Best of 2019 Hip-Hop Part 5: Best West Coast Anthem of 2019 + Best Sequel + Top 50 Artists/Songs Video Countdown (#15 - #1)

Posted by Billyjam, January 16, 2020 11:55pm | Post a Comment

This retrospective on the best hip-hop of the past year is the fifth and final installment in the Best of 2019 Hip-Hop for the Amoeblog.  Scroll down to see videos and read about the final fifteen in the Top 50 Artists/Songs Video Countdown (#15 - #1) of the year; a year that surpassed all previous ones in hip-hop history in terms of sheer volume of quality releases both physical and digital/streaming only. Also below is the top contender in best 2019 sequel by a hip-hop artist to their own previously recorded song. But first up is the Best West Coast Anthem of 2019 song/video.

Best West Coast Anthem of 2019

G-Eazy "West Coast (feat. Blueface, ALLBLACK & YG)"

Following in the tradition of such classics as 2Pac / Dr .Dre’s “California Love” was East Bay rap star G-Eazy’s 2019 West Coast anthem, the appropriately titled “West Coast” (video above) featuring guest spots from Blueface, ALLBLACK and YG. Runner up was the 2019 Mellow Music Group released, Aesop Rock produced Homeboy Sandman (non-album) track “West Coast.”



  Common “HER Love (feat Daniel Caesar & special guest Dwele)”
25 full years after Common unleashed the heartfelt homage to his favorite music and culture of hip-hop with the landmark hip-hop song “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” the Chicago emcee released the perfect sequel via his 2019  Let Love LP  album (also on colored vinylCD) with the track “HER Love” that featured both Daniel Caesar and Dwele with production/beats care of his old friend, the late great J Dilla. On 1994’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.” off his second album Resurrection, back when the artist was still known as Common Sense, he expressed his love for hip-hop while reflecting on witnessing his favorite art form shift from the conscious era into the gangsta era. 25 years later on the June 2019 released “HER Love” sequel Common updates his impressions as he shares observations on contemporary hip-hop, all the while looking back at how his beloved genre/cultural movement has grown and evolved over the past two and a half decades. This “HER Love” does with such memorable lyrics as, “Two DJ's, one microphone. We freestyle, we write at home…In many ways you like my religion. When no one else did, to me you'd listen. Gangstas, Gods, you hugged and kiss 'em. No matter you stayed in my system. Who knew? Who knew that we would take it this far? I, I love you so just be who you are.” 


Video Countdown


#15 Blu+ Exile "True Livin’"

Music video for the title track from the individually mad busy LA duo of emcee
Blu and producer Exile who, in between a myriad of other collaborative projects with other artists in 2019, found time to reconnect and record and release the killer True & Livin' 12" EP (Dirty Science). The record also featured the standout track "Power To The People." That track, that ranked as perhaps the most uplifting and empowering anthem of the year, features guests Johaz, Aloe Blacc, Fashawn, Blame One and Choosey. The latter artist teamed up with Exile a couple of months for the excellent album Black Beans LP.  Meanwhile  Blu's hella prolific 2019 schedule included, not just numerous one-off song collaborations with other artists the three excellent albums;  Blu & Damu The Fudgemunk Ground & Water, Blu & Fat Jack Underground Makes The World Go Round album, the Blu & Oh No  2LP A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night (2LP)


#14 Quelle Chris "Obamacare"

Taken from the distinctive voiced emcee Quelle Chris's 2019 concept album Guns LP (Mello Music Group) was the above song “Obamacare" that the artist stated came together "organically" while in the studio in Oakland with Chris Keys (drums) and Sean 5ill (piano). Among the album's many other standout tracks is "WYRM" that may sound like the name of an East Coast radio station's call letters but is in fact stands for "Will You Remember Me?" An honestly objective song in which the 35 year old artist self-examines where his music career is at and headed with such soul bearing lyrics as  “Am I just a moment for few to see? …. Over twenty albums deep and still a new artist every two harvests Candid creep off another peak, can it be? Closer, yet further away every leap. Will you remember me?” The answer is hell yeah we will! Especially after the past year in which Quelle Chris was, after Planet Asia, one of the most in-demand/recurring guest emcees on other artists' tracks. 


#13 Atmosphere “Bde Maka Ska”

Right at the end of the same year that Atmosphere reissued, via their Rhymesayers Ent label, on vinyl Seven's Travels 3LPGod Loves Ugly 2LP and Headshots: Se7en [Anniversary Edition] 2LP  the ever reliable longtime duo of emcee Slug and producer Ant dropped the excellent album Whenever. The December 12th full-length release followed the previous month's advance single and video above for "Bde Maka Ska." Now an elder in the game of hip-hop Slug has not lost any of his legendary lyrical edge or sense of humor;  interspersing funny self-effacing "dad rap" observations into his witty flow. So far the new 12 track album is a digital stream/download only but physical CD and LP copies reportedly should be available within a month.


#12 Trizz x Defari "Weavin Thru Traffic”

From the midsummer released compilation-styled Above Cloud Vision, presented by Dough Networks and Dirty Diggs, was the Dirty Diggs produced single “Weavin Thru Traffic” that brought together two different generations of SoCal hip-hop talent; emcee Defari who began his long career as a DJ back in the 80's and emcee Trizz whose been putting it down since the past decade. With scratches care of DJ Payru and flawless verses traded by these mic talents, the song is another example of how criminally overlooked some of the best hip-hop in 2019 was. Proof is the fact that, in the five months since the YouTube video above was published, it had only received two and a half thousand views while equally or less talented Top 40 rappers would receive two and half million views in five days.


#11 MURS & 9th Wonder "Ga$ Station Gucci Belt"

Graduate of the legendary underground left coast collective, the Living Legends, and longtime friend of Amoeba emcee MURS teamed up with again with his longtime musical partner North Carolina producer 9th Wonder as well as with co-producer The Soul Council for their 2019 album The Iliad Is Dead & The Odyssey Is Over. This latest album by the collaborative duo that dates back to 2004's  Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition was a follow up to the duo's last collaboration; the 2015 album collaboration Brighter Daze. The 12 track 2019 album featured such tracks as "Night Shift," "High Noon (feat. RapsodyReuben Vincent)" and "Ga$ Station Gucci Belt" (above). MURS then followed up this album with another 2019 collaboration; Thees Handz with fellow Living Legends artist The Grouch.


#10 Bobby J From Rockaway “Let Me Breathe”

Bobby J From Rockaway’s 2019 album Summer Classics is wall to wall bangers like the head-nodding
Kwamé-produced track “Let Me Breathe” in which his lyrics, not only confirm that the emcee does indeed hail from Rockaway Queens, but also instantly displays his clever, non-stop witty put-down, stream-of-consciousness lyrical flow. Production of the sixteen track album is shared by several producers with a handful of select mic guests including the aforementioned producer/rapper Kwamé, the Wu-Tang collective's  Killah Priest and Lil Fame of M.O.P. fame.


#9 Apollo Brown  "Deception & Woes (feat. Clear Soul Forces)"

As outlined in the Best of 2019 Hip-Hop Part 4 under the category "Top Celebrated Hip-Hop City in 2019" Detroit, Michigan's proudest hip-hop son Apollo Brown outdid himself, in terms of crafting the greatest homage to his hometown, with the release of the album Sincerely, Detroit that included the song above "Deception & Woes (feat. Clear Soul Forces)."  That track's featured emcee quartet were just a handful of the total of 56 fellow Detroit artists that Apollo Brown invited to join him on his love letter to Detroit album.  Clocking in at 79 minutes, the 21-track album's numerous other artists included a balance of longtime well known acts and up-and-coming Detroit talent. This long list included Chris Orrick Ro Spit, Ty Farris, Bronze Nazareth, Kuniva,   Trick Trick , ELZhiNametag, Slum Village, Boog Brown,, Royce Da 5’9”Guilty Simpson, One Be Lo, Marv WonBlack Milk, DJ Los and Ketchphraze. The latter three artists all appeared together on "God Help Me" that was among the album's many uplifting standout songs.  


#8 L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae “Dead Battery”

In my eyes North Carolina, Seattle based hip-hop producer L'Orange can do no wrong, whether crafting his own distinctive sounding, multi-layered, intricate solo productions or teaming up with collaborating emcees like he did with his old school musical pal Solemn Brigham for the album Marlowe that ranked as the number one hip-hop album of 2018 by this Amoeblogger. In the second half of 2019 L'Orange raised the bar even higher by re-teaming up with (another collaborator of his) Jeremiah Jae for the Mello Music Complicate Your Life With Violence. The 17 track release, that included the song "Dead Battery" above, was a sequel of sorts to the collaborative duo's last full-length pairing; 2015's  The Night Took Us In Like Family.  As I wrote upon the 2019 album's arrival into Amoeba back in October; it is the sort of album that with each re-listen one discovers some additional subtle sounds hidden into its richly complex production. Pure fire from the start to finish, it effortlessly showcases both L’Orange’s complex yet soothing, retro mood crafted, noir cinematic time-transporting production values and emcee Jeremiah Jae’s ever-engaging tales and gripping vocal delivery.


#7 Your Old Droog "The Cheese" / "Under The Train (Transporting)"

Above are two Mono En Stereo produced songs, "The Cheese" and "Under The Train (Transporting)," both found on the excellent 2019 Transportation LP by Brooklyn hip-hop artist Your Old Droog (aka Y.O.D.). The Brooklyn hip-hop artist, who released no albums in 2018, sure made up for that relatively low output by dropping a total of three albums in 2019. In addition to the early summer released, modes of transportation themed Transportation, the Nas inflected emcee talent in April released the surprise album It Wasn't Even Close LP  and at the end of the year (December 23rd) he released his third 2019 album and fifth studio album of his career; the 12 song Jewelry that featured such collaborators as MF Doom, Mach-Hommy, Tha God Fahim and Matisyahu. Here's hoping that Your Old Droog will continue his prolific quality output into 2020.


#6 Lyric Jones & Nameless “Beantown (Still Lovin It)”
Above is music video for Lyric Jones' autobiographical, heartfelt homage to her Boston hometown, "Beantown (Still Lovin' It)" off the female hip-hop talent's 2019 collaborative album with Nameless. GA$ MONEY was the wonderful (albeit largely slept on) album that the femcee/singer/songwriter/drummer teamed up with producer Nameless for in 2019.  A concept album by the duo who found “common ground as they both were creating this project long distance while she drove Lyft & Uber majority of the time” and Nameless was a truck driver as noted by the artists upon the album's release. "Gas money" was their inside joke in reference to it “being the bare minimum required for their presence or services in the music business” and how each artist drives all day to make ends meet and be able to make music, they said.


#5 Homeboy Sandman “Noteworthy”

Produced by Mono En Stereo the song "Noteworthy" above is just one track off the all-killer, no-filler 2019 album from contemporary hip-hop’s leading lyrical wordsmith Homeboy Sandman's 2019 album DUSTY.  Released on October 18th the album was released by his new label home, Mello Music Group. In advance of its release the label leaked the album track “Far Out” as a free download. But back in the summer of 2019, coinciding the the announcement of the artist being signed to MMG,  they also released the Aesop Rock produced banger “West Coast.” Unfortunately that track was not included on the album. The 2019 MMG release followed several years of the Elmhurst Queens artist being with Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw Records dating all the way back to 2012’s First Of A Living Breed. His final Stones Throw release was 2018's Humble Pi  collaborative project with Boston producer/emcee Edan.


#4 Rapsody "Nina"

The above song “Nina” is from Rapsody’s incredible 2019 concept album EVE on which the longtime femcee talent themed each album track around a specific iconic black woman character. The song “Nina” for example was about Nina Simone while on the rousing “Aaliyah” Rapsody raps and sings about the late great soul/RnB vocalist Aaliyah asking “are you that somebody to keep it real with yourself?” Meanwhile the album track “Cleo” was inspired and titled after the character that Queen Latifah played in the 1996 movie Set It Off. That song examines the music business struggles that the artist herself endured firsthand in her battle to make it as a black woman artist. The overall message of the song, as well as that  of album itself, is that no matter how hard it may seem at the time you have to always stand up for yourself and what you believe in.


#3 Skyzoo & Pete Rock  "It's All Good"

In 2019 longtime  friend of Amoeba  Pete Rock, the consistently creative, legendary, influential hip-hop producer (including being a major influence on the late J Dilla) joined creative forces with Brooklyn emcee talent Skyzoofor the stellar album Retropolitan. Released via the impeccably curated Mello Music record label the album was an amazingly rich, retro-styled serving of top notch NYC beats and lyrics with such select album guests from NY and beyond as Styles P, Raheem DeVaughn, ELZhi, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine and Benny The Butcher. Further the 42 minute, twelve-track release was an homage to hip-hop culture and its birthplace of New York City. Similarly to Von Pea of Tanya Morgan fame's 2019 solo ablum City For Sale  (see Best of 2019 Hip-Hop Part 4) this album also lyrically weighed in on the current state of gentrification New York City. So concerned was Skyzoo about this topic that In advance of Retropolitans the 36 year old New York native released an emotionally-charged prepared statement writing in part that, “gentrification has supplanted tradition, this album is screaming for NYC to wake TF up—even as Pete & myself thank the city for all it’s done for us at the same time…Wake up from accepting your culture being stripped away from you!”


#2 DJ Shadow "Rocket Fuel (feat De La Soul)"
Above is the Sam Pilling directed official music video for the DJ Shadow 2019 Our Pathetic Age 2LP/vinyl double-album track "Rocket Fuel" featuring De La Soul. If you would like to see another video of the same song featuring on screen Shadow and De La (plus the Beat Junkies) check out this link to a JKL performance of the killer track that was the lead single off the November album. Released via Mass Appeal Records the double-album was divided into two parts with one record focusing on Shadow's solo productions while the second record’s dozen tracks each feature guest collaborators. As well as De La Soul this diverse list of guestes included Mass Appeal owner Nas, WikiRun The Jewels, Fantastic NegritoDave East, Pusha T and Pharoahe Monch. Upon the album's release in November the artist celebrated the occasion at Amoeba Hollywood with a meet-and-greet. Our Pathetic Age 2LP, that's also available on 2CD with the additional track "We Are Always Alone," is the first studio album in three years from the artist born Josh Davis; since 2016's The Mountain Will Fall LP that was followed up with last year's concert ablum Live In Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen LP. The new double-album clocks in at 78 minutes with 22 tracks and is divided into two parts.


#1 Gang Starr "Family and Loyalty (feat. J.Cole)" 

Topping the 2019 chart is the long defunct legendary duo of  Gang Starr, comprised of DJ Premier and the late great lyricist Guru,, whom most diehard hip-hop fans had long assumed that they’d never get to hear another new album from the iconic group but were treated to the release of One Of The Best Yet LP  (also on CD). After all the duo, whose last album was 16 years previously (2003’s The Ownerz), who had gone their separate creative ways long before the passing of Guru in 2010 at age 48 from a form of blood cancer. And as widely reported at that time the two artists had not been on speaking terms for some time with Guru having teamed up with the (widely disdained) producer Solar. Not only that but in early 2018 when I interviewed DJ Premier for the Amoeblog (at the time of his then newly released PRhyme2 album with Royce Da 5' 9") I specifically inquired if there was any possibility of a new Gang Starr album and if he had any unreleased/unheard Guru vocal tracks hidden away in his archives? 

He replied that had “some old reels” that he had to go through to check for maybe some possible unreleased Guru vocals but that “other than that we don’t have anything.” That answer and the tone of his voice didn't give me hope. But fortunately those "old reels" and vocal tracks he reportedly purchased from Solar and some other sources, plus a slew of guest artists contributing additional vocals yielded enough material for the 2019 aptly entitled album One Of The Best Yet (OOTBY). The Gang Starr album that Premier produced in his trademark fashion with lots of killer cuts and scratches was fleshed out with newly recorded vocals from such other artists as Jeru The Damaja, Q-Tip and Talib Kweli and J. Cole who is featured on the track "Family & Loyalty" (see the music video for that track up above).

Relevant Tags

Your Old Droog (11), Best Of 2019 (10), Best Of 2019 Amoeba (5), Best Of 2019 Hip-hop (5), Gang Starr (20), Dj Shadow (29), Pete Rock (13), Homeboy Sandman (42), Your Old Droog (11), Bobby J From Rockaway (1), Common (19)