30. Lulu- Conway the Machine & The Alchemist
Despite its short length of seven songs, Conway the Machine and The Alchemist’s LULU managed to accomplish the most in the least amount of time possible. Through a simple 23 minutes, The Griselda co-founder opens up his usual bag of tricks as he obliterates the competition over Uncle Al’s flagship production, which is nothing less than exceptional. Adding to the eeriness these two create, features from gangsta rap legends ScHoolboy Q and Cormega only boost this entry in notoriety and cultural significance.
29. Streams Of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel- Black Thought
On his first official solo album, legendary Roots frontman Black Thought created one of the most socially conscious records of the year. Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane and Abel takes on the task of tackling some of our nation’s most prominent issues, including such topics as the killing of George Floyd and the troubles of the Covid-19 pandemic. Wrapping together this provoking experience, the 49-year-olds unmatched technical proficiency and compelling storytelling is emphasized through the aggressive yet emotional soundtrack from one of New York’s finest, Sean C. In a year that was detrimental in so many ways, it was only right that one of hip hop’s most revered activists was here to paint this chaos and forever document them in his goat level discography.
28. EP!- JPEGMAFIA
Even without releasing a full studio album, JPEGMAFIA’s EP! may be one of the best compilations of singles ever seen. With nine unique sounding tracks, the 31-year-old visionary dives into new territory as he uses his flagship satirical style to mock various issues ranging from things as simple as his bald head to as deep as the corruption in our government. While it lacks the narrative depth his last two cult classics were praised for, this ep handled the task of filling his fans till his next masterpiece perfectly.
27. Descendants of Cain- KA
Underground veteran KA’s newest album is one of his most thought inducing yet. Evident in the name, Descendants Of Cain, the project alludes to the biblical tale of Cain and Able as a device to reflect on our modern world. Through the gloomy atmosphere, quiet production, traumatized storytelling, and depressing delivery, this remorseful experience is easily one of the most challenging experiences this year had to offer.
26. High off Life- Future
After a series of critically panned efforts, High off Life marks Future’s proper return to form. Focusing down in both his production choice and braggadocious over the top songwriting, Hndrxx makes some of his most toxic anthems since his 2015 classic DS2. Spicing up this thrill ride even more, guest appearances from contemporaries like Travis Scott, Drake, and Young Thug add quite a number to the overall banger count. Rounding these 21 tracks out with a handful of introspective moments of reflection, all sides of the legendary trapper are accounted for.
25. Detroit 2- Big Sean
Between its potent songwriting, well-placed features, and outstanding executive production from both Kanye West and Hit-Boy, it’s safe to say Detroit 2 is Big Sean’s best album yet. The 32-year-old rapper is hands down the maturest he’s ever been as everything from his failed chances at love to the violence within his native streets is adequately addressed. Building up this experience, everything including a soulful soundtrack, spoken interludes from Dave Chappelle, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, and features from Eminem, Nipsey Hussle, and more culminate into a beautiful statement honoring everything Sean and his city stand for.
24. Meet the Woo 2- Pop Smoke
Riding off the success of his smash hits, “Welcome to the Party” and “Dior,” Pop Smoke had all the momentum going into his highly anticipated Meet The Woo 2. Refining the blueprint its predecessor laid out, the late star diversified his hard-hitting flow with a slew of different pockets, which upped the ante of each ballad. With high-profile guests like Quavo and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Pop was forced to bring his best, and that was certainly the case as he mastered his go-to drill style and also dipped his feet into trap. No matter how separated we are from the tragic murder of Brooklyn’s drill king, this project will forever keep his legacy alive.
23. The Allegory- Royce Da 5’9
The Allegory is the newest stroke of brilliance from one of Detroit’s best MC’s, Royce Da 5’9. On this record, the former Slaughterhouse member focuses on the principles of corruption, greed, and the never-ending struggle between the rich and poor in America. Loaded with meaningful stories, layering features, and production that captures the mainstream’s flashiness (to represent the rich) yet also the grittiness of the underground (to represent the poor), Royce’s designed approach is practically flawless. In a time where many are struggling to make ends meet due to the hard times this year has thrown at us, this body of work has never been more culturally relevant.
22. Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God- Busta Rhymes
After years of hype, Busta Rhymes’s long-awaited Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God was finally released, and it did not let disappoint. Through the entire record, Busta was in his bag, and that was clearly seen through his raw lyricism, one of a kind charisma, and creative rhyme schemes. Making this even bigger than the revered New York MC himself, the long list of top-notch features, including contributions from Kendrick Lamar, Rakim, and Q-Tip, make the entire LP feel like a gathering between legends past and present. Best said by comedian Chris Rock on his final of many appearances between tracks, “you n****s can’t f**k with the god Busta Rhymes”.
21. Man On The Moon III: The Chosen- Kid Cudi
Although many weren’t ready for the bold change in style, Man On The Moon III: The Chosen turned out to be one of Kid Cudi’s most well-rounded efforts to date. Beyond his emotionally charged songwriting, the fusion of styles from trap to indie rock makes this installment the most versatile of the acclaimed trio. Topping this off with some of the most spiritually healing moments of Cudi’s revered career, it’s clear why this late entry is already held in such high regard.