#5EUK Top 10 EP's Of 2019
LADIES & GENTLEMEN! Welcome to 2nd of the three official 2019 5th Element Lists. For this one, we take a look at the ever underrated Extended Play.
EP's are wonderful, especially in this day & age. You're telling me that I can listen to a project that could potentially be as good as some albums? And they're 10-30 minutes?! Sign me up, let me go walk the dog and give it a quick spin.
EP's can be a great door for up & coming artists that want to flex their muscles but don't quite have the chops for a full blown Studio Album. Just think about the amount of artists that have blown up off a debut EP. In that fashion mixtapes have replaced the EP in some cases, but I still value the EP. It's efficient, a great starting point for the artist/fan relationship and can really be a great foundation.
So before we begin, I will say that this list is not ranked, purely because of the vast spectrum that EP's have in terms of why an artist does on. Some can be a collection of throwaway tracks, some can have as much thought as they'd do an album with, so I feel like it's better if it's unranked. I'm here to flag up some heat! Also, I have applied the "1 Artist, 1 Project" rule, like I do with my Songs of the Year list. It's only 10, it'd be a bit wack if I gave an artist two spots.
But with that said... Let's begin!
Tiana Major9 - Rehearsal @ NINE
This was the first project of 2019, album or EP, that I love and my love for it hasn't faded. I do not remember how I was put onto Tiana Major9 but "Rehearsal @ NINE" was all I needed.
Blends of traditional Soul, R&B and smidgens of psychedelia, Hip-Hop & DnB! It's just under 25 minutes of a young artist with tons of potential flexing her already great songwriting and mature voice.
For a debut EP, she sounds like a veteran, the music is timeless, it feels longer than 24 minutes but I say that as a comlete compliment. Maybe it could be because I have "CAT & MOUSE" on my Regular Rotation... Might be that.
Favourite Track: CAT & MOUSE
Katori Walker - Stubborn
From a debut EP to a seasoned EP dropper. Pasadena's own Katori Walker is such a hidden gem it's crazy. A little longer than his previous EP that made my 2018 EP. (It's funny because his previous EP consisted of five songs that were 1 minute each)
This one is more traditional from a time perspective. Seven songs, just under 24 minutes and Katori doesn't waste any time. With the 1st track "Run" a laser-focused examination on politics and black life in America.
The EP cover a lot of Hip-Hop styles like the piano-laden bop "Dolla Save Me", the slow, bassy "Roll On" and "Hometown" which is so West Coast it makes me pull a corner of my lip up to my nose. Filthy.
He packs so much lyrical content in less than 30 minutes. Can't imagine what he can do with 60...
Favourite Track: Run
Dirty Needles - Paradise
This is one of my favourite projects of this year, format be damned.
"Paradise" is such an intoxicating listen. Unlimited replay value. Once again, I have no idea how I was put onto Dirty Needles but he's got a new fan in me.
The production by Kollectiv is some of the best Hip-Hop I've heard this year. They're full fat, got the samples & that soul all true Hip-Hop songs should have.
And as a lyricist, Needles is such a natural talent. His lyrics are entertaining and sometimes make you laugh. Self deprecation like this is so rare in Hip-Hop, because it's hard to spit bars and also shit on yourself as if he's having banter with you. Love everything about this EP.
Favourite Track: 4-Matic
Blu & Exile - True & Livin'
One of my favourite duos of All-Time are back with a lil something something for ya!
Short & sweet, only three tracks so if you ever wanted to hear Blu & Exile but don't want to have a deep listening session ("Below The Heavens" is STILL one of the greatest Hip-Hop albums of All-Time) then this'll be a great starting point for you.
You will hear Blu's effortless lyricism & Exile's timeless production. You will also get features from their closest collaborators like Choosey, Fashawn & Aloe Blacc. True Hip-Hop.
Favourite Track: True & Livin'
Benny The Butcher - The Plugs I Met
In the grand scheme of things, it took me a while to even hear of the Griselda boys hailing from Buffalo, NY. But this was the first time for me and boy was it a good place to begin!
Mafioso Rap is back with the vengeance, Benny The Butcher (BUTCHER COMIN') comes through with drug bars so clean you will automatically think that "Scarface" is a Top 10 All-Time movie, even though you haven't even seen it!
Benny is genuinely that authentic. The bars are filthy, the beats are luxurious, but not in a sterile way. And the features on here... Oh my.
Black Thought, 38 Spesh, Jadakiss, Pusha T, fellow Griselda boy Conway The Machine. You don't have to know anything about drugs, Benny will teach you.
Favourite Track: 18 Wheeler (Feat. Pusha T)
Hamzaa - Phases
Now this is one of those picks where I could've easily shouted two Hamzaa EP's. The other, "First Signs of Me", was objectively the better project.
But I personally enjoyed this one a lot more. As you can gather by the cover artwork, it's very free & open. Hamzaa takes her songwriting to a more positive place. This EP simply makes me feel good!
The production behind it is more layered compared to past projects and it is so refreshing. She's a great singer and one of the UK's best upcoming talents. This one shows that she has emotional range and I for one am here for it.
Favourite Track: Someday
junior state - Levitate
The good people at ChillHop Records have been on fire this year, helping talented ChillHop producers get a platform and drop some great instrumental music with banging artwork to match.
Out of the many EP's I listened to this year that were under the ChillHop umbrella, junior state's "Levitate" was the one that stuck to me the most.
Every track starts with an atmospheric background and then the beats come in and in my mind, always pay off. There's always elements of live instrumentation like the several strings on the title track & "Townie". It does what a great instrumental project should do. Set a tone and take you on a journey and every track on here does that for me.
Favourite Track: Mighty
TrueMendous - P.S. This Is Your Father Calling
One of the most underrated lyricists out right now. TrueMendous (Boss name) comes through with a five track EP that brings her performance & lyricism to the forefront.
Every song shows her versatility, especially with the beats she hops on. They're all significantly different.
But it doesn't just stop there, she goes into a storytelling bag with "Veggie Isle Of Sainzbury's" where she tries to get to know a guy who works at the same place. Like Dirty Needles, TrueMendous has a flair for making amusing bars. The song "Still, Can't Help But Sing Along" is a highlight for me. Her flow is impeccable on a beat that is like a Lo-Fi/R&B blend.
Definitely an talent that deserves more shine.
Favourite Track: Gibberish
Otis Mensah - Rap Poetics
The Sheffield poet is back with another high-quality EP that shines a light on his machine gun lyrics that sits on smooth Hip-Hop beats.
Mensah is one of those artists that doesn't wait for you to catch up, you have to keep up or get left behind. But with that said, he does give you moments to breath by lengthening some words.
Some people might be put off by the off-kilter delivery but I honestly believe it's his USP, the spoken word delivery mixed in with the beats are so fascinating to me. His lyrics are stacked with meaning and references. Every time you listen, you're guaranteed to catch something that you didn't before. The onion layering is too intriguing not to peep.
Favourite Track: Blowaway Dream
Poldoore - Forevermore
This man here, ladies & gentlemen, is my favourite artist out of the ChillHop discoveries I've been having since University.
The instrumentation that Poldoore uses for his tracks add so much depth to everything he makes and this EP is a shining example of that.
The first track "Roses" utilises these strings and the horns... Oh my the horns are the seasoning that make the beats so nice to the ear. This happens with every track, the title track has horns but also this piano pattern that stays present in the track. It's so smooth.
Poldoore also has some great collabs on here, including a personal favourite of mine, Nymano. They create this synth-laden track that feels like floating on water. Love this artist, love this EP.
Favourite Track: Roses
And that is The 5th Element Top 10 EP's of 2019! Let me know if you've heard any of these and whether you liked them or not.
The big one... Album list next.
Hamzaa - First Signs Of Me
Koffee - Rapture
Phonte - Pacific Time
Rize - Late Night Sessions
Barney Artist - Bikes Are Bikes
TrueMendous - P.S. This Is Your Aunty Calling
Ian Ewing - Always Home
Smoke DZA & Benny The Butcher - Statue Of Limitations
Blu & Fat Jack - Underground Makes The World Go Round
Action Bronson & The Alchemist - Lamb Over Rice
XV, Freddie High & Sez Batters - First Draft