Let;s do this. Let’s breakdown the best albums of 2020, a year in which live performances were shut down due to a global plague that people are pretending isn’t real. Extremely odd time to release a project that you’ll never be able to go out and promote or hear in the wild or perform for dollars.
But we’ll rank them anyway. Before we start, I’m not going to sit here and act as if I listen to TWO Taylor Swift albums. We don’t do that here. We listen to rap and indie shit. You want to know where Ariana Grande’s album ranks, you’re on the wrong site.
Disclaimer: This list was originally a Top 50 but then I was like ‘I really do not want to sit here and pretend to be excited about HAIM. I fuck with them for sure but like, nah. Do you realize how long these articles take to write? For FREE?? Nah.
Here are the 43 best albums of 2020:
43. Young Thug and Chris Brown – Slime & B
*whispers* fuck Chris Brown to death but everything Young Thug touches turns to gold. Also, please never work together again. Really wish Thugger dropped a solo project this year so we can pretend like Slime & B never happened. But I’ll take any Young Thug I can get even if it’s cut up with one of the worst humans on Earth.
42. Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red
There’s some extra spice to this album knowing that Playboi Carti had a release party on Christmas Eve and didn’t invite Iggy Azalea and their child. Abandoning your family on Christmas just makes those drums hit different.
41. Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2
Quelle Chris might just be the greatest lyricist I’ve ever heard and not in the ‘lyrical miracle spherical’ type way but he’s truly turning amazing thoughtful poetry into hard ass bars and please stop listening to Eminem.
40. Leya – Flood Dream
Do you like ghosts? Listen to Flood Dream.
39. Drake – Dark Lane Demo Tapes
It will always be hilarious when Drake just randomly starts rapping like he’s from the islands when we all know he’s a geeky Jewish Canadian child actor so when Demons comes on, I’m just smiling ear to ear when he switches his flow and raps about being ‘blem’ and shit. Alexa, play War. *laughs hysterically for 3 minutes*
38. Mary Lattimore – Silver Ladders
Sometimes you just need to put on some harps and vibe out.
37. Future – High Off Life
Future makes this list solely off that viral text exchange between he and some girl he got pregnant in which he sent a photo of a stack of cash and was like ‘don’t worry about money but just get this shit done on Friday or I can’t trust you’ in a way that indicates he frequently has this discussion with women he refuses to have safe sex with.
I love when the art matches the lifestyle of the artist.
36. The Flaming Lips – American Head
I think it’s safe to say that The Flaming Lips haven’t made anything worth listening to in almost two decades when Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots came out in 2002. They released an album of Beatles covers once for no reason. The same motherfuckers that get into those big plastic bubbles and get tossed around during live performances sat down and covered Beatles records. Tight.
Anyway, American Head is good.
35. Juicy J – The Hustle Continues
Juicy J has released the same exact album every single time and each time a new one comes out I’m like ‘LETS FUCKING GOOOOOO’. That’s a skill. Whenever DaBaby drops a new single that sounds exactly like the previous single, I am infuriated. When Juicy J does it, I am thankful for his service. There’s a way to do it the correct way.
34. Sweeping Promises – Hunger For a Way Out
This might be the only debut album on this list but Sweeping Promises absolutely deserves to be here. I am in no way nostalgic for this 80s alt-rock sound but Hunger For a Way Out sounds like if Blondie came out in 2020 and grew up alone watching corny John Hughes movies.
33. Westside Gunn – Who Made The Sunshine
The first of many Griselda projects that will be on this list as this camp out of Buffalo has carried New York rap the last two years and absolutely carried rap music during a pandemic that kept Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole on the shelf.
This particular project stands out because it’s not just Westside Gunn talking that shit but my man got Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes and Slick Rick to join him. New York legends joining forces to rap about robbing me and stuffing me in the trunk. As it should be.
32. Statik Selektah – The Balancing Act
Of all the DJs and producers who release these compilation albums where they collect their favorite rappers and mix and match them on tracks throughout the project, no one consistently puts the correct raps together on the correct beats like Statik Selektah does.
31. Amine – Limbo
For a rapper that was sort of born in the trap era, Amine has a tremendous ear for beats. I’d be 1000% okay with just the instrumental version of this album. It also helps that Amine is rapping his ass off and finally seems to have some important shit to say on Limbo.
30. Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 3
Lil Yachty is bad at rapping. I am not the first person to make this statement and I certainly will not be the last but I’ve always praised his ability to surround himself with far more talented artists including the best posse cut of the year, TD, featuring Tierra Wack, Tyler The Creator and ASAP Rocky.
29. Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
Public Enemy released a new album in 2020 right when we needed them most. Chuck D, Flava Flav and Terminator X released in 1989 and 2 decades later, we are still out in the streets marching after the execution of George Floyd by the police.
28. Spillage Village – Spilligion
If J Cole’s Dreamville camp is going to continue to exclusively put out high quality work, I’m going to have to stop hating J Cole. Needless to say, I’m conflicted here. JID and Earthgang should be forced to only make music together for the remainder of their careers. I don’t want to hear anymore solo JID or solo Earthgang albums. Spillage Village or keep it saved on your hard drive.
27. Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
Soccer Mommy is only 23 years old and lowkey dropped two classic albums back-to-back. I’m [redacted] years old and I have released significantly fewer classic albums as homegirl. Snail Mail is 21 and I need her to never drop another album until I learn how to play a guitar.
26. Royce Da 5’9 – The Allegory
Royce Da 5’9 is the best rapper from Detroit and the only Detroit rapper you should be listening to in 2020. Looking directly at you, Sean and Marshall. This album would be higher up this list if there weren’t a shitload of anti-vax bars. Just ignore those and listen to Vince Staples verse on Young World.
25. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Every time Tame Impala drops an album I roll my eyes. Maybe save a track or two but I have a tough time listening to a Tame album top to bottom after Innerspeaker. Then like, 5 months go by when I return to the album and I’m like ‘oh shit, this is nuts’. So yea, I may come back to this list a year later and hate myself for how low I put The Slow Rush.
24. Denzel Curry – Unlocked
This album sounds like Denzel Curry and producer, Kenny Beats, got bored one day, fucked around and accidentally freestyled an elite album.
23. Kali Uchis – Sin Miedo (Del Amor y Otros Demonios)
This entire album is in Spanish and I have no idea what she is saying at any point but I would die for Kali Uchis and support all of her work. Nothing but respect for my presidente.
22. Blu & Exile – Miles
Of all the rap projects this season where a rapper and producer work on every track together, no duo belongs together like Blu and Exile. Exile seems to have an unlimited crate of records to sample the word ‘Blue’ and as a fellow narcissist, I respect Blu constantly rapping about his own name over and over.
21. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode II
21 Savage can be a pretty uninspired rapper most of the time but there’s something that happens when he gets in the booth and hears a Metro Boomin beat where he just elevates to his final form. Metro Boomin is the best point guard in the league
20. King Krule – Man Alive!
King Krule’s super power is perfectly soundtracking the inarticulable static in my brain. Man Alive isn’t as piercing or focused as Archy’s previous record, The Ooz, but he has mastered the ability to put any song or concept through his customized filter of melancholy.
19. Benny The Butcher – Burden of Proof
Of all the Griselda projects that came out this year—and there were no less than 2,000—Burden of Proof had the flyest bars of them all. Need those ‘I’m richer than you and the only reason why your girl is with you is because I allow her to be” bars in my headphones.
18. Tops – I Feel Alive
It’s fascinating seeing Fleetwood Mac back on the charts this year because my man was vibing down the street drinking cranberry juice. Shout out to the god 420doggface. But what makes it fascinating is knowing that Tops is out here making similar-sounding if not better music on I Feel Alive.
17. Jay Electronica – A Written Testimony
I was hard of Jay Electronica when I heard his debut album was a joint project with Jay-Z in which the aforementioned Jay-Z outrapped Electronica on pretty much every single track. I haven’t completely changed my mind about that but that’s a separate conversation.
16. ILLFIGHTYOU – ILLFIGHTYOUTOO
ILLFIGHTYOU is a rap group out of Tacoma that came across my radar with their debut mixtape hit Soundcloud back in like, 2013. Glenn, Khris P and Uglyfrank create music that makes you want to lift a car over your head or punch a hole through a tree.
15. Adrianne Lenker – Songs/instrumentals
When you include her work with Big Thief, Adrianne Lenker is without a doubt the most prolific singer in the game today. She’s putting up 2007 Gucci Mane numbers except there is zero drop in the quality of any of her releases.
14. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
I could’ve posted this article without Fiona Apple in it but I cannot sleep at night telling you guys that there were 50 albums better than what Fiona Apple did on Fetch The Bolt Cutters. Future music nerds will probably look back and call Fiona Apple the greatest singer-songwriter of our generation.
13. Roc Marciano – Mt. Marci
Roc Marciano has quietly been putting together a historic run of classic albums and Mt Marci seems like the perfect end to his marathon. Also quick shout out to Reasonable Drought, his collab album with Stove God Cooks.
12. Westside Gunn – Pray For Paris
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM.
11. Run The Jewels – RTJ 4
Run The Jewels 4 is probably a top 10 album but there were (white) bloggers saying it was the best rap album ever so they must be penalized for their hyperbole. Go listen to Eminem and please let us enjoy RTJ.
10. Conway the Machine & The Alchemist – Lulu
If Benny says the flyest shit out of the Griselda clan and Westside Gunn gets me the most hyped than Conway’s music is like stumbling into a back door conversation that you are not at all supposed to be privy to. You walked in on some foreign talk listening to Conway openly discuss crimes committed and where the bodies are buried.
9. Tennis – Swimmer
You truly have to respect the consistency of Tennis as one of the few indie bands to make it out of the 2010’s with the ability to still put out quality music that doesn’t alienate their original fans. Go back and listen to the last Beach House album. I dare you.
8. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
This might be too low on this list for a Grammy nominated album but I’m going to say something controversial here—a lot of good music came out this year. I understand if you never want to read Deadseriousness again after that take.
7. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
For someone who wakes up every morning with the feeling of dread, Punisher was created for me. 2020 of all years has seen the most global despair of many of our life times. Throw on Punisher and just get those feelings out. You’re allowed.
6. MIKE – Weight of the World
If you’ve ever handed me the aux then you know MIKE if my favorite rapper so it took all of my strength to pretend to be unbiased and not just place him #1 on this best albums of 2020 list. ”
You will never feel the weight that he keep”
5. Lomelda – Hannah
I am a sucker for when the lead singer of a band takes the reigns for an album and addresses their own traumas and faults and challenges without necessarily stepping out and recording their own solo project. Last year I bothered everyone about my love of Emily Alone by Florist and this year Hannah Reed took Lomelda to the next level.
4. Princess Nokia – Everything is Beautiful/Everything Sucks
Perhaps Princess Nokia is too high on this list and my love of her music is derived from the fact that I’ve literally been listening to her for a decade. I heard her first track, Destiny, in 2010 when she was rapping under the name Wavy Spice. 10 years later and homegirl dropped a masterpiece duo-album. The Growth.
3. Sault – Untitled (Black Is/Rise)
I don’t know much about Sault. Actually, I don’t know anything about Sault. But after listening to this album, Sault knows everything about me or at least every sound I need to hear at any given moment. This is literally a perfect album that addresses race in an important time in this country while simultaneously being funking as fuck so you’re dancing instead of being preached at.
2. Flo Milli – Ho, Why Is You Here?
If you know me at all then know it took all of my strength to not put this album number one on this list. I honestly still might. Flo Milli is the only rapper that is rapping about my life. Only us bad bitches would understand.
1. Boldy James & The Alchemist – The Price of Tea in China
The Alchemist easily won 2020 producing the best records of the year. Boldy James released 4 full length albums this year. All of them were fire. He deserves this No. 1 spot. There’s something about the combination of The Alchemist’s soundscapes and Boldy’s smooth voice that blend perfectly together.