Part two is here! Let us know your thoughts on the list at our Instagram @fantastic_hiphop, and be sure to check back here daily for the following three parts!
40. Felt 4 U- Felt
Teaming back up for the fourth time, underground kings Murs and Slug re-lit the spark that’s made them so beloved through the years on Felt 4 U. Produced by the other half of Atmosphere, Ant, the trio’s chemistry is only strengthened as they cover various topics such as going broke or losing everything they have worked so hard to earn. Between the smooth but unsettling soundscape, the paranoia in the writing of Slug, and the iconic bravado of Murs, this reunion is hands down one of the most challenging but rewarding group projects to grasp and embrace.
39. WUNNA- Gunna
For Atlanta trapper Gunna, his only real strongpoint was his illustrious and ever-growing feature catalog. As soon as he stepped into his own space, everyone stopped believing in him as most of his solo efforts were received as poorly put together pieces of work. For the 27-year-olds newest album, WUNNA, these preconceived notions were all thrown out the window, and in exchange, the YSL signee made his most refined work to date. While there’s no overlying narrative or connection between the long tracklist, it thrives by embodying the best parts of trap (having fun) while also minimizing its downfalls. With top tier bangers, intuitive soundscapes, and standout features from Young Thug, Roddy Rich, and more, it’s clear why this is hands down Gunna’s best work.
38. The LIZ- Armani Caesar
After stealing the show with her witty one-liners and serenading delivery on songs like Westside Gunn’s “Lil Cease” and Conway’s “Anza,” fans were eager to hearArmani Caesar’s Griselda records debut, THE LIZ. While further displaying the fly-girl style, the Buffalo moguls added her to their crew for, the 31-year-old also proves she’s more than your typical gangsta rapper as she showcases a storytelling ability that is both illusive and compelling. All being sonically woven with production from the legendary DJ Premier to the scorching hot JR Swiftz, all of boom-baps glory is captured. Although Caesar may not be the most popular female MC yet, this LP already proves she’s amongst the best.
37. weight of the world- MIKE
Attempting to follow up a cult classic like 2019s tears of joy seemed like an improbable task, but New Jersey native MIKE’s newest album weight of the world does its best at adding to the ideas of skepticism and remorse his fans are attached to him for. With its lo-fi sound, mellow vocals, and songwriting diving into some pretty dark thought patterns, the LP is a well-crafted fright fest at its best.
36. No One Mourns The Wicked- Conway the Machine & Big Ghost Ltd
Amplified by the skull on the project’s artwork, No One Mourns The Wicked is the ultimate fear mongering power trip all rappers wish they could go on. Diving deep into his bag, Conway the Machine takes it back to the basement with his forceful lyricism that addresses how the Buffalo MC is both one of the best on the microphone and in the streets. All tied together by long time collaborator Big Ghost Ltd’s beautifully frightening soundscape, the various vocal monologues and soulful samples are well used to add context to the words of Machine. With this being one of three releases from the Griselda co-founder this year, his work ethic and dedication truly speak for themself when absorbing a body of work like this.
35. What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?- Public Enemy
On their 15th studio album, Public Enemy became the first hip hop act to release at least one major album through five different decades. While this may make them appear out of touch and feeble to some, What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down? proves Chuck D, Flavor Flav, and what else is left of the iconic crew are still the freedom fighters the people need. Enraged by political corruption, a mishandled pandemic, and racial injustice, the group put together a top-notch performance while also enlisting the services of rappers past and present. Whether it was Nas, Black Thought, or the Beastie Boys, all the contributions masterfully come together to embody the voice of hip hop, and even more important, speak for the people who no longer can speak for themselves.
34. A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1)- Common
For legendary rapper Common, A Beautiful Revolution (Pt 1) showed the legendary MC once again stepping up as a leader for the African American community in their most needed time. Doing this, the 48-year-old breaks down some of the enduring issues that have made our society crumble this year. Whether it’s racism or the coronavirus, the Chicago native does a phenomenal job bringing together these issues and explaining the root cause of them. With a soundtrack that utilizes vibrant instrumentals in their purest form, Common’s given the perfect background to further solidify his case as one of the world’s all-time great philosophers.
33. The Balancing Act- Statik Selektah
For Massachusetts producer Statik Selektah, The Balancing Act serves as this year’s ultimate gathering of the culture’s best MC’s. From Joey Bada$$ to Blu, the all-time great beatmaker uses some of his strongest connections to make an all-star team between rappers old and new. Topping all these top-tier lyrical showings with intuitive, ever-changing, and soulful instrumentals, it’s clear why this record is so special.
32. Innocent Country 2.0- Quelle Chris & Chris Keys
As its first installment focused on the darker side of emotions, Quelle Chris and Chris Keys Innocent Country 2.0 leans on the brighter side of life. Keys production is at the forefront of this idea as it utilizes an array of gleaming samples and soulful loops to convey the feeling that the protagonist Quelle plays is in a better place. On the lyrical side of things, the underground titan focuses on his newfound peace of mind and brings in some of his most respected peers, such as Billy Woods and Earl Sweatshirt, to glorify this. When it comes to realistic but empowering records that cover serious mental health issues, there are very few better.
31. WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE- Westside Gunn
As soon as you hear the flip of the drums on Pray For Paris’s “George Bondo” on the records opening song, you feel the type of passion WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE was created with. Westside Gunn isn’t really breaking the mold here, but instead bringing the same swagger and comradery from his previous 2020 ventures and taking that back to the basements of Buffalo. With hard-hitting boom-bap beats, coke-infused lyricism, and the LP’s biggest selling point being features from legends like Jadakiss and Slick Rick, the Griselda leader’s third and final statement of the year was another substantial addition to his profound discography.
List Created, Edited, and Written By: Marc Dator, owner and founder of Fantastic Hip Hop