Best Albums/Songs of 2020

2020 was a rather unceremonious start to the decade, as far as music goes. It isn’t even like there was a dearth of music I loved from this year, either; saying that would be disingenuous and dishonest, because there was quite a bit that I loved. However, just like with every other facet of 2020, this will be remembered as a lost year. As great as the Lil Uzi Vert album was or the Dua Lipa tape or the Meg thee Stallion album or the Durk album or the Pop Smoke album or the 21 Savage tape or the Drake tape or (insert any artist and album here) was, nothing beats hearing music out and about in daily life, whether it be at a club, bar, concert, store, whatever.

Music is obviously very personal for quite a few people (myself, included) and there are many projects meant to be enjoyed in solitude, but, in my opinion, nothing beats hearing a song out at the club at 12:30 A.M. with a group of friends, six vodka sodas deep, that everybody knows all the words to. There is a shared sense of community found in those moments, and honestly, they’re some of the most enjoyable moments I’ve had with music over the past half-decade. That was robbed of all of us this year, and instead, all of the music I consumed was essentially by myself in my car or while I wrote or played Xbox. Something like Dua Lipa’s FUTURE NOSTALGIA, an incredible album that is meant to be heard in a darkly lit and sweaty environment, doesn’t hit the same way driving in my car as it would on the dance floor.

I normally listen to around 100 new albums every year, which, admittedly, is probably not enough (I have friends who hear 300-450 every year with relative ease, which I’m very envious of), but I also watch around 250 film every year, too, so it’s hard to balance it all out while also having some semblance of a life. This year I feel especially disappointed in the amount of music I listened to, since… there was nothing to do… so I should’ve probably listened to a new album every day, but it was an emotionally exhausting and nightmarish year, so that’s my excuse, I guess. Still, I do my damnedest to always hit all of the most major and notable releases from every year and live with the albums as long as possible (this year, I’m aware that Detroit rap is a huge oversight for me and one that I look to amend next year. It’s clearly one of the best regions in the world for rap music and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface with music and artists from there). Every year, I record everything I listen to and try and rank them according to what I think are the best albums of the year, which is what I’ve done here today.

I’ll always put the disclaimer that just because I think something is the “Best” or one of the best albums in a year, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my FAVORITE or my most listened to project from a year. Certainly, there are some cases where they line up, (this year, for instance) but quite often, they do not. I’ve seen plenty of writers have their own systems for ranking music/movies/songs/etc and I’ll always denote how I’m ranking things. I’m not so presumptuous as to assume that my taste is infallible and am quite aware that something may hit or resonate for me in ways it may not for others and vice-versa and that just because something may not affect me doesn’t at all diminish the quality of the work. For the albums, I’ll list them in order of what I think is best-to-worst and briefly talk about a few notable albums at the end of the list. For the songs, I’ll just list an assortment of songs that I really loved this year (I’ll try to limit it to one song from any artist) that are my favorites. I’ll do my best to have them in order of my favorite, but that list is less deep and more personal. Enjoy and I hope you find a song or album that you may have missed.

BEST ALBUMS OF 2020

  1. ETERNAL ATAKE– Lil Uzi Vert*
  2. MY TURN (DELUXE)– Lil Baby*
  3. WHOLE LOTTA RED– Playboi Carti*
  4. ALFREDO– Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist*
  5. BURDEN OF PROOF– Benny the Butcher*
  6. MT. MARCI– Roc Marciano
  7. UNGODLY HOUR– Chloe x Halle*
  8. THE PRICE OF TEA IN CHINA– Boldy James
  9. WE KNOW THE TRUTH– Drakeo the Ruler*
  10. WHITE PEOPLE LOVE ALGORITHMS– Chris Crack*
  11. PRAY FOR PARIS– Westside Gunn*
  12. SONG OF SAGE: POST PANIC!– Navy Blue
  13. HEAVEN TO A TORTURED MIND– Yves Tumor
  14. SHRINES– Armand Hammer
  15. ANYWAYS– Young Nudy
  16. ANIME, TRUAMA, AND DIVORCE– Open Mike Eagle*
  17. SAWAYAMA– Rina Sawayama*
  18. RED PAINT REVERNED– ShooterGang Kony
  19. BARTIER BOUNTY 2– Sada Baby*
  20. A WRITTEN TESTIMONY– Jay Electronica*
  21. DESCENDANTS OF CAIN– Ka
  22. SAVAGE MODE II– 21 Savage & Metro Boomin*
  23. FUTURE NOSTALGIA– Dua Lipa*
  24. THANK YOU FOR USING GTL– Drakeo the Ruler & JoogSzn
  25. PRAY 4 LOVE (DELUXE)– Rod Wave*
  26. GRAE– Moses Sumney
  27. YHLQMDLG– Bad Bunny
  28. PATERNITY LEAVE– Starlito
  29. LOVE SANTANA– Bktherula*
  30. FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS– Fiona Apple
  31. MEET THE WOO 2 (DELUXE)– Pop Smoke*
  32. THE VOICE– Lil Durk
  33. BARNACLES– Sahbabii
  34. PUNISHER– Phoebe Bridgers*
  35. IT IS WHAT IT IS– Thundercat
  36. GOOD NEWS– Megan thee Stallion
  37. VORY– Vory
  38. NO LOVE LOST (DELUXE)– Blxst
  39. STILL KONY 2– ShooterGang Kony
  40. THE GOAT– Polo G
  41. FOLKLORE– Taylor Swift
  42. YOUNG & TURNT II– 42 Dugg*
  43. LUV VS. THE WORLD 2– Lil Uzi Vert*
  44. WUNNA (DELUXE)– Gunna*
  45. COOCHIE LAND (DELUXE)– YN JAY
  46. AFTER THE RAIN– Yung Baby Tate
  47. WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III– HAIM
  48. AFTER HOURS (DELUXE)– The Weeknd*
  49. WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE– Westside Gunn
  50. WELCOME TO O’BLOCK– King Von*
  51. YOUNG JEFE 3– Shy Glizzy*
  52. ADJUST TO THE GAME– Larry June*
  53. CITY ON LOCK– City Girls
  54. SO HELP ME GOD!– 2 Chainz
  55. MY LIFE 4HUNNID– YG*
  56. HO, WHY IS YOU HERE ?– Flo Milli
  57. PLASTIC HEARTS– Miley Cyrus
  58. WHILE THE WORLD WAS BURNING– SAINt JHN*
  59. SKUBA SADA 2– Sada Baby
  60. RTJ4– Run the Jewels
  61. FOREVER, YA GIRL– KeiyaA
  62. ALMOST THERE– Lucki
  63. FEATURING TY DOLLA $IGN– Ty Dolla $ign
  64. MANGER ON MCHNICHOLS– Boldy James & Sterling Totes*
  65. HOW I’M FEELING NOW– Charli XCX*
  66. I LOVE YOU SAY IT BACK– KEY!
  67. TWICE AS TALL– Burna Boy
  68. COOKS & ORANGE JUICE– Larry June & Berner
  69. NIGHTMARE VACATION– Rico Nasty
  70. TLOP4 (DELUXE)– Pi’erre Bourne*
  71. NO EXPLANATIONS– Kamaiyah
  72. GROWING UP 2– FriendZone Lique
  73. EVERMORE– Taylor Swift*
  74. KEEP GOING– Larry June & Harry Fraud
  75. DARK LANE DEMO TAPES– Drake*
  76. LULU– Conway the Machine & The Alchemist
  77. MUTHALEFICENT– Bbymutha
  78. FLYGOD IS AN AWESOME GOD– Westside Gunn*
  79. SHOOT FOR THE STARS AIM FOR THE MOON– Pop Smoke*
  80. EL ÚLTIMO TOUR DEL MUNDO– Bad Bunny
  81. FROM KING TO A GOD– Conway the Machine
  82. HATERS FORGET THEY WERE FANS FIRST– Chris Crack
  83. KISS 5– K CAMP
  84. GOOD COPS DON’T EXIST– Chris Crack
  85. POSITIONS– Ariana Grande*
  86. PROUD OF ME NOW– Sheff G
  87. THE VERSACE TAPES– Boldy James
  88. IT WAS GOOD UNTIL IT WASN’T– Kehlani
  89. A MUSE IN HER FEELINGS– dvsn
  90. WASHED RAPPERS AIN’T LEGENDS– Chris Crack
  91. ONE AND ONLY– Sheff G
  92. REAL BAD BOLDY– Boldy James & Real Bad Man
  93. CIRCLES– Mac Miller*
  94. PREGAME RITUAL– 2KBABY*
  95. PLUTO X BABY PLUTO– Future & Lil Uzi Vert*
  96. I’M STILL PERFECT– Baby Smoove
  97. PARANOIA– 9henom*
  98. CHROMATICA– Lady Gaga
  99. THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY– Jack Harlow
  100. BREAKFAST FOR DINNER– Magnolia*
  101. NIAGARA– Redveil*
  102. DON’T STAND TOO CLOSE, VOL. 1– Junii
  103. SUGA– Megan thee Stallion
  104. EMERGENCY TSUNAMI– NAV
  105. LIFE IS GOOD– Future
  106. 3.15.20– Childish Gambino
  107. ONE YEAR LATER– Popp Hunna
  108. BLAME IT ON BABY (DELUXE)– Dababy*
  109. THE SMARTEST– Tee Grizzley
  110. THE L.I.B.R.A.– T.I.
  111. NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM– The 1975
  112. YOU KNOW THE VIBES– Fetty Wap
  113. SXTP4– The-Dream
  114. PTSD– G Herbo
  115. HARDWOOD CLASSIC– Baby Smoove
  116. CHILOMBO– Jhené Aiko
  117. MY BROTHER’S KEEPER– Dababy
  118. FATHER OF ALL M***********S– Green Day
  119. PARTYMOBILE– PARTYNEXTDOOR
  120. BLACK HABITS– D Smoke
  121. THE RECESSION 2– Jeezy
  122. MAN ON THE MOON III– Kid Cudi
  123. LEGENDS NEVER DIE– Juice WRLD
  124. KINGS DISEASE– Nas
  125. BILL ISRAEL– Kodak Black
  126. THE ALBUM– Teyana Taylor
  127. I’M GONE– Iann Dior
  128. SLIME & B– Chris Brown & Young Thug
  129. SWEET ACTION– Jack Harlow
  130. MUSIC TO BE MURDERED BY (SIDE B) (DELUXE EDITION)– Eminem

KEY

Masterpieces or near-masterpieces: Album #1-#14

Exceptionally-crafted albums: Album #15-#31

Great albums: Album #32-#70

Good albums: #71-#100

Alright albums: Album #101-#125

Inoffensive albums: Album #118-#126

Irredeemable messes: Album #127-#130

*= One of my personal favorite albums for whatever reason

Uzi’s ETERNAL ATAKE, the album of the year

Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, the members of Griselda (Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, Westside Gunn, and Boldy James), Chris Crack, and Drakeo the Ruler had the most prolific 2020s in my opinion. Uzi was everywhere and it felt like every song he touched turned to gold. He has absolutely solidified himself as one of the ten best rappers alive. ETERNAL ATAKE was hyped to the point that it seemed like it would never be able to match expectations and it somehow exceeded them. He then followed that up the next week with a bonus album that’s also quite good, countless features, and a solid collab tape with Future, who he outraps. When I remember 2020, It will be hard to not think of Uzi, and though I chose “Prices” and “Yessirskiii” as two of my favorite songs from this year, I could’ve easily gone with “Pop”, “My Way”, “Myron” or a few others. He was incredible this year.

Lil Baby also ascended in 2020. It felt like people started taking him seriously after he released “The Bigger Picture” in the summer, following the protests that resulted from the murder of George Floyd, but that’s a bit insane to me… That’s a good song, but he tops it ten or more times on his MY TURN, which is a triumph. Both of his collaborations with 42 Dugg are two of the best songs on the year (“We Paid”, in particular, would be my pick for Song of the Year). Beyond that, songs like “Emotionally Scarred” and “Sum 2 Prove” are triumphs. This doesn’t even touch on the collaborations he did all through the year, where he truly delivered. Though he’s a disciple of Young Thug, he’s more than found his own voice and put himself into the conversation of best rapper alive.

Pictured above: Lil Baby, who is one of the best rappers alive

It felt like the members of Griselda released a new project once a month. All of them, save for Conway the Machine, who I’m the least high on, had an album in the top 11, with Boldy’s tape being the best. Despite Westside Gunn being an absolute BOZO, he’s an impressive rapper with a really captivating voice and exceptional vocal delivery. And Boldy James, probably the most skilled of the group, was remarkably consistent.

From left-to-right: Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, and Benny the Butcher of Griselda

Chris Crack, per usual, released four albums this year (he’s released at least four tapes every year since 2018) and they all varied from good to impeccable. He’s a gifted and humorous writer making albums that fly by at breakneck speeds full of songs with brilliant titles. “Hoes at Trader Joes” the standout track to his finest album of the year, WHITE PEOPLE LOVE ALGORITHMS, is perhaps one of my favorite songs ever and something that provides me with an insurmountable amount of joy whenever I hear it, despite the fact that it’s only 88 seconds long. Larry June is another rapper like Crack that releases what feels like a hundred projects a year. I liked everything I heard of him, but I know I missed two or three projects from the year.

Playboi Carti and Navy Blue got buzzer-beater albums in this year, releasing two of the strongest albums of 2020 in the final weeks of the year (Carti made my third-best tape and Navy Blue made my 12th best). As artists, they are absolutely nothing alike, but both of them came in right at the end (Carti, especially, releasing on Christmas) and released damn good projects. I prefer Carti’s 2018 DIE LIT slightly to WHOLE LOTTA RED because it matters more to me, but WHOLE LOTTA RED might be a better made tape. It’s basically 24 songs and 20 of them are exceptionally made, particularly all of the tracks on the back half of the album.

Playboi Carti’s future classic WHOLE LOTTA RED

As for the bad music of 2020, I mostly did a good job this year avoiding albums I knew I would hate. In previous years, I would seek out music that was critically panned and that I knew I would hate so I could listen to it once and add it to my list and make fun of it in passing, but this year, I mostly avoided that, save in places where morbid curiosity got the best of me (see: Eminem’s album, which is a disaster and embarrassing). Most of the music that I found to be weak and inferior this year came from washed up rappers (oftentimes, rap legends) who just don’t have much left to say and/or have no way of fitting into contemporary music. Some of these include: Eminem, Jeezy, Nas, Cudi, and though his album isn’t as bad as the group before him, T.I.

We also lost a lot of incredible artists this year, none of which hurt more than Pop Smoke, who was an absolute New York City legend and was well on his way to blowing up before his untimely demise. That one still hurts, and even though his first posthumous album lacks some of the bite that his previous tapes had (most notably, MEET THE WOO 2, from 2020), I still very much enjoy it (it shows a more romantic and sweet radio side to him) and will forever think of him with great fondness. The death of King Von was also tragic, regardless of the fact that he was a young Chicago artist brimming with tons of potential. His album from this year was quite good and especially painful to revisit after his passing. Mac Miller’s posthumous album, CIRCLES, came very early in the year and was sort of forgotten by the conclusion of 2020, but it’s a sweet, albeit inessential, tape. Juice WRLD’s posthumous album however, didn’t quite hit as potently as his 2019 album. And though he didn’t release any music this year, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention MF DOOM, one of the greatest emcees to ever rap, who passed on Halloween, despite nobody finding out until New Year’s Eve.

RIP Pop. New York City legend forever

Albums like AFTER HOURS and FUTURE NOSTALGIA were also robbed of being able to properly be contextualized. Dua Lipa, The Weeknd, Chloe x Halle, Meg thee Stallion, Uzi, Drake, Charli XCX, Pop, Ariana Grande, Gunna, Lil Baby, and many more would’ve all THRIVED in a club/party setting. Many of those artists made albums and music good enough that I could still find extreme value in them while driving around in my car, but it sucks thinking about just how much bigger something like Dua Lipa’s album COULD have been (and it was huge, don’t get me wrong) with the right atmosphere and summer nights to enjoy it to.

Few albums feel like they were more affected from the lack of club atmospheres than Dua Lipa’s in 2020

Overall, it was a solid year with a lot of great music from a lot of artists. Music is heading into this strange place where the most popular songs in the world are the songs that are popular on TikTok and so in some cases, some of my favorite songs from the year end up being songs that I heard a thousand times as I scrolled through that app, but it’s whatever. Music and the way in which we consume it has evolved multiple times just since even I’ve been alive and I’m sure consuming music and it blowing up through TikTok isn’t the last evolution we will observe. Overall, I’m excited to put 2020 behind me. Though it provided some good art and songs and albums that I’ll always love and hold near to my heart, it was still a travesty of a year. Anyways, these are 50 songs that I loved from the year for whatever reason. The first 30 are in order and then it’s just random after that.

FAVORITE SONGS OF 2020

  1. “Hoes at Trader Joes”– Chris Crack
  2. “Prices”– Lil Uzi Vert
  3. “Grace”-Lil Baby featuring 42 Dugg
  4. “Letter from Houston”-Rod Wave
  5. “Dorothea”– Taylor Swift
  6. “No Cryin”– dvsn featuring Future
  7. “Slay3r”– Playboi Carti
  8. “Laugh Now, Cry Later”– Drake featuring Lil Durk
  9. “Flux Capacitor”– Jay Electronica featuring Jay Z
  10. “We Paid”– Lil Baby (featuring 42 Dugg)
  11. “Say So/Like That (Mashup)– Doja Cat
  12. “Myron”– Lil Uzi Vert
  13. “F33l Lik3 Dyin”– Playboi Carti
  14. “Levitating”– Dua Lipa
  15. “Did It Again”– Drej
  16. “Right Or Wrong”– Shy Glizzy featuring Lil Uzi Vert
  17. “Summer”– bktherula
  18. “Adderall (Corvette Corvette) (Remix)– Popp Hunna featuring Lil Uzi Vert
  19.  “Yessirskiii”– Lil Uzi Vert featuring 21 Savage
  20. “Met Gala”– Gunna
  21. “Bebe’s Kids”– Pi’erre Bourne
  22. “GREECE”– DJ Khaled (featuring Drake)
  23. “PEEP HOLE”– DaBaby
  24.  “Monica Lewinsky, Election Year”-SAINt JHN
  25. “34+35”– Ariana Grande
  26. “Laugh Now Kry Later!”– YG
  27.  “Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.)– Jhené Aiko (featuring Future & Miguel)
  28.  “Do It”– Chloe x Halle
  29. “Element”– Pop Smoke
  30. “OLD SOUL”– 2KBaby (featuring G Herbo)
  31.  “Scottie Beam”-Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist
  32.  “I’m a Joestar (Black Power Fantasy)”– Open Mike Eagle
  33.  “Many Men”– 21 Savage & Metro Boomin
  34. “One Way Flight”– Benny the Butcher featuring Freddie Gibbs
  35.  “Campbell”– Redveil
  36.  “Blinding Lights”– The Weeknd
  37.  “Hand Me Downs”– Mac Miller
  38. “Stand By”– Magnolia
  39. “forever”– Charli XCX
  40. “Chicago Freestyle”– Drake (featuring GIVĒON)
  41.  “Barnacles”– Sahbabii
  42. “Lil Boosie”– Drakeo the Ruler (featuring Stupid Young)
  43. “ILoveUIHateU”– Playboi Carti
  44. “Back to the Streets”– Saweetie (featuring Jhené Aiko)
  45. “Bounce”– Yung Baby Tate
  46.  “Shine”– 9henom
  47. “Coochie Land”– YN Jay
  48. “Demon”– King Von
  49.  “George Bondo”– Westside Gunn (featuring Conway the Machine)
  50. “Summer Snow”– Larry June (featuring G Perico)

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