seems to hit so hard. Despite the hook being a bit hard to understand for casual listeners, I find Skepta’s verses to be extremely clear and easy to follow along with, and that combined with the beautiful hook has me thinking this is probably the most accessible of the 5 UK rap songs to make my top 50 this year.
Overall this song is sonically one of the best songs of the year, the hook is just ridiculously good with this addictive quality that somehow makes the song better on every listen. Skepta does an exceptional job not to be outshone, delivering some amazing verses, and the beat compliments it all perfectly. If you enjoyed this check out ‘Bullet From A Gun’ by Skepta, or ‘Disaster’ by Fellow UK rapper Dave featuring J Hus.
• Moneybagg Yo – Wat3va I’m Wit
Moneybagg Yo’s ‘Wat3va I’m Wit’ is another standout song from his ‘43va Heartless’ album, and the third to make my top 50. This song is probably the most straightforward of the 3, and is pretty simple for Moneybagg, being just Hook>Verse>Hook>Verse>Hook. The thing with this song is just that it executed all the different components of the song flawlessly, from the beautifully sung hook, to the impressive as ever flows, to the heart felt lyrics and deliveries Moneybagg supplies us with throughout the song.
As can be expected by now, the true star of this track is Moneybagg and how well he delivers his verses. His flows, delivery and wordplay are up there with the best in the game right now, and this is a good example, being full of flow switches, emotion packed delivery and incredible wordplay and rhyme schemes, all whilst sounding fantastic. The lyrics for the most part revolve around love, and is full of amazing bars that back this up. My personal favourite is in the first verse, in which Moneybagg spits;
“Hold onto me tight, don’t let go or you’ll lose me,
Got shot by Cupid, he musta had a Uzi *gunshot adlib*”.
The beat is basic but effective, made up of a low key drum beat, some thumping bass, a simple piano melody, and even some strings at times. My favourite part of the beat though is probably this real g-funk bass which is used sparingly at parts of the song. Overall though the beat is quite low tempo and mellow, which meshes well with Moneybagg’s lyrics, which are focussed mainly on love. The hook is amazingly crafted, and despite the fact it has minimal repetition it is super catchy. The hook is quite long, with Moneybagg delivering it very melodically, basically singing it, and also keeping up an impressive rhyme scheme throughout. The hook just flows really well, is delivered beautifully and is catchy enough to keep you coming back.
Overall this Moneybagg song is probably a good example of the bare minimum a song needs to do to get in my top 50. With a good beat, nice singing on the hook, decent flows and lyrics on the verses, and an all round good vibe, this song is just really good all the way through without anything in particular making it standout. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoy the hook and love the whole song, and although it may end up losing its spot I’m quite content with it having a top 50 spot for now.
• Kevin Abstract – Joyride
Boy band Brockhampton’s founder Kevin Abstract released a super enjoyable solo project earlier in 2019, ARIZONA BABY, and one of the two tracks which really stood out to me and kept me coming back is Joyride. The song combines an experimental beat with a wide range of different flows and vocal effects, as well as one of the best hooks of the year to give us a ridiculously impressive and exciting end product that I’m still loving and appreciating more with every listen.
The beat on Joyride sounds like something you would hear on a Brockhampton album, meshing together a range of different sounds and synths in a way that gives this super cohesive, yet interesting instrumental. The beat really is all over the place in the best of ways, with a number of frantic drum beats that changes as the song progresses which give the song this kinda crazy circus feel. Combine that with the range of different live instrumentation on the track; piano, guitars, trumpets, saxophones and probably more, and you get this exciting and yet surprisingly cohesive instrumental. The beat also features some subtle backing vocals by both Kevin and fellow Brockhampton member Joba, and are utilised in a number of different ways all throughout the track. The beat as a whole is controlled chaos, and blended amazingly with Kevin’s impressive vocal performance on the track.
In terms of Kevin’s contribution to the track, I personally think this is his most impressive performance ever given, and his versatility in delivery and flows on Joyride are easily some of the best of 2019. I’ve always been a fan of Kevin, but when I first heard this I was honestly baffled at how a single person was performing every part of the track and doing it all so incredibly. To elaborate on that, this song seriously sounds like it has 3 or 4 different people just because of the differences in vocal deliveries and flows during the song. Despite all this, he consistently delivers quality bars about his life growing up, and his life now, and all whilst having it sound so damn pleasant. I won’t go on too much because I could gas up this song all day, but I highly recommend you give this a spin just to appreciate Kevin as an artist, and there’s also a good chance you’ll enjoy the song too!
Overall, I think this song really standouts from a creative standpoint, showcasing Kevin’s creativity and ability to craft an exceptional song. Like from the vocal effects, to the layers on layers in the beat, to the range of different flows, to the lyrics themselves, this song is just such a creative blend of sounds and so perfectly executed. This song is also a great example of how strong Kevin still is at a solo artist, showing that he can make an amazing song start to end without Brockhampton.
• Hoodrich Pablo Juan – Shoebox (ft. Gucci Mane & Nav)
Shoebox was a single for Hoodrich Pablo Juan’s ‘Blo: The Movie’ album released in the first half of 2019, and featuring Gucci Mane and Nav. The song is an extremely fun listen all the way through, mainly thanks to the ridiculous song structure and solid performances by all 3 artists. The song is basically just hook>Verse>Hook>Verse>Hook, but what’s crazy about it is that the first verse has sections from Hoodrich, Gucci, and Nav, whereas the second verse has rapping by just Hoodrich and Gucci. The hook is even delivered by both Gucci and Hoodrich.
The beat is easily the weak point of this track, with it being quite basic whereas all of the vocal efforts on the track are incredible. Apart from some typical trap drums and this low tempo piano like synth, there isn’t much to the beat except for this occasional synth in the background that sounds like Juicy J’s ‘Yeah Ho’. The hook on this is incredible, and was my favourite of 2019 for a solid couple of months. It follows a trend which has really boomed in 2019, which is having 2 artists perform different parts of the hook. At the time (February) I found this to be quite amazing as it was a rarity in past years, but at this point in time (November) I’ve seen it about 15-20 times this year and often executed amazingly. None the less, this hook sounds great, with Hoodrich and Gucci taking turns spitting 4 bars each for the entirety of the 16 bar hook, and both sounding excellent throughout. Both of their lyrics are very much bragadocious, with each rapping about the money they have and the things they have bought, and each of them match this with this cold, nonchalant delivery. Gucci in particular sounds impeccable, and each of his 2 sections of the hook are my favourite parts of the song. Despite being outshone on the hook, I thoroughly enjoy Hoodrich’s contribution too, and their overall chemistry makes this hook much more enjoyable than if it were one or the other.
Each of the 3 artists have different sections scattered throughout the verses, but I don’t think there are any parts at all that bring this song down, with each of them taking their turn to boast and doing so fantastically. Gucci and Hoodrich are just as strong during the verses as they are on the hook, with both of them coming through with this cold but confident delivery, and with bars packed full of flexes and impressive wordplay. Once again Gucci is the standout but the chemistry is the strongest part of all. I’ve honestly never liked Nav, but after 7+ years of listening to him I’m starting to find some verses or features I don’t mind. His feature on this is actually one of my favourites ever, despite it not being too different from usual. I think the main things that make this verse stand out is that he still sounds like robot Nav, but like he got a system update and is now capable of shifting his tone. He starts off pretty droney, but actually switches it up part way through his verse and even his lyrics aren’t as stereotypical Nav as some other verses of his. Overall just a pleasant addition to the track I think.
Overall I personally think this song is exceptional, and is one of the most creative of the year with a structure that challenges listeners, keeping them interested as you never really know what is coming next. When I first heard this song it was my first ‘Top 5 of the year’ songs of 2019, but that was 9 months ago and better songs have come out since. Despite all that, Shoebox still remains easily in my top 20, and I’d recommend this to anyone who appreciates creativity in music and playfulness when it comes to song structures. Even if you dislike the artists in this song (I personally think HPJ is just okay and have never liked Nav), I still think this is an incredibly easy song to enjoy, and just an all round fun listen.
Summary & Discussion
Spotify playlist of all songs here!
Apple Music of all songs here!
Have you heard any of these songs before? What are your opinions on them?
Do you have any recommendations for me based off these songs?
If you havn’t heard them before, I’d highly recommend giving them a listen and letting me know what you think!
– Shan –