The greatest 20 projects of the year. Continue reading Here Are The Best Albums of 2020
Since I wrote about the best albums of 2020 so far, it’s only right that I do one about the best songs of 2020 as well. I’ve also included a handy playlist of every song listed HERE if you’re inclined to give them a listen.
20. Dua Lipa – “Physical”
The best song of Dua Lipa’s career so far. The pumping energy and swagger was the much needed boost that shot her career into the stratosphere.
19. Thundercat – “Dragonball Durag”
Genre: R&B, Jazz
Wonderfully encapsulating Thundercat’s personality and musical talent into a brief 3 minutes, “Dragonball Durag” is peak Thundercat in his most mainstream accessible stride.
18. lost.spaces – “inter.vision”
Genre: Indie Rock
Grooves upon grooves upon grooves, the Malaysian band’s start into the new decade is their best work yet. Though it’s not a detour from their usual sound, they’ve perfected it to the point of pure ecstasy.
17. Channel Tres – “Weedman”
Genre: Funk, Rap
The bass lines alone on this song helped propel it up this list. It also helps that Channel Tres’ performance on the track oozes confidence and eccentricity, making it a song I can’t help but dance to.
16. RMR – “RASCAL”
An acoustic cover of Rascal Flatts’ “These Days” doesn’t seem like a recipe for virality, but the ski mask-totting RMR made it happen. The lyrics on this rendition is hilarious but most importantly, RMR’s voice is sexy as hell.
15. BROCKHAMPTON – “SUGAR (Remix)” [feat. Dua Lipa]
Genre: Rap, Pop
I loved “SUGAR” when it came out, but this remix blows it out of the water. Switching out the admittedly occasionally clunky rap verses for superior contributions from Ryan Beatty and Dua Lipa, this is BROCKHAMPTON’s best pop tune yet.
14. Childish Gambino – “53.49”
3.15.20 was a disappointment coming off the genius of Awaken, My Love!, but my dismay was rewarded at the end as “53.49” mirrors the manic energy of “Zombies”, a highlight of AML. This is the Gambino that I wanted to hear in 2020.
13. Christine and the Queens – “People, I’ve been sad”
I have a…’thing’ for French vocals in pop songs. On “People, I’ve Been Sad”, Christine delivers a powerful first verse in English before crushing me with a second in French. I have no idea what she’s saying but the gorgeous performance and production tells me enough.
12. Run The Jewels – “ooh la la (feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier)”
“ooh la la” is a slight departure from Run The Jewels’ usual fare. The hard-hitting rapping is still here in full force, but there’s a certain cordial energy to the track. It’s not just anger or bombastic drive behind the song. For the first time, Run The Jewels makes me want to dance.
11. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – “DIET_”
I was never a huge fan of DMX, heck, I was 6 when he was in his prime. However, I figure that “DIET_” is the closest I’d ever get to understanding people’s adoration for him. Denzel’s heavy DMX influence is exhilarating and absolutely decimates Kenny Beats’ production.
As 2020 hits its halfway mark, Western civilization as we know it looks to be imploding and Covid-19 has made of all us paranoid husks that have probably picked up on a bit too many overly-indulgent habits. Which is why I’m here to self-indulge and write about the albums I’ve loved from 2020 so far.
Streaming links to each album are linked in the titles.
15. 070 Shake – Modus Vivendi
Genre: Rap, R&B
070 Shake was BY FAR my favorite part of Kanye‘s 2018 “Ghost Town” as her passionate belting nearly forced a tear out of me. Her melodic rap style reminded me heavily Kid Cudi’s, and on Modus Vivendi the similarities are much more apparent. The raw emotiveness in her performances, fondness for repetition and preference for spacey beats paints the album as a great, unofficial spiritual successor to Cudi’s Man On The Moon series.
14. Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes – What Kinda Music
Genre: Indie, Jazz
I was never a huge fan of Tom Misch’s prior work, often finding his slower material too low key for my liking. Fortunately on his collaborative effort with UK drummer extraordinaire Yussef Dayes, none of my prior reservations with Misch’s music are present. Instead, What Kinda Music blew me away with its thumping grooves and “hip jazz club” energy, largely in part due to Dayes’ deliciously irresistible drumming. Still, summing up how I feel about the whole record in three words: “It’s a vibe”.
13. Charli XCX – how i’m feeling now
Genre: Pop, Electronic
The most high profile quarantine-made album to come out of the pandemic, Charli XCX’s followup to 2019’s brilliant Charli is light on lyrical depth but more than makes up for it with abrasively accessible production, with help from A.G. Cook and BJ Burton. Recorded over 6 weeks, how i’m feeling now feels intimate and at times claustrophobic due to its stripped back production and performances. Perfectly contrasting the isolation of quarantine, the album has the cathartic release of a great night out that’s designed to be enjoyed from the comfort of our rooms.
12. Knxwledge – 1988
Genre: Instrumental Hip-Hop
In certain circles, Knxwledge is considered to be one of the best underground hip-hop producers of all time. With an expansive and every-growing discography, the sheer amount of projects he’s dropped over the past decade has always intimidated me. So enter his 2nd studio album 1988, which serves as a perfect entry point to his career. Beautifully chopping up soul samples, Knxwledge brushes away any doubts of me hopping for a rapper to hop on these songs. Each track standing strong as its own body of work, 1988 is proof that a producer’s voice can be just as powerful as any rapper’s.
11. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
I remember first hearing about Freddie Gibbs during his beef with Jeezy in 2014. Being the ignorant 17 year old that I was, I thought Freddie was just trying to ride Jeezy’s coattails to mainstream rap stardom. Little did I know that 6 years later, he’d drop an immaculate record with legendary producer Alchemist and wind up as a legitimate contender as one of the greatest rappers of all time. As Alchemist lays down production that would make the hardest of mob bosses swoon, Freddie Gibbs takes a victory lap with consecutive rap performances that each sound more effortless than the last. A true masterclass of a rapper.
10. Bruno Major – To Let A Good Thing Die
Bruno Major’s 2017 debut was a sleepy affair that had a couple highlights but failed to really hold my attention. To Let A Good Thing Die, on the other hand, catches me off-guard from its opening track and never lets up over the course of its 10 songs. The album still sounds stripped back but not skeletal like A Song For Every Moon was. With R&B and jazz influences sprinkled here and there, Bruno shines alongside the expressive production which gives the album a personality that supplements his subdued singing performances.
9. Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris
Westside Gunn (and Griselda as a collective) has seen an astronomical rise in hip-hop largely thanks to the group’s tirelessly consistent work ethic. Pray for Paris is Gunn’s first project of 2020 coming off his 5 album run last year, which makes Paris that much more impressive given how all that work hasn’t seemed to slow Gunn down one bit as its arguably the best album of his career so far. Touching on his usual topics of excess and luxury brands, the album’s luxurious production sets itself apart from the rest of Gunn’s discography, as the record feels like a culmination of every strength that he’s shown throughout his career.
8. iri – Sparkle
Genre: Pop, Dance
I haven’t been listening to as much Japanese music as I’d hoped to this year, but I’m glad I was able at least experience iri’s Sparkle. Her 2019 album Shade was a unique blend of hip-hop, electronic and pop that showcased the variety in her sound. Sparkle then forsakes diversity in favor of a singular sound that’s heavily inspired by 80s and 90s dance pop. There’s dashes of city pop influence as well, but the album is a largely carefree affair that sees iri crafting a joyous soundtrack for a bright, cool summer day.Continue reading “The 15 Best Albums Of 2020, So Far”