50 of the Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2019
If 2019 were a hip-hop album, it'd be about time to usher in the bonus tracks. That is to say, the year is coming to a close. So, there's no better time than to look back on the last 51 weeks and reflect on the best music produced for and by the culture.
This was a tumultuous year, with news stories fascinating (6ix9ine's high-profile legal proceedings) or tragic (the deaths of Nipsey Hussle and Juice Wrld) commanding the attention of fans, yet the actual output at times took a backseat. Many of hip-hop's heavyweights took an off year from dropping full-length projects—Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Cardi B, etc.—but there was still ample dope tracks to go around, as newer faces had an open stage on which to shine.
Perhaps 2019's rookie of the year, the prolific XXL Freshman and Charlotte, N.C. rapper DaBaby, made his presence felt via two full-length albums and a plethora of feature appearances. His breakout record "Suge" set things on fire, and by the time he dropped Kirk in September, songs like "Bop" and "Intro" detonated.
Elsewhere, fellow Freshman Megan Thee Stallion, shined throughout Hot Girl Summer and beyond, making a moment with a high-profile collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign and her own statement-making Fever project. Lil Nas X did the same, dominating the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Old Town Road," breaking a record in the process. Other rising artists like Polo G, YBN Cordae, Saweetie, Roddy Ricch, Melii, Lil Tecca and Lil Tjay also made their marks in 2019.
But the vets got busy, too. Kanye West's gospel-rap album, Jesus Is King, produced a few standouts, with "Follow God" recalling the Old Kanye. Tyler, The Creator pushed his creative limits and created a hit ("Earfquake"). Chris Brown and Drake remain a winning combo ("No Guidance"). And J. Cole dropped the biggest single of his career ("Middle Child") while also blessing a few feature slots. Meanwhile, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib dropped one of the year's most cohesive and consistently dope albums, Bandana. Lots of gems on there.
XXL sifted through a year's worth of music to pick out the 50 best songs to drop in the past 365. Rewind your favorites and update playlists with the new knockers.