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It’s been an interesting year to say the least. Everyone was stuck home and an unbelievable amount of music was released. While most of it was fleeting to me, here are some that stuck with me and got regular play in my headphones.
Disclaimer: 2020 musical year is defined here at Nov. 2019 – Oct. 2020. Album listed in order of release and not as a rank.
Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial – Roddy Ricch
As you may recall, earlier this year I listed Roddy Ricch as an artist to watch for 2020. Much of that was based on my love for this album. Released last December, it is still a regular spin for me during downtime. In an age of ADHD ears that in itself is a feat. A full year later and it is just as enjoyable as it was in January. I think the key to that is how fluid the album is. He deliberately composed transition sounds to connect the songs together in a way that never allows for the music to pause. That attention to detail and cohesion is rare for albums by young artists and I appreciated the effort.
Stand out tracks are: The Box, Perfect Time, Gods Eyes, and High Fashion
Eternal Atake – Lil Uzi Vert
In my opinion, few artists lost more potential income than Lil Uzi Vert with the pandemic shut down this year. Eternal Atake is a high energy project that was clearly made for the festival crowd/audience that loves him. The album almost plays out like a concert with the vivid alien abduction interludes and his animated voice over bass heavy high energy production. Listening to this, you can’t help but give in to the urge to move. The album is long (and really two albums if you play the deluxe) but it doesn’t drag. It keep you engaged.
Stand out tracks are: Lo Mein, POP, You Better Move, and I’m Sorry.
good to know – JoJo
Smooth. Soulful. Pensive. Just a few of the words that come to mind when I reflect on the 4th album for the music veteran, JoJo. In a time where what passes for R&B is auto tune and piano chords in your beat, she delivered layered, full, clean harmonies. She’s been more than 15 years since her first album but she hasn’t lost a step. Even in a pandemic, she was able to work this project in some of the most creative ways. She did an album commentary version, an acoustic version, and then added a few more tracks with a deluxe version. To end the year, she even released a Christmas album called December Baby.
She has been able to keep the content for her brand this year fresh without compromising the art. There are videos to five of the nine songs from the original release, one of which for an acoustic version, and a video for one of the new tracks for the deluxe album. There are also two videos for the Christmas album. The work ethic is commendable. But it doesn’t overshadow the music, it’s compliments it.
Stand out tracks are: Small Things, Pedialyte, Lonely Hearts, and Think About You
Ungodly Hour – Chloe x Halle
It’s like you wake up one day and your little cousin or niece is grown now. And you also think they are kinda cool. It’s a weird space but you like it. That’s the Ungodly Hour. A time when you start hearing people that you think of as kids, speak as adults and you have to check yourself. So many of us have been used to the clean innocent little girls but that time has passed. That’s not to say they jumped off the deep end, but this album is a clear statement of transition.
The talent level of these two young women has never been in question but this year they took a leap towards growth in a more personal sense. If you are someone who listened to their first album you can immediately hear the risks they took lyrically and sonicly. The lead single is nowhere near the flower girl vibes of old. With this effort the group found a way to balance their sound with the times and what sells.
Stand out tracks are: Do It, Ungodly Hour, Don’t Make It Harder On Me, and Wonder What She Thinks Of Me
SAVAGE MODE II – 21 Savage & Metro Boomin
Hard. Plain & Simple. I enjoy good old fashioned gangsta rhymes from time to time. In a world full of rappers singing about their dead friends & drug addictions, 21 Savage comes with more traditional street music. Witty one liners and catchy hooks dominate here. Savage didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. After no releases in nearly 2 years he stayed on brand.
Metro has diversified his production style though since the first project. He walks the line of signature heavy bass & drums with more traditional sample lead beats. He’s able to collaborate with other producers without losing the integrity of the album’s overall sound.
Stand out tracks are: Runnin, Mr. Right Now, Many Men, and My Dawg
And so ends a wonderful year of musical favorites! Follow Dj Kmean on Instagram @djkmean