Benny the Butcher: The Plugs I Met
Already a respected lyricist, Benny the Butcher’s The Plugs I Met sees him evolved into a genuinely fearsome emcee. Going bar-for-bar with legends like Black Thought, Jadakiss and Pusha T is not only an awesome feat, it rightfully places him in lineage with hip-hop’s most effortless rhymesayers.
Tyler The Creator: IGOR
RECOGNIZE HISTORY WHEN IT’S HAPPENING. Tyler was dynamic and inventive in the evolution from Bastard to Cherry Bomb, and he’s managed to reinvent himself twice more with Flower Boy and IGOR, heightening the bar with them both. Tyler continues to improve with no signs of an oncoming plateau, and if his next album is his best, we’ll remember this post-Wolf run as one of the greatest creative streaks ever seen in the genre.
slowthai: Nothing Great About Britain
Not since Skepta’s Konnichiwa have I been so thrilled with a Grime album. Slowthai is an almost otherworldly presence over the microphone, making his debut one of the most exciting rap albums out.
Little Simz: GREY Area
Separate from the Grime scene, GREY Area is more of a U.K. Rap album that leans closer to Little Simz’ American listeners than ever before. Simz’ songwriting, rapping ability, beat selection and persona are represented well on all fronts, making this one of the most well-rounded and complete albums to speak of in 2019.
Pi’erre Bourne & Young Nudy: Sli’merre
I was surprised at first listen when the long-awaited Young Nudy and Pi’erre Bourne collab project came out sounding just okay, but when my cravings to relisten went from at-ease to ad nauseam, I realized the project was an undoubtable sleeper hit. Sli’Merre is mystifying, intoxicating and infectious from beginning to end.
Injury Reserve: Injury Reserve
Injury Reserve’s debut album is one of few MMC Editor’s Picks in the rap category this year so far for a great reason — it’s an incredibly multi-faceted exhibition of the group’s envelope-pushing profile. Parker Corey, the group’s resident beatmaker, delivers a breakthrough performance with the support of his two uber-consistent emcee cohorts. In an era where rap groups have become rare, it’s never been more clear that Injury Reserve are in a lane of their own.