The past few months have felt like years due to all of the chaos happening in the world, but the one consistency has been the amount of good music that’s dropped in 2020. During October, there were singles from 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’ , Benny The Butcher and Freddie Gibbs and returns from veterans like T.I. and Busta Rhymes, who even managed to snag Kendrick Lamar’s first new (old) verse of the year.

Every month, HipHopDX is putting a spotlight on the tracks that stand out from the overabundance of releases throughout the year, highlighting everything from Billboard chart-friendly singles to essential album cuts. Check out our other lists below and follow our playlist, which includes all of the songs mentioned in this article:

The Playlist

For your listening pleasure, here is HipHopDX’s The Best Hip Hop Songs of 2020 … so far.

Contributing writers: Trent Clark, Kyle Eustice, Justin Ivey, Josh Svetz, Dana Scott, Brandon Caldwell, David Brake, Kenan Draughorne, Devon Jefferson & Jeremy Hecht.

The Top Hip Hop Songs of 2020 (January – October)

Burdon Of Proof – Benny The Butcher

The title and intro track from Burden of Proof sets the tone for the rest of the joint venture between Buffalo’s own Benny The Butcher and producer Hit-Boy. Benny’s mindset is clear in the opening bars when he raps, “Last year was bout’ branding/This year about expanding.” The Griselda movement was brought to life with WWCD and Benny’s phenomenal The Plugs I Met, but with Burden of Proof, Benny is making a claim for the throne, not just of New York, but of the game.

Mad At You – King Von f. Dreezy

Along with being one of the game’s most vivid storytellers, King Von had a strong ability to portray his emotions through his music as he paints his experiences. On “Mad At You,” Von reflects on his journey alongside fellow Chicago native Dreezy, whose flow on the final verse takes the song to the next level. King Von was taken far too soon, tragically losing his life in Atlanta on November 6.

Black Renaissance – Sa-Roc & Black Thought

Sa-Roc and Black Thought’s collaborative relationship began on a whim when The Roots frontman unexpectedly called her onstage for an impromptu freestyle during the A3C conference in 2011. After she wowed Thought and the audience with her acappella verse, the two reconnected on her Rhymesayers debut The Sharecropper’s Daughter. With lines such as, “Dear white people, I am not your negro/Yeah, black people, y’all just got your hero/All these rap demons I’m about to Deebo,” Thought proves once again what makes him a preeminent MC while Sa-Roc firmly establishes her ability to rap alongside the best of ’em.

Many Men – 21 Savage

One of the best tracks from Savage Mode II, “Many Men” is captivating from the moment Metro Boomin’s “Metrooooo!” tag rings out in the opening seconds, preceding a dark and lilting beat that drags perfectly, just behind tempo. 21’s verses are delivered in his signature cold tone, all while referencing 50 Cent’s classic “Many Men.” The slowly sang chorus is intoxicating and easily one of the best hooks 21 Savage has ever delivered.

One Way Flight – Benny The Butcher f. Freddie

The Griselda Records capo and Gangsta Kane reconnect for their second collaborative track of the year “One Way Flight” from his Burden Of Proof album produced by Hit-Boy. Benny and Gibbs bring their cadre of clever one-liners and guns to the table per usual musing about Maybachs, luxury goods and everything that black market cash can buy over New York rap’s oft-used drums from the sampling standard “Impeach The President” and flowery R&B singing loop.

Double G f. Pop Smoke – French Montana

Pop Smoke’s posthumous domination continued into the fall. Alongside his Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon album returning atop the Billboard 200, Pop welcomed French Montana into the world of Brooklyn drill for the grimy “Double G.” The 808Melo-produced cut sounds as if it could’ve landed on any of Pop’s earlier projects and just like every French anthem, the guest ends up stealing the show.

NLE Choppa – Bryson

Look Over Your Shoulder – Busta Rhymes f. Kendrick Lamar

As Busta Rhymes mentions on the intro to the song, it’s been a minute since fans have heard from him. That statement also applied to Kendrick Lamar, who’s featured on the song. On “Look Over Your Shoulders” K. Dot brings internal rhymes galore and the flow fans fell in love with in the early 2010s. In fact, the song was initially intended to be placed on Kendrick’s 2012 masterpiece good kid M.A.A.D city. Busta comes in over the soulful beat with a the second verse reminding fans why he’s one of the greatest to ever touch a mic. Oh, not to mention the track has an outro from Chris Rock.

Mr. Right Now – 21 Savage f. Drake

“We Did It Big” – T.I. f. John Legend

On this song, T.I. reflects on his journey and pays an emotional tribute to his late friend. Although the song did spark some drama as he confirmed a rumor about his friend and Drake, that shouldn’t overshadow Tip’s storytelling. The veteran rapper sounds legitimately surprised at how far he’s come in his life and career and John Legend’s vocals only add to the power of the song.

“Early Bird Night Owl” – Elzhi

“Early Bird Night Owl” was one of the two songs that initially sparked Elzhi’s opus Seven Times Down Eight Times Up (the other being” Smoke and Mirrors”). They came about several years before the project after El stumbled onto Griselda-affiliated producer JR Swiftz via Instagram. Ultimately, the two ooze chemistry over this head-nodding single — as the Slum Village alumni shows why he remains one of the genre’s most underrated wordsmiths.

“My Window” – YoungBoy Never Broke Again f. Lil Wayne

YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s latest album Top may have been a bit overcrowded, but that shouldn’t diminish the value of “My Window,” his collaborative track with New Orleans legend Lil Wayne. YoungBoy is an expert in crafting a catchy hook and he doesn’t disappoint on “My Window.” When he’s not crooning, he’s sending metaphorical shots at his doubters. Wayne’s tongue-twisting verse adds the finishing touch.

“YUUUU” – Busta Rhymes f. Anderson .Paak

Busta Rhymes joins forces with Anderson .Paak again, balancing their respective baritone Jamaican patois-laced vocal style and high-register soulful rasps on “YUUUU.” It’s the second single from Busta Rhymes upcoming album Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath Of God and both artists’ second collaborative effort since Paak’s single “Bubblin (Remix)” in 2018.

Bus-A-Bus and the multitalented Oxnard, California crooner’s nimble cadences to buoyantly color in the minimalist, mid-tempo track produced by Paak. Even in his smoothest manner, The Dungeon Dragon can still break anyone’s neck with his unpredictable flow.

“Baptize” – Spillage Village f. Ant Clemons

The all-star collective of Spillage Village came together for Spilligion, highlighted by “Baptize,” a playful track with accessible commentary on the state of the country. It’s a political track in nature but made more digestible thanks to the clever lyrics of rising lyricists Johnny Venus and J.I.D. The beat, produced by Christo and Spillage Village members Johnny Venus and Hollywood JB, rolls steadily beneath the rappers’ bars.

“Lucky Me” – Big Sean

Sean Don verbally jogs down memory lane to reflect on his life setbacks, including a revelation of overcoming heart condition he was diagnosed with at 19, on the aptly titled “Lucky Me” from his Billboard chart-topping album Detroit 2. His trademark laid back style with plentiful witty punchlines dazzles over the mellow piano-laden cut until he sprints his bars three-quarters through the track to match the intensified beat change.

“Revolution” – Sa-Roc

“Lemon” – Conway The Machine f. Method Man

We’ve known about the Wu-Tang Clan’s admiration for Buffalo up-and-comers Griselda since Raekwon’s feature on Griselda’s seminal album WWCD. Now, Conway The Machine has tapped Method Man for “Lemon,” one of the best offerings from Conway’s From King To A God. Dark production from Daringer and Beat Butcha underscores Conway and Method Man’s hustle raps and shit talking. The two generations of New York Hip Hop make for a great duo and one of the best songs of the month.

“hooligan” – Baby Keem

Baby Keem continues to churn out colorful and fun rap music reminiscent of MadeInTYO but much more quotable and intricate. His latest track “hooligan” is another catchy banger that, under normal circumstances, would serve as an anthem for parties across the country. It’s a joyous two minutes and 37 seconds of escapism everyone could use right now.

“Still Alive” – Bobby Sessions f. Royce Da 5’9

Royce Da 5’9 dropping jaw-dropping verses is nothing new, but another rapper hanging with him on a song is increasingly rare. Bobby Sessions does just that on “Still Alive” though, proving his pen game is just as sharp as Nickel Nine’s while both men spit knowledge on the cut.

“Whole Lotta Choppas” – Sada Baby

What if early pop-rap such as Tag Team’s “Whoomp (There It Is)” and Young MC’s “Bust A Move” weren’t so cheesy and instead featured the grime of modern Hip Hop? Here comes Detroit’s Sada Baby to answer that question. “Whole Lotta Choppas” is a beautiful blending of the past and present of rap, with Sada dancing on the vintage beat tailor made for TikTok.

“Guard Your Heart” – Big Sean f. Anderson Paak, Wale & Early Mac 

“Time’s Up (Remix)” – Sampa The Great f. Junglepussy

Sampa The Great injected new life into her song “Time’s Up,” which originally appeared on 2019’s excellent album The Return, by recruiting Junglepussy for a remix. Sampa crafted an entirely new verse to go with JP’s appearance on the updated version, which transforms the track into an anthem for Black women. 

“The Voice” – Lil Durk

Lil Durk feels like he’s carrying the weight of his city on his shoulders. As one of the rising stars from the streets of Chicago, he bears the responsibility of living up to the hype he’s been building the past few years, while also staying true to his roots. On “The Voice,” Durkio reflects on coming of age alone and confesses to the struggles of dealing with the isolation of quarantine, as he tries to keep things together despite his inner pain.

“12 Problems” – Rapsody

“Own It” – Rico Nasty

Maryland’s Rico Nasty’s charisma and attitude can sell any track. She does it again with “Own It,” a song that blends her sugar trap roots with more traditional trap beats. Rico’s confident bars radiate as she pulls up to the club, rocking her brand-new crocs, knowing that everyone in the room wishes they could be her.

   

“Anza” – Conway The Machine f. Armani Caesar

“10 Points” – Nas

Nas is like a village griot whose brief allegories on “10 Points” urges listeners to pursue greatness with humility and patience. It sounds like the adult version of his children-targeted single “I Can” from his sixth album God’s Son. The pulsating bass line, scintillating horns and chimes match the Queensbridge legend’s enlightening manifesto. 

“Deep Reverence” – Big Sean f. Nipsey Hussle

After three years off, Big Sean uses his new single “Deep Reverence” to reflect on squashing beef with Kendrick Lamar, his struggles with mental health and Nipsey Hussle’s death. Accompanied by an excellent opening verse from the late L.A. legend, Sean pays respects to the West Coast icon, while also catching fans up on where he is mentally and emotionally before he drops the highly anticipated Detroit 2.

“Gifted” – Cordae f. Roddy Ricch

Burgeoning lyricist YBN Cordae enlisted the help of Roddy Ricch for a conscious, victory-lap of the two generational rappers called “Gifted.” The two 20-something-year-old rappers trade bars about their newfound success — and the jewelry and girls that came with it. It’s a pop-oriented song that doesn’t sacrifice quality writing and thoughtful delivery.

“Good Morning” – Black Thought f. Pusha T, Killer Mike is & Swizz Beatz

When it comes to posse cuts featuring the best rappers in the East Coast, Black Thought is the first name that will come up to deliver the hot sauce. “Good Morning” is for dyed-in-the-wool rap traditionalists as The Roots’ lead MC takes a trip down Interstate 95 to stop in Virginia for Pusha T and Atlanta for Killer Mike to bless Swizz Beatz’s punchy tripled snare kicks, crunchy horns and towering sirens. It’s as if “Clones” got a 24-year update.

“Roots” – Aminé f. J.I.D & Charlie Wilson

Amine is proud of his flaws and even prouder of his heritage. “Roots” is a self-affirming proclamation in the face of all adversity. Amine’s drawling delivery ensures you won’t miss a single syllable while Charlie Wilson’s distant crooning adds rose-colored textures to this soulful gem.

“My Power” – Chika

Chika’s rise from viral Instagram rapper to Warner Music Group artist has been nothing short of astounding. After releasing the Industry Games EP in March, Chika was tapped to not only craft an original song for the Jamie Foxx Netflix film Project Power but also make her acting debut. “My Power” showcases her innate songwriting ability, soulful singing voice and bars on bars on bars.

“Laugh Now Cry Later” – Drake f. Lil Durk

It sounds like a parade is coming down the street as soon as “Laugh Now, Cry Later” comes on, and Drake and Lil Durk are well suited for the role of grand marshals. Toronto’s very own talks up his own name with well-earned bravado. while Durk warns everyone not to test his gangsta under syrupy-sweet melodies.

“How It Go” – King Von

The failures of the prison system aren’t lost on Chicago’s King Von. As a Black man targeted by the law, Von knows the realities of incarceration and its complications, whether you’re convicted or released. On “How It Go,” Von showcases his elite and natural storytelling, hitting every emotional beat while detailing the mounting stressors that come when you have to pick up the pieces and figure out how to recapture the life you once had: or change your fortunes for the better.

“Car #85” – Nas

Whenever Nas puts anything out, it’s going to be heavily examined and scrutinized — after all, he’s one of Hip Hop’s greatest, right? But like Joe Budden, who felt 2018’s NASIR tainted Nas’ legacy, some people weren’t expecting much from King’s Disease but were pleasantly surprised, especially on songs such as “Car #85.” Featuring Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson, the track beckons Illmatic-era Nas and puts the exclamation point on his G.O.A.T. status. 

“Honcho” – MC Eiht f. Conway The Machine & DJ Premier

West Coast gangsta rap pioneer MC Eiht was watching Griselda’s moves from afar and decided to reach out to the burgeoning East Coast rapper Conway The Machine to bring a little new school flavor to the DJ Premier joint “Honcho.” Boasting plenty of braggadocious bars, the track unites two different generations and shows what happens when they work together.

“Think of The Lox” – f. Westside Gunn

Despite Griselda not coming up in the city that never sleeps, the Buffalo collective’s sound obviously draws from late ’90s and early ’00s New York rap as a chief influence. So pairing Westside Gunn and Benny The Butcher with the iconic New York Hip Hop trio The LOX makes sense. “Think Of The LOX” features the two powers combining to put on for the original golden age sound and do what New York does best — talk their shit.

“The Woo” – Pop Smoke f. Roddy Ricch & 50 Cent

Pop Smoke was doing something special. We saw snippets of his true artistry on Meet the Woo 2, but on the commanding Shoot For The Stars, Aim For the Moon he ascends to new dimensions with full dexterity. Multi-generational track “The Woo” connects Pop with one of his idols and shines a spotlight on another artist primed to take over the next decade. 

“Wishing Well” – Juice Wrld

Juice Wrld’s tragic legacy is challenging to grapple with. His posthumous releases have continued to emphasize his troubles with addiction with “Wishing Well” serving as the latest heartbreaking window into his torment, featuring the most gut-wrenching line of 2020: “Let’s be for real/If it wasn’t for the pills, I wouldn’t be here/But if I keep taking these pills, I won’t be here.” 

“May I” – Flo Milli

“The Adventures Of Moon Man & Slim Shady” – Kid Cudi f. Eminem

In an unexpected collaboration of Hip Hop greats, Mr. Rager tapped the real Slim Shady for Cudi’s first single since the Travis-assisted hit “The Scotts.” Em pulled inspiration from a variety of pop-culture moments, including the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Drew Brees’ controversial comments. Cudi and Eminem are sonically different, but the two blend together exceptionally well for a shit-talking anthem.

“Thought Vs. Everybody” – Black Thought

On the powerful single “Thought vs. Everybody,” Black Thought personifies the rage and fire that burned in several of America’s major cities during the Black Lives Matter protests before and during this Summer of Discontent. In his calm yet incisive demeanor, The Roots co-founder parallels the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s and 70s to the present day plight of racism for his most political solo record to date.

“Bands In Da Basement” – 03 Greedo f. Chief Keef & Ron-RonTheProducer

One of 03 Greedo’s greatest strengths is his superior ability to show not tell, preferring to let audiences interpret the implications of what he’s expressing rather than spelling it out. His collaboration with Chief Keef “Bands In Da Basement” continues to showcase this talent, rapping about his preference for keeping money anywhere but the bank. The chorus and Greedo’s Auto-Tuned harmonies make for an irresistibly catchy track straight from the basement of the trap Greedo used to break down ounces in.

“Only You Freestyle” – Headie f. Drake

Drake released a handful of singles in the past month but none top his collaboration with North London rapper Headie One. Produced by M1OnTheBeat, the Drill-inspired track lays the foundation for four minutes of unbridled bars. Say what you will about the ethics and authenticity of Drake’s continual interest in British slang and cadence, the spitting heard on “Only You Freestyle” is the closest Hip Hop fans have seen of the mixtape-era 6 God in years.

“Lion King On Ice” – J. Cole

Hip Hop fans happily stepped into the Cole World after his single “Lion King On Ice” melted on their ear drums in hot-ass July. The track is co-produced by jetsonmade, T-Minus and J. Cole himself, consisting of subtle trap hi-hats and snares, an ethereal 45 RPM R&B vocal high note sample with Cole’s melodic tenor singing. It counterbalances his initial polarizing song “Snow on tha Bluff” released in June and makes fans get ready for a possible new outing from the rap legend of the fall season.

“Black Sheep” – Sheff G

“Soul Food II” – Logic

“Soul Food” sounded great the first time and its successor is a fitting sign-off to Logic’s career. He touches on the overconsumption of music and his full-circle journey, while using the beat switch to reference the extraterrestrial storyline from The Incredible True Story. The double time flows and frequent call backs are vintage Logic, allowing him to do what he does best one final time for his fiercely loyal fanbase. 

“The Bigger Picture” – Lil Baby

The ongoing Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have inspired music from plenty of rappers. But none have quite captured the collective feeling of the moment as well as Lil Baby on the anthemic “The Bigger Picture.” Rapping with a beleaguered delivery about the systematic oppression caused by our broken institutions, Baby’s call-to-action strikes the right balance of being fed up with the police’s abuse of power with being cautiously optimistic that people uniting together can usher in the change this country so desperately needs.

“What’s Poppin (Remix)” – Jack Harlow f. Tory Lanez, DaBaby & Lil Wayne

“WHAT’S POPPIN” became Jack Harlow’s biggest song on its own, yet the track got a major co-sign when three of Hip Hop’s biggest stars jumped on the remix. DaBaby, Lil Wayne and Tory Lanez brought their respective styles to the cut and only made it better in the process. But most impressive of all is how Harlow still stands tall, proving he’s more than ready to compete alongside the heavyweights in the rap industry.

“Song 33” – Noname

Although Noname later expressed regret for issuing this response to J. Cole’s perceived “tone deaf” single “Snow On Tha Bluff,” the Chicago rapper seized her moment and murdered the Madlib-produced beat while setting the Dreamville boss firmly in her crosshairs. With lines such as, “But niggas in the back quiet as a church mouse/Basement studio when duty calls to get the verse out/I guess the ego hurt now,” she made it abundantly clear she can handle her own.

 

“Lockdown” – Anderson .Paak

The acidic mix of coronavirus blues and red-hot racial tensions has left plenty of Americans feeling empty and deflated. On his soothing protest anthem “Lockdown,” Anderson. Paak offers the world mild sedative for their rage while keeping them on course to upset the bigger system.

“Something To Rap About” – Freddie Gibbs f. Tyler The Creator

Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist’s surprise album Alfredo is filled with excellent music, but the soothing sounds of “Something To Rap About” make for one of the best listening experiences in Hip Hop this year. Gangsta Gibbs floats on ALC’s beat, dropping jaw-dropping lines such as “God made me sell crack, so I had something to rap about. Tyler, The Creator’s guest verse is icing on the cake, adding a little extra flavor to this delicious Alfredo cut.

“City On Lock” – City Girls f. Lil Durk

“Make It Rain” – Pop Smoke f. Rowdy Rebel

Ahead of Pop Smoke’s highly anticipated first posthumous album, the late Brooklyn rapper’s estate released “Make It Rain,” featuring the currently incarcerated Rowdy Rebel. The lead single from the forthcoming album contains everything you’d want from a Pop Smoke track: deep growls, a thick underlying bass and that inimitable Flossy cadence.

“JU$T” – Run The Jewels f. Pharrell Williams and Zack de la Rocha

The collaborations between Run The Jewels and Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha have been some of the best parts of RTJ’s albums … and RTJ4 is no different. El-P and Killer Mike switched up the formula a bit for their latest team-up, recruiting Pharrell and de la Rocha for the standout cut “JU$T.” Having Pharrell join in the slamming of capitalism makes for an unexpected but pleasantly surprising wrinkle to the string of collabs from RTJ and RATM”s frontman.

“WELFARE” – RMR f. Westside Gunn

The masked singer proved that he’s worth the hype on his debut album DRUG DEALING IS A LOST ART. The genre-bending album has whiffs of Pop and Country, all while remaining undeniably Hip Hop. “WELFARE” puts RMR toe-to-toe with Griselda’s Westside Gunn for a trap ballad. Gunn’s belligerent adlibs paired with RMR’s smooth, soulful vocals make this track one of 2020’s best.

“ROCKSTAR” (BLM Remix)” – DaBaby f. Roddy Ricch

“MOVIN’ DIFFERENT” – Wale f. McClenney

Between nationwide protests and coronavirus quarantines, there is no doubt that 2020 is unlike any other year in history. At such a unique time, there isn’t much music to capture the feeling, but Wale’s new EP The Imperfect Storm portrays the mood of so many living through this year. On “MOVIN’ DIFFERENT” Foloron tackles complex issues like the media’s portrayal of protests, riots, Los Angeles curfews, the militarization of police and not-so-sober quarantining.

“FTP” – YG

Once again, Compton-bred rapper YG has used his power for good. Instead of calling out Donald Trump like he did with 2016’s “FDT,” now he’s taking aim at corrupt police with “FTP (Fuck The Police).” Again, timing played an integral role in the unharnessed power of the track. With protests and riots breaking out across the globe in the name of George Floyd and racial equality, YG’s words resonate louder than ever, especially lines such as, “Murder after murder after all these years/Buy a strap, bust back after all these tears/Mommas cryin’, how they gon’ heal? (How they gon’?)/How you would feel?” 

“GTA VI” – Drakeo The Ruler & JoogSzn

The gritty and violent tales from some of the most traumatized street rappers endlessly fascinate those who haven’t experienced that life. To these wannabe hustlers, selling drugs, dodging bullets and shooting Glocks would be “so lit, bro,” leaving them wishing they could live out their gangsta fantasies. What’s forgotten, as allegedwrongly incarcerated L.A. rapper Drakeo The Ruler points out on “GTA VI,” is most don’t live that way because it’s fun: they do it to survive. Drakeo’s sobering cautionary tale of what happens when you treat life like it’s Grand Theft Auto haunts the listener long after the cracks of the GTL phone line fade out; a reminder there is no respawn if you fuck up in real life. 

“Black 2” – Buddy

“State Of The Union (STFU)” – Public Enemy f. DJ Premier

Much like Run The Jewels’ RTJ4, Public Enemy’s first song since 2017 seemed to arrive right on time. With production from the inimitable DJ Premier, the in-your-face, anti-Trump anthem erupts with Chuck D’s booming voice and Flavor Flav’s familiar ad-libs as Preemo and DJ Lord tear up the 1s and 2s. The groundbreaking Hip Hop group followed up the track with an explosive rendition of “Fight The Power” at the 2020 BET Awards alongside Nas, Questlove, Jahi, YG, Black Thought and Rapsody. 

“Skinny Suge” – Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

Given the way Freddie Gibbs has been Deebo’ing the rap game in 2020, it’s only right the bluesy yet cocky “Skinny Suge” is his new national anthem. Overtop The Alchemist’s stingray guitar loops, Gangsta Gibbs literally raps his way out of a paranoia-driven psychosis to emerge as Hip Hop’s top draw this year.

“Wishing For A Hero” – Polo G f. BJ The Chicago Kid

The climax of Polo G’s sophomore effort feels analogous to a song that precedes it by 22 years. “Wishing For A Hero” takes on the same tenor and piano loop that made Tupac’s “Changes” a resonating reminder of how much truly hasn’t changed even in the face of optimism. “Cops kill us and we protest, what type of shit is that?” Polo asks before settling underneath BJ The Chicago Kid’s own hymnals, “I’m from where we unheard but we can’t speak.” He may be referencing Chicago, but in America, he’s referring to millions of people who want basic decency and respect.

“BALD! REMIX” – JPEGMAFIA f. Denzel Curry

JPEGMAFIA bolstered his already impressive cut “BALD!” by enlisting the help of Denzel Curry for the track’s remix. Peggy’s new version maintains the original production but replaces his second verse with an excellent effort from Zeltron. Curry fits seamlessly on the track, particularly while rapping on the sparse section of the beat featuring nothing but hand claps. 

“495” – IDK f. Rico Nasty, YungManny, Big Flock, Big JAM & Weensey

IDK served as the music supervisor on Kevin Durant’s Showtime documentary Basketball County: In the Water and slipped a new song, “495,” into the film. The posse cut features Juicy J’s production, which proves he’s still a master of the vintage Three 6 Mafia sound. But with IDK and Acyde also contributing to the beat, the song morphs at one point from menacing banger into a breezy anthem by the time Rico Nasty starts rapping.

“Savage (Remix)” – Megan Thee Stallion f. Beyoncé

Megan Thee Stallion has been building her Hot Girl brand over the past couple of years and continues to grow into one of the most prominent new artists in the game. If her status wasn’t already cemented before, a fellow Houston native sealed the deal for Meg. Beyoncé not only hopped on the remix, she also provided multiple rap verses, adlibs over the hook and new melodies to take the song to the next level. “Savage (Remix)” reached No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, giving Megan her first-ever chart-topper.

“Body Count” f. G Herbo & King Von – Mozzy

Over the past decade, Mozzy has become one of the best rappers at portraying the grim circumstances of street life. “Body Count” off his Beyond Bulletproof album is another example of his proficiency in this area as he displays on the hook and first verse. The West Coast MC gets assists from Chicago’s G Herbo and King Von, the latter of whom delivers one of his finest performances to date, proving he shouldn’t be stuck in the shadow of his OTF boss Lil Durk.

“Will (Remix)” – Joyner Lucas f. Will Smith

After releasing the music video for his single “Will,” which finds Joyner professing his admiration for Hip Hop legend Will Smith and comparing his own journey to Smith’s celebrated career, the man who inspired the song jumped on the remix. The Fresh Prince tells his story over the beat while shouting out all of the people who inspired him along the way, from Muhammad Ali to his wife Jada.

“H.A.R.D.” – Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked

The demise of Slaughterhouse was unfortunate for Hip Hop, but Joell Ortiz and KXNG Crooked reminded fans of why the supergroup was special with the release of their “H.A.R.D.” single. The two have always been elite lyricists yet what really makes The Heatmakerz-produced cut shine is Ortiz and Crook’s chemistry. These veteran MCs arguably compliment each other better as a duo than they did within the four-man lineup of Slaughterhouse with the track emphasizing their strengths. Still, both artists have great fondness for their days rapping alongside Royce Da 5’9 and Joe Budden and make sure that’s known on the single.

“Basquiat” – Mr. Lif & Stu Bangas

Mr. Lif and seasoned producer Stu Bangas — collectively known as Vangarde — pay tribute to Gang Starr with “Basquiat,” the duo’s second offering from their upcoming self-titled EP. The track weaves ’90s boom bap with Lif’s signature laid-back flow, a proper follow-up to the inaugural single, “The New Normal.” 

“FYTB” – Key Glock

Have you ever spent the night up in the trap house? Key Glock has. He lives that life, no matter how successful he becomes. Glizock’s authenticity is one key to his rise; the other coming from how lively he makes his grim tales of detachment sound. “FYTB” isn’t ominous like many of his other cuts. The flex lines fire off like a Mac-11. He cops a Benz and Rolls truck: paid in cash, of course. And can make your girl faint just by walking into the room. This is Key Glock at his most boisterous without compromising himself. But this was all predestined — He was born to ball.

“And I Still” – Rod Wave

“Dangerookipawaa Freestyle” – Ab-Soul

Ab Soul Top Hip Hop Songs of 2020A comeback in Hip Hop is never promised, even if you are prominent of the greatest group to never officially do it. Such is life for Ab-Soul, who hasn’t released a project since before Kendrick Lamar had everyone saying “damn.” All that changed on 4/20 as smokers baked their brains and Ab dropped “Dangerookipawaa Freestyle” as part of TDE Appreciation Week. The track begins sinister enough as Ab drops thunderous theorems over a wailing Charles Bradley sample but soon melts within its own lava with a beat switch whose barrage of horns can’t contend with Soulo’s lyrical barrage. He’s back.

“Leader Of The Delinquents” – Kid Cudi

Beginning the song off with his now infamous humming adlibs, Kid Cudi made a triumphant return in 2020 with a brand new single. The song sees the Cleveland-bred artist delving deep into his psyche while battling his inner demons. Cudder aptly dubs himself the “leader of the delinquents” on the track as he reminisces over past drug abuse and failed relationships. This was the first new song from Cudi since his Kanye West collab album Kids See Ghosts and as always, “Dat Kid From Cleveland” continued his streak of being vulnerable and honest within his music.

“George Bondo” – Westside Gunn

Pray For Paris Top Hip Hop Album 2020Westside Gunn’s “George Bondo” might just be the quintessential Griselda Records song. The Flygod, Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher rapping over a Daringer beat has proven to be a winning formula, and this Pray For Paris is damn near perfect. With no hook in sight, each MCs tries to outdo his predecessor with overpowering rhymes. The trio gets to bar out while referencing everything from pro wrestling and Patrick Kane to moving from drug deals to Roc Nation brunches. 

“Pyro (leak 2019)” – Denzel Curry

Like much of Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats’ album, “Pyro (leak 2019)” leaves listeners wanting more due to its short runtime. Despite clocking in at less than two minutes, the track is filled with potent bars and stylistic flair. From altered vocals on a Mario reference and hitting high notes like ODB to witty wordplay about Goodie Mob and Malcolm X, Curry packs a heavy punch on the lone verse of  “Pyro (leak 2019).”

“The Blinding” – Jay Electronica f. JAY-Z, Travis Scott & The-Dream

Jay Electronica and JAY-Z perfectly complement each other on A Written Testimony, particularly on the Travis Scott-assisted “The Blinding.” Both rappers come out swinging, starting the song off with spiritually laced bars over a hard-hitting instrumental. But when the beat switches midway through the track, Jay Elec displays true vulnerability and laments his fear of criticism. It’s a revealing moment that sheds light on why fans waited so long to hear his debut album.

“Yankee and The Brave (ep. 4)” – Run The Jewels

It appears Run The Jewels are gearing up for the release of their fourth studio album as they returned in March with a new single. From the production to the lyricism, everything about this track is unique, yet the song is quintessential RTJ.

“Carefree” – Mick Jenkins

Mick Jenkins has the ability to sound completely laid back on a beat while still making sure he’s concise with his lyrics. “Carefree” delivers a catchy hook, clever bars and a smooth instrumental.

“They Got Sonny” – Conway & Alchemist f. Cormega

Conway The Machine and Alchemist make for a deadly combination as proven throughout their LULU EP. But their formula was made even more potent with the addition of Cormega, who helped the duo craft a street rap gem in “They Got Sonny.” Conway’s verbal smack to the face and Mega’s equally hard-hitting bars are right at home on ALC’s brooding beat. Hopefully, this is just the first of many more songs from this trio.

“Life Is Good” – Future & Drake

Future and Drake teamed up once again, this time to remind everyone they’re doing well in life. This song brought the best out of the duo and left fans anticipating a potential full-length follow up to their 2015 effort What A Time To Be Alive.

“Yah Yah” – Eminem

Eminem recruited some of the best to ever do it — Black Thought, Royce Da 5’9 and Q-Tip — for an epic posse cut that stands out as one of the shining moments of Slim Shady’s surprise album Music To Be Murdered By.

“Guilty Conscience” – 070 Shake


070 Shake delivers a unique blend of nostalgic synths and modern drums on this single off of her project Modus VivendiShake bends genre’s on this track mixing R&B vocals with pop hooks and memorable melodies. There is no denying that the singer has found her sound and “Guilty Conscience” is the perfect sonic display.

Honorable Mentions

Below is a list of more songs from each month that we loved and still have on repeat.

OTHER FAVORITES FROM JANUARY

“Sum 2 Prove” – Lil Baby

Lil Baby flowed effortlessly over the Twysted Genius produced track. While the melody and flow might be the initial draws to the song, the rapper also shines lyrically with everything from laugh-out-loud moments, to heartfelt bars.

“Blue World” – Mac Miller

With the help of famed producer Jon Brion, Mac Miller’s family recently unlocked the late musician’s first posthumous album Circles, the sister album to 2018’s Swimming. “Blue World” is one of the more uptempo tracks on the 12-song effort and a staunch reminder of what the world lost when he passed away in September 2018 at the ripe age of 26.

“Shells Kitchen” – Raekwon

The Chef’s The Appetition EP is more of an appetizer than a full course meal, yet Raekwon’s “Shells Kitchen” is packed with enough witty bars in its two verses to leave Hip Hop heads satisfied.

“Nightime (Interlude)” – Russ

Although Russ dubbed this track an interlude, it can stand on its own without question. After getting co-signs from Rihanna in the form of an Instagram video and JAY-Z in the form of a playlist, the rapper is looking to have his biggest year yet. The song mixes an infectious hook with high-pitched vocal bridges to create a unique sound, which is much different than some of Russ’s other music.

“Anna From Woohside (Beat Suite)” – Stretch & Bobbito

New York City-bred radio legends Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia delivered their first album No Requests featuring The M19s Band, which they executive produced and curated. The opening song for the project cleverly weaves together several famous Hip Hop instrumentals, including Souls Of Mischief’s “93 til Infinity” and Nas’ “N.Y. State Of Mind.”

  • “Letter To Nipsey” – Meek Mill f. Roddy Ricch
  • “Slap Da Shit Outcha” – Redman
  • “Pistol By The Bed” – Moneybagg Yo
  • “Money Talk” – Rich The Kid f. NBA YoungBoy
  • “Diamonds” – Young Thug f. Gunna
  • “Millions” – Young Thug
  • “Dirty Iyanna” – Youngboy Never Broke Again
  • “Good News” – Mac Miller
  • “B.I.T.C.H.” – Megan Thee Stallion
  • “Outdone” – Tech N9ne
  • “What’s Poppin” – Jack Harlow
  • “Christopher Walking” – Pop Smoke

OTHER FAVORITES FROM FEBRUARY

“1997” – Key Glock

South Memphis rapper Key Glock tells his story on the haunting Bandplay-produced track “1997,” off the recently released album Yellow Tape. The Paper Route EMPIRE rapper staying true to his hometown with his Three 6 Mafia flow and bluesy rhymes.

“Rogue Wave” – Aesop Rock

Following a self-imposed hiatus, wordplay wizard Aesop Rock reemerged with “Rogue Wave” earlier this month, yet another verbose offering in his expansive catalog. The song marks the Rhymesayer MC’s first musical offering since January 2019’s Malibu Ken project.

  • “Yikes” – Nicki Minaj
  • “Upside Down” – Royce Da 5’9 ft. Benny The Butcher
  • “I Do It” ft. Big Sean & Lil Wayne – Lil Wayne
  • “Crunk Ain’t Dead (Remix)” – Duke Deuce
  • “1997” – Key Glock
  • “Invincible” – Pop Smoke
  • “Thug Love” – A Boogie
  • “Rogue Wave” – Aesop Rock
  • “What’s Poppin” – Jack Harlow

OTHER FAVORITES FROM MARCH

“They Got Sonny” – Conway & Alchemist f. Cormega

Conway The Machine and Alchemist make for a deadly combination as proven throughout their LULU EP. But their formula was made even more potent with the addition of Cormega, who helped the duo craft a street rap gem in “They Got Sonny.” Conway’s verbal smack to the face and Mega’s equally hard-hitting bars are right at home on ALC’s brooding beat. Hopefully, this is just the first of many more songs from this trio.

“Break Bread” – Count Bass D

Two decades in the music industry have made Count Bass D wise to all BS. “Break Bread” puts his wisdom on full display as the veteran rapper/producer explains why “likes and views will never get you fed,” urging artists to always get paid for their work. After lacing the song’s opening with some attention-catching horns, Count transitions into a more relaxed mood to deliver his important sermon on why money is always better than exposure.

  • “They Got Sonny” – Conway & Alchemist f. Cormega
  • “Golden Oldies” – RA The Rugged Man
  • “Ion Rap Beef Remix” – Drakeo The Ruler
  • “Break Bread” – Count Bass D
  • “Prices” – Lil Uzi Vert
  • “Zoom Zoom” – PNV Jay
  • “Angels Getting Pedicured” – Jadakiss f. 2 Chainz
  • “uhoh(whereyoho@?)” – Lojii
  • “Make Right” – Slim Thug f. Z-Ro
  • “John $tarks” – Stove God Cook$ & Roc Marciano
  • “Unknown Michael” – Killah Priest
  • “PTSD” – G Herbo f. Juice WRLD, Chance The Rapper & Lil Uzi Vert

OTHER FAVORITES FROM APRIL

  • “DND” – Polo G
  • “No Questions” – 22 Gz
  • “Dealer” – RMR
  • “Why Worry” – Isaiah Rashad
  • “Lost” – Tha Chill f. MC Ren
  • “Block Party” – CJ Fly f. Kirk Knight
  • “MSG 4 God’s Children” – Tory Lanez

OTHER FAVORITES FROM MAY

“Social Distancing” – Lil Baby

Many rappers incorporated the coronavirus’ forced reality into their music, but none did it with the grace of Lil Baby. Backed by a beat that feels six feet away from Section 8 and Chi Chi, Baby raps with precision, using the social distancing term as a metaphor for carving out his lane and cutting off all that oppose him. Baby understands with great wealth comes intense jealousy and fake admiration; his distrust building. It’s the type of song built for isolation as we tune out our grim reality, hoping for the day when we can escape with the ones we love and just go away.

“Need It” – Migos f. Youngboy

All Instagram followers of Migos and Youngboy Never Broke Again know they love their big toys, so it comes no surprise they joined forces for some 2020 “ryder music.” Enter “Need It,” which owes its production touch to the 50 Cent sample of 2005’s “Get In My Car.” Over the high-powered Buddah Bless beat, the four Southerners let their diamond-encrusted lyrical flexes hit just as hard as the track’s thumping bass guitar.

  • “Dollaz On My Head” – Gunna f. Young Thug
  • “Nominated” – Hit-Boy f. Dom Kennedy
  • “Me Vs. Me” – Moneybagg Yo
  • “DEALER” (Remix) – RMR f. Future & Lil Baby
  • “Riri” – Aminé
  • “Memorial Day” – Kxng Crooked & Joel Ortiz
  • “Laugh Now Kry Later!” – YG
  • “Summerhouse” – Kota The Friend
  • “Up Or Down” – E-40 f. Wiz Khalifa

OTHER FAVORITES FROM JUNE

  • “Can’t Sleep” – Big Boi & Sleepy Brown
  • “Dangerous” – Thurz
  • “End of Daze” – Spillage Village
  • “Shotta Flow 5” – NLE Choppa
  • “R.I.P Barneys” – Drakeo The Ruler & JoogSzn
  • “Mazel Tov” – IDK feat A$ap Ferg
  • “Hollup” – 3ohBlack f. Moneybagg Yo, Tay Keith
  • “Front Lines” – Conway The Machine
  • “Covid” – Tee Grizzley ft. Lil Baby
  • “Deep End Freestyle” – Sleepy Hallow ft. Foushee
  • “Otherside Of America” – Meek Mill
  • “Mr. Officer” – Tee Grizzley f. Queen Naija

OTHER FAVORITES FROM JULY

  • “Girls In The Hood” – Megan Thee Stallion
  • “Baguetti” – Smino f. JID & Kenny Beats
  • Wrist Froze” – Bobby Fishscale f. Peewee Longway
  • “Ease Up” – Buckwild f. Little Brother
  • “Jose Canseco” – Westside Gunn f. Stove God Cook$
  • “I Might Die For This While Y’all Playing” – Kemba
  • “Hot Damn Remix” – Blimes & Gab f. Method Man
  • “Black Sheep” – Sheff G
  • “Black Mirror” – Mr. Muthafuckin Esquire, Madlib
  • “Drop That Bag” – Capolow
  • “FREE JIG” – Sada Baby

OTHER FAVORITES FROM AUGUST

  • “Meltdown Sequence” Mix Master Mike & Steve Jordan
  • “Product Of The Ghetto” Stylz & Wells
  • “24” – Money Man ft. Lil Baby
  • “Free Money” – 42 Dugg
  • “If Wavy Was A Person” – Babyface Ray
  • “Navy Blue” – Ovrkast
  • “Name In Ya Mouth” – Felt
  • “Stay Ur Distance” – Yo Gotti
  • “Miss You” – The Lox f. T-Pain
  • “Lemonade” – Internet Money

OTHER FAVORITES FROM SEPTEMBER

  • “WhoWho” – WizKid f. Hugo
  • “MAD” – 2KBABY
  •  “Fall Slowly” – Joyner Lucas
  • “Baggin’” – 42 Dugg f. Marshmello
  • “Time Will Tell” – Marlon Craft
  • “12 Problems” – Rapsody
  • “Epidemic” – Polo G
  • “Mrs. Whoever” – Saba
  • “All White” – Young Nudy
  • “Teen Scene” – Maeta f. Buddy & Kaytranada
  • “Wolves” – Big Sean f. Post Malone

OTHER FAVORITES FROM OCTOBER

 

  • “Tyler Herro” – Jack Harlow
  • “Don’t Like Me” – Rico Nasty f. Gucci Mane
  • “No No No” – Flipp Dinero f. A Boogie
  • “Back” – Jeezy & Gotti
  • “Thank God” – T.I. feat. 21 Savage
  • “We Did It Big” – T.I. feat. John Legend
  • “Live From the Abyss” – Denzel Curry
  • “Honey Pack” – BFB Da Packman
  • “Hoodie Weather” – Marlon Craft
  • “Tennis” – Blacc ZaccAre You Ready – Goodie Mob & Chuck D
  • “The Mighty Tree” – Dinner Party f. Rapsody & Herbie Hancock
  • “Stress” – Homeboy Sandman
  • “Good Night” – Westside Gunn f. Slick Rick
  • “Quiet Trip” – Black Thought f. Portugal The Man & The Last Artful Dodger