Who Had The Best Rap Album Of 2019 (Battle 3): Gang Starr vs. Murs & 9th Wonder

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Over the last couple of years, Ambrosia For Heads has asked our readers to help us determine the Best Rap Album for 2017 and 2018, respectively. In looking at the top music of 2019, we believe that instead of letting the Grammy Awards—a committee who does not know anything about the culture—tell us what the “Best Rap Album” is, Hip-Hop Heads should raise their voices at the exact same time.

We have chosen 15 albums that we think represented the best Hip-Hop of 2019. Inevitably, we left off some LPs that you believe should be included, so, we held a wildcard round (with a write-in option) where readers picked the album they feel most deserved a spot on the list.

The bracket-style competition among the final 16 albums has begun. Every day between January 9 and January 24, albums will face off against one another. The tournament winner will be announced Sunday, January 26, the same night as the 2020 Grammy Awards. In the case of each battle, voting will close after 24 hours. The competition will go from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8 to the Final 4 to the Championship Finals, with one album emerging as the victor. The third battle of the tourney’ is between Gang Starr’s One Of The Best Yet and Murs, 9th Wonder & The Soul Council’s The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over. This battle ballot is on AFH‘s Facebook page in the video. Make sure your opinion is heard. Vote there, and be counted. UPDATE: Gang Starr’s One Of The Best Yet has defeated Murs, 9th Wonder & The Soul Council’s The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over, 87% to 13%.

Gang Starr – One Of The Best Yet

Over 15 years since the iconic duo’s last release, and nearly a decade since the passing of Guru, Gang Starr resurfaced with One Of The Best Yet, the seventh full-length album in the pair’s historical 30-year campaign. While posthumous releases can oftentimes bear a stale and disconnected undercurrent, DJ Premier ingrained the spirit of Guru so tightly within this effort’s fabric. It is as if Baldhead Slick was still in the flesh, blessing the mic. Entirely produced by the legendary Preemo, it took him (along with Guru’s estate) sparring with Solar (a later collaborator of Guru’s) to obtain the rights to unreleased vocals that eventually became the foundation of this project. Part philosopher and part lyrical executioner, the unearthing of Guru’s buried words act as a grand testimony to his technique and impact transcending the test of time. These are evident in video singles such as “Family And Loyalty” and “Bad Name.” One Of The Best Yet also serves as a refreshing marriage between the then and now, with the elected features of contemporaries (Q-Tip), family members (Jeru, Group Home, M.O.P., etc.) and modern heavyweights (J. Cole, Royce, Talib) seamlessly blending distant eras. While closure wasn’t necessary in regards to Gang Starr’s standing within the history books, One Of The Best Yet does allow for a warmer and more triumphant conclusion to an otherwise magnificent tale of Hip-Hop supremacy. As Preemo’s renowned cuts have suggested throughout the duo’s existence, we’ve been “rocking with the best” for three decades now. What a true gift it is for the Hip-Hop faithful to have the pleasure of doing so with new Gang Starr, at least one more time. – Michael Blair

Released: November 1, 2019
Label: Gang Starr Enterprises/To The Top
Guests: Q-Tip, M.O.P. (Billy Danze & Lil Fame), Royce 5’9, Jeru The Damaja, J. Cole, Talib Kweli, Ne-Yo, Nitty Scott, Big Shug, Freddie Foxxx, Group Home (Lil Dap & Melachi The Nutcracker)
Producer: self

Murs, 9th Wonder And The Soul Council – The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over

Ever since he first burst on the scene with the Living Legends in the mid-1990s, Murs has stood out from the pack. The Los Angeles, California journeyman has made an impact with a plethora of labels and crews, morphing from underground road warrior to an MC hiring Snoop Dogg and DJ Quik to work on major label LPs. However, in a sprawling discography that includes side-projects like Felt, The White Mandingos, MURSDAY!, Murray’s music with 9th Wonder has been some of the best and most definitive of his career. The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over is buoyed by powerful and poignant songs like “My Hero,” which details the harsh reality of a sex worker and “Tony Robbins Pocketbook,” a song that is equal parts self-affirmation and invaluable advice. Other highlights include Murs’ candid relationship songs “Give Me A Reason,” “F*ck Them,” and a heavy cut that tells a cautionary tale about an extra-marital affair, “SIN.” Although Murs and 9th have said it before, this is rumored to be the last stop on the line. After approximately 75 songs together, Murs and 9th made plenty of great songs in the 15 years since Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition. However, the two albums that bookend this cross-country relationship may be the finest. – Jordan Commandeur

Released: August 9, 2019
Label: Murs 316/Jamla/EMPIRE
Guests: GQ, Heather Victoria, Pookie Blow, Rapsody, Reuben Vincent, $ilkMoney, URLACOJO
Producers: self, The Soul Council (Kash, Khrysis, Eric G, Nottz), JDEAFBEATS

So which is better?

Ambrosia For Heads’ Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums Of 2019 List:

Add-2 – Jim Crow The Musical
Benny The Butcher – The Plugs I Met
Big K.R.I.T. – K.R.I.T. IZ HERE
Boogie – Everythings For Sale
Dreamville – Revenge Of The Dreamers III
EarthGang – Mirrorland
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
Gang Starr – One Of The Best Yet
Griselda – WWCD
Little Brother – May The Lord Watch
Murs, 9th Wonder & The Soul Council – The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over
Rapsody – Eve
Skyzoo & Pete Rock – Retropolitan
Smif-n-Wessun – The All
YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy