10 Best Rap and R&B EPs of 2019: Staff Picks

From Koffee to Benny The Butcher to Lil Peep, we selected the best EPs of 2019.
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Best EPs of 2019

EPs are wonderful little snapshots of our favorite artists. They’re concise and often bombastic because of their short nature. It’s so much easier to fall in love with a body of work when we can loop it endlessly. 

With that, let’s celebrate the best rap and R&B EPs of the year, as selected by our staff. Enjoy and remember to press play!

Rapture — Koffee

Spanish Town’s very own Koffee has itRapture is clean, precise, and on point, from its production to its lyrical display to the single feature from Jane Macgizmo. In the process of delighting fans, Koffee earned herself a GRAMMY nomination. A flawless debut EP that feels original, timeless, and true to who she is. Koffee’s putting on for reggae, Jamaica, and young artists worldwide in a real and genuine way. You love to see it. — Ronnia Cherry

Clear — Summer Walker

My favorite EP of 2019 was delivered by Summer Walker. Clear is a four-song EP that only increased my love for Summer as an artist. The use of acoustic sound is Summer’s signature, and she continues that legacy with Clear. This EP reminds me of why I love live music. The bass, the guitar, even the subtle cymbals made the project perfect from beginning to end. — Simi Muhumuza

Sensitive Soul — Hope Tala

The best part about writing a periodic column about emerging R&B this year was discovering artists like Hope Tala. Hope’s EP, Sensitive Soul, has been a fixture in my rotation since August. Between its dulcet tones and bossa nova vibes, it instantly transports me to a state of tranquility. Cooing her lyrics in a lazy drawl, Hope is unconcerned with clean delivery. She sticks pretty vocal runs with the same imprecise nonchalance as a note she failed to land three seconds earlier. The effect compels you to revisit frequently to seek out these intermittent pockets of beauty. — Hershal Pandya

Sesh — MoThoro & Heather

Heather and MoThoro are ahead of most. They only provided us with five songs on their joint EP Sesh, but the project is more than enough to show off their undeniable chemistry. MoThoro’s clever songwriting shines on “Talk My Shit,” light-hearted and carefree even as he wins you over with his conviction. Meanwhile, Heather’s comforting voice makes “Reassurance” connect, with heartfelt words sung from the soul. The true standout arrives on “Not Speaking,” however, as the two go back and forth, attempting to figure out what’s next at the end of the road. — Kenan Draughorne

THE FALLING MAN — DUCKWRTH

Give the polymath his due. Nobody else this year crafted as genre-bending a project as DUCKWRTH on THE FALLING MAN. The EP could be characterized loosely as hip-hop, but it’s equal parts pop, R&B, trap, and rock. Love songs and fight songs intertwine in a menacing dance of 808s and soulful strings. When DUCKWRTH isn’t crooning, he’s speaking truth to power. “BOW” is one minute and 22 seconds of face-melting heat; “NOBODY FALLS” is a story of anger dissipating in love; “SALLIE MAE” begins sounding like John Lennon messing around with Ableton. Less EP than an experiment, THE FALLING MAN is the most interesting 20-minute project I can remember. — Zachary Miller

The Plugs I Met — Benny The Butcher

Only one rapper this year gave me the feeling of being content listening to a hypothetical 40-minute long song. Enter Benny The Butcher’s The Plugs I Met, a seven-track monstrosity with features from Black Thought, Jadakiss, Pusha-T, and a scene-stealing verse by .38 Spesh. The entire EP sounds like an insane fever dream. Rapping about cocaine will never get old and, no pun intended, messing with the recipe only makes it feel more stepped on. Where Benny succeeds isn’t in reinventing the art of coke rap, but embracing it and becoming one of, if not the most consistent rappers of 2019. — Matt Wilhite

There Is No Threat — Anonymuz

Anonymuz’s goal is to get you to fight back—a goal he states clearly at the end of his electrifying EP, There Is No ThreatThe South Florida rapper brings a versatile edge to the thundering sonic palette he raps over. I can’t imagine any other emcee putting tracks as propulsive as “Smoke” and as mellow as “Fake Shit” next to each other and not having the resulting work feel like audio whiplash. Anon’s clear and cutting raps tie every thought and barb together. There Is No Threat is bold in its balance of brooding and braggadocio, a statement of purpose any upcoming artist should take as a threat. — Dylan "CineMasai" Green

Still — Latrell James

Latrell James doesn’t wear a mask. That’s not to say the rappers of our time all wear masks, but there’s a refreshing quality to music you can trust. There’s no wonder of authenticity with Latrell. He’s not the street rapper who is running off on plugs or the wealthy mogul-in-the-making that is showing off the lavish lifestyle he built from bricks. Latrell is a Boston-born millennial who is honest about the highs and lows of being-of-age in this beautiful and trying time of ours. Still, Latrell’s 2019 EP, is a reminder of what a real person sounds like. That’s why I go back to it. — Yoh

GOTH ANGEL SINNER — Lil Peep

I’ve been listening to rips of GOTH ANGEL SINNER since the summer of 2018. One break up and one Spotify clearance later, I can now play GAS across my entire apartment, to the great dismay of my roommates. “Moving On” is my second favorite Lil Peep song. He’s kissing Styrofoam. Is it the pain pills? And his growl is perfection, too. On GAS, we get the epitome of Lil Peep, the definitive distillation of his musical and personal ethos. There’s just something about Peep’s voice and sincerity that keeps me hooked from the first yelp to the final sigh. Lil Peep forever. — Donna-Claire Chesman

Keep in Touch — Armani White

At eight tracks and a runtime of 26 minutes, Armani White’s Keep in Touch could be an album or an EP. For the sake of spotlighting the Philly native’s latest work once more before the calendar flips to 2020, I’ve decided it’s an EP. Cool? In a 2018 interview with DJBooth, White told our Donna-Claire Chesman, “It’s powerful to know your words have meaning.” One listen to Keep in Touch, and it’s clear that sentiment isn’t just lip service. White’s hunger is present at every turn, his energy as infection as the live brass backing his voice. If you read this far, it shows you’re a committed individual. Commit 26 minutes to Armani White. You won’t regret it. — Z

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