2019 will go down as a year that represents a hip-hop changing of the guard. Sure the rap vets held their own and made their presence felt—in the case of Drake, J. Cole and Pusha-T, without proper albums of their own—but the newer names dropped solid projects that helped them carve out their own spaces.

Of the new faces leading the pack were Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby—two 2019 XXL Freshmen who each released strong projects this year. Hot Girl Meg's Fever built on the momentum of her 2018 hit "Big Ole Freak," proving she's got serious skills on the mic and a fun, fresh perspective. DaBaby doubled up with Baby on Baby and Kirk, both of which were stacked with hits ("Suge," "Bop"). Their Freshman counterparts—Roddy Ricch, Rico Nasty and YBN Cordae—also made their marks in 2019 with stellar projects.

Some hip-hop vets staked their claim as well. Tyler, The Creator continued to marvel fans with his creative Igor album, Lizzo's Cuz I Love You marked her mainstream breakthrough after years of laying the groundwork, 2 Chainz's Rap or Go to the League found the trap star maturing and Freddie Gibbs and Madlib combined for Bandana, the long-awaited follow-up to 2014's Piñata that did not disappoint. Rapsody (Eve) and Young M.A (Herstory in the Making) also put on for the ladies with great projects of their own.

There were reunion albums that made big splashes (Gang Starr's One of the Best Yet, Little Brother's May the Lord Watch) and others who've released what is said to be their final works (Cam'ron's Purple Haze 2). Fire compilation projects (Dreamville's Revenge of the Dreamers III) and producer-rapper mashups (Young Nudy and Pi'erre Bourne's Sli'merre). Goldlink genre hopped (Diaspora) while Anderson .Paak brought the soul (Ventura).

In short, there was something for every hip-hop fan in 2019. XXL highlights the best projects of the year below.

See 50 of the Best Hip-Hop Projects of 2019

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