From rap and R&B to K-pop, Roseandblog lists the best of the best music released in the first quarter of 2019. Find the playlist for all the songs so you can listen yourself here.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
The top 5 music genres right now are rap, R&B, female-led indie rock, K-pop, and Ariana Grande. It’s been almost a year now since “No Tears Left to Cry” was released, and she’s dominated our attention ever since. She put out two fantastic records within the span of six months, and she’s rightfully the biggest pop star on the planet.
Bang Yong-guk – “Hikkomori”
K-pop is my latest obsession, and I don’t see it fading away any time soon, especially with BTS and Blackpink showing that the genre has mainstay potential in America. On “Hikikomori,” Bang Yong-guk sings and raps about the phenomenon of the same name, wherein people remove themselves from society and live reclusive, isolating lives. It’s a great introduction to both the versatility and darker side of the genre.
Benny Sings – City Pop
The Rex Orange County “Loving Is Easy” collaborator steps out on his own for City Pop, an interesting release that not only includes songs from previous albums, but displays some of the best bedroom-pop I’ve heard in a real long while.
Boogie – “Silent Ride” and “Swap Meet”
The perfect side A and B to display the Compton MC’s versatility, on “Silent Ride” he raps with the tenacity of YG just to switch it up on the next track of his debut record Everything’s For Sale with “Swap Meet,” a pure, Chicago-style Chance the Rapper soul cut. To make it even more interesting, he’s signed to Eminem’s Shady Records.
Brent Faiyaz’s “Demonz” interlude from Death Race for Love by Juice WRLD
Ever since his appearance on “Crew” by GoldLink about three years ago, I’ve been a big fan of Faiyaz, especially after his song “Too Fast” with Sonder. He’s one of the most inventive singers in this role and I’m so excited to see what he can do when he puts out a whole project.
Cardi B & Bruno Mars – “Please Me”
It might feel like just capitalizing on the success of “Finesse,” but they both still have such chemistry on “Please Me,” perfectly released right around Valentine’s Day, and it was really cool to see a reversal where Cardi B takes up most of the spotlight on this one.
Cherry Glazerr – “Self Explained”
Indie rock is still alive and well in female-led bands such as Mitski, Frankie Cosmos, Courtney Barnett, etc., and Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr is no exception. There exist a kind of bedroom-rock on this one that sets them truly apart, with the subtle switch from bass groove and light drums to full on electric guitar that just feels so right.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – “Flat Tummy Tea”
Winner of Verse of the Month for February, Freddie Gibbs can absolutely dominate a track when he wants to, and the added bonus of production from Madlib makes the duo one of the best combos in hip-hop.
Ha Sung Woon – “Don’t Forget (feat. Park Jihoon)”
Classic K-pop. K-pop rules. If there’s anything I want you to take away from this list, it’s that K-pop rules and my latest obsession should be yours as well so we can all talk about it.
Hwa Sa – “TWIT”
I’m new to the genre, but people go nuts for Hwa Sa. She’s got a lot of Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj influence and inflections going on with her new song “TWIT,” so it’s clear to see why. She recently went solo from her previous girl group and “TWIT” already has over 21.5 million views.
James Blake – Assume Form
I was very surprised to have a contender for Album of the Year so early into 2019, especially from an artist I hadn’t completely fallen for until now, but Assume Form is truly an amazing record. Blake has been speaking out more about mental health and created a real unique sound on Assume Form, two things I am constantly writing about let alone completely enjoy.
Jamila Woods – Legacy! Legacy! singles “ZORA” and “EARTHA”
Jamila Woods’ HEAVN was one of the best records of 2016, if not the best, and if these singles are any indication, her May 10th release of Legacy! Legacy! is shaping up to be just as, if not more, amazing.
Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs
My latest review here on the site, Jessica Pratt’s Quiet Signs captures this heavenly magic of vocal reverb and delicate guitar into one, thirty-minute record that both hypnotizes and calms the listener in a confusing yet comforting combination.
Kash Doll’s verse on “Chanel Slides” by Dreezy
I feel bad overlooking Dreezy on this one, especially since it’s her song, but Kash Doll killed this verse so hard that it not only won over all of my attention on this track, but earned her Verse of the Month for January.
Kehlani – “Footsteps (feat. Musiq Soulchild)”
Kehlani really came into her own on this release, which is something I feel like she’s been working on for a good time now, and anytime Musiq Soulchild partners up with a female R&B singer, it’s usually a surefire vibe.
Little Simz – GREY Area
If there is anything not to sleep on, it’s London MC Little Simz. I’m not kidding, listen to this record right now. If you make a mental note to check out anyone from this list, and you’re already into k-pop or have chosen to ignore me and not join me in my new indulgence, then you better press play on GREY Area. One of my favorite rap releases front to back in a long time, and there might even be *cough cough* Verse of the Month from her real soon.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You singles “Juice” and “Cuz I Love You’
Lizzo is on fire this year so far, and there isn’t a person on this planet that isn’t absolutely in love with her right now. She’s a plus-sized inspiration who just got a huge feature on Playboy for her body positivity messaging, and after hits like the title track “Cuz I Love You,” girl’s got pipes on pipes.
Loco – “It’s Been a While (feat. Zion.T)”
More K-pop, it’s really that great, and it’s not even the last on the list. It’s not even second-to-last, there’s a lot more. This song is a jam, and it’s a beautiful send-off of positivity leasing up to his impending service in the military.
Maggie Rogers – “The Knife”
#MakePharrellCryAgain2019. “The Knife” is a little more pop-oriented and bouncy than what Maggie Rogers is used to, but she has amazing pop-sensibility, and it’s refreshing to see a pop song in 2019 have more introspective singer-songwriter-type lyrics.
Mahalia – “Do Not Disturb”
I’m in love with every song Mahalia puts out and this one feels like it has three hooks.
Maren Morris – “Make Out with Me”
If anyone has the potential to get me into country music, it’s Kacey Musgraves, but that didn’t entirely work with Golden Hour, so maybe it’s Maren Morris because this song rules.
Maxo Kream – “Meet Again”
One of my favorite releases early in the year, Maxo Kream’s “Meet Again” is both long and repetitive, but somehow still very captivating. He’s a born storyteller, and the narrative here of his neighborhood coupled with an amazingly chill beat just works.
MINSEO – “2 cm (feat. Paul Kim)”
This is the cutest song ever made if not also the cutest couple and cutest video, and this total bop of a song, accompanied by MINSEO’s ability to switch her facial expressions and just turn on, melts my heart like nothing else can.
Noname – “Song 31 (feat. Phoelix)”
The first song of 2019 was Noname’s, which is a pretty damn good start. Her songs with Phoelix, who produced most of her records alongside Saba, are always syncopative and unique, and “Song 31” is no exception.
Offset – “Lick”
I’m surprised anyone from Migos made this list as well, but I have to admit that “Lick” is a really good song and the production is sick. Offset has been the best rapper of the three most consistently, especially after Without Warning, and while none of their solo projects have excited me do their monotony and sheer lengths, if they’re going to keep throwing darts at the boards, some of them well stick.
Park Yu Chun – “Slow Dance”
If a K-pop star’s favorite album was Justified by Justin Timberlake, this is 100% what they would come up with, and while I have no proof that Park Yu Chun feels this way because I know nothing about Park Yu Chun other than “Slow Dance” is a great song, I do believe that he would at least enjoy “Like I Love You” if I showed it to him.
Quelle Chris – “Guns”
I’ve come to enjoy artists such as Quelle Chris and Open Mike Eagle more and more the past couple of years, and Chris’ recent track “Guns” is a fantastic introduction to the kind of hip-hop these artists create. It’s socially conscious but it’s not in your face, it’s just incredibly smart and well written.
QUIN & 6LACK – “Mushroom Chocolate”
6LACK has this really interesting contract with the devil where as long as works with everyone in R&B at least once, he’s sure to have a hit on his hands, no matter who he works with, and “Mushroom Chocolate,” which came out around Valentine’s Day, is a very overlooked track from early in the year.
ScHoolboy Q – “Numb Numb Juice”
I am incredibly hyped for the imminent return of ScHoolboy Q and the production on “Numb Numb Juice” when the pitch drops slightly down (at 0:32 in the video above) is one of the smoothest and nastily subtle things I’ve ever heard. Chills.
Sharon Van Etten – “No One’s Easy to Love”
This song has exceptional build from start to finish and Sharon’s deep voice fits so perfect over the high-pitched instrumentation, adding the darkness and, dare I say, edginess, to the track.
Soccer Mommy – “Be Seeing You”
I’m a big Soccer Mommy fan, as any kid from NYU is (she’s not even the only NYU singer here on the list), and even more of a plus, it’s the purest form of bedroom-rock! It’s dreamy, simple, and cuts to the feels. Her 2018 record Clean was also one of the best albums last year.
Solange – When I Get Home
If A Seat at the Table was an explainer for the public, the uninitiated, on why Solange deserved not just a seat, but respect for the amazing artist she is, When I Get Home was a return to her roots, and a more personal record for herself than a product for us. If A Seat at the Table was an explainer for the world on her music, and that constant fighting can make a person feel weary, then When I Get Home is the embodiment of that ideology.
T-Pain – “R.I.P. to the Parking Lot (feat. Boosie Badazz),” and The Masked Singer win
It’s a confusing album cover… because it looks like T-Pain is about to fight a video game boss, which would be cool and fine, but why is the monster wearing the Black Panther necklace? Look, he won The Masked Singer without autotune and in a giant blue monster costume, so we know that he’s amazing. He has one of the best NPR Tiny Desk concerts, and his remixes of Desiigner’s “Panda” and Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” were better than the original songs, and although his albums might not have the power that they once did in the 2000’s, I had to join his mailing list to download the previous one, so I’m assured to hear them all now and “R.I.P. to the Parking Lot” is a true T-Pain classic.
TAEMIN – “Artistic Groove”
TAEMIN’s movements don’t make any sense, and for a song called “Artistic Groove,” It’s weird that it hurts my body by just watching him move around. He might move like a character from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but I can’t deny that “Artistic Groove” is, indeed, a groove.
Theophilus London – “Whiplash (feat. Tame Impala)”
Mark this collaboration down as one of my top five favorite songs of 2019 so far. Theophilus London, from Kanye West’s “All Day” and a huge hit at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and the powerhouse vibes of Tame Impala came together full force on “Whiplash,” and if you’ve ever seen me post a video of me performing well in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, it’s coincidentally set to this amazing song.
Tierra Whack – “CLONES,” “Gloria,” “Only Child,” “Unemployed,” “Wasteland”
Tierra Whack has been keeping me alive the past five weeks as the most consistent artist in all of hip-hop. Every week, a new Tierra Whack song, for five weeks straight, and she’s shown no signs of stopping. Furthermore, they all f’in rule.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER – “Blue Orangeade”
Formed by Big Hit Entertainment, the same entertainment company that idol group BTS was born out of, Tomorrow X Together, a.k.a. TXT, hit it strong with their first EP, and “Blue Orangeade” is a highly electric and hyperactively fun debut from the new boy group.
Toro y Moi – “New House”
Toro y Moi has created a vibe both isolating and comforting on “New House,” which sounds like it could almost function as a Brockhampton interlude. The accompanying record to the song, Outer Piece, might also be Toro y Moi’s best offering yet.
Vampire Weekend – “Sunflower (feat. Steve Lacy)”
I’m not as super pumped for the new Vampire Weekend album as much as everyone else my age is, but this collaboration with Steve Lacy was at least a really cool and inventive outing from a band that at one time in music were one of the most outlandish and originally amazing things out there. It shows that they still have room to grow, and I hope we see more of this by the time the record is released.
Woody – “Fire Up”
It might be the last K-pop song on the list, but it was the first one that I fell in love with post-BTS craze. There’s a special minimalism to this pop hit when it first starts, and when the beat kicks in it just feels so right. It’s the first track on this site’s K-pop’s playlist, and it works so incredibly well.
YNW Melly – “Mixed Personalities (feat. Kanye West)”
The young 19-year-old sugar-rap star had a huge hit with “Mixed Personalties,” and sure, the Kanye West feature helped a lot too, but it’s a great song whether he was there or not. According to South Florida police, Melly might have just shot his two closest friends to death, so the jury is still out on what’s up with that mess, but at least we got a great track.
Zacari – “Don’t Trip”
I can’t lie, this song sounds like it was written by Miguel, and I don’t know how to hear any other way, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Zacari, who came up on Kendrick Lamar’s “LOVE.” and a recent T.D.E. signee, has a great song here. His latest EP, Run Wild Run Free, was a pretty good debut as well.
2 Chainz – Rap or Go to the League
Fantastic beat on “Threat to Society” aside, this entire record was surprisingly good, and it made me realize why 2 Chainz is so lauded within the hip-hop community. He presented some depth and introspection over tracks that near the four-to-five-minute mark all over Rap or Go to the League, and it might be 2 Chainz’ best album yet.
That’s it for the quarter, as if that wasn’t a lot of amazing music, and I hope you enjoy discovering something new and that the page didn’t take forever to load with all those video links. See you around for the next review, and the next quarterly round-up come the end of June. You can listen to all of the songs mentioned above on a playlist here.
Listen weekly every Friday afternoon for the best releases in music with the playlist TOO FRESH, and comment with your thoughts on the list below.