Editor's Note: A tradition we have here at The 5th Element is that I love knowing people's lists. Top 5, Top 10, I live for it.
At the end of every year, I ask the people I have interviewed over the years to see if they would like to participate in The 5th Element End of Year List celebrations. For this list, we head to Michigan to look at one of our newer Friends of 5EUK, Breez. Be sure to peep the interview we had in the latter half of '19, but on here, let's get into his 2019 list.
There was a lot of dope non trap music to come out this year. I found myself scrambling to digest a good amount of it once I found out that I’d be writing this article. Here are my favourites in no particular order.
YBN Cordae - The Lost Boy
I was definitely sleep on Cordae. Spitta’s drink champs interview sent me in his direction and boy was I not disappointed! This is an album from a 22-year-old having fun.
But there's definitely underlying pain and struggle which is displayed on the standout track "We Gon Make It" ft Meek Mill.
Rapsody - Eve
This album could have been titled: The Essence of The Black Woman. Rap bigs up the black woman and reminds of us of their importance the entire album. It’s not repetitive, she simply stays on topic.
The black woman is the shit! My favourite track is "Sojourner" Featuring J.Cole. The Carolina connection is undeniable.
Oswin Benjamin - Godfrey
Oswin Oswin! OB tells his story on this album from the underdog perspective. He shares his trials and tribulations so eloquently that you can almost feel his pain.
Don’t even get me started on this man's lyrical capability which is displayed on my favourite track "Olive Oil". You can’t sleep on Oswin for too much longer.
Marlon Craft - Funhouse Mirror
MC bares his soul throughout this entire project. He attacks racism, sheds light on his anxiety as well as what is near and dear to him. None more visible than on "Family" which is reminiscent of Asher Roth’s "His Dream". Craft gives you the perfect blend of lyricism and good music.
Erik Cain - Ready Or Not
This boy raw! The talent as well as the bars. He’s sharing his pain of raising his daughter from a distance, wanting to be the best and an array of other things. His diversity and creativity are impeccable. His flow is very melodic as you can see on the title track "Heart Gold".
Chance The Rapper - The Big Day
Chano dropped his debut album and brought everybody along for the ride as well as got married. There’s huge newlywed undertones but the album is called The Big Day!
He’s not slackin' on the bars nor the sonically pleasing and even catchy songs. Non more than "Handsome" featuring Megan Thee Stallion.
Little Brother - May The Lord Watch
Pure unadulterated, soulful, majestic Hip-Hop! This is just so good! Lyricism, excellent. The song structure excellent. Very feel good and harmonious.
Throw this on and just let it ride. "Picture This" is a prime example of the bars and the song quality meshing together flawlessly.
Wale - Wow... That's Crazy
Folarin was on a mission with this one. He sets an early tone for the project with the powerful, poignant and moving track ‘Sue Me’. He’s hell bent on addressing his demons this go round.
From parenting issues to interactions with the opposite sex, the anxiety and PTSD brought on by the industry and more. A beautiful, soulful project that shows Ralph’s growth as an artist yet reminds you that he’s one of the better lyricists we have today.
Big K.R.I.T - K.R.I.T I.z. Here
A well rounded album from the Mississippi native. There’s your trunk music, songs for the ladies, the deeper tracks as well as the lyrical exercises.
More features than usual for a BK album but they are all well chosen and placed. Each serving their purpose. I love the track ‘Make It Easy’ where he let’s his aforementioned lyrical prowess shine & flourish.
Larry June - Out The Trunk
Yeehee! Uncle Larry could have easily taken up half this list on his own as he dropped 6 projects this year. It was hard to pick a favourite but this one is just too groovy.
Mr. Whole Foods reminds you stay healthy, while balancing a music career, a juice business and fatherhood. LJ flexes constantly but puts a motivational spin on it. Aye aye aye aye aye.
Curren$y - Gran Turismo
Spitta could have easily taken up half this list on his own as well. This one in particular is fire front to back. A handful of features of features perfectly placed.
This is the standard Spitta album with an abundance of car talk, weed flows, motivational stunting and the usual lifestyle rap that he founded. This is down to earth luxury rap at it’s finest. I’m jammin' to "Nothin' less" featuring YBN Cordae. The pilot is as smooth as it gets. Pop this in and ride around.
Tobe Nwigwe - FOURiginals
Ouu. This is an EXPERIENCE! Tobe twists and turns all over these beats droppin' lyrical gems in this process. He’s backed by Fat & Nell who contribute with vocals and production and even at times lyrics.
This is prevalent on "Debo" where they’re all going off. This is a must listen and you’re doing yourself an injustice if you don’t. This breaks barriers and defies genres.
The Alchemist & Action Bronson - Lamb Over Rice
It’s me. Bronsilenio is up to his usual tricks. 90s hoops, fine dining, cars such as Nissan Sentras and wild acts of debauchery are all present. Hell if they weren’t it wouldn’t be action.
This project yet short and concise is very cohesive and smooth. The flow is flawless and he’s not over exerting himself and finishing his verses. Solid Bronson project and him and ALC make the perfect pair per usual.
Tyler, The Creator - IGOR
IGOR is a perfect evolution from his previous offering ‘Flower Boy’. He’s not doing much rapping. He doesn’t have to do because the music is that good alone. When he does rap, he brings it, like the track "WHAT'S GOOD" which is just hard!
I’ve always said that TTC’s sound is very similar and derivative from Pharrell. This project is no different. Very sonically pleasing and envelope pushing all the while.
Cam'ron - Purple Haze 2
Killa! As soon as I heard this the only thing that I wanted was a Purple Haze 3 someday. This is how you return after a 10 year hiatus! Cam has mastered his talk/flow style and the storytelling remains at a high clip.
When I heard Wale featured on this I was geeked. The only issue I have with this album is that Juelz isn’t featured on "Keep Rising". This is matured, seasoned and polished Flea. "Medellin" is a testament to that. Dipseeet!