2020, it’s been a hell of a year. While the world has spiraled out of control, many turn to music to help cope with hardship when our shared reality is constantly in crisis mode. While this year has shown us a pandemic, race riots, a record-setting election, and countless personal dramas, it also gave us some seriously dope (and some disappointing) music nonetheless.
This is not a “best of” list, but rather a collection of projects we felt had the most impact on the rap world, so don’t get made if one of your favorites didn’t show up below. Here are the 20 most important rap projects we think defined 2020.
20. Playboi Carti, Whole Lotta Red
Let’s just get this out of the way. It goes without saying that this was one of the most highly anticipated albums of the last 2 years, and unfortunately one of the most disappointing.
19. Mac Miller, Circles
This posthumous album served as a kind of closure for fans after losing Mac Miller far too soon.
18. Aminé, Limbo
Here’s to rappers having fun and being themselves. This project from the Portland-bred rapper was some much needed stress-relief that still slapped.
17. Run the Jewels, RTJ4
16. Gunna, Wunna
Gunna was on a roll this year and this album had us getting lit for most of 2020.
15. D Smoke, Black Habits
The Rythem + Flow winner dropped an album full of thoughtful and introspective bars at a time when BLM and conversations around race took center stage. The album even earned the 35-year-old rapper a GRAMMY nom.
14. Rod Wave, Pray 4 Love
Rod Wave has been ridding his own wave and this joint established the artist as one to keep an eye on all year.
13. Jay Electronica, A Written Testimony
This project, supported heavily by Jay-Z, came out of nowhere at a time when many of us needed it.
12. Lil Uzi Vert, Eternal Atake
The long-awaited album finally dropped after a lot of back-and-forth with the label and die-hard fans were not disappointed. From the looks of it he has more in store for 2021.
11. Polo G, The Goat
A surprise smash, Polo G stole the show when this album dropped, eclipsing pretty much every other project that came out that Friday.
10. Juice WRLD, Legends Never Die
A heart-breaking look into the tormented soul that was Juice WRLD , this one gave us a moment to grieve the loss of such an emotional artist.
09. Busta Rhymes, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God
Busta Rhymes was one of the most dominant rappers of the ’90s. It was refreshing to see him still providing quality music nearly 30 years later.
08. Lil Durk, Just Cause Y’all Waited 2
This album came out after Lil Durk had to turn himself in for a warrent, but that didn’t stop him from dropping a top notch album.
07. 21 Savage and Metro Boomin’, Savage Mode II
It’s a special treat when a rapper in their prime connects with a mega-producer for an entire album.
06. Benny the Butcher, Burden of Proof
Griselda has been killing the game in 2020, showcasing projects from Conway and Westside Gun that could easily make the best of lists for the year. However, this one was stood a little bit taller than the rest.
05. Pop Smoke, Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon
Another posthumous album that shook the industry, Pop Smoke’s music was a vibe we won’t soon forget.
04. Nas, King’s Disease
Nas bounced back from a serious L (thanks Kanye) and delivered one of the most cohesive projects of his catalogue. Shout out to Hitboy for the best-in-class production.
03. Megan Thee Stallion, Good News
From label drama to getting shot in the foot, Megan has had a lot highs and lows this year. Thankfully, her album Good News came through with some serious heat and bodied the game in the latter part of the year.
02. Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon III
A late entry, this project landed like a meteor and gave Kid Cudi his best debut week to date. It’s a great thing to see such a talented artist get his just due.
01. Lil Baby, My Turn
Album sales and Grammy snubs aside, it was Lil Baby’s year. He even managed to make Obama’s end of year playlist.