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 compiled the best of the best in an effort to help fans keep track of what’s dropped in 2020. In August, fans received new releases from Benny The Butcher’s Black Soprano Family and 03 Greedo and Ron-RonTheProducer.

You can also check out our album lists below:

Best Mixtapes and EPs Of Jan – August 2020

Black Soprano Family – Benny The Butcher

Benny The Butcher and DJ Drama teamed up this past month to compile The Respected Sopranos, a continuation of the Griselda movement which has revamped New York Hip Hop through the East Coast’s seminal gritty and grimy sounds. With verses from up and comers Rick Hyde, Loveboat Luciano, Dwayne Collins, Heem B$F and the Griselda godfather himself, The Respected Sopranos is 26 minutes of NY realness. 

Load It Up,  Vol. 1 – 03 Greedo & Ron-RonTheProducer

Nothing can hold back 03 Greedo–not even prison. The Watts, CA native has been behind bars since the summer of 2018, but has consistently released quality music, including his latest, a collaboration with Ron-RonTheProducer, Load It Up Vol. 1. Throughout the project Greedo’s rowdy verses will often devolve into belligerent ramblings, perfectly suited for Ron-Ron’s eerie production. Bump “Home VLONE” for the duo’s best offering.

Manger On McNichols – Boldly James & Sterling Toles

With streaming becoming the dominant way people choose to consume music, there’s been an emphasis placed on releasing singles and albums as fast as possible and not letting things marinate. Boldy James and Sterling Toles’ latest album is proof greatness shouldn’t be rushed. With recordings dating back to 2007, Manger On McNichols is the result of process and patience, strengthening its impact as a time capsule of James’ upbringing in Detroit. The live jazz instrumentation and jarring production serve as the backdrop to James’ attempts to heal from his trauma, resulting in the most personal record he’s ever created.

 

Bartier Bounty 2 – Sada Baby

Take an hour ride through the sounds of Detroit with Sada Baby on his most recent release, Bartier Bounty 2. As we’ve come to expect from a Sada project, the second iteration of Bartier Bounty is full of energy, chaos and dance-provoking bops. Since his East Side MC entered the scene in 2017 with Skuba Sada, the rap community has fallen in love with his signature mix of humor and provocative lyrics. His latest assembles an eclectic range of features, from Lil Yachty to Dej Loaf. Blast “HALF MAN HALF APE” if you’re feeling rowdy, and “Baptism” if you’re trying to keep it more low-key.

House – Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco has a lot on his mind, and he shares it as only he can on House. Production is simple and relaxed, allowing Lupe to leisurely weave his way through extended metaphors. On “Dinosaurs,” he ties in prehistoric days to analyze the rap game, examining the responsibilities of both the old and new guard. It’s thoughtful, veteran rap at it’s finest, and even unnecessary voicemails from Virgil Abloh can’t ruin the groove.

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

Alchemist Conway Best EPs of 2020Conway 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

CHIKA Best EPs of 2020 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 best mixtapes of 2020Denzel 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

Mick Jenkins best EPs of 2020Although 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

Raekwon best EPs of 2020The 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.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Below is a list of more projects that we loved and still have on repeat.

  • The Re-Up – Bobby Fishscale
  • Manger on McNichols – Boldy James & Sterling Toles
  • The Light Pack – Joey Bada$$
  • The Smartest – Tee Grizzley
  • Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art – RMR
  • Just Cause Y’all Waited 2Lil 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 TapesDrake
  • Son Of A GunKey Glock
  • Red FluYoung M.A.
  • TimelessDee-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. 1Westside Gunn
  • AnywaysYung 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: