Hip-hop in 2019 is still searching for an identity—one or two projects around which to define itself. Many of the genre's alphas (Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Cardi B) have not dropped projects in first six months of the year, which has allowed emerging artists and grizzled vets to light up the boards. And while we're awaiting that landmark LP (there are some strong early contenders), the year's release schedule has been satisfying.

With his Igor album, Tyler, The Creator has stood out from the pack, releasing a musically and emotionally rich album about breakup. GoldLink similarly brought his own flavor, pulling from different corners of the African diaspora as sonic inspiration for Diaspora. Meanwhile, Anderson .Paak's Ventura melds sung vocals about romance with solid raps.

New names have shown out this year, too. DaBaby, Asian Da Brat, Polo G and Megan Thee Stallion have all staked their claim with solid projects. The former and the latter, both 2019 XXL Freshmen, have shined with Baby on Baby and Fever, respectively.

In light of Nipsey Hussle's untimely death, ScHoolboy Q and YG have waved the flag for West Coast rap in his honor, as have Mozzy and Boogie. Meanwhile, Saba's Pivot Gang and the N.Y. rap supergroup Beast Coast have both shown there's still strength in numbers, foreshadowing success for Dreamville's upcoming compilation project (set for release too late for this list's consideration).

2019 has brought top-shelf coke rap (Benny The Butcher, Freddie Gibbs), found trap stars maturing (Offset) and all-time greats showing they've still got it (Styles P). Take a look at the best of the best hip-hop projects to drop from January 1 to June 30, 2019.

See the 35 Best Projects of 2019 (So Far)

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