In 2020, with so much uncertainty in the world, music fans are in search of a simpler time. Nothing brings back early 2000’s nostalgia like the idea of mixtapes.
The distinction between albums, mixtapes and EPs seems to get blurred more and with each year that passes. Some artists claim they released a mixtape despite it being a studio LP and others will label a 15-track project an EP. Simply put, there’s not much rhyme or reason anymore.
But whether it’s just a label or artists releasing mixtapes and EPs in the traditional sense, plenty of these projects are still being delivered despite the ambiguity. HipHopDX has complied the best of the best in an effort to help fans keep track of what’s dropped in 2020. In June, 6LACK provided a smooth EP to help ease the nation’s continued quarantine, while Wale tackled the social issues happening on the outside.
You can also check out our album lists below:
Best Mixtapes and EPs Of Jan – June 2020
The Imperfect Storm – Wale
During what seems like an almost unexplainable time in human history, Wale was able to capture some of what the nation is feeling and put into music. Lyrically, Folarin tackles the struggles of quarantining, mental health, protests, riots and police killings, all while maintaining his usual laid-back cadence. The Imperfect Storm is the perfect soundtrack to the times.
6pc Hot – 6LACK
6LACK’s nature for nocturnal soundtracks comes full circle with his 6pc Hot EP, which contained six audio nuggets full of accounts of lovelorn mistakes and serene confessionals. Tracks like “Long Nights” and “Float” make for perfect riding music along Atlanta’s I-20. And getting to hear to city’s premier artists in their prime on the Lil Baby-assisted “Know My Rights” allows the replay of 6pc Hot to last a lot longer than the munchies.
Now, More Than Ever – Flatbush Zombies
IDK & Friends 2 – IDK
IDK has some very talented friends: that much is clear from his latest mixtape, IDK & Friends 2, which has features from the likes of A$AP Ferg, Juicy J and Denzel Curry. The DMV rapper teamed up with basketball superstar Kevin Durant for his latest project which will serve as the soundtrack to Durant’s upcoming documentary, Basketball County: In The Water. IDK has always had a knack for storytelling, but on IDK & Friends 2 he’s turned his attention to making a hit and has found a way to do so without diluting the quality of his lyrics and production choices. Get used to hearing about IDK–he’s only going up from here.
Slime & B – Chris Brown & Young Thug
Although their degrees of separation are pretty much zero, no one was expecting (or demanding *gasp!*) a joint project between Chris Brown and Young Thug. Not only did they deliver the unsolicited mixtape Slime & B, but they delivered in the form of quality, fevered dance tracks and overall catchiness. Packed with radio candy like “Go Crazy,” “City Girls” and “Trap Back,” the project also leveraged the talents of both new (Gunna and Lil Duke) and veteran (E-40 and Too $hort) artists.
The Bluest Note – Skyzoo
Skyzoo has always shown a great appreciation for jazz in his music, often selecting production that samples the classic genre throughout his career. The Brooklyn MC upped the ante with The Bluest Note though, teaming up with an actual jazz band for the EP. Sky and Dumbo Station are a match made in heaven, bringing out the best in each other over the course of the seven-track project. Most notably, the Italian band adds a new dynamic to Sky’s style, eliciting a more vibrant performance from the veteran rapper to match its lush soundscapes.
LULU – Conway & Alchemist
Conway The Machine and Alchemist are no strangers, having worked on multiple songs together over the past few years. But the two finally linked up for a collaborative project titled LULU, which has become the clear frontrunner for best EP of 2020. Conway’s vicious yet meticulous bars perfectly complement Alchemist’s often chilling sounds, resulting in a seven-track effort with lots of replay value. And while the EP’s briefness is part of the appeal, the duo’s chemistry makes one hopeful they’ll concoct a full-length project in the future.
Already Decided – Smino
On Already Decided, Smino switches effortlessly between smooth, melodic flows and straight bars over soul samples. The St. Louis-bred MC displays his versatility, rapping over beats of all kinds, and the 16-track tape includes features from the likes of Sevyn Streeter and T-Pain. One of the standout songs is “Blac Soda (Freestyle),” which sees Smino flowing over Baby Keem’s cult classic “ORANGE SODA” instrumental. This feels like a warmup before his next official album.
Industry Games – CHIKA
Viral Instagram star-turned-professional rapper Chika released her debut project Industry Games after years of grinding. Her goal — to “make you think” — is fully realized throughout the seven-track effort. Backed by a handful of bass heavy beats, the 23-year-old Alabama native addresses her hustle, weight issues and haters with the expertise of any seasoned MC.
Impedance – Terrace Martin
13LOOD 1N + 13LOOD OUT MIXX – Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry surprised fans with the 13LOOD 1N + 13LOOD OUT MIXX, giving listeners a brief but potent set of music that recaptured the feeling of old school mixtapes with its grainy quality and stitched together songs. The album received a score of 4 out of 5 from DX, with contributor Josh Svetz writing, “Curry’s latest release pays homage to his roots, while also showing off Zel at his most anarchic. It’s the blueprint for how to release scattered singles and snippets, without a cohesive idea or concept to tie it all together.”
The Circus – Mick Jenkins
Although Mick Jenkins referred to the EP as a prelude to his next full length project, The Circus can easily stand on its own as a body of work. From moody instrumentals to memorable lyricism, the seven tracks perfectly showcase the MC’s skills. The album received a score of 3.7 out of 5 from DX, with contributor Josh Svetz writing, “He employs a head-bopping flow with a throwback 90s boom-bap flair, making his verses pop. The Circus is an overall creative win and a nice precursor for his next album.”
The Appetition – Raekwon
The Chef hit the Red Bull Studios in New York and cooked up a brief three-track offering that proved his pen game remains sharp, making it clear the Wu-Tang Clan MC still is a force to be reckoned with at 50 years old.
Below is a list of more projects that we loved and still have on repeat.
- The Smartest – Tee Grizzley
- Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art – RMR
- Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 – Lil Durk
- The Curb Commentator – E-40
- No One Mourns the Wicked – Conway x Big Ghost LTD
- I’m My Brother’s Keeper – Yella Beezy & Trapboy Freddy
- Dark Lane Demo Tapes – Drake
- Son Of A Gun – Key Glock
- Red Flu – Young M.A.
- Timeless – Dee-1
- In The Meantime – OMB Peezy
- Outside – Bino Rideaux
- Drop 6 – Little Simz
- Eat When You’re Hungry Sleep When You’re Tired – Jay Worthy & Harry Fraud
- Quarantine: Social Distancing – Z-Ro
- I Don’t Wear Suits – SaxKixAve
- Be Right Back – Tanya Morgan
- Moment of Change – Raw Poetic & Damu The Fudgemunk
- For You – Babyface Ray
- T3RMINAL_4 – Eric North
- In Search of … Cole – DJ Critical Hype
- ‘Call Me Red, Vol. 1’ – Tiffany Red
- No Cosign Just Cocaine 3 – Ty Farris
- Flyest Nig@@ In Charge Mixtape Vol. 1 – Westside Gunn
- Anyways – Yung Nudy
- ENTERFEAR Level 2 – Tech N9ne
- 3 Joints – Redman
- LeVon James – King Von
- Smokin Potnas – Currensy & Fendi P
- The Sixteen Chapel – KXNG Crooked
- Web Life Vol. 3 – TEC
Check out the best mixtapes and EPs from each month: