21 Jan JACK’S MUSIC CORNER: A 2020 LOOK-BACK
When I pitched this music corner idea, I really just wanted to share my music tastes and opinions with MUSE readers. Although only two have been published so far, I want to keep this series going into 2021. In this edition I’m going to be listing off my favourite albums, beats, songs and artists of 2020.
MY FAVOURITE PROJECTS OF 2020
Crystalline – Deko
Deko might sound familiar if you’ve listened to popular Migos songs such as “Walk It Talk It”, “Slippery”, “Commando” and other pre-Culture classic hits. That being said, if you’re expecting an Atlanta trap style album, Crystalline is anything but. To me this album reminds me of an old N64 game or anime soundtrack with 808s and crazy hihats. Deko finds his pocket on these beats with his signature high-pitched autotune flows, ultimately making it a solid favourite of 2020.
Honourable Mentions: “Moonrise” ft Yameii Online, “Midnight Tokyo”, “Twilight City”
Only for Dolphins – Action Bronson
At this point Action Bronson has ditched traditional beats and just started rapping over vintage movie soundtracks and elevator music. In my opinion Action Bronson’s sound has only been getting better and better over time and his last two albums Lamb Over Rice and now Only For Dolphins really illustrates that. His wordplay and rhymes are just as good as they’ve always been but his storytelling has gotten even better in my opinion when he isn’t just bragging about girls and extravagant food.
Honourable Mentions: “Mongolia” ft Hologram & Meyhem Lauren, “Latin Grammys”, “Cliff Hanger”
Meet the Woo 2 – Pop Smoke
Pop Smoke blew up as the premier voice in New York drill towards the end of 2019 with his viral hit “Welcome to the Party”. Ultimately introducing the mainstream to drill sound, this style has taken the UK and New York by storm. Although I enjoyed the original Meet the Woo project, I think Meet the Woo 2 took Pop Smoke’s sound to new heights. The very first track “Invincible”, sets the tone for the whole album as a powerful project, especially with the power Pop Smoke brings and it’s just up from there in my opinion.
Honourable Mentions: “Element”, “Get Back”, “Shake the Room” ft. Quavo
Eternal Atake (+ the deluxe) – Lil Uzi
Eternal Atake was one of the most anticipated Hip-Hop albums of 2020, especially after it had been teased following the release of Luv is Rage 2. After waiting nearly three years since his last release, not only was it subjected to immense hype, but high expectations. Personally, Eternal Atake is everything I wanted and more, especially with the deluxe including a lot of leaks and snippets that had come out between Luv is Rage 2 and the album dropping. Uzi came with the same great flows and cadences but over a whole host of new style beats. This project is full of beats that make you feel like you’re shooting into space such as the dance-y “Chrome Heart Tags”, “Prices” and “Baby Pluto”.
Honourable Mentions: “Yessirski” ft. 21 Savage, “Come this Way”, “Prices”, “You Better Move”
It Is What It Is – Thundercat
It Is What It Is was the highly anticipated fourth studio album by Thundercat. Although I was understandably bummed that I didn’t get to see him on tour due to COVID, this album more than made up for the cancelled show. A combination of funk, jazz and 80s pop, It Is What It Is stays groovy while building on the sound Thundercat cornered on 2017’s Drunk. The songs from this album range from ethereal jazz tracks to romantic ballads to straight-up Funk and I honestly love them all. I’m excited to see what’s next for Thundercat especially since he’s taken piano protege DOMi and drumming protégé JD Beck under his wing.
Honourable Mentions: “Black Qualls” ft Steve Arrington, Steve Lacy and Childish Gambino, “Dragon Ball Durag”, “Interstellar Love”, “Fair Chance” ft. Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B.
MY FAVOURITE SONGS OF 2020
“Only If You Knew” – dutchavelli
The opening lines of this song are cemented into my brain after listening to it so many times. Duthcavelli’s unique and raspy voice definitely stands out in the British drill scene,and the production on this song compliments him so well. If you’re looking to get fired up this is definitely one to add to your music library.
“Day 2 Day” – BBY Kodie
As one of the singles Kodie has dropped before the upcoming release of his album, it has done its job of getting fired up for what he has next. The intro creates a mysterious and ethereal atmosphere before dropping into one of the best beats of his I’ve heard. I’ve joked that this song has become my anthem since the opening lines are “hating hoes always average, and that’s something I’m ok with” and the rest of the song is an ode to passing up on lames and haters.
“FOOLS GOLD” – Aries
I have personally never loved an artist more than Aries in my life and if you’ve seen my other lists, you’ll notice there’s a lot of Aries. However, for most of 2020 he vanished from social media and didn’t release anything until November when he dropped FOOLS GOLD followed by CONVERSATIONS shortly after. FOOLS GOLD is full of energy and in my opinion, one of Aries’ best vocal performances. Alongside the music video, I can honestly say this release was one of best things to happen to me in 2020.
“The Difference”- Flume & Toro y Moi
Ever since my housemates introduced me to Flume in first year, he’s become one of my favourite artists and The Difference has made that even clearer. Between the bass drum break and Toro y Moi’s harmony over the drops, this song is forever stuck in my head. Personally, I think this is the perfect driving song (even though I don’t drive). It’s energetic and each section pushes forward to the next with strong pace.
“Passion” – RAC & Louis the Child
My housemate Jung showed me this song during fall exams this year and I loved it instantly. It’s infectiously happy with its cute instrumentation and catchy lyrics. This should be a staple on any good pop playlist, perfect to put on when you want to brighten the mood.
“IHY2LN” – Zack Fox
From being one of my favourite comedians and Twitter personalities to climbing up the ranks of my favourite artists, every new song Zack Fox makes me laugh and nod my head. His lyrics have always been hilarious but IHY2LYN is definitely his magnum opus of goofy bars. For example, “Fuck his baby mama in the car I’m a savage, Hangin wit his kids watching How to Train a Dragon”. I highly recommend this song if you want a good laugh.
“Dip(#thewoah)” – TisaKorean
I might take some flak for this, but “Dip” is one of my favourite songs of the year. Even though the lyrics are lacking and it sounds poorly mixed, it’s just so carefree and fun I can’t help but get up and dance every time I hear it.
MY FAVOURITE BEATS OF 2020
As someone who makes beats on the side, I wanted to include this section because I feel like it is an important part of music production that is often overlooked. I mean I like acapella, but who would Playboi Carti be without his beats?
“Coffin” – Lil Yachty Prod. Jabz, Buddah Bless and Earl on the Beat
This beat comes out of nowhere for me. Before this I haven’t heard a track with the same bounce ever. Although I think Yachty could’ve done better with the beat, it still goes hard. The minimalist melodies combined with the erratic drum hits which catch my ears everytime.
“milk” – biskwiq Prod. biskwiq [https://soundcloud.com/biskwiq/square-up-flip]
This has to be one of my favourite remixes of all time. Biskwiq manages to mash up Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa” and Zack Fox and Kenny Beat’s “Square Up” in a way I never would’ve expected. The drops are each accompanied by this super enveloping choir and a great break beat which drives the song forward. I would even go as far as labelling it the pinnacle of all remixes.
“soul doubt” – meat computer Prod. meat computer [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvoJYYV4NIQ]
I only found out about this song a few weeks ago, but it’s truly unique. The instrumental is super spacy and sparse like some old cloud rap, but then soul computer starts rapping in this high pitch mumble, which is hard to understand sometimes if I’m going to be honest. However, behind this voice is some really meaningful lyrics about addiction and grief. I highly recommend giving the music video a shot to help with the lyrics.
MY FAVOURITE NEW ARTISTS OF 2020
These are the artists I’ve found in 2020 who have made a serious impression in my playlists.
Kodie has been one of my favourite up and comers from 2020. Even though I didn’t hear about him until early 2020, his last project, 2019’s Vogue has become one of my favourite albums this year and with another album in the works I can’t wait to hear what he has to offer. I have a soft spot for rapper-producers but Kodie is the cream of the crop, his beats are out of this world and fit his voice and style so well. Expect to see him breaking onto the charts this year.
Honourable Mentions: Red ft. Lil Yachty, Milkshake, Day 2 Day, Korleone
I found out about banzai florist just by looking through the recommended songs at the bottom of one of my playlists. His song “Get Back Baby” really drew me in with the great synth lines over top of some sharp guitar before mellowing into a bedroom pop ballad. A lot of his songs sound like this, great atmospheric synths combined with ear-catching guitar riffs. Honestly, banzai florist may be one of my favourite dream/bedroom pop artists going into 2020.
Seiji has been a new favourite of mine since the first quarantine when I discovered his song Aero. I had known about him before since his brother lil ricefield dropped a track called “Trapanese” back in 2019 which he produced and featured on. He creates a combo of West Coast bangers similar to SOB x RBE and more aesthetic ballads like “Aero” and “BLUE”. Either way he raps well and has solid wordplay on top of his top class production.
Honourable Mentions: Aero, Neji ft seiji oda & 247zé, TUESDAY, BLUE, DOPE ft247zé
AG Club has been making a push towards the mainstream after they dropped a remix of their song “Memphis Pt. 2” featuring A$AP Ferg and NLE Choppa but they’ve been consistently dropping music all of 2019 and 2018. As a collective they’ve drawn similarities to Odd Future from back in the day and Brockhampton with how many of them there are, all the different roles they seem to fulfil and how much fun they seem like they’re having with coming up together.
Honourable Mentions: Memphis, Brass, Hngover, Snæks, Holy Shit
Sheff G/Sleepy Hollow
Since the unfortunate death of Pop Smoke, many people looking at the New York drill scene have put it on Pop’s collaborator Fivio Foreign to lead the scene forward into the mainstream but as much as I love Fivi I don’t think he has it. Instead, I think Sheff G and Sleepy Hollow are going to be the ones to take it forward. They have really impressed me with their 2019 solo projects the Unluccy Luccy Kid and Don’t Sleep. Although the beats are different, they still rap about the same street politics and grind that has been a part of New York rap since the 80s and 90s.
Honourable Mentions: Flows, Panic Pt. 3 ft. Fresh G, 2020 Vision, Pray 4OR.
Featured Image of J Dilla by Justin Cook