2020 has been a rough year across the board; who hasn’t felt the bizarre, estranging effects of isolation and social distancing in the age of the COVID-19 virus? Fortunately, despite the insanity we have endured this year (and it is just barely half over, don’t forget), we have not had to miss out on great new music.
Whether you are working from home or back out and about and masked up, 2020 has some fresh beats to keep you moving and your spirit alive.
The list of amazing albums already dropped in 2020 is quite extensive, but here are five hot albums so hot, you may need to get checked for a fever a time or two.
1) Mac Miller – Circles
Release Date: January 17th
Following his untimely passing in 2018, the posthumous release of Mac Miller’s sixth studio album, Circles, feels both too soon and not soon enough somehow. The album released on January 17, Circles, is a mix of tracks that Mac Miller was working on at the time of his passing, and his signature sound definitely prevails.
The album is full of creatively honest and emotionally evocative lyrics and tones, and Circles feels like an appropriate legacy for this talent gone before his time.
Tracks Listed on Circles
- Blue World
- Good News
- I Can See
- Hand Me Downs
- That’s On Me
- Once a Day
(Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks)
2) Run the Jewels – RTJ4
Release Date: June 3rd
Fans of Run the Jewels have been looking forward eagerly to a follow up album to RTJ3, and this June 3rd release does not disappoint. The drop of the group’s fourth album feels especially relevant and timely, particularly in the midst of the global pandemic and swiftly following the death of George Floyd.
And the message of revolution runs deep in this album. While the duet sticks to their roots musically in terms of fundamental flow, there is definitely an air of drive, of passion, and of urgency that exudes the tracks of RTJ4. The sound is intense, visceral, and necessary; Run the Jewels is not pulling any punches here.
Hip Hop Golden Age hits the nail on the head while discussing the Run the Jewels series of album releases, saying, “Run The Jewels (2013), Run The Jewels 2 (2014), and Run The Jewels 3 (2016) all are among the best Hip Hop albums of the 2010s, three important albums for Hip Hop as a genre.
Because of its predecessors, Run The Jewels 4 is one of the most-anticipated albums of the year – and it delivers on all fronts.”
Tracks Listed on RTJ4
- Yankee and the Brace (Ep. 4)
- Ooh La La
- Out of Sight
- Holy Calamafuck
- Goonies vs. E.T.
- Walking in the Snow
- Never Look Back
- The Ground Below
- Pulling the Pin
- A Few Words for the Firing Squad (Radiation)
3) Ka – Descendants of Cain
Release Date: May 1st
Seven is a notoriously spiritual and significant number, and that seems to be no coincidence when it comes to Ka’s seventh studio album release, Descendants of Cain. His exploration of modern situations and dilemmas in comparison to so many Biblical tales and figures (the betrayal of Cain of his brother Abel, the creation of the Earth itself from the beginnings of Genesis, and on) seems like more than a fair metaphor in this year of uncertainty.
The album feels timely and prophetic at times, especially given Ka’s natural penchant for seemingly effortless lyrical wordplay. There is a lot hidden within this album, and much like its source material, any listener would be well advised to give Descendants of Cain several spins to really get the most out of this weighty musical effort.
Tracks Listed on Descendants of Cain
- Every Now and Then
- Unto the Dust
- Patron Saints
- My Brother’s Keeper
- Solitude of Enoch
- The Eye of a Needle
- Land of Nod
- Sins of the Father
- Old Justice
- I Love (Mimi, Moms, Kev)
4) Blu & Exile – Miles: From an Interlude Called Life
Release Date: July 17th
After a long eight years, American duo Blue & Exile dropped their third studio album Miles: From an Interlude Called Life (or Miles for short) on July 17th of this year. And it has been well worth the wait.
The two hip hop artists have been collaborating on a new release for a few years now, starting back in 2015 and leading to a few starts and stops throughout the years, but this most recent collaboration proved fruitful in more ways than one.
Not only were they finally able to release and produce an album, but in the process of doing so, the two cut around forty tracks in total before finally whittling down to about twenty that seemed appropriate for the record. Miles is definitely no short journey, as the name aptly suggests. With twenty tracks in total, the totality of the album runs about ninety-five minutes, so a complete listen is definitely an investment.
However, Blue & Exile manage to keep the sound fresh and new throughout, and a playthrough will confirm for any listener that Miles is a record that earned its eight years in the making.
Tracks Listed on Miles: From an Interlude Called Life
- When the Gods Meet
- True and Livin
- Miles Davis
- The Feeling
- Music is my Everything
- Bright as Stars
- Blue as I Can Be
- You Ain’t Never Been Blue
- Miles Away
- Troubled Water
- Roots of Blue
- African Dream
- Requiem of Blue
- The American Dream
- Dear Lord
- To the Fall, but Not Forgotten
- All the Blues
- Spread Sunshine
- The End
5) Polo G – The GOAT
Release Date: May 15th
It is a term that gets a lot of use these days: the GOAT, meaning The Greatest of All Time. Usually this phrase gets dropped in reference to another person, one you admire, an incomparable iconoclast.
Polo G takes the audacious, confident step of proclaiming the word for his own as the title of his second studio album, titled simply and cockily, The GOAT. And this record does not disappoint. Using his artistry of lyricism, Polo G deftly delves into the difficult memories and various traumas from his past, giving a refreshingly frank picture of the world he knew in Chicago.
It feels important to hear these words and truly let them take effect in the midst of this highly volatile, emotional time, and Polo G bears the weight of his artistic responsibility with gravity, grit, and grace.
Tracks Listed on The GOAT
- Don’t Believe the Hype
- Martin & Gina
- Go Stupid
- I Know
- Beautiful Pain (Losin My Mind)
- No Matter What
- Be Something
- Trials & Tribulations
- Wishing for a Hero
More Hot 2020 Hits
With all the hot albums that have dropped so far this year, you do not need to limit yourself to just five. Check out some of the other absolutely electric albums that have hit the airwaves in the midst of this mad, feverish year.
Suga – Megan Thee Stallion; Release date March 6, 2020, 3rd extended play
Good Intentions – Nav; Release date May 8, 2020, 3rd studio album
Dark Lane Demo Tapes – Drake; Release date May 1, 2020, mixtape
Industry Games – 5Chika; Release date March 13, 2020, debut extended play
She Already Decided – Smino; Release date April 20, 2020, mixtape
Pray for Paris – Westside Gunn; Release date April 17, 2020, 3rd studio album
Alfredo – Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist; Release date May 29, 2020, collaborative studio album
A Written Testimony – Jay Electronica; Release date March 13, 2020, debut studio album
Unlocked – Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats; Release date February 7, 2020, experimental collaborative studio album
The Allegory – Royce Da 5’9”; Release date February 21, 2020, 8th studio album
BETTER – Deante Hitchcock; Release date May 13, 2020, debut studio album
Son of a Gun – Key Glock; Release date May 22, 2020, 2nd studio album
Eternal Atake – Lil Uzi Vert; Release date March 6, 2020, 2nd studio album
Wunna – Gunna; Release date May 22, 2020, 2nd studio album
Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial – Roddy Ricch; Release date December 6, 2019 (but since it was released so late in the year, we will let it sneak in on the 2020 list), debut studio album
Got It Made – Kamaiyah; Release date February 21, 2020, mixtape
Black Habits – D Smoke; Release date February 6, 2020, debut studio album
Everything – Kota the Friend; Release date May 22, 2020, 2nd studio album
My Turn – Lil Baby; Release date February 28, 2020, 2nd studio album
Heavy is the Head (album cover abbreviation stylized as h.i.t.h)- Stormzy; Release date December 13, 2019 (another one that we will allow on the 2020 list due to its late in the year drop date), 2nd studio album
Anyways – Young Nudy; Release date February 24, 2020, debut studio album
YHLQMDLG (album cover abbreviated acronym for “Yo hago lo que me da la gana;” translation from the Spanish for “I Do Whatever I Want”) – Bad Bunny; Release date February 29, 2020 (leaping out on Leap Year), 2nd solo studio album