MIQ’s Best in Hip-Hop 2020

Curated by URAL GARRETT 

Busta Rhymes // Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God -Release Date: October 30, 2020

Busta Rhymes was inspired by blockbuster disaster movies on the original E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) released in the late 90s. Its sequel Extinction Level Event 2: The
Wrath of God drops in a time where a global pandemic, civil unrest and other stateside issues feel more grounded. This allowed Busta to create an album that continues the
series with a more traditional beats and rhymes approach than crossover hits. Some serious features from Rakim, Rapsody, Anderson .Paak and Rick Ross to Mariah Carrey lend to the album’s grand scope. Album Highlights: “YUUUU” featuring Anderson .Paak and “Don’t Go” featuring Q-Tip

D. Smoke // Black Habits – Release Date: February 7, 2020

Coming out of music competition shows normally deliver polarizing results and more-so with Hip-Hop. Inglewood-native D. Smoke not only delivered on Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow series but had a fascinating debut to back that up less than a year later. Not only could the former high school teacher deliver multi-lingual raps but had a good ear for production. Black Habits might be one of the best West Coast rap debuts since Good
Kid m.A.A.d City. Album Highlights: “No Commas” and “Black Habits I” featuring Jackie Gouché

Eminem // Music To Be Murdered By – Release Date: January 17, 2020

Eminem’s Music To Be Murdered By will remind many of a “normal” time, pre-Covid pandemic. Two years removed from the reinvention that Kamikaze gave the Detroit legend, Music To Be Murdered By is filled with bold crossover material that’s been missing from his recent releases. This includes guest features from Ed Sheeran and Anderson .Paak while having those hyperlyrical moments with Royce da 5’9 and Black Thought. Album Highlights: “Those Kinda Nights” Featuring Ed Sharon and “Yah Yah” (featuring Royce da 5’9”, Black Thought, Q-Tip and Denaun)

Flo Millie // Ho, Why Is You Here? – Release Date: July 24, 2020

The meteoric rise of Flo Millie began with her breakout moment coming from tackling Playboi Carti and Ethereal’s “Beef” instrumental. For her major label debut Ho, Why Is You Here?, makes a bold move throughout the album’s thirty minutes by going featureless in 2020. Thankfully, this allows listeners to see why the Alabama native is a star all on her own. Displaying her youthful creativity and respecting Hip-Hop’s past
makes this album a significant standout. Album Highlights: “Weak” and “May I”

Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist // Alfredo – Release Date: May 29, 2020

Freddie Gibbs continues to become one of the most diverse emcees in Hip Hop today. Coming straight from the critically untouchable Bandana collaborative project with storied West Coast producer Madlib, the Gary, Indiana representer goes east for Alfredo. Linking with another producer legend Alchemist for Alfredo, Gangsta Gibbs further evolves himself into one of Hip Hop’s most respected emcees. Album Highlights: “God Is Perfect” and “Look At Me” 

Jay Electronica // A Written Testimony – Release Date: March 13, 2020

A decade after “Exhibit C” became the emotional pump-fake for Jay Electronica’s musical output, the elusive New Orleans rapper turned nomadic emcee-monk provided an unusual debut. Featuring Jay-Z on nearly all ten tracks, A Written Testimony offers
some of the most dynamic emceeing one will hear all year. Released around a week into the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, this this Grammy nominee for Best Rap Album will remain a Hip-Hop conversation starter. Album Highlights: “Ghost of Soulja Slim” and “Ezekiel’s Wheel” featuring The Dream

Lil Uzi Vert // Eternal Atake -Release Date: March 6, 2020

Lil Uzi Vert manages to evolve artistically outside of the Soundcloud and mumble rapper labels placed on him by rap traditionalists. The biggest selling Hip-Hop album this year, Eternal Atake, is a bizarre turn up that sounds like something out of space. The deluxe
version, released later as Lil Uzi Vert vs. the World 2, bucks the trend by offering 14 more tracks. Despite the large number of tracks, it doesn’t sound bloated at all making it Uzi’s biggest Pop music statement. Album Highlights: “Lo Mein” and “Celebration Station”

Run The Jewels // RTJ4 – Release Date: June 3, 2020

Hip-Hop historians will eventually look at Run The Jewels’ fourth album as a soundtrack to 2020’s anxiety filled emotions about the future. Both Killer Mike and El P spit furious rhymes about the state of the nation to a soundtrack partly set in the future. Featuring guest appearances from DJ Premiere, Pharrell and 2 Chainz, amongst others, RTJ4 is the most revolutionary Hip-Hop has been in quite a while. Album Highlights: “walking in the snow” and “JU$T” featuring Pharrell Williams and Zack de la Rocha

Sa Roc // The Sharecropper’s Daughter – Release Date: October 2, 2020

Rhymesayers’ emcee Sa Roc offers one of the better indie Hip-Hop albums this year. Frequent collaborator Sol Messiah refines his ear for beat-making while Sa Roc’s bars are more punchy and even introspective this time around. She has to when spitting rhymes
alongside featured legendary emcees including Styles P and Black Thought. Album Highlights: “Deliverance” and “The Black Renaissance” featuring Black Thought

Westside Gun // Pray For Paris – Release Date: April 17, 2020

Between releases from Conway The Machine, Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn, Griselda Records has had an amazing coke fueled 2020. Kicking off their phenomenal year was Gunn’s Pray for Paris which is the Flygod at his best. The vintage coke rap nostalgia
and its inspired 90s soul sample production delivers some quality moments filled with clever experimentation. Album Highlights: “Versece” and “Party with Pop Smoke”