• E-Benny

My Favorite Music Artists of 2019 : Presented By Apple Music.

The year 2019 has blessed us with amazing content, magnificent albums and absolutely creative artists. This non exhaustive list comprises of artists that I frequently listened to, due to their amazing music catalog and praiseworthy albums. Enjoy!


The year 2019 is almost over and we are about to cap off this decade with a bang. This year in music was filled with a diverse array of bangers such as “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Lizzo’s “Truth hurts”. However, Apple Music’s team finally came out Replay and assorted every user’s most streamed artists, albums and songs of the year.


It was absolutely refreshing to see who and what I listened to throughout the year! This is a new model that the streaming service has developed in lieu of Spotify’s Wrapped.


Remarkably, I managed to listen to 221 different artists during the year and 266 albums. This is quite expected due to extensive love of music. Thus, I will be focusing on my top artists of this year and explain why you need to give them a listen.

Alpha Wann

"Je peux pas redonner la vue a l'aveugle ... Et c'est toujours f**k les cops, ouais. Les porcs souhaitent contrôler les jeunes n***s en sportswear. L'ennemi est proche, j'suis en première ligne. Le public est proche comme en Premier League. J'peux pas faire de miracles comme je l'ai dit dans la première ligne." (Lyrics from "Langage Crypté")

Alpha Wann is a French rapper of Guinean descent who injects heavy lyrical doses to his game. His melodic flow and numerous punchlines are always worth the listen. I found out about Philly Fuego aka Alpha, through radio freestyles with other French rappers such as Sneazzy and Nekfeu.


Alpha Wann always has a social and political message in his songs such as seeking justice for Adama and Théo in “Stupéfiant Et Noir” and the current exploitation of Africa in “Shanghai”.


Nonetheless, I spent 35 hours listening to Alpha Wann because of his legendary album and magnum opus, “Une Main Lave L’Autre” (UMLA), which means one hand washes the other. This album didn’t receive the numerous press coverage and attention that many other studio albums attained due to the fact that he rapped in French and didn’t achieve the huge sales. Despite all that, UMLA has an arsenal of bangers.


Bad Bunny

"La calle esta en fuego, cuida'o no te quemes. Todos quieren ser yo, quieren mi ADN. De ellos soy leyenda y todavía un nene. Ella no te menciona y menos si se viene." (Lyrics from "La Romana Ft. El Alfa")

When Bad Bunny released X 100PRE, I listened to it in one sitting. I then concluded that the album was indeed a classic. He had done so many features and released numerous singles under the Hear This Music record label that it was confusing to understand his true flow.


However, the Spanish trap artist did not disappoint. His album contained a list of bangers such as “Ni Bien Ni Mal”, “La Romana Ft. El Alfa”, “Solo De Mi” and “200 MPH”. He had elements of hip-hop, dembow, R&B, reggaeton and bachata while making the entire album and theme extremely cohesive. X 100PRE definitely also deserves a listen because I actually took the opportunity to see him live at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA.


Jhay Cortez

"Me mira como si supiera. Lo que hay en mi mente. Yo quiero robarte hoy, como un delincuente. Pasa más tiempo y más siento. Solamente te diré, que si tú me das el chance, no miento. Yo te agarraré y haré contigo. Cosas que nunca imaginaste y tocarte en lugares que tu no me enseñaste." (Lyrics from "Imaginaste")

I have to admit, I actually didn’t know who he was neither did I know anything about his worldwide hit “No Me Conoce” with J. Balvin and Bad Bunny. I listened to his debut album Famouz only because of the cover art. I was tired of listening to the same artists and decided to venture into the world of Jhayco.


Fortunately, the album blew my mind to become my most listened to album of 2019. Famouz was a masterpiece that embodied the genre of modern reggaeton. Surprisingly, “No Me Conoce” wasn’t even the best song. “Easy”, “Apaga Las Luces”, “Imaginaste” and “Sabe” were instant favorites. His underrated songs such as “Cuanto E$” and “Somos Iguales” featuring Zion and Lennox were also excellently recorded. Jhay’s flow and songwriting skills mixed with the perfect engineered songs makes Famouz a must-listen.


Beast Coast

"Everybody saying I'm a dead man. This right here is a confession. I never show love with my left hand. Never really f***ed with no yes-men" (Lyrics from "Left Hand")

Beast coast is a large hip-hop group made up of PRO ERA, The Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies. All groups finally came together to make their extraordinary debut album, Escape From New York and it dragged me into their world of obscurity.


I’m a huge fan of Joey Bada$$ and New York rap. I’ve been following the rapper since his 1999 mixtape and I haven’t shown any signs of regret. However, this time his entire team packed the heat with hits such as “Desperado”, “Rubberband”, “Distance” and “Left Hand”. The latter was ranked as my 8th favorite song according to the metrics from Apple Music.


Escape From New York embodies themes of resistance, aggression and power as Joey and his team successfully create a spell to transport listeners into a realm of supreme energy.


The Weeknd

"Show me your broken heart and all your scars ... I'll take you as you are." (Lyrics From "As You Are")

I want to make this distinction clear. Both The Weeknd and Dalex have almost the same flow and lyrical content. Both sing about hedonism, erotic love and sexual appeal. Maybe, Abel Tesfaye takes it a bit far with his drug references.


Nonetheless, The Weeknd hasn’t released a studio album since his platinum album Behind the Madness. His EP, My Dear Melancholy wasn’t enough to satisfy XO fans but his music catalog has always been my safe space. His voice, sexual themes and lyrical prowess distinguish him from many other R&B singers.


I spent a lot of time listening to Trilogy and Echoes of Silence in anticipation of his upcoming studio album. However Abel apparently postponed it again and thats how I found Dalex to fill in the gap.


Dalex

"Tú y yo, dos copas de vino. Vamo' a lo que vinimo'. Que nos escuchen los vecinos. Que to' el mundo se entere que lo hicimo'" (Lyrics From "Se Te Olvidé")

Dalex is a Puerto Rican reggaeton artist who is under the Rich Label LTD record label and normally collaborates with Justin Quiles, Sech and Cazzu. I also just found out about him this year due to his oversexualized cover art for his debut music album, Climaxxx . Out of both curiosity and boredom, I took the chance to listen to him and I haven't regretted my decision.


Dalex is basically the Puerto Rican version of The Weeknd! Climaxxx was one of the best reggaeton albums of the year. It equally had a very consistent theme just like Sech’s in Sueños. His desire for erotic love, hedonism and emotionality could be thoroughly felt in songs such as “Hola”, “Lo que te gusta”, “Te vuelva a ver (remix)”, “Fuerte” and “Pa Mi”


Burna Boy

"Make you no follow me run my race. E be like sey dey don dey craze, you see. We no dey look their face. Right now I don feel irie." (Lyrics From "Run My Race")

Despite being a die-hard Wizkid fan, I have to admit that Oluwa Burna had a monstrous year. His previous album still made waves around the world and his promotional singles for his latest album African Giant, appeared in numerous charts around the world.


Bangers such as “Killin Dem Ft. Zlatan”, “On The Low” and “Gum Body Ft. Jorja Smith” had people destroying the dance floor. His studio album wasn’t as stellar as his previous one, yet it delivered a message to the world to clear their ears to listen to the rise of the Afrobeats sound.


El Alfa

"¿Pa' que tú me esta llamando? Tú no estabas hablando y ahora está mamando. Viajando el mundo, representando. Los dejé en el patio porque se están matando. Bye Bye, hablamos otro día." (Lyrics From "Siéntate En Ese Deo")

El Alfa is a prominent dembow artist from the Dominican Republic and has made extraordinary strides this year. His most known track might be his appearance on the electrifying song, “La Romana” with Bad Bunny. However, that wasn’t El Alfa’s only factor in propelling him to the top of the charts in both the Dominican Republic and the entire Caribbean.


It was his magnum opus studio LP, El Hombre, which attracted numerous listeners to the modern wave of dembow, Spanish trap and reggaeton. His studio album featured bangers such as “Suave”, “Mi Mami Ft. Cardi B” and “Pa Jamaica”. El Alfa is here to stay and his captivating rap style is second to none.


Hillsong UNITED

"Lay your burden down. Jesus, my rest in peace. My reconciler. You're my every good thing. I surrender all. All I'm living for. You're my every good thing. You're my amnesty. You're my split wide sea. (Lyrics From "Starts And Ends")

There is no other christian band that does it bigger and better than Hillsong UNITED. Their influential music catalog contains classics such as “Oceans”, “Even When It Hurts” and “Say The Word”. I always listen to their albums when I read the Bible, pray and worship. It’s a no-brainer!


Their album, People is definitely one of their best works to date. Their live performances, perfect orchestration of instruments and the verve with which they sing unite the album to form a perfect cohesive work of art. Songs such as “Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)”, “As You Find Me”, “Clean” and “Starts and Ends” have the capacity to allow a listener to transcend into a deep atmosphere of worship. Taya Smith’s voice can be felt throughout the album and she manages to put me at ease whenever I listen to her work.


No wonder this album sold 107,000 equivalent album units in its first week to land at number 2 on the Billboard 200. People clearly know what the fuss is about, no pun intended.


Travis Scott

"Yeah, spendin' all my time up there gettin' faded. Yeah, handin' out the E! to the Entertainment. Yeah, you know I'm the saddest poppin' and it's dangerous. Ridin' through the clouds we goin' through the vapors. I'm just tryna get the paper, stayin' out the papers" (Lyrics From "HOUSTONFORNICATION")

Astroworld was one of the best and biggest projects of the decade. The diverse sound, lyrical prowess and the feature artists made the album an instant classic.


I spent most of my time listening to songs other than “Sicko Mode” since it was highly overplayed. Honestly, songs like “HOUSTONFORNICATION”, “Wake Up”, Who? What!” and “Yosemite” were absolutely energetic and melodious.


Young Thug

"I take the top of that Benz off. I take the top of your girl off. Richards the cost of your Murlock. Untop the top like a tanktop." (Lyrics From "Cartier Gucci Scarf Ft. Juice WRLD")

Honestly, I didn't expect to fall in love with So Much Fun. I haven’t been the most passionate Thugga fan although I appreciate his music catalog and style of rap. When I saw the cover art for this project and the feature artists on the album, I knew that I had to dedicate time to listen to this project.


Thus, on August 16th, I listened to the entire album in one setting, and it absolutely blew my mind. I couldn’t stop listening to “Ecstasy”, “Hot”, “Mannequin challenge” and “Cartier Gucci Scarf.” The latter being my favorite song on the album. I feel like I have to listen to his older songs on his mixtapes such as Barter 6 and Slime Season 3 to fully embrace his craft.


King Promise

"I no dey want make you go. Want make you stay. Stay in bed watching your pretty face. Baby girl I be selfish with you. Girl I be selfish with you." (Lyrics From "Selfish, Pt. 2 Ft. Simi")

King Promise’s As Promised album was the best album to come from Ghana. In fact, I classify it as one of the best albums from the continent of Africa. His consistent theme of love, proper sound mixing and the reinvention of high-life separated it from numerous other projects that were released this year. King Promise did his homework by also featuring OG Ghanaian artists such as Sarkodie and Mugeez on “CCTV” and Kojo Antwi on “Bra”.


In addition, the album starred contemporary artists such as Raye on “Odo” and Simi on “Selfish, Pt. 2”. One impressive thing that the artist did was masterfully mixing different languages in the album. He sang in Ga on the song “Obee Esh3”, Twi in “Abena, Pidgin in “My Lady” and English in “F.O.D.D.” There were so many things right with this album and King Promise’s hard work and creativity may have propelled him to the world’s biggest stage.


Chris Hovers

"Yeah, hold up. B***h call me beast boy. Yeah, hold up. B***h call me beast boy. Not a dollar and dream this s**t started from the bottom with a team, time to eat boy." (Lyrics From "Beast Boy")

Chris Hovers is a fantastic upcoming rapper from Washington, D.C. and currently studying at Emory University. His flow is impeccable and his music catalog is simply amazing. Even though he doesn’t have the recognition of some of the other music artists on this list, his relentless desire to produce excellent projects is second to none.


His classic debut EP, Boy Genius captured my heart with its unique sound and mixing. “Rendezvous” will take you on a trip to the stratosphere while “Beast Boy” will bring you to the eerie of The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Gimme The Loot” with its murky beat.


Sabrina Claudio

"The problem with you is that I can't get you off my mind, and I think about you all the time. It's your fault that I don't feel right. The problem with you is that you're all that I dream about you all the time and you're not right here right now. Took a minute, but I figured it out. The problem with me is you." (Lyrics From "Problem With You")

I became a Sabrina Claudio fan after I heard the song, "Too Much Too Late." I literally followed her with every project and my love for her craft grew bigger after she released her greatest project to date, About Time.


The album starred classics such as "Natural", "Everlasting Love", "Frozen" and "Unravel Me." Her sultry sound and love themed songs are incredible. Her songwriting skills and voice come together with the masterfully engineered songs on her projects.


I saw her live at the Buckhead Theatre and she delivered an electrifying and pleasant performance with most of the songs coming from the Truth Is album.


I couldn't stop listening to "Holding The Gun", "Problem With You" and "Rumors". This album had a lot more energy to it with more drums and EDM-themed sounds.


Ari Lennox

"And if you're really down we can find it. Lost in the alley, make love by a trash can." (Lyrics From "Shea Butter Baby")

Ari Lennox is my new favorite female music artist! I knew she was an upcoming superstar but I hadn’t yet listen to her music. After the release of Shea Butter Baby, everybody in the music world gushed about the production quality and discussed their favorite songs on the album.


I gave it a try and I couldn’t rid myself of her spell. My favorite songs off the bat were “BMO”, “Whipped Cream”, “I Been” and “Shea Butter Baby”.

I gave the album a second listen and fell in love with the song “Facetime”.


Rosalía

"Y se va a quemar, si sigue ahí. Las llamas van al cielo a morir. Ya no hay nadie más por ahí. No hay nadie más, no hay nadie más"(Lyrics From "Bagdad")

Rosalía’s astronomic rise to prominence has been terrific and her album El Mal Querer is a praiseworthy project that is capable of earning her numerous Grammy awards. I didn’t really know much about the artist and her works until I heard “Malamente”, which is very different from other songs sung in Spanish.


I immediately noticed that her style of singing was vastly different from reggaeton. Her genre is very similar to alternative pop and identifies with a genre labelled as Flamenco. Her voice and the beats used throughout the album give off orthodox church vibes and her emotional scream in songs such as “A ningún hombre” and “Maldición”. At such a young age, Rosalía possesses a great songwriting talent which would immediately translate into success.


Sech

"No fue prudente. Que le llames amor a lo que sucedió una noche solamente. Si se me escapó un "te amo" lo siento bebé pero estaba caliente. Los tragos llegaron a la mente. De lo que prometí no soy consciente, ey-yeah yeah, yeah. Perdóname, pero también. Te hiciste falsas promesas, piensa bien. (Lyrics From "Falsas Promesas")

Sech was clearly one of my new favorite artists, and I feel like his story and rise to fame deserves its own blog. I found out about him through his biggest hit to date, "Otro Trago Ft. Darrell" and I became an instant fan. His voice is something that makes me emotional and yet calms me down at the same time.


I listened to Sueños without hesitation and I listened to it again because I couldn't believe that someone could actually make an album that good, especially since it is in a language that I didn't grow up speaking.


I was enticed by three songs in particular, "Falsas promesas", "Que Más Pues Ft. Nicky Jam, Farruko, Dalex, Lenny Tavarez, Maluma and Justin Quiles" and "Tiene novio". He sang particularly about heartbreak, lost love and expressed them in a way that everyone would be able to resonate. "Boomerang" and "La Niña" deserve absolute praise and I hear, "Este es Sech" my knees hit the ground to sing.


It's terrific seeing a Reggaeton singer of African descent take on a genre of music that they created and were subsequently pushed away. He follows his Panamanian inspiration, El General, who paved the way for reggaeton by using his "Tu Pum Pum" sound and I can't wait to see what he can accomplish!


Conclusion

Overall, it is apparent that my current favorite genre of music is reggaeton and hip-hop. Those two absolutely blend together to form “rapeton”, a term marketed by El Guru. I would recommend every artist on this list because of their magnificent music catalog, songwriting skills and unique voices..


It is also amazing to have an eclectic taste in music. You are able to assimilate yourself in any party or gathering and identify with stories of people from different backgrounds. I can talk about the best rappers in the game to any hip-hop fan as well as discuss the prominence of Afrobeats and the history of reggaeton.


In addition, I enjoy focusing on artists who are not necessarily covered by music sites such as Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. Such websites only focus on hits and artists who appear on the Billboard chart rather than focusing on good music. Artists such as Chris Hovers, Dalex and Ari Lennox may not be dominating the charts yet they produce astonishing projects. The objective is to focus on excellence and quality rather than huge sales and bops.