2019 was a relatively quiet year when it came to album releases from the biggest stars in music. A-listers like Drake, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, JAY-Z, J. Cole, and Frank Ocean opted to lay low as they plotted their next solo releases. Only one of Complex’s top five most anticipated albums of 2019 ended up seeing the light of day this year, but we live in an era of constant music releases, so there was no shortage of worthwhile material that popped up from surprising places and filled in the gaps.
Newcomers like DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, and Billie Eilish took advantage of the 2019 release calendar and dropped excellent albums that positioned them each as leaders of a new generation of stars. Meanwhile, rappers like Tyler, the Creator and Young Thug stayed true to their artistic sensibilities and released standout albums in their respective catalogs, each debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
As the 2010s come to a close, everyone has been taking time to look back on the past decade, but it would be a mistake to get too nostalgic and miss what’s happening right now. There is also a lot of groundbreaking music being made this year that will inform the sound of the 2020s. These are Complex’s picks for the 50 best albums of 2019.