I think it would be an understatement to say that 2020 was an underwhelming year. It was rough for real. However, one of the bright spots was the incredible music we got. It wasn’t the year full of the heavy hitters we’re use to seeing, but I still thought the year was far from lack luster. In typical fashion, I put together a list of my top 10 favourite albums from the year.
Before we get into it though, I wanted to put out a full *disclaimer: the albums listed are of my personal favourites and yours are allowed to be different…respectfully.*
This is probably the most unique sounding R&B music I’ve heard all year. It’s a more adult showing from the duo and a very enjoyable one at that. The harmonies on this album man, just wow. These two are going to be big players in the R&B game for years to come. I see why Beyoncé signed them. Can’t wait to see what else they have to offer in the coming years. Standout songs to me on this album were: Forgive Me, Do It, Ungodly Hour and Don’t Make It Harder On Me.
One of my boys put me on this band this year and it’s been a treat to listen to their music. It’s really solid for those weekend evenings when you’re lounging at the crib or out on a walk. 2020 had me spending more time alone than ever before and Khurangbin came through with an album that just let me relax and take in the moments. Some of my favourite songs off this album are Time (You and I), Shida and Connaissais de Face. Connaissais de Face sounds like something that could play at a Habesha wedding but wasn’t made by Habeshas. Anyways solid melodic music if you’re in a mellow mood.
Truth be told, I have a soft spot for this band so as long as the music wasn’t terrible, they were probably going to make my list. This album was different than their Season High album back in 2017. This one reminded a lot more of their collaborative songs with other artists (i.e. Mac Miller, Kaytranada). It’s almost like they took that alternative R&B/pop/electronic sound that’s very unique to their group and made a whole album of it, which was really great to hear. The various use of dark synths and distortion on the strings really allowed Yukumi Nagano’s vocals to stand out and shine in all the right ways. Favourite songs on here are Another Lover, Every Rain, Where You Belong and Water.
Well this year I found out I listen to way more Brent Faiyaz than I thought. A lot more. Like this album came out and I played it on most nights when I imagined leaving my place and travelling on a plane somewhere. This whole album is my whole mid-flight bag yo. This isn’t your typical “R&B Vibez” playlist music, so please don’t be disrespectful. When you hear lyrics like:
“Who can I love, when they tell me I can’t love myself”, we need to respect it accordingly. This is that damaged, toxic, depressed crooning kinda music…but he’s a G. It’s a short project but Brent keepin it thuggin throughout. Standout songs on this one to me are: Clouded, Rehab (Winter In Paris), Bluffin and Lost Kid’s Get Money.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t even read a full sentence in Spanish since the 10th grade, let alone listened to an entire album regularly. This one is special though. Aside from fue major that features PARTYNEXTDOOR and one other song, I don’t have a damn clue what she’s saying. What I can say though is that this album sounds beautiful. Her vocals command attention on each song (as they should) and the production really makes you feel like you took a trip in 2020. Kali takes you on musical adventure to a whole new world you didn’t even know you wanted to experience. Spanish or not, this album is definitely worth a listen. Tracks that stood out to me on this one were: Quiero Sentirme Bien, de nadie, la luz (fin).
Rapper of the year man. Like him or not, who had a bigger year in hip-hop than Lil Baby is 2020? I wasn’t even a big fan of his until this year, but My Turn really won me over. Two songs in the man said, “got a Moncler coat because the kid coldest”. How am I not supposed to get gassed off the bars when mans are showing off the flex like that? I don’t even own anything Moncler.
Biggest surprise on this album was getting songs like Emotionally Scarred that display how introspective Lil Baby can be. This guy is rapping about some heavier situations than some older hip-hop fans might notice. The autotune turns some people away but if you give this guy an actual listen, this album delivers. Favourite songs on this one are: Heatin Up, Catch The Sun, Gang Signs and All In.
The Butcher has arrived fam. I don’t know what to tell you, if you’re a fan of that gritty NY style hip-hop, few artists delivered like Benny in 2020. Benny and really all of Griselda just show up on tracks and rap on the beat like they’re starving yo. It’s something that makes Benny standout amongst the other greats this year. He always sounds like he has another verse in him and more importantly, he has a way making you feel everything he’s saying. Whether you can relate to what he’s saying or not, you feel it. This guy Benny said, “ I remember doin’ stick ups for less than a hundred dollars/Now we don’t get dressed for less than a hundred thousand”. You gotta live it to know what he means but you don’t have to know it to feel this stuff. Benny and Hit-Boy are a match made in heaven and I’m glad bars had the spotlight in 2020. Standout songs on here are: Burden of Proof, One Way Flight, War Paint and Legend.
Back with another R&B pick! Kiana Lede is probably not a name that’s super well known but wow is she talented. I thought her single Ex was really good but this album put her in a whole different tier for me. She’s got all the “I love you but I’m not the one to play with” songs on here. At one point Lede sings, “ I know I keep sayin imma leave you, truth is I can’t let it go till we even”…yikes. Nothing scarier than an angry woman, but they always make really good music. My favourite songs off this album are: Ladylike, Chocolate (Remix), Crazy, and Plenty More.
“Reckless, reckless, Stratford not Texas/ How they gonna test us? We handing out testers”… how am I not supposed to put J Hus on my list fam?
I remember listening this this album for the first time at the beginning of the year and saying word for word, “this is still going to be one of my favourite albums by the end of the year”. I said all that with good reason. If you thought his Common Sense album was great, get ready for J Hus to take things to another level with Big Conspiracy. Rarely do I find artists make better sophomore albums that their debut, but J Hus is an exception. This album is so creative. The instrumentation, producers and content on each song make this album really fun to listen to. If you aren’t a J Hus fan already, by the end of this album, you will be. My favourite songs off this album are: Helicopter, Repeat, Reckless and Must Be.
Did you hear Try Me? Did you hear this man Headie One and Skepta rap together? I was so glad Kevin Durant and I both heard the same thing because these guys really did leave the earth on that one. Anyways, this album goes in! The “Godfather of UK Drill” delivers his best body of work to date with his debut album Edna. Headie can be tough to understand if you don’t spend some time listening to UK Hip-Hop but man did he show out with this album. I played this thing for a good 3 months straight, this album slaps man. He really finds a way to say the realest things casually, I can’t lie, I rate it.
The way I like this album and talk about it to most of my friends would really have you thinking it was my favourite album all year and it almost was. If you haven’t heard it, I really recommend giving it a go. UK Drill’s on the rise outside of the UK, don’t get left behind. To me, this album really shines on the following songs: Triple Science, Princess Cuts, Try Me and Parlez-Vous Anglais.
This right here, this right here, is the best album that came out in 2020. THE BEST. You’d think I’m Nigerian here the way I’m gassin this guy but, nah. I’m actually not, I just think it’s time for di people dem to put some respek on Wizkid’s name. This album made 2020 seem beautiful amongst all the chaos. It’s the only album from 2020 that makes me feel this warmth inside every time I listen to it. It feels like it was a celebration of black creativity. From Burna Boy and Damian Marley, to Tems, every single feature adds something special to each song without taking away from what Wizkid does best. The percussion and horns throughout the able are just so nice to listen to. If you think you liked the saxophone before, just wait and see. It constantly pops up at the perfect time on so many songs.
Thank you Wizkid for giving us this album because I was looking for something uplifting from music all year. Now at this point, you might be asking, what’s the best song on this album? Was it True Love or Essence? I recommend you listen to them both along with Sweet One, Smile and really every single song on this one. You’ll have way more fun deciding for yourself, trust.
Well if you made it this far, you have now seen my list and are probably upset that an album on your list isn’t here…well, it is what it is. You probably thought I’d have way more to say here but nope, that’s it. I’m so unapologetic with my list and the hot takes don’t stop here. Next post, I’ll list my favourite hip-hop albums of 2020.