6 On-Repeat Albums of 2020
Music is therapeutic. And honestly, based on the brutal and everlasting events of this year we all could use some therapy right about now. 2020 has thrown everything at us but we are still here surviving and thriving in uncertain times with music being the soundtrack to our lives. The flexibility we have displayed speaks volumes about us not only as individuals but as a community as well. Amid all the chaos, we kept our ears to the street. This year, timeless veterans in the rap game Nas and Busta Rhymes dropped new projects to remind us that even after decades in the industry they haven’t lost their touch while up and comers such as Kaash Paige and Giveon create unique musical landscapes that not only set them apart but also solidify their spot among today’s crop of talented artists.
As we grind out the last few days of 2020 and eagerly run into the new year with open arms we wanted to share with you the projects that resonated with us the most. These albums helped push us through tough times and provided a much-needed escape from everything going on in the world today.
So without any further delay here are our top 6 on-repeat albums of 2020.
Westside Gunn – Pray For Paris
Along with heavy hitters Benny The Butcher and Conway The Machine, Westside Gunn represents one-third of the monster widely known as the Griselda crew. Hailing from often-overlooked upstate New York, Westside Gunn blessed his audience and gained new followers with his critically acclaimed LP, Pray for Paris. This chart-topping album tells a distinct tale of 2 cities in two uniquely different parts of the world. Through his music, Westside Gunn mashes these 2 cities together seamlessly. He combines his infamous gritty hustler narrative live from the streets of Buffalo, NY with lavish tales and humorous anecdotes detailing his week spent with the acclaimed Virgil Abloh during his Off-White fashion show in the home of the Eiffel Tower.
Gunn’s signature east coast flow is laced over smooth symphonic instrumentals reminiscent of early 90s rap and provides a nostalgic feeling that has been missing in the heavily influenced trap era for some time. Pray For Paris is not just the next chapter in the story of drug dealer turned rapper Westside Gunn it is in fact an introduction to the rest of the world that good music, like good dope, sells itself.
Our pick – Allah Sent ME (featuring Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine)
Kiana Ledé – KIKI
They say all is fair in love and war and if that’s true then Kiana Lede’s heart is the battlefield.
With the release of her long-awaited debut album KIKI, this vulnerable singer from Arizona has no problem opening up and sharing her scars. Kiana’s ability to hypnotize listeners with deep storytelling combined with sensual vocals shine over moody beats. KIKI elevates to a more vibrant feel when the songstress decides to switch up the melancholy vibe with infectious uptempo tracks resembling 90s era Mya and Brandy.
There are also well-placed features by rising R&B stars Ari Lennox and Lucky Daye where they share their experiences as they join Kiana on her journey. It is evident that this 23-year-old has been going through it and Kiana Lede, aka KIKI, is at her best when she pours out all her pent up emotions and embraces the pain.
Our pick – (Forfeit featuring Lucky Daye)
Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath Of God
To be honest we couldn’t remember the last time Busta Rhymes dropped an album. What was it, like 2010? No matter. Even if it has been close to a decade since we’ve been blessed with some Busta Rhymes, his latest production, Extinction Level Event 2: Wrath of God, feels like the second coming. Jumping from behind the pearly gates from track 1 to track 30 (yeah, I said it, 30. That’s virtually one song for every year he has been in the game) it’s clear that Busta is in rare form and resurrected to remind us that he belongs in the Rap God conversation.
ELE2 successfully exhibits all of Busta’s various personas from Party Starter to Conscious Rapper in an impressive feat that only someone with his arsenal of rhyme patterns and dexterity can pull off. Bussa Buss not only gives the older generation of rap fans flashbacks from his Leader of the New School days he also embraces the current trap era with a couple bangers that even young trap legends like MIGOS would be impressed with. Even after a 10-year hiatus Busta Rhymes still reigns supreme.
Our pick – (Look over your shoulder featuring Kendrick Lamar)
6lack – 6pc Hot
When you think of today’s crop of male R&B stars a few household names come to mind. Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz, and Miguel. But make no mistake, Atlanta’s 6lack is aiming to add himself to that star-studded list.
On his latest project, 6PC Hot the Southern Crooner flexes both his vocal and songwriting abilities over trapsoul influenced tracks. 6lack’s waste no time reminding us of his talents on the opening track, ATL Freestyle, where he flows naturally between rapper and singer alas, dare I say, Drake. But what separates 6lack from being just another “here today, gone tomorrow” R&B rapper/singer is the way he spills his struggle between chasing love and chasing dreams as previewed on “Float”. The quick-paced yet flowy 6PC Hot not only captures an artist growing into his own zone but at the same time defining it, once again adding that special 6lack sauce we have come to expect.
Our Pick (ATL Freestyle)
Giveon – Take Time
Straight out of the streets of Long Beach, California, Giveon is a fresh breeze. In March, the soulful vocalist released his debut album Take Time to rave reviews. Co-signs from the Man of the Hour Drake and Superstar SZA only further elevated the singer’s quick rise. Giveon differentiates himself from the pack of auto-tune cries and oversaturated R&B playboy antics by piecing together a project that is not only honest but at the same time mysterious. It truly leaves the listener wanting more.
Blessing music lovers with emotional vocals that calm the soul and connect on a deeper level, Giveon demonstrates the very reason why he has received such high praise on tracks like World We Created and expresses his vulnerable side on Heartbreak Anniversary. Frankly, Giveon’s debut is arguably the most complete body of work we received in a very very long while with a precision familiar to early 90s R&B albums, all hits and no skips.
But as they say, good things take time, as they should.
Our Pick (Favorite Mistake)
Teyanna Taylor – The Album
The ever so talented Teyanna Taylor came back with a vengeance with her latest album, purposely titled The Album. The singer, actress, dancer, filmmaker, and whatever else you want to add to the list is not letting anything, or anyone, box her in. The lengthy 23-track debut is the project her fans were expecting when she dropped the Kanye West-produced 7 track “appetizer” K.T.S.E. that was dropped back in 2018. This time around, Teyanna is taking the reins and doing things her way and she does not disappoint.
The Album showcases all the complexities that make up this fierce, passionate young woman. From mother, to lover, to boss and everything in between, Teyanna gives it to us raw. The long-awaited second coming features some of today’s hottest artists Kehlani and Rick Ross along with untouchable veterans Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.
Teyanna impresses with her ability to blend the breezy vibes of the 90s with the infectious bounce of today. The Album is a masterful genre-inclusive reintroduction to a woman who is living life on her terms unapologetically and a reminder not to let anyone control your destiny.
Our pick (We Got Love featuring Lauryn Hill)
Ok there you have it, our picks for the 6 albums that stayed on repeat through this drama-filled experiment known as 2020. Drop a comment below and let us know your favorite releases of 2020.
If you are looking for your typical “You can do it! I believe in you!” warm and fuzzy read then this isn’t the book for you. From the opening pages, Grant Cardone hits you right in the gut with some tough love.
It can be terrifying for us to destroy and rebuild ideologies that have been embedded into us. If we don’t challenge ourselves to figure out what we want out of life then we’ll never have more than we have now.
With everything going on in the world and news of new tragedies popping up every day, it’s important for us not to forget about the things we are passionate about, that includes what we’ll be wearing when it’s safe to go back outside again!