What started as a yearly tradition on my Instagram story in 2017 my goal was to expose my friends and family to all the great music they might’ve missed throughout the past year. I did so for the main purpose of helping them expand their music taste and to also show support to those artists who don’t really get to shine in the mainstream. The music industry is so diluted and over saturated by so much music that a lot of people tend to miss out on things that could’ve maybe been life changing or meaningful. So with that I will now rank my Top 25 Albums of 2020 and soon I’ll share with you my 2021 list as well.
25. Kid Cudi – Man on The Moon III: The Chosen
Genre: Rap / Psychedelic Rap
To Kick things off we have the final record of the Man on the Moon trilogy from Kid Cudi. This one was a surprise for me as I did not realize how much I would actually enjoy this record considering I am not the biggest fan of Kid Cudi (I know controversial opinion). But this album was just straight fun from top to bottom and in my opinion had only a few dull moments that didn’t hinder my listening experience all that much. What was apparently 10 years in the making seemly paid off pretty well for Scott Mescudi as this album received pretty positive reactions from his fans when it was released.
Favorite Song: Tequila Shots
24. Big Sean – Detroit 2
Genre: Rap / Pop Rap / Trap
Here is another great rap album to come out this year. I haven’t enjoyed a Big Sean project before like I have with Detroit 2, every song has some incredible projection to compliment some great verses by Sean himself. The album itself covers a lot of topics and events that happened in Sean’s life making this also his most personal album to date. Detroit 2 is also jammed packed with guest performances, containing strong features from artists like the late Nipsey Hussle, Ty Dolla $ign, Jhene Aiko, Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, Post Malone and that not even counting the 10 other features that are on the Friday Night Cypher which essentially is an ode to all Detroit rappers (even though it’s missing a Danny Brown feature that would have been even cooler). Even if you weren’t a huge fan of Big Sean in the past I highly recommend this album.
Favorite Song: Lucky Me
23. AKTHESAVIOR – Almost Home
Now this is an album I completely slept on for most of the year until one of my good friends sent this to me asking to give it a chance. Well it’s safe to say I thought this project was well worth my time and ended up becoming one of my favorite tapes this year. While it is mainly a mixtape AKTHESAVIOR has a lot to offer on this record that you would find on a high quality studio album from a rapper like Freddie Gibbs. He is a diamond in the rough whos sound on Almost Home offers a sometimes chill and sometimes hardcore pallet of songs that fit the colorful album cover as there is a lot of variety. There is songs you can chill and smoke to and theres songs you can play at the party to turn things up I would give it a chance if I was you!
Favorite Song: Ups and Downs
22. Soccer Mommy – Color Theory
Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative
Indie Rock/Alternative fans out there you don’t wanna miss this gem of an album. Nashville native, Sophie Allison, has made what feels like her most creative and ambitious record yet with Color Theory. From the soft guitars chords over songs like “royal screw up” and “up the walls” to the eerie uplifting sounds that appear on the lead single “circle the drain”, this album feels like a journey of young adult existentialism and coming to terms with harshness of life. Even with the sadder themes within this record it is still very worth your time listening to!
Favorite Song: Circle the drain
21. Redveil – Niagara
Genre: Rap / Cloud Rap
Yet another rap album to grace this list, 16-Year old rapper Redveil drops a pretty awesome debut album with Niagara. The potential for this kids music to grow and evolve is off the charts. This record is just glowing with his personality through his fire beat selection and colorful rhymes. There is clear talent here and you should definitely be sure not to miss out on jumping on the hype train before he takes off because I feel that that is coming in the near future.
Favorite Song: Weight
20. The Microphones – Microphones in 2020
Genre: Indie Folk
This is a tricky one. I almost left this album off this list because its really just one long video rather than a traditional multitrack record. Nonetheless this album by Phil Elverum is just downright beautiful and dark at the same time. All instrumental until about 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the video, the lyrics feel like narration of Phil’s past tales in life dealing with the origins of his musical career and changing of times all majestically mixed with an instrumental that just evolves and progressively gets more dramatic as the album plays. You don’t wanna skip out on this one if you’re into indie.
Favorite song: N/A
19. Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Genre: Alternative / Psychedelic Rock
About 5 Years after the release of their last album, Currents, Tame Impala come back with their highly anticipated album The Slow Rush. Although I enjoyed this record I don’t believe this is anywhere close to their best. That is not to say that this audio psychedelic adventure of an album isn’t good because it still is really good. That is just how high Tame Impala set the bar for themselves which isn’t a bad problem to have. The Slow Rush offers us a sound very reminiscent of Currents, so if you loved that record like myself then you should have no problem enjoying this album. They continue to lead the flagship of modern Alternative Rock and I can’t wait to see what else they come out with down the line.
Favorite Song: Lost In Yesterday
18. The Killers – Imploding the Mirage
Genre: Alternative / Rock
That’s right! The Killers are making a comeback! I grew up listening to the killers and absolutely loved songs like “Mr. Brightside”, When You Were Young” and “All These Things That I’ve Done”, but this album of theirs took me back to those days. Listening to this record felt like a mini nostalgia trip and made me remember why I loved the Killers so much growing up. They return to that loud and almost cinema like sound they had on earlier projects and it swept me the first time I listened to it. I could not believe my ears after so many years of average Killers records that I finally found myself loving another album of theirs. I highly recommend giving this one a shot if you were ever at a point a fan of them or still are or even if you’re not just give it a shot!
Favorite Song: My Own Souls Warning
17. Charli XCX – How I’m Feeling Now
Genre: Pop / Art Pop / Hyper Pop
Charli XCX is already in my opinion a Pop legend, and her sound has evolved so much with every album she releases. Her sound on this album gets very experimental and nihilistic creating something that encapsulates the feeling of angst while being stuck at home during the pandemic. It is a very intense listen. This album may not be for everyone given the record’s experimental nature, but it’s also a rewarding experience if give the chance. There is some amazing production on this album and I find myself head bopping to almost every song on here. The album is a treat to any pop fan.
Favorite Song: Pink Diamond
16. King Krule – Man Alive!
Genre: Indie Rock / Psychedelic Rock
You ever smoke weed and after a strong hit from the bong you just lay on your bed and sink into to covers as you close your eyes and get lost into the abyss? Well if you do or don’t that is what this album sounds like, a psychedelic descent. The tunes here from King Krule are very spacey and chaotic at times. Truthfully this album isn’t for a casual listen and may come off as pretty jarring to the common ear but there is a layer of quality here that is still worth checking out. The existential crisis tone of this album make this a very relatable listen in some aspects as well. The guitar that is used throughout the album always puts me in a trance when used in songs like Stoned Again or Energy Fleets which are some of my favorites off this record. King Krule is that slow experimental artist that everyone needs to try at least once. If you love psychedelic rock be sure not to miss out on this one.
Favorite Song: Stoned Again
15. The Strokes – The New Abnormal
Genre: Indie Rock / Synth Pop
Back with their first full length LP since 2013 the Strokes make a triumphant return. Somehow they recapture their old trademarked indie rock sound that is seen in their early albums but with a slight synth pop twist. They manage to keep this album feeling super refreshing to a genre that has been feeling pretty dry the past few years. They include a lot more synths that compliment the guitars and singing without compromising the sound of the Strokes. This is how you evolve your sound into modern times. The Strokes deliver a fun and entertaining ride of an album that you can easily enjoy. They did not try and over complicate things, they just stayed true to their sound while adding some new fun elements to it.
Favorite Song: The Adults Are Talking
14. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode II
Genre: Rap / Trap
In the case of most sequels, they generally never live up to the original. In even rarer cases does a sequel ever surpass the original. Savage Mode II is one of those rare cases. From the first to the last track, this album kept me engaged throughout the whole run time. I mean if your album is narrated by Morgan-fucking-Freeman himself you know you got something special. While Savage Mode 1 felt like a sample of what 21 Savage could be, this record back with long time collaborator Metro Boomin feels like 21 Savage in his prime delivering some of his most fleshed out and enjoyable music to date. While I really enjoyed his album I am > I was I feel this is his strongest and most consistent album to date. Savage Mode II has its bangers (“Runnin”, “Many Men”, “slidin”) and it has its chill songs to break up the mood (“Rich N***a Shit” and “RIP Luv”) which all has some of best production from Metro. There is just banger after banger on here and just endless fun to be had here. Definitely don’t skip out on this one.
Favorite Song: RIP Luv
13. Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED
Genre: Rap / Hardcore Hip Hop
I knew after watching Kenny Beat’s The Cave episode with Denzel Curry, I, along like millions of other people desperately needed a full collab album. Then BAM just like that they bless us with a brand new LP which as expected is just banger after banger. Although its only 8 songs long I still feel that it is important to express how legendary these two can be when working together. They are able to squeeze out every bit of juice of greatness out of each other with the time given. UNLOCKED is a fun ride from beginning to end and make sure you have loud speakers when you listen to this one.
Favorite Song: ‘Cosmic’.m4a
12. Clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned
Genre: Horror Rap / Experimental / Industrial Rap
This album is more an experience rather than something you would want to listen to every day. But that isn’t meant to criticize this record in any way. A sequel to their 2019 album “There existed an addiction to blood“, Clipping release another horrorcore record with very spooky themes that channel classic 80’s horror movies. Visions of Bodies Being Burned is an album listening experience I doubt you will ever have again. Imagine listening to a horror movie but in music form. That is the best way I can describe the experience you should expect with this album. It’s different from a lot of what is out today and if you crave unique listening experiences then I would say this is something you need to check out!
Favorite Song: Say The Name
11. Westside Gunn – Pray for Paris
Genre: Rap / Hardcore Hip Hop
The Griselda Era is at full force. Westside Gunn has been one of the most consistently good members of Griselda with his past records all having great production and just hard bars. Gunn’s flow on this album is absolutely nasty and his ad-libs, while at times can be tiny bit repetitive, add this dark and utterly gangster sound that he and the other Griselda members seem to just absolutely own right now. We even get an A-list of guests that make appearances on this album. We have people from Tyler, the Creator, Joey Bada$$, Benny The Butcher, Conway the Machine, Freddie Gibbs, and Boldy James who all bring their A-game to make a dirty hypnotic rap album that will leave you feeling like you’re a side character in The Godfather movies. If you are not familiar with the other members of Griselda please check them out they have been scarily consistent with every release from each member.
Favorite Song: 327
10. Grimes – Miss Anthropocene
Genre: Pop / Art Pop / Electronic
If you built a time machine and went to the future you would find music that sounds like this, that’s the best way I can describe this album. As one of my most anticipated projects of 2020 I went in with high expectations following her past two solo records and I left feeling satisfied. Grimes goes into a more experimental route with this record with songs that range in different genres from electronic to pop to alternative. I personally love the direction here and it feels like a cyber-psychedelic trip. My favorite song on here, Delete Forever sounds like an early 2000s pop hit with a little mix of some modern flair that give it that classic feel. People are quick to write off Grimes due to her social media presence and her controversial relationship with billionaire Elon Musk but I don’t think you should skip out on the music she works so hard to make.
Favorite Song: Delete Forever
9. Jay Electronica & Jay Z – A Written Testimony
Genre: Rap / Industrial Rap
FINALLY. Is the word that many have used to describe the release of the LONG awaited debut album of Roc Nation rapper Jay Electronica. Although it does seem that Jay-Z may have peer pressured him to finally drop it since Jay-Z’s fingerprints are all over this record, so much so that you can essentially consider this a collaborative project. That being said this album is incredible, I was honestly blown away on first listen with the complex lyricism from Jay Electronica and the batshit crazy production that appears on some of the songs on this album. There are some moments that slow the pace down a bit to let the listeners digest what they just heard and sure the album does loose a little bit of its power in those moments but both Jay’s tie everything together especially in the closing track with is centralized around grief which was recorded the same day as the death of the Sports icon Kobe Bryant. This project flew under the radar of a lot of people and I encourage all hip hop heads to give it a chance!
Favorite Song: Flux Capacitor
8. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
Genre: Pop / Art Pop
This record feels like the quintessential pop record. Upon first listen I already knew that this album would instantly become a pop classic. Dua Lipa outdoes herself with Future Nostalgia. a name that feels fitting giving that in the future I am confident this album will induce that feeling of nostalgia upon re-listen. Every song feels like hit after hit and she does extremely well in creating super catchy choruses complimented with a great production. There are many highlights here from the 80s style’d hit, Physical to the fun and upbeat Levitating, and the already classic, Don’t Start Now. There is so much fun to be had listening to this project, you can tell Dua put her heart and soul into it and it pays off very well as she strikes gold here. Even if you are not a fan of pop there is no way that you leave this album without having the urge to dance.
Favorite Song: Physical
7. Logic – No Pressure
Logic in what he claimed to be his final record before retirement (writing this in 2022 so did not age so well) takes everything that made his albums like No Pressure and The Incredible True Story great records and puts it all into a blender and seasoned with immaculate production from legend and former Kanye producer, No ID. With this record Bobby doesn’t try to put on a facade and instead embraces everything that makes him, HIM. This record really surprised me with not only how GOOD it is but how self aware it is and it leads to this being his most enjoyable album in his discography. I’m not gonna beat around the bush, his last few albums have not been great. All being unfocused, rushed and lyrically cringe at some moments, but with No Pressure Logic returns to glory and delivers an epic send off into retirement (again did not last very long as of 2022). Even if you’re a Logic hater there is a little something for everyone in this project and it should not be skipped. I promise it’s good just give it a fair chance and listen.
Favorite Song: Heard Em Say
6. The Weeknd – After Hours
Genre: R&B / Pop
The Weeknd No doubt owned all of 2020 with the release of After Hours. When Blinding lights came out it marked a new era for Abels career artistically and musically. Leaving his traditional alternative R&B sound he somehow harnesses all the beauty of 80s pop music and channels it into a crisp and modern sound that makes it timeless. There are so many highlights on this record ranging from the instant classic Blinding Lights to his toxic king club banger in Heartless. This album is a great breath of fresh air from the Weeknd since his career seemed to have been leaning into a more bland comercial sound with the releases following his excellent Trilogy albums. I have no doubts that this album will age like fine wine and I still find myself bumping it when I just wanna dance or sing along to it. If you have yet to hear this record you my friend are sleeping under a rock and need to give it a shot!
Favorite Song: Blinding Lights
5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Genre: Indie Folk / Singer-Songwriter
This album is best experienced at night by the fit pit. I am so glad I did not miss out on this album. What a stellar listen this was, Phoebe Bridgers has such a great voice and she does an amazing job here delivering one of the best listening experiences of 2020. Without spoiling much, it is a slow an emotion travel through Phoebe’s life. Her ability to sound this great while telling such beautiful tales is something you have to just marvel at. This album feels so comforting, like the warm sensation of being under the covers on a cold night. I never once felt bored or sleepy while listening to this record and I was engaged throughout the entire thing. The sound you can expect is a nice crisp indie folk feel that has synths sprinkled on when needed. Indie fans rejoice as we are in another golden age of indie music!
Favorite Song: Kyoto
4. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Alfredo
Genre: Rap / Hardcore Hip Hop
While Freddie is no stranger to pairing with top tier producers as evident with his critically acclaimed records with Rap producer legend Madlib. The Alchemist and Freddie reunite and capture lightning in a bottle with the release of Alfredo. This record features some of the best beats and bars of all of 2020. This feels like Freddie Gibbs most complete and narratively focused album to date. There is also no wasted feature on this record as every guest not only shines but doesn’t steal the spotlight from the main star. There is no other way to put it but listening to this record makes you feel like a mob boss and I mean come on who doesn’t want to know what that feels like for a little bit. Definitely give this record a listen to if you haven’t already this is some top tier rap music you DON’T want to miss.
Favorite Song: 1985
3. Run The Jewels – RTJ 4
Genre: Rap / Hardcore Hip Hop
What a wild ride this album was. If you are not familiar with Run the Jewels it is a rap duo consisting of rap legends Killer Mike and El-P who rap over loud electronic heavy rap beats and I can only sum it up with one word; Badass. This record carries that same sentiment and just makes it such a fun experience. The production on this record is punchy, saturated, and just fire. There is even a lot of very serious moments on this record that make it a statement on the current events of 2020. Like the song “walking in the snow” during Killer Mike’s verse he critiques how American culture makes the trivialization of black Americans normalized being reduced to a simple thoughts and prayers tweet and makes a reference to last words of two innocent black men (George Floyd and Eric Garner) who were wrongly murdered by the police. All that makes this album not only a product of its time but a critique of the country we call home. Its an intense emotionally charged listening experience that I highly would recommend as it will likely leave you a different perspective of America.
Favorite Song: Walking in the snow
2. Loathe – I Let It in and It Took Everything
Genre: Metal / Shoegaze
What an experience. This album is absolutely stellar and a truly unforgettable experience that I encourage any fan of rock or hardcore to have. Words cannot describe my emotion while listening to the song Two-Way Mirror, as it is an absolute masterpiece of a track and will go down as one of my favorite songs of all time. Loathe creates a cinematic journey in audio form with this project. This record is like if you took everything that made bands like Deftones, Slipknot, and My Bloody Valentine popular and blends it together into this beautifully chaotic sound that instantly swept me the first time hearing this album. There is a lot of super emotional moments and a lot of badass moments on here that almost simulates the feeling of being on a roller coaster. As someone who always appreciated hardcore but never really gave it a real chance, this record forever changed my perspective on the genre and going forward I have a newfound appreciation for it. I highly encourage everyone to give this album a try can’t say anymore great things about it.
Favorite Song: Two-Way Mirror
1. Mac Miller – Circles
Genre: Rap / Soul / Jazz
Honestly after everything that has happened in 2020 it seems fitting that this album sits on top of the rest as my favorite of that year. Being one of the most stripped back albums released from Mac Miller, Circles is a continuation of his 2018 album Swimming that paints Malcolm in his most vulnerable state unlike anything we’ve seen from him before. Listening to this album was an emotional experience the first time around because you really feel his mental scars and almost willingness to leave this world on his own terms. Songs like “Good News”, “That’s On Me” and “Once A Day” encapsulates a lot of that somber feeling that Mac was almost expecting his own eventual demise. It is very haunting at times as we the listener already know how his story ends and listening to him approach his final chapter is heartbreaking. Even with the songs that feature an up tempo beat we still are reminded by the gruesome reality with some of the lyrics referencing his heavy drug usage. As someone who battled an addiction I found myself relating to a lot of what was said here and I grew an attachment to this album because of the fact.
Favorite Song: Blue World
There we have it! This list took way too long to create because I kept finding new albums that I ended up loving and it forced me to edit this list so much. However I realized that it would be impossible for me to listen to absolutely everything that came out in the year 2020 so I cut it off here. Who knows though, I could comeback in 10 years and create a redux list incase I find more great pieces of music that is worth sharing. I want to start issuing out these lists about every month for the rest of the this year as of October 2022. The lists will be out of order for the first 3, but after the 2019 list I’ll start counting back year by year until we reach my birth year of 2000. This has been a fun experience going back and revisiting all the great music from 2020 even if it was a year shrouded in pain and sadness with the Pandemic and the other horrible events that happened that year there was one thing that provided us all a doorway to escape the harsh realities. Great music.