Very late, let’s just get to it quick.
Action Bronson – “Latin Grammys”
Chef, television host, weed connoisseur, rapper–Action Bronson’s eclectic tastes have put him in a lane of his own in the. hip-hop world. Save for maybe Snoop Dogg, there aren’t a lot of talented rappers also putting out cookbooks and filming humorous music videos. Like the strong man theme of Action Bronson’s “Latin Grammys,” the single features lines such as, “I might not be able to touch my toes/But I will still fuck these hoes.”
Baby Keem – “Hooligan”
A grower in the sense that it grows on you even as the song progresses, Baby Keem’s “Hooligan,” is a fantastic run through the end-zone following his inclusion on XXL’s 2020 Freshman Class. Partnering with Kendrick Lamar, who also happens to be his cousin, the two seem to be cooking up something big, as Keem spends his time racking up songwriting credits off of Black Panther, Jay Rock’s Redemption, ScHoolboy Q’s CrasH Talk, and Beyonce’s The Gift.
Blackpink – “Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez
BLACKPINK *salute* They Lit Up the Sky in their very own Netflix documentary, and spent 2020 garnering features from Selena Gomez, Cardi B, and Lady Gaga, releasing one of the best K-Pop “debuts” since the craze swept America.
Conway the Machine – “Lemon” with Method Man
Method Man’s well earned Verse of the Month, the Wu-Tang legend joins Conway the Machine for some veteran to torch-holder classic New York hip-hop.
The Flaming Lips – “Flowers on Neptune 6”
The Flaming Lips might not hit everyone the same way they did over two decades ago, but fans of the band will find enough to grab onto on their latest offering, American Head, to recognize that Wayne Coyne and Co. sound as in tune as ever.
Fredo Bang – “No Security” with Kevin Gates
Two Baton Rouge rappers connect here on “No Security,” a banger that continues to prove how underrated not only the scene is, but it’s most well known figures.
No I.D. and Hit-Boy’s production on Big Sean’s Detroit 2
No shade to Big Sean, but producers No I.D. and Hit-Boy really stepped on Detroit 2. No I.D.’s Godzilla sample on “The Baddest,” and Hit-Boy’s sample of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” on “Don Life” with Lil Wayne (above) are both two of the best beats I’ve heard all year. It’s just a shame that they’re buried track 17 and 18 deep into Big Sean’s latest.
Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?
As I wrote in my piece on the legacy of “Fight the Power,” even with the 30-year offset, What You Gonna Do still has the guitars blaring, the drum machine marching, and the hard-hitting vocals up front and center. Chuck D’s “Vote or Die!” messaging stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Rapsody’s call for justice for Breonna Taylor, but their display of collective resistance isn’t just to serve some sort of generational kumbaya. Public Enemy’s lasting influence has always been felt through their hammering for the country to learn from its ugly history.
Saba – “Mrs. Whoever” and “Something in the Water” with Denzel Curry
Saba’s Care for Me was one of the best rap records of the past decade, released in Spring 2018, but he’s been a massive collaborator since, working with Noname, Smino, and Pivot Gang with his brother Joseph Chilliams. The recent two-pack single drop shows that he’s still in top-form, and I’ve very excited to see what he’s currently putting together.
Spillage Village (EarthGang, J.I.D.) – “Baptize” with Ant Clemons
The closest Atlanta has to a reincarnation of Outkast, the combination of EarthGang and J.I.D. has always produced absolutely stellar vibes.
Sufjan Stevens – “Make Me An Offer I Cannot Refuse”
Crying time! “I’m being a little bit melodramatic and didactic and angry,” Sufjan oh so aptly described in a radio interview, “but also it’s a moment of catharsis for me.” Of course Sufjan can explain Sufjan the best.
SZA – “Hit Different” with Ty Dolla $ign
Who missed SZA the most contest. Featuring might not have been the earth-shattering project for Ty Dolla, but it’s true that featuring is his strong suit, as he sits right at home in the pocket of “Hit Different.” Pray that whatever rumors swirling around the happenings over at TDE during this pandemic do NOT f*** up another solid SZA release.
YG – “Out on Bail”
Album-mode YG is always fun, but there’s something about single-drop YG that just hits different, to borrow from above. “Out on Bail” was the perfect return since last year’s 4REAL 4REAL. Still mourning the death of his friend Nipsey Hussle, YG continues to honor his legacy and pay-it-forward, including up-and-coming artists like Calboy, D3SZN, and Tay2x on his 2020 release, My Life 4Hunnid.
That’s it for now. Drop your thoughts in the comments below.