NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of July In the sweaty month of July, we turned to Cuco's Para Mí, Burna Boy's African Giant and J. Cole's homie-gathering compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III.
NPR logo NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of July

NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of July

Cuco's debut album, Para Mí, is one of NPR Music's best albums of July. Cameron Postforoosh/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Cameron Postforoosh/Courtesy of the artist

Cuco's debut album, Para Mí, is one of NPR Music's best albums of July.

Cameron Postforoosh/Courtesy of the artist

Y'all, it was stupid hot in July, at least here at NPR Music HQ. And to some degree, the best albums of the month reflect that sweaty, heat-stricken mood. Cuco's Para Mí makes for a laid-back summer sway, Burna Boy's African Giant synthesizes a street party and J. Cole's Revenge of the Dreamers III gathers up all his best buds to make the ultimate hang mix.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 10 albums of July 2019. Be sure to check out our top 20 songs from the month as well.

NPR Music's Top 10 Albums Of July

  • Burna Boy, 'African Giant'

    Burna Boy

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Burna Boy, the Nigerian-born artiste born Damini Ogulu, came strolling out of the gate seven years ago with "Like to Party," an understated, R&B-influenced song with a vibe that's still recognizable in his recent work — still exquisitely relaxed and focused, but refined, more precisely calibrated. Burna's newest, African Giant, is referred to as "Afro-fusion" — but call it what it is: a syncretist opus. — Andrew Flanagan

  • Christopher Cerrone, 'The Pieces That Fall to Earth'

    Christopher Cerrone, The Pieces That Fell to Earth

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / BANDCAMP / AMAZON

    One of our most versatile composers under 40, Christopher Cerrone offers three divergent song cycles with orchestration that heightens smartly chosen texts by American poets. Soprano Lindsay Kesselman uncovers ferocious drama in Kay Ryan's fraught maxims, while Theo Bleckmann sings Bill Knott's love losses and a chorus illuminates James Wright's transfixing Midwest meditations. — Tom Huizenga

  • Cuco, 'Para Mí'

    Cuco, Para Mí

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Cuco updates the ironic knowingness and restrained sensuality of the late João Gilberto's stance for his generation, making it Chicano and cross-cultural and Instagram-filtered and Xanax-cocktail cool. To some, Cuco's laconic synth compositions may sound amateurish, but his deft blending of rock, soul and Latinx sources into one seductive teenage dream betrays sophistication — and plenty of feeling. — Ann Powers

  • Félicia Atkinson, 'The Flower and The Vessel'

    Felicia Atkinson, The Flowers and The Vessel

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / BANDCAMP / AMAZON

    Félicia Atkinson whispers and whirs us into the fathoms of being with Fender Rhodes, piano, vibraphone, ambient hisses and whistles. The Flower and the Vessel is "a record not about being pregnant but a record made with pregnancy," she states, as the French composer and poet interacts with an intimate, unsettling and unknowing world. — Lars Gotrich

  • KOKOKO!, 'Fongola'

    KOKOKO!

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    The DIY music scene in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is responsible for some of the most exciting bands of the past 20 years: Konono No. 1 and Mbongwana Star. You can add KOKOKO! to that short list. On Fongola, the five-piece turns discarded objects like bottles, phones and air ducts into musical instruments, then adds house and techno production to create a digital-analogue hybrid sound like no other. — Otis Hart

  • Maxo Kream, 'Brandon Banks'

    Maxo Kream, Brandon Banks

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    First, it's Maxo's gruff and gurgling flow pulls you in, but it's the rich, murky storytelling and relatable vignettes between the Houston rapper and his father — complete with a thick Nigerian accent — that keep you locked in. It's all to paint a collage of loyalty and love, confusion and abandonment. — Sidney Madden

  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Party, 'Live at WOMAD 1985'

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Party, 'Live at WOMAD 1985'

    ♬: APPLE / SPOTIFY / BANDCAMP / AMAZON

    A landmark album, more than 30 years old, and yet it's just been issued for the very first time. Hear the Pakistani master flying at the height of his vocal powers — matching raw soul with dizzying technique, and backed by handclaps that are like a quickening heartbeat. — Anastasia Tsioulcas

  • Sarathy Korwar, 'More Arriving'

    Sarathy Korwar, More Arriving

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / BANDCAMP / AMAZON

    The nativist thrust of our present politics, in the U.K. as in the U.S.A., forms a loaded backdrop for More Arriving, by percussionist and producer Sarathy Korwar. By turns mournful, enraged and bemused, it's a soul manifesto from London's South Asian diaspora — musically sharp, and packed with incisive verses from Zia Ahmed, MC Mawali, Prabh Deep and others. — Nate Chinen, WBGO

  • Various Artists, 'Revenge of the Dreamers III'

    Revenge of the Dreamers III

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Back when posse cuts were as essential as ATCQ's "Scenario" or Rawkus Records' Soundbombing II, homies made your cipher complete. J.Cole's Dreamville collective (Bas, Cozz, Omen, Lute, Ari Lennox, EarthGang, and J.I.D) take this to heart. The results of a 10-day marathon recording session are full of dreamlike rap-camp collabos. Rap ain't sounded this fun since Sir Mix-a-Lot's Posse was on Broadway. — Rodney Carmichael

  • Young Marco, 'Bahasa'

    Young Marco, Bahasa

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Amsterdam electronic producer Marco Sterk, who records and DJs as Young Marco, collaborated with Bali-based record label Island of the Gods to explore and interpret the traditions of Indonesia. During his visit in 2014, Sterk collected field recordings and recorded local musicians, including a gamelan ensemble. After five years of tinkering and tweaking the fruit of his labor, the result is Bahasa, a gorgeous exercise in ambient alchemy. — Otis Hart