While 2018 was a year of titans re-entering the fray — we got albums last year from very nearly every heavy hitter, from Drake to Nicki and Kanye West to Jay-Z — 2019 was all about new names. DaBaby bookended the year with two thunderous statements in Baby on Baby and Kirk; Megan Thee Stallion established herself, quickly and confidently, as one of the most charismatic lyricists of her young generation; and Roddy Ricch broke through seemingly every month with a new hit, before dropping his uniformly excellent Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial. A new cadre of Chicago rappers emerged, led by Polo G and Calboy, who put an emotive twist on the city’s traditionally nihilistic scene, and crafted two of the best albums of the year in the process. Meanwhile, near-veterans Young Thug and Tyler, the Creator put out statements that, in retrospect, served as coronations. They, along with the chaos-courting Brockhampton, put out their most assured work to date, and established their commercial weight alongside critical consensus. These are our picks for the best hip-hop albums of the year, now that all the introductions have been made.