Our Favorite R&B/Alt Albums of the Year [2020 in Review]
Written by 2DOPEBOYZ on December 29, 2020
2020 sucked. Severely.
It would go down in American historical past because the deadliest yr on document. Numerous households will completely be affected by a virus that no person actually noticed coming till it was too late. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and life won’t ever be the identical after the 12 months of the Rat.
If there may be any sliver of sunshine all through the darkness, it was that most individuals had much more free time on their fingers. As such, we have been handled to fairly probably probably the most music launched in years. Requirements, deluxe editions, anniversary deluxe editions: there was primarily one thing for everybody (whether or not we preferred and even needed it). And our Favourite R&B/Alt Albums of the 12 months listing is considerably reflective of that.
Kehlani took listeners by way of her not-so-rosy world. OVO Sound’s best-kept secret dropped the most effective 2020 venture from the label. Chloe x Halle grew up and confirmed out. We have been launched to a different rising expertise from the West. WizKid and Thundercat returned after three-year hiatuses and didn’t lose a step.
Try a number of the DopeHouse’s private favorites from the previous 365 under and be at liberty to go away some ideas within the c-section. – Meka
Greater than two years after hitting us with their sophomore effort, Morning After, dvsn returned with their third album, A Muse In Her Feelings. The album arrived with their typical assortment of baby-making tunes good for you and that particular somebody to play within the background within the midst of this unending quarantine. Nonetheless, this time round, the Toronto duo additionally gave us a dose of New Orleans bounce and dancehall-influenced tracks for what is definitely probably the most various and full R&B album to reach this yr.
Kehlani is undoubtedly one of many many sweethearts within the music business, however the Oakland native has been by way of hell and again in her private life. Her sophomore album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, regarded to deal with one space because it took on the completely different corners of her love life. The 15-track effort got here with a robust message to the nosy folks on the market that indulge within the ins and outs of her relationships. By the tip of it, Kehlani was in a position to show that her strategy to like was no completely different than ours with songs like “Change Your Life, ” “F&MU,” and “Open (Passionate).” Fact be instructed, within the realm of affection, sh*t is sweet when it’s, however when it’s not? Nicely, everyone knows how that goes.
Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, higher often called Nate Dogg, handed in 2011, but the King Of Hook’s affect within the West has remained as robust as ever. Following in the identical footsteps of Ty Dolla $ign, Los Angeles’ BLXST dropped probably the greatest initiatives to come back from town in 2020 with No Love Misplaced. A free idea album chronicling the erosions of each a romantic partnership and friendships whereas success concurrently arrives, BLXST nimbly switches between lamenting a looming and unpreventable heartbreak (“Be Alone“) and a great ol’ common who experience (“Gang Slide“) whereas flexing his personal rap expertise on the facet (“Pressure“). Add in a superb five-part short film, and a deluxe version the place he invitations Dom Kennedy, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tyga to the get together, and you’ve got the subsequent up from the Metropolis of Angels. Nate could be proud.
After a pair of promising EPs, Selfless and Myself, Pheonix’s personal Kiana Ledé arrived together with her debut album, KIKI. The venture highlighted her confidence and fears throughout her journey to like. It got here with the irritating moments introduced forth by a troublesome lover on “Forfeit.” and “Second Probabilities.” But, the promise of a happy-ever-after is fulfilled in direction of to finish of the album on “Safety.” and “No Takebacks.” Altogether, Kiana exchanged the promise she left us on her first two EPs for pleasure with what’s to come back together with her future releases.
Some time again I keep in mind going to a live performance (you understand, earlier than 2020 mentioned “AHT AHT!” to all of that) headlined by Hiatus Kaiyote and Little Dragon. Since then, the 2 eclectic teams are nearly assured to land on my favorites listing (I might use some new HK music quickly!), and their sixth album New Me, Same Us isn’t any completely different. The album’s opener “Hold On” units the tone completely, “New Fiction” is a chic slapper, and “Are You Feeling Sad” with Kali Uchis can have you feeling something however. I’ll by no means see Little Dragon stay once more (thanks 2020!), but when I play this album loud sufficient and shut my eyes arduous sufficient it’ll really feel like I’m again at Brooklyn Bowl… I believe.
In 2019, Xavier Omar teamed up with Sango to supply their spectacular Moments Spent Loving You album. This yr, Omar returned to the solo path to return with an equally satisfying physique of labor with If You Feel. The San Antonio native delivered 11 tracks that delivered a palette of emotions and feelings he skilled within the quite a few corners of his life. “So A lot Extra” splendidly captures love and dedication to it between a pair. “Need/Want” is a spirited anthem that shines the brightest on the album. With restricted assist from Mereba, Masego, and Jae Stephens, Omar got here by way of with yet one more physique of labor that proves he’s method too underrated for the expertise he possesses.
It Is What It Is is as good a descriptor for the fourth album from Thundercat. The Suicidal Tendencies alum mentioned that the album “is about love, loss, life, and the ups and downs that include it,” and there are melancholic moments all through: the somber ode to the late Mac Miller “Fair Chance,” and the short-but-prophetic “Existential Dread” come to thoughts. Nonetheless, the remainder of the album is full of grooves and loads of lighter standouts. “Black Qualls” is without doubt one of the funkiest tracks about paranoia this facet of the Geto Boys, whereas “King Of The Hill” is strictly what you’d count on from a Flying Lotus, BADBADNOTGOOD, and Thundercat collaboration: perfection. To not point out, his anthem about his Goku-themed silky headwrap was considered one of my favourite songs of the yr. It Is What It Is is that post-DRUNK, post-hangover second of readability, Stephen Bruner-style.
Drew Love and Dante Jones — the producer-singer duo that makes up THEY. — deserted us for a bit following the discharge of their 2018 EP, Fireside. Fortunately, 2020 was the yr they made their return and so they did so in nice trend with their sophomore album The Amanda Tape. Brief and candy with simply ten songs, the venture captured the highs and lows the duo skilled with ladies who have been each named Amanda. Efforts like “On And On” and “Losing Focus” with Wale captured their development and enchancment from the Nu Faith beginnings they launched from.
With all due respect to Burna Boy, however ten occasions out of 9 I’ll at all times take one WizKid album each few years than a Burna LP each 12 months. Whereas his stateside debut, 2017’s Sounds from the Other Side, was an admirable (albeit combined bag) try and bridge his model of Afrobeats with pop sensibilities to connect with a world viewers, the unique Starboy discovered each his footing and groove combining Caribbean rhythms with a love of all issues Naija, Made In Lagos. The H.E.R.-guested “Smile,” “Mighty Wine” and “Ginger” (that includes Burna) are bonafide party-starters, whereas his newest re-up with Skepta “Longtime” is a worthy follow-up to “Bad Energy (Stay Far Away).” Though Nigeria’s music scene is continually altering, WizKid’s personal legacy will endlessly be secured.
The “This yr is my yr!” chants that rang because the New 12 months’s ball dropped on the high of the yr have been rapidly silenced by the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine that ensued. Nonetheless, for Chloe x Halle, 2020 was their yr regardless of every little thing. Their second album, Ungodly Hour, noticed them shed a layer of innocence for listeners and attain new heights of their blossoming profession. Backed by the recognition of “Do It” and the spectacular composition of tracks like “Forgive Me” and “Don’t Make It More durable On Me,” the duo introduced the album to their yard tennis courtroom to take over the summer time as sat and watched in awe from the consolation of our houses.
On high of our High 10, under you could find one other spherical of releases all of us respectively rocked with all year long. And on a extra selective notice, all three of us might be sharing our private favorites later this week.
Keep tuned. On Wednesday (12/30), we’ll share our hip-hop favorites.