50. Jadakiss: “Ignatius”
Jadakiss, the 45-year-old New York native, has continued to put out strong releases from 2001 all the way up through 2020. “Ignatius” is a record that does not try too hard to adapt to modern trends in rap, and sticks to many of Jadakiss’ roots with his unique delivery, style and production choices. Highly personal and introspective, Jadakiss’ most recent studio album provides an array of different sounds and features ranging from John Legend to Pusha T to 2 Chainz. In particular, Pusha T’s verse on “Huntin Season” serves as one of the highlights of the album, and meshes effortlessly with Jadakiss’ style and the production that the verse is paired with. Although maybe not the most exciting or innovative album of the year, “Ignatius” places another solid compilation into his discography.
Favorite Songs: “Huntin Season,” “Angels Getting Pedicured,” “(NYB) Need Your Best”
49. Rico Nasty: “Nightmare Vacation”
Any listen to Rico Nasty will always be eventful, and “Nightmare Vacation” is no different. One of the most flamboyant personalities in all of hip-hop, Rico brings an infectious energy across nearly every track that she touches. Her most recent effort wasn’t as focused or high-quality as previous projects “Anger Management” (2019) and “Nasty” (2018), but Rico was able to put together a fun and intriguing collection of songs nevertheless. Rico remains one of the most exciting young stars in rap, and will be very fun to watch as her career progresses.
Favorite Songs: “Candy,” “Back & Forth,” “STFU”
48. Lil Baby: “My Turn”
Lil Baby was certainly one of the emerging superstars of 2020. With “My Turn” achieving great commercial success, Lil Baby fully established himself in the center of the rap mainstream. Outside of his album and its deluxe counterpart, Lil Baby also released “The Bigger Picture,” a commentary on the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, which became an incredibly popular anthem and a song that helped to timestamp the summer of 2020. “My Turn” might not be the most technically crafted album, or the most adventurous work, but Lil Baby was able to cement himself in his lane of rap, and is poised to be a star in the genre for a while to come.
Favorite Songs: “Grace,” “Heatin Up,” “Same Thing,” “We Should”
47. Polo G: “The GOAT”
Polo G is one of the most promising young artists in rap, and “The GOAT” highlights his ability to transition between different sounds and provide consistently thoughtful songwriting. The production choices throughout the album are generic and simply not very captivating, but Polo G’s writing and soul help to cover up some of these flaws. More than anything, “The GOAT” helps to lay an exciting foundation for Polo G, who has the potential to become a great artist later in his career.
Favorite Songs: “Chinatown,” “Martin & Gina,” “Wishing for a Hero”
46. Megan Thee Stallion: “Good News”
2020 was an eventful year for Megan Thee Stallion, to say the least. “Good News” served as the recap for Meg on a year that included two major projects, one of the year’s biggest singles with “WAP,” a major controversy with Tory Lanez and a rise to superstardom. Although this album didn’t see Meg take many new approaches with her content or themes, it was another project that saw her consistently rapping at an impressive level, and providing a collection of entertaining songs that highlight her persona and swagger. Though less of an album-centric artist at the moment, Megan Thee Stallion has all of the tools and skills going forth to continue to put out entertaining, impactful and incredibly popular music.
Favorite Songs: “What’s New,” “Go Crazy,” “Shots Fired,” “Don’t Stop”
45. Princess Nokia: “Everything Is Beautiful”
Part of a two-disc double album, “Everything Is Beautiful” presents the lighter and more playful side, as opposed to its counterpart, “Everything Sucks.” Princess Nokia blends comedy and a smooth sound with many of the tracks featuring lighthearted themes. The lighter side of the double album provides a fun and easy compilation that highlights many of Princess Nokia’s strengths.
Favorite Songs: “Wash & Sets,” “Soul Food y Adobo,” “Gemini”
44. Stove God Cooks & Roc Marciano: “Reasonable Drought”
“Reasonable Drought” established Syracuse rapper Stove God Cooks in the emerging crew of upstate New York rappers that includes the likes of the primary Griselda trio. Collaborating with underground hip-hop legend Roc Marciano, who is the executive producer, Stove God Cooks is met with production that fits his style and themes very well. With one of the most distinctive and soulful deliveries, this album really highlights many of the strengths in his artistry. The album could use a little bit more consistency and coherence throughout, but “Reasonable Drought” is mostly able to achieve its aims and give Stove God a solid foundation as a debut project.
Favorite Songs: “Cocaine Cologne,” “Burt & State,” “Break the Pyrex”
43. Ty Dolla $ign: “Featuring Ty Dolla $ign”
“Featuring Ty Dolla $ign” is an obvious play on his history of consistently giving quality features across various hip-hop and R&B tracks. Historically and iconically known as a “feature” artist, Ty Dolla $ign finally gets his feature favors returned for his 2020 LP. The star power across the album is obvious, with guest verses coming from artists such as Kanye West, Anderson .Paak, Post Malone, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Future and Young Thug. Despite being a collection of many seemingly non-connected singles, “Featuring Ty Dolla $ign” provides many enjoyable songs that remind people that Ty Dolla $ign is plenty capable of creating great music curated by himself.
Favorite Songs: “Track 6,” “Tyrone 2021,” “Your Turn,” “Slow Down,” “By Yourself”
42. Action Bronson: “Only for Dolphins”
One of the funniest and most entertaining characters in daily life, Action Bronson also provides an interesting and entertaining listen with nearly every release. 2020’s “Only for Dolphins” proves to be no different. Action Bronson has been known for his unique delivery and very interesting production choices, and this album continues with those trends. A colorful album from front to back, Bronson showcases an intriguing display and the vivid imagination which has always made him a fun figure to keep up with in music.
Favorite Songs: “Sergio,” “Marcus Aurelius,” “Latin Grammys,” “Cliff Hanger”
41. Megan Thee Stallion: “Suga”
The first of two 2020 projects released by Megan, “Suga” finds the Houston rapper comfortable in her emerging superstardom and making some of the more enjoyable songs of 2020. Boasting her trademark confidence across the project, “Suga” also sees Megan take a more personal approach on tracks such as “Crying in the Car.” For an EP, the project has a solid sense of cohesion and provides quality music across. Artistically, we see Megan go into certain sounds and spaces that were new and refreshing to hear. As a bonus, this project gives us one of the year’s best and most exciting songs in rap in 2020 with “Captain Hook.”
Favorite Songs: “Captain Hook,” “Crying In The Car” “What I Need,” “B.I.T.C.H”
Click here for a Spotify Playlist of some of my favorite songs across the year 2020.
Contact Nick Sligh at nick1019 ‘at’ stanford.edu.