Updated: Jan 6
There have been some great albums this year, from the UK Music scene, coming from a variety of genres, Drill, Rap, Afrobeats, Wave Music, and whatever Lancey Foux makes. our staff writers have taken some time to reflect on their favourite albums this year, so here they are.
Favourite album of the year: African Giant
Burna Boy’s ‘African Giant’ was released late July 2019. Award winning, international, Nigerian artist Burna boy wins best album of the year from me. With his authenticity and care for a better Africa.
Burna Boy continuously educates his listeners on African history. The song ‘Dangote’ informs us of the richest man in Africa being a Nigerian billionaire who still works hard everyday. These are the kind of things many are uninformed about and things we would never learn in school, which is why I adore this album.
In summary, ‘African Giant’ was definitely a win for me, the soundtrack take us on a journey to Africa. Burna has made Africa proud, charting with this album and receiving so much coverage and fame. With his authenticity being appealing to the west.
“every black person should remember, we were all Africans before we became anything else.” Burna Boy
Favourite album of the year: Little Simz "Grey Area"
Little Simz has been the most underrated artist of her generation. Not getting the deserved accolades and recognition for her amazing talent, she has continued to fly the UK flag around the world in her own way creating her own lane.
With "Grey Area" we are seeing a legend enter her artistic prime. Moving away from the (arguably offensive title female mc) and into a established artist.
If you think she can't spit, Listen to "Venom". Think she can't make timeless singles listen to "101 Fm".
Forming her own path and idenity that she in herself is an artform that many will study.
One of the most critically acclaimed album's of the year and a solid listen.
Released last year December, but still 101 FM is a beautiful song that connects with me spiritually and musically. Little Simmz has greatly improved her story telling and flow, giving this track an amazing throwback feel that transforms me back to my young/teenage years.
A song hasn't made me feel like that in a while. It's not always how big the single is, but what emotions it leaves you with.
Favourite album of the year: Skengdo & AM - Back like we never left
The past 12 months have been a mixture of highs and lows for the UK drill duo. from the nine-month prison sentences for performing "Attempted 1.0" at their London show Last year, to their tour being postponed due to a previous injunction which prevents the duo from performing music.
But with this album, is exactly as the title suggest, keeping the standards in UK Drill high with their mixtape "Back like we never left".
Not only were there the drill tracks that everyone wanted such as "Trapping and Stacking", "Fully Auto" and "Doing up map", there's still so much variety with tracks like "Brixton Boy" and "Tugg". It put AM back in your top 5 drill rappers, but really he never should have been taken out.
This was a 410 mixtape in all but name, and it was everything we hoped it would be.
Favourite Album of the year: Dave - Psychodrama
As far as top albums of 2019 go; Dave’s ‘Psychodrama’ is a must!
From the diversity, to the lyricism, to the sheer art and beauty behind the music and songs and production of the whole album, Dave made it known that he is more than just an artist that rose from the ‘hood’. Before this year we all knew him as an extraordinary artist that we, the UK, were lucky enough to get blessed with.
it also gave us an insight into the reality of his world mainly through the songs ‘psycho’ in which we are given access to his turbulent thought process and emotions. From ‘Psycho’ we can perceive Dave as a relatable artist in the sense that we all go through these waves of emotions.
We also see this breakthrough of raw emotions in the song ‘Drama’; Dave allows us to hear and see his feelings on his incarcerated brother. This is all whilst also touching on subjects that are not always addressed easily. ‘Black’ touching on the misconstrued conception of being black, ‘Lesley’ giving us a riveting and twisted story line yet strong and impactful message on domestic violence, ‘Environment’ giving us the reality of what we see and what is behind closed doors.
As far as an album goes, a concept album at that, ‘Psychodrama’ sits as more than a project; it’s a political movement with Dave as the head of this party.
Favourite Album: Lancey Foux - Friend or Foux
Lancey foux really polished his psychedelic trap sound on this tape, and the production really assists the variety of melodies he uses across the project.
The beat switches are well utilized on tracks such as "Wheres" Lancey" and "When I call" to keep you on your toes.
The whole project is roller coaster of emotions, sounds and ideas, its almost as if lancey switches between two different identities, the friend or foux.
The friend gives us the soulful and soothing melodies such as "Girl at Home", along with the soft adlibs and the manipulation of his voice.
The foux gives us the punchy rap flows on tracks such as "Psykeman", "Say nun, ain't nun".
Its the mixture of these two identities that results in lancey being able to give you so much variety, yet maintaining everything that lancey is known for.
Even the way in which the features are utilized on tracks like ghetto yout, there is always something to be surprised at with this album, and as a complete listening experience, this was definitely my favourite.
Favourite Project – D Block Europe, Home Alone
It’s been such a wild year for D Block Europe fans. They started off the year with a surprise hit in their mixtape "Home Alone". By the time they finished it, they’d put out a number of features, and two more mixtapes that kept their names on the mouths of any fan of UK rap and wave music. But I don’t think anything they’ve put out touches Home Alone.
It was a great move for fans of songs like Favourite Girl or Trophy – the subject matter was still on girls, trapping, and money, but Young Adz and LB had really locked in on their talents, picking the best beats they could find and really working on their melodies.
In my opinion, DBE really separated themselves from the rest with this project, proving themselves to be able to make a focused, varied project (time and time again after as well) and elevating themselves from just being labelled singles artists, making waves instead of just singing them.
This project for me is one of the few mixtapes this year that when I put on the first song, I want to listen to the whole project. As soon as I first heard ‘My lawyer said this is an unusual case…’ I was hooked.
they manage to keep things interesting with unique production on songs like Luke Cage, earworm melodies on In Pain Season, and great features with the autotune posse cut Keeper, and Deno’s performance on the title track.
Young Adz and Dirtbike LB really put in the work with this project, and are no longer just ‘the guys named after the rap crew’.
Favourite project: Tre Mission - Orphan Black
A definite percy from 2019 was Tre Mission’s “Orphan Black”. Tre is able to morph both Toronto and London into his lyrics and his sound. The productions, features, visuals and the project as a whole – certainly make it an album to be remembered in many, many years to come.