By Jakob Frazier
Birmingham is the breeding ground for a uniquely diverse yet inclusive independent music scene. 2019 was a relatively quiet year in terms of full-length releases from Birmingham artists, but the releases that the city gifted us were nothing short of impressive. Let’s review some of the year’s best.
Also check out our Spotify playlist at the end of this post for all the songs we’ve included (with one exception). If you enjoy the songs, be sure to support the artists directly by following their socials and buying music directly from them where possible!
(Author’s note: While this list is largely hip-hop/R&B, there are some diversions into other genres – go into them with open ears!)
Richard Daniel uses an elegant and sensual piano-laced Erthling. instrumental to serenade the audience while cleverly combining his rapping and singing abilities.
After 20 years, Pain returns as Salvo and doesn’t miss a beat with the aptly-titled album opener which bolsters a bold horn section, energetic drums, and vocals from Dan Lord, who sounds as fresh as he did two decades prior.
This groovy Robot.Haus production primarily features Sidney Vadale funkily proclaiming her development while See’J Foster ties it up with an eloquent spoken word outro.
The BassHead Jazz trio bring energetic verses and an undeniable hook over this soulful, Southern-fried Robot.Haus beat.
A regal string sample and hard-hitting drums introduce The Monastery’s album while Carlos Charm and Paco spit witty, braggadocio bars.
Somber guitars and beautifully dramatic strings envelope lead singer Michael Harp’s heartfelt and pained lyrics about loss and love.
A fantastically calm and minimal instrumental allows Erthling. and Richard Daniel to explore their respective relationships with the universe with personal verses and a memorable hook.
“Jokes” – K1NG ELJAY w/ Hashim, FREEV3RSE
K1NG ELJAY calls on Hashim to deliver a slick hook over a thumping instrumental while they both spit fiery and punchline filled raps.
Crushing guitars and thundering drums accompany the strong vocals from Jake Vintson in this emotion-filled song that develops beautifully.
Richard Daniel and Día Leto attempt to navigate their emotions in this beautiful duet sung and rapped over a perfectly mellow Suaze beat.
Erthling. switches up the tempo on a satisfyingly chaotic instrumental, lamenting about insomnia and anxiety.
With a Houston-inspired country-rap beat, The Monastery and You Gene Write discuss their different spending habits using comfortably casual flows.
Gap Toof employs a catchy call-and-response hook and to-the-point bars about his consistency over a synth-led, club-oriented Phrasure-produced instrumental.
Mental health and how to cope are topics that K1NG ELJAY dives into over an emotional instrumental accompanied by a pleasant and uplifting Richard Daniel hook.
The Frequently take glistening guitars and soaring vocals to a new level in this sweet tune that shifts into a powerfully performed bridge.
The Qualifier boys juxtapose euphoria and anxiety with growly vocals over tight, thrashing drums, and crunchy guitars in this well-structured track.
An appropriately bright and bouncy instrumental lends itself to Sam Sharples as he sweetly croons about falling in love.
Dan Lord uses playful instrumentation that would sound right at home on Pain’s Full Speed Ahead to pontificate death.
The Green Seed furiously rap over knocking drums and a wailing guitar before transitioning into a slow-paced ethereal outro.
Jakob Frazier, aka Phrasure, a rapper who sometimes writes words that don’t rhyme. He’s committed to spreading word about some of the best MCs from Birmingham, Ala. He can be found on Facebook and Instagram.