The 20 best albums of 2019

23 December 2019, 14:16 | Updated: 23 December 2019, 14:56

Burna Boy, Dave and Summer Walker were among the names topping our list.
Burna Boy, Dave and Summer Walker were among the names topping our list. Picture: Getty

As the year draws to a close, we look back at the greatest albums that dropped during 2019. Did you favourite make the cut? Have your say @CapitalXTRA on Twitter.

It's been another incredible year of music for Capital XTRA artists, from rising stars and seasoned veterans alike.

It was a year of debut records (Dave, AJ Tracey, Summer Walker), hotly-anticipated returns (Chris Brown, Khalid) and star-studded collaborative projects (Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran).

Homegrown artists continued to shine (MoStack, Kano, Little Simz) while artists from across the world also blessed our playlists (Burna Boy, DJ Khaled).

Check out our top 20 picks from 2019 below. Have your say @CapitalXTRA on Twitter.

  1. Tyler The Creator – IGOR

    Tyler, The Creator - IGOR
    Tyler, The Creator - IGOR. Picture: Columbia Records

    Two years after dropping the Grammy-nominated album 'Flower Boy', Tyler returned in the middle of 2019 with another classic.

    Featuring appearances from Frank Ocean, Estelle, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky and more, 'IGOR' is an honest and open-hearted project from Tyler that we can't get enough of.

  2. Wretch 32 – Upon Reflection

    Wretch 32 - Upon Reflection
    Wretch 32 - Upon Reflection. Picture: Polydor Records

    A seasoned veteran on the UK scene, Wretch 32 explored yet another chapter in his awe-inspiring career with his fifth studio album. 'Upon Reflection' is classic introspective Wretch, and his lyricism on this project is unrivalled.

    Highlights include his collaboration with the landlord, Giggs, '10/10', the infectious joint 'All In' with Burna Boy and radio favourite 'Spin Around.' Nothing but greatness!

  3. Khalid – Free Spirit

    Khalid - Free Spirit
    Khalid - Free Spirit. Picture: RCA

    After smashing onto the scene with his critically acclaimed debut album in 2017, Khalid has dominated the charts and hearts of R&B fans worldwide.

    His latest offering features the smash hits 'Better', 'Talk' and 'Right Back' and is the perfect laid-back, easy-breezy counterpart to his previous work.

  4. Beyoncé - Lion King: The Gift

    Beyoncé - The Lion King: The Gift
    Beyoncé - The Lion King: The Gift. Picture: Parkwood

    To coincide with her starring role as Nala in the box office smash remake of 'The Lion King', Beyoncé gathered a dazzling collection of African musicians to create a soundtrack album for the movie.

    The story-telling masterpiece saw the likes of Wizkid, Saint Jhn and Miss Blue Ivy Carter dominate the airwaves with the joyous 'Brown Skin Girl', while the triumphant, gospel-inspired 'Spirit' firmly cemented Beyoncé at the top of her game.

  5. Young Thug - So Much Fun

    Young Thug - So Much Fun
    Young Thug - So Much Fun. Picture: Atlantic Records

    Young Thug's debut studio album So Much Fun was released on August 16, 2019. The album was executive produced by North Carolina rapper J. Cole.

    The album features appearances from the likes of Future, Machine Gun Kelly, Gunna, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert,21 Savage, Quavo, Juice Wrld, J. Cole, Travis Scott and more.

    So Much Fun spawned hit singles "The London" and "Hot". So Much Fun also became Young Thug's first US number-one album

  6. Mahalia - Love and Compromise

    Mahalia - Love and Compromise
    Mahalia - Love and Compromise. Picture: Asylum

    U.K R&B and Soul singer Mahalia released her debut album 'Love and Compromise' on September 6th, 2019.

    Highlights come in the form of ‘I Wish I Missed My Ex’, the brilliant 2018 single and "Simmer" featuring Burna Boy.

    The British star also collaborated with a fellow U.K singer Ella Mai for ‘What You Did’

  7. DJ Khaled - Father Of Asahd

    DJ Khaled - Father Of Asahd.
    DJ Khaled - Father Of Asahd. Picture: We the Best Music

    'Father of Asahd' is the eleventh studio album by DJ Khaled, released on May 17, 2019.

    The album features the singles "Top Off" and "No Brainer" along with collaborations with Cardi B, 21 Savage and Meek Mill.

  8. Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss

    Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss
    Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss. Picture: Boy Better Know

    'Ignorance Is Bliss' is the fifth studio album by Grime MC Skepta. The album was released on 31 May 2019.

    The album was supported by the singles "Bullet from a Gun" and "Greaze Mode" with Nafe Smallz.

  9. Chris Brown – Indigo

    Chris Brown - Indigo
    Chris Brown - Indigo. Picture: RCA

    Chris Brown released Indigo on June 28, 2019. The album marks as his second double album and follows up to his eighth studio album Heartbreak on a Full Moon.

    The album gave birth to six official singles, such as "Undecided", "Back to Love", "Wobble Up", "No Guidance","Heat" and "Don't Check on Me".

  10. Krept & Konan - Revenge Is Sweet

    Krept & Konan - Revenge Is Sweet
    Krept & Konan - Revenge Is Sweet. Picture: Virgin EMI Records

    Croydon-raised rappers Krept & Konan released their 'Revenge Is Sweet' on November 1, 2019; four years since their last studio album 'Long Way Home'.

    The album has thirteen tracks and features some of the greatest U.K rappers including Stormzy, MoStack, Headie One, K-Trap, Ling Hussle, D Block Europe and late rapper Cadet.

  11. Kano - Hoodies All Summer

    Kano - Hoodies All Summer
    Kano - Hoodies All Summer. Picture: Parlophone Records

    Kano is a Grime legend. Having created countless classics over the years, the East London star was back with another stunning album in 2019 after dropping 'Hoodies All Summer' in August.

    Whether it was the anthemic piano-led masterpiece 'Got My Brandy, Got My Beats', instant Grime classic 'Class Of Deja' or hard-hitting track 'Teardrops' which caught your attention, this was a project you couldn't afford to miss from an artist who continues to inspire the next generation with his autobiographical recitals.

  12. Little Simz - Grey Area

    Little Simz - Grey Area
    Little Simz - Grey Area. Picture: AGE 101

    Like fellow rapper Dave, Little Simz was nominated for the 2019 Mercury Prize with her brilliant album 'Grey Area'.

    Featuring the powerful wordplay and honest lyrics which we've come to expect from Simz over the years, this album is undoubtedly her finest body of work so far.

    'Selfish' may be one of the mast talked-about tracks from this album, but there are so many gems waiting to be discovered by first-time listeners of the London rapper.

  13. Ed Sheeran – No. 6 Collaborations

    Ed Sheeran - No. 6 Collaborations Project
    Ed Sheeran - No. 6 Collaborations Project. Picture: Asylum

    Ed Sheeran is one of the most iconic artists of his generation. At this point in his career, the singer-songwriter could pretty much release anything and it would top the charts, such is the love for the British star from his fans around the world.

    'No. 6 Collaborations' is far from being labelled as just 'anything' however, as Ed called upon some of the world's biggest rappers and singers to create one of the most eclectic bodies of work we've ever seen him share.

    Following on from his Grime classic 'No.5 Collaborations', Ed called upon the likes of Cardi B, Eminem, Justin Bieber and Stormzy, amongst a whole host of other hugely talented artists in order to make this one of the best projects of 2019.

  14. Loyle Carner - Not Waving, But Drowning

    Loyle Career - Not Waving, But Drowning
    Loyle Career - Not Waving, But Drowning. Picture: AMF/Virgin EMI Records.

    Hip Hop fans have vastyly different opinions on spitters from different eras, but it's unquestionable that Loyle Carner's sound is very now.

    A true storyteller who can legit make your mind picture every tale he tells in full HD, 'Not Waving, But Drowning' is full of biographical narratives that make you question how someone could even put such clever bars together.

    Massive shout must go out to Lyle's mum Jean Coyle-Larner because that poem in 'Dear Ben' is simply magical.

  15. AJ Tracey - AJ Tracey

    AJ Tracey - AJ Tracey
    AJ Tracey - AJ Tracey. Picture: Self-released

    2019 was the year that AJ Tracey was live and direct at pretty much every festival and live show you could imagine - and he backed up that surge in his celebrity status by releasing a powerful self-titled debut album.

    With tracks like 'Psych Out!' and 'Doing It' cementing his status as one of the UK's most talented MCs following sing-a-long smash hit 'Butterflies', 'Ladbroke Grove' sent the rapper into the realms only a few have ever experienced - mainstream superstardom. Even your nan was spitting "Yo, it's the hyperman set..."

  16. Anderson Paak – Ventura

    Anderson .Paak - Ventura
    Anderson .Paak - Ventura. Picture: Aftermath

    Anderson Paak is a man who is starting to get used to appearing on these lists, with his 2018 release 'Oxnard' featuring on our top albums of 2018 countdown. He quickly followed that up by dropping 'Ventura' just months later and we thank him for it.

    When you feature Andre 3000 on the opening track ('Come Home') and effortlessly glide into a song with legendary performer Smokey Robinson ('Make It Better'), you know you've got a serious record on your hands.

    'Ventura' is on of those albums where it's impossible to skip a single song because the project just flows that well as a whole. Priceless.

  17. Summer Walker - Over It

    Summer Walker - Over It
    Summer Walker - Over It. Picture: Interscope

    After picking up mainstream attention following her collab with Drake on hit single 'Girls Need Love (Remix)', Summer Walker went from strength to strength and dropped arguably the best R&B album of 2019.

    With heavy-hitters such as Usher, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Jhene Aiko amogst others lending a hand, 'Over It' is as smooth as it is empowering. A hark back to the last decade when R&B reigned supreme in the charts, could Summer Walker be the spark that reignites the sound into the mainstream once more?

  18. MoStack - STACKO

    Mostack - STACKO
    Mostack - STACKO. Picture: Virgin EMI

    MoStack entered the UK music charts for the first time with his Dave collaboration 'No Words' and since then the North London rapper has never looked back.

    'Stacko' is a UK classic, with floor-filling anthems such as 'Shannon' and 'What I Wanna' woven inbetween the rapper's honest, storytelling side on 'Shine Girl' and 'Girl Diary'.

    Plus, when you drop an album which features Dave, Fredo, Mist, Stormzy AND J Hus, it has to be an absolute banger.

  19. Burna Boy - African Giant

    Burna Boy - African Giant
    Burna Boy - African Giant. Picture: Warner Music

    Afrobeats is a genre that has been steadily taking over the sound of world music for a few years now and the success of Burna Boy's brilliant album 'African Giant' could be argued as the genre's crown jewel for this decade.

    From teaching you history lessons to depicting deep, emotional tales - all whilst making you wanna shake a leg - 'African Giant' is one of those albums where there are no bad songs. Issa fact.

  20. Dave – Psychodrama

    Dave - Psychodrama
    Dave - Psychodrama. Picture: Neighbourhood

    After a stunning year which saw him pick up the 2019 Mercury Prize and perform live shows around the world, Dave tops our list with his incredible debut album 'Psychodrama'.

    From the infectiously catchy and hugely successful single 'Location' to the 11 minute long emotional rollercoaster that is 'Lesley' - this album had it all, so it's no surprise it hit the number one spot on the chart on the week of release.

    A true masterpiece.

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