Ah, 2019. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and everything in between.
Some great things happened this year. Hip-hop got another diamond plaque under its belt after Lil Nas X's “Old Town Road (Remix)” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus became the biggest song on the planet for nearly five months. Cypress Hill received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and 50 Cent learned he’d be next. Missy Elliott became the first female hip-hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Childish Gambino racked up at the 61st annual Grammy Awards, taking home trophies for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Music Video.
Some terrible things happened this year as well. The murder of Nipsey Hussle sent a long-lasting shockwave through the hip-hop community in March when he was gunned down in front of his The Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles following what is believed to be have been a brief dispute between him and his suspected killer. The deaths of veteran rappers like Bushwick Bill and Bad Azz, and the arrest of 21 Savage were also among the low points the year had to offer.
In the end, we have to be grateful of all the good things that transpired, and on what better day to do so than Thanksgiving. Will 2020 be better than 2019? Time will tell, but while you knock back some beans, green, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, turkey…you name it, feast upon XXL’s list of 10 things we are grateful 2019 brought about.
DaBaby's Music Videos
2019 XXL Freshman DaBaby blew up this year due in part to him being more than your average boring rapper. His music videos are a prime example of the North Carolina MC’s charisma and comical wit, as each one is must-see TV. (Honorable mention goes to Freddie Gibbs.)
Classic Projects Finally Coming to Streaming Services
Along with new music, a number of classic mixtapes became of available on streaming services including Future’s Monster and Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap and 10 Day. Word has it that Mac Miller’s K.I.D.S. may be arriving before the year is out, which would make us feel like kids on Christmas.
A reunion of Pusha-T and No Malice seemed like the thing of hopes and dreams until Kanye West pulled off the seemingly undoable when the got the Thornton brothers together on the Jesus Is King song “Use This Gospel.”
Dreamville's Rap Camp
In January, J. Cole and his Dreamville crew put on an FOMO-inducing 10-day rap camp in Atlanta and invited more than 100 artists to contribute. The festivities kicked off the year in hip-hop on a bright note, stirring up lots of excitement and yielding great music, as well. The result was the critically-acclaimed Revenge of the Dreamers III mixtape, which was recently nominated for a 2020 Best Rap Album Grammy Award.
New Frank Ocean Music
Frank is definitely a follower of the mantra quality over quantity. After sharing only one solo song in 2018, Frank surprised fans with a handful of tracks in late 2019, including “DHL” and “In My Room.” Some more, please.
New Gang Starr Album
Guru’s death in 2010 seemed to put an end to any hope of a new Gang Starr album. Yet 2019 birthed just what fans had been waiting for: the group’s first project in 16 years. With a fire J. Cole feature, in-his-bag Preemo beats and Guru rhymes that sound contemporary, the project was well-received.
Rappers Continuing to Put Down the Lean and Prescription Pills
The theme of rappers continuing to put down the prescription pills and lean has been kept alive in 2019. Juice Wrld, Soulja Boy, Lil Pump, Lil Xan, Famous Dex and more have admitted to cutting the habit.
Soulja Boy’s “Drake!?!?!?” Meme
Big Soulja’s exasperated response after being asked if Drake is the hottest rapper out on The Breakfast Club is the internet gift that keeps on giving, It's provided plenty of teary-eyed laughing fits this year.
The Resurgence of Women in Hip-Hop
2019 has been a big year for the ladies of hip-hop, despite not getting albums from heavy hitters Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. The void left room for artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Rico Nasty, Rapsody, Tierra Whack, City Girls, Kash Doll, Doja Cat, Young M.A and more to flourish.
The Return of Lauryn Hill
It hurt so bad with Lauryn Hill not putting out new music for years, but it felt so good getting the rapper/singer’s first song in five years in November with “Guarding the Gates” from the Queen and Slim soundtrack.