A&E’s top 5 albums of 2019

2019 was quite the year in music, with releases from heavyweights like Ariana Grande, Solange and Bon Iver. While it’s hard to decide what albums were truly the best, these five projects stand out above the rest.

Morgan La Casse

Morgan La Casse

by Alex Strangman

5. Denzel Curry: ZUU

Denzel Curry has made great strides as an artist since his days in Raider Klan. His newest project “ZUU” is a testament to just how far the Florida MC has come.

“ZUU” is his fourth studio album and arguably his most complete project to date. On “ZUU,” Curry gets reflective on tracks like “SPEEDBOAT,” when he laments about losing friends and prays he doesn’t have to use his Desert Eagle. He also shouts out his native Miami with tracks like “BIRDZ” featuring Florida rap legend Rick Ross.

“ZUU” offers an explosive 29 minutes of straight bars from the 2019 Genius Community’s lyricist of the year. It’s perfect for a long bus ride or a high-energy session at the rec.

4. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR

Long gone are the days of “Wolf” and “Goblin.” On his sixth solo album “IGOR,” Tyler, The Creator continues to mature before our eyes, trading in homophobic slurs for bars about a boy being “sweet as sugar, diabetic to the first degree,” like on the track “A BOY IS A GUN*.”

“IGOR” is the next step in Tyler’s progression as an artist, giving listeners a more polished version of the jazz and funk infused pop-rap he experimented with on “Flower Boy.”

Complete with guest spots from Playboi Carti, Kanye West, Solange and more, “IGOR” paints a bright future for the versatile young MC.

3. Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Lana Del Rey utilizes her signature slow tempo crooning to perfection on her sixth studio album. Whether it’s the dreamy love ballad “Love song” or the nostalgic track “The greatest,” Del Rey succinctly captures the essence of love, both lost and found, in the modern era.

On the tenth track of NFR!, “The Next Best American Record,” Del Rey sings, “We were so obsessed with writing the next best American record, ‘cause we were just that good, it was just that good.” Whether or not NFR! is the next best American record is up for debate. Regardless, it definitely makes for a great listen.

2. Young Thug: So Much Fun

Eighteen mixtapes, three EP’s and a compilation album later, Young Thug finally graced the world with his debut studio album in August, titled “So Much Fun.”

The aptly named project is just that: fun. This album also marks a turning point in Thug’s career, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and solidifying the rapper’s spot as a 21st century hip-hop icon. With features from other rap superstars including Future, Lil Uzi Vert and 21 Savage, this album has been and will continue to be on repeat at clubs, parties and pre-games well into the new year.

1. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains

After a decade-long hiatus, Purple Mountains’ frontman David Berman, formerly of the indie rock outfit Silver Jews, makes peace with his life at rock bottom on “Purple Mountains.” 

A project that pushes listeners directly into their feels while simultaneously forcing them to bop their heads along to the beat, “Purple Mountains” comes off as an ode to giving life your best shot, even if that means sometimes falling far short of the target.

The album proved to be his final project because Berman took his own life just 26 days after its release. On “Purple Mountains,” there is a successful juxtaposition between often uplifting melodies and the melancholy lyrics contained within.

While the album can be emotionally overwhelming at times, delving into lost love, meaningless existence and utter despair, from cover to cover, Berman excels at spotlighting the beauty within life’s unpleasantries.