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The 20 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2019

Following Stormzy's run up the charts, 2019 proved to be a banner year for British hip-hop with a trio of masterpieces. America's myriad hip-hop scenes delivered the goods, and African rap gave us many stellar releases.

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Estelle: True Romance

The British singer-songwriter returns with a wide range of styles to conquer our imaginations. The result? A partial victory.

Music

Janet Devlin: Running with Scissors

An Irish singer-songwriter learns how the shine of her voice can transform angst into maturity.

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Insomnia Music

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Insomnia Music Records

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Hip Hop Es Mi Cultura

This travelogue takes us four locales: Havana, Chicago, Sydney and Caracas. Each locale translates into distinctive interactions with hip-hop and its pillars of deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti.

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A Joy to Experience: Neo-Soul Singer Bilal Oliver

Bilal Oliver belongs to an elite class of late '90s Neo-Soul singers, but his guest appearances may be the true gems of his career.

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Art for the Hip-Hop Generation

The Legends of Hip Hop chronicles 50 deserving pioneers of the culture, and ultimately transforms and humanizes them.

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Symbolic Weight & the Def Jam Aesthetic

A coffee table book about rap does not sound too "hardcore" or "gangsta", does it? Well, that's because it's not. What it just might be is sincere.

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The Quest to Understand Tribe

This is supposed to be a documentary, not a fan letter. So how about some balance? It's big picture time when it comes to telling the story of hip-hop.

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State Street

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Watch the Discourse: Luxury Rap, Success and Self-Absorption

The value of a release as large as Watch the Throne is that it goes beyond the gargantuan personalities involved or even the monster show dates designed to promote it. Part of the value is the discussion it generates.

Music

My Favorite Aaliyah Things

Ten years after her passing, R&B and popular music fans still love Aaliyah. The continued vitality of her legacy speaks directly to our connection to her style, poise, talent, and potential.

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Serengeti: Family & Friends

Looking for listening pleasure in all the wrong downloads? Try Serengeti's witty and detailed narration. This is matchmaking, hip-hop style.

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The Hate for Southern Hip-Hop: Why So Serious?

The way some of us disparage Southern rap, you'd think rappers like Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame had recorded a record dissing Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane.

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Jerry Granelli: 1313

Suspenseful work from a celebrated percussionist, if not altogether satisfying.

Music

Prince's Parade: It's Really All About the Music

A large part of what I love about Prince is his ability to take his influences and synthesize them into a whole that suits his fancy. So it's not so much that he brings a new dish to the table. It's more that he explores new ways to enjoy what's already there.

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Zion I & the Grouch: Heroes in the Healing of the Nation

Zion I & The Grouch seek to recapture the best parts of their previous collaboration while trying to up the ante with new elements.

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Hal Leonard Corp.

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Daedelus: Bespoke

What's the trade off for accessibility? Here, it's an album custom fit to suit its creator but brimming with ideas.

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Marissa Levy: 63 Songs About Joe

Catching and charming, full and accessible, precious and cute.

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Z & G Music

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CrayonBox

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