Right, 2019 is over and here is our favourite music of the year.
All the music is either from the UK or Ireland, crossing a few genres and styles across rap and jazz, mainly. Even though the Offie Mag Radio Awards are obviously the most esteemed awards in the music industry, there can of course be no right or wrong list of the best music releases of 2019. You know, ’cause music is art and stuff?
But we’ve done our best here to narrow down our favourite EPs and albums of 2019 into one listicle for your reading and listening pleasure.
20. Bador – Seasons
One half of Nokia Mansion, Badrr’s solo stuff is typically more hip-hop centric and on his Seasons EP, he goes full Vivaldi.
19. Yugi – Bronze Boi
Our Pick of the Month one month, this is class basically. Some people will want to call it lo-fi and that’s fine, as Yugi’s self-reflective ‘tape put this particular sound on the map as far as a northern perspective goes.
18. Nostalgiac – Pilot
We found this when the featured Lord Apex shared it on his Soundcloud. Intrigued, we listened to every track on the Scottish producer Nostalgiac’s debut effort – over and over again. From Apex to looms to some wild US rappers, Pilot crosses genres and the Atlantic.
17. Sefi Zisling – Expanse
Really fucking funky. Israeli jazz, released by Brighton institution, Tru Thoughts. Get on this.
16. CMPND – Eagle Court
CMPND were about to blow for a while… and then they did. Released on High Focus, Wundrop’s masterful and sometimes evil-sounding production sets the canvas for he, Vitamin G and Kemastry to smear their chaotic raps on. An iconic release for our hometown. It’s also got a song called Arjen Robben on it.
15. Biig Piig – A World Without Snooze, Vol. 2 / No Place for Patience, Vol. 3
Barely even need to use written words for this one. What an artist. Two class EPs this year from Biig Piig, who done a biig tour as well in 2019. We went to the launch of the latter release and it was one of the nights of the year, too.
14. Harvs le Toad – Chicks & Tikka Naans
This subtle masterpiece released in the bleak early months of 2019 and, unlike the food of which the title takes it’s name, Harvs le Toad’s album is best served chilled. In winter, the sadness seduces you as you metaphorically cuddle this talented rapper and producer through 10 tracks.
13. Yadasofi – Negev
More Israeli jazz? Go on then. Yadasofi announced themselves with this double-track release that soundtracked our summer in many ways. Released in May, we played it all summer and had the band play at our debut jazz gig in September. Peng it was.
12. Para Fiction – EPISODE ONE: L££CH RIDDDEN / EPISODE TWO: EPIDEMIC
Para Fiction’s 2019 legacy will be remembered not only for their music, but their work ethic and infectious enthusiasm. It all kickstarted with that ‘Anti Escape’ run of gigs around Brighton where they played The Level, and ended with two EPs and a UK tour. Big flex.
11. Lee Scott – Somewhere Between Here and Then
Every year Lee Scott releases a lot of stuff, all of it good. The cult loves it all. But once a year it seems like he releases something that feels just for him. Just him in his studio, chatting all clever and Scouse into a microphone over some delectable beats. This is that Lee Scott album. The bees’ knees, this.
10. Layfullstop – Cherries
Layfullstop made lots of people sing along to a track about Pre-Menstrual Trauma and that in itself is worthy of a top 10 spot. Brickcellphone’s interview with Layfullstop shed more light on what is one of Offie Mag Radio’s most-played projects of the year.
9. Clbrks – Igloo / Snake Soup
C… L… One of the young kings of the London Underground, Clbrks shared two EPs late in the year and they both slap. Rarely has a rapper been able to sound so troubled yet so content, switching between dark lyrics and comedic ones effortless. And the voice. The voice.
8. Chlobocop – Pay As You Go
Chlobocop exploded onto our radar with this three-track EP. It’s got 999 on it, for goodness sake. Listen to it.
7. Mac Wetha – Mac Wetha & Friends
One of NiNE8 Collective’s most prolific and diverse producers, Mac Wetha’s got some very talented mates, it seems. Puma Blue, Bone Slim, Lava La Rue, Louis Culture. They all hang with Mac on this seven-song journey.
6. Kojaque & Luka Palm – Green Diesel
SPIT THAT OUT, SPIT THAT OUT. These two Soft Boys built this EP up for a while, sitting on the likes of Date Night for a year or so. Every song on it bangs, as the Irishmen mix up their styles effortlessly from trappy ones like Airbnb to lovely singy ones like Paris, Texas. Class live as well, it is.
5. Lord Apex – SSv2
If we could type out the ‘dunno’ Emoji on the Offie Mag website we would, as the inclusion of Lord Apex’s SSv2 doesn’t need much explanation. One of the best rappers in the world, we reckon. We’re really glad he got to share Vintage Garms on Colors.
4. Bone Slim – ifiwas2015 / Bone Chilled Milk
Another double entry, we couldn’t choose between these two Bone Slim EPs. Content-wise they’re like albums, telling wild stories in Bone’s own unique way. So very good, as were the visuals that coincided with each of these cult classics.
3. Verbz – Pathways
Verbz is your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper. He’s the sort of guy that makes an older rap fan go: ‘Yeah, he’s nice with it.’ Pathways was more diverse in sounds than that legendary Verbz & Mr Slipz album, with a variety of class producers and even a bit of singing from Croydon’s Biggie. We love it.
2. illiterate and Vitamin G- Illitamin G
One of the most understatedly brilliant releases of 2019, illitamin congealed the forces of two Yogocop Records favourites. illiterate’s beats very from the hard-hitting to the sleepy lo-fi, while Vitamin G takes centre stage with verses that matches each instrumental perfectly. And that one with CW Jones on the hook, Jesus Christ. There’s not a weak moment on this 29 minutes of Yogocop gold.
1. dereck d.a.c. – Umm… Random Shit
In a rogue decision, we’ve awarded the title of the best release of 2019 to an artist not even on social media. Will he even see his trophy? It doesn’t matter, for dereck d.a.c. is probably busy making more classic-sounding music like this, his debut tape. Umm… Random Shit is a young bloke with a lot to say, expressing himself in an artform that you can tell he loves. He’s got Bossa Nova samples, well-chosen skits and a homemade feel that just seems to win people over when you put it in their headphones. dereck d.a.c., thank you, sir.