With 2021 peeking out over the wintry horizon, it’s time to recognize the outstanding hip-hop heat brought to us by 2020. We are lucky that some artists chose to socially distance in the studio, cranking out hits and building hype throughout the pandemic. Others snuck in their songs right before the COVID-19 outbreak, providing solid bars to bounce off the walls to at parties. Many artists produced quality content this year, but we dove into our playlists and found our favorite 25 to turn all the way up.

Our list flaunts diverse talent and dynamic styles, yet each song is uniquely hip-hop. Whether it’s Westside Gunn’s lavish lyricism or Kid Cudi and his heavenly hums, each individual artist takes a different route to the top. Ignoring popularity and number of plays, rankings reflect the power of their hip-hop recipe: the combination of production, lyrics, message, delivery, and more that sets them apart. There will be songs you know, and maybe there will be some you don’t, but we encourage you to listen to each one, and have fun while doing so.

 


 

Aminé - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

25. Aminé – Pressure in my Palms (feat. Vince Staples, slowthai)

Aminé’s “Pressure in My Palms” starts off our countdown with a bold, bass-heavy beat and continuous lyrical creativity. Supplemented by the scratchy voice of slowthai and the bouncy viciousness of Vince Staples, the song tops Aminé’s 2020 album, “Limbo,” which was impressive within itself. The Portland artist shows he can spit bar after bar and even switch beats halfway through, earning himself a spot at #25. 

 

 

 

Armani Caesar - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

24. Armani Caesar – Drill a RaMA (feat. Benny the Butcher)

All hail Armani Caesar, the queen of Griselda records. The Buffalo native trades off with Benny the Butcher on “Drill a RaMA,” poised with power and prowess on the mafia-esque beat. The song comes off her debut studio album, “The Liz,” on which she announces her new rule over the rap game. Armani will be a name to follow for years to come as Griselda continues to produce greatness. 

 

 

 

Mick Jenkins - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

23. Mick Jenkins – Frontstreet (Freestyle)

Mick Jenkins knows how to fire off one hell of a freestyle. “Frontstreet” is a two and half minute assault on a bumping Kaytranada beat. Jenkins builds to a crescendo, barely breathing in between boasts and roasts. This underrated single slips in at #23 on our countdown due to its encouraging, expressive, and explosive emotion. 

 

 

 

Big K.R.I.T. - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

22. Big K.R.I.T. – Viktorious

Not many know his name, but those who do respect his place in the rap game. Big K.R.I.T. crafted both beat and bars for “Viktorious,” a tremendous display of triumphant talent that went criminally overlooked. The song is off of his newest album, “K.R.I.T. Wuz here,” which is full of ferocious underground hits. The bottom line is Big K.R.I.T has something to say, and at #22 you’re gonna want to hear it.

 

 

Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

21. Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats – Take_it_Back_v2

Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats are a dangerous duo. “Take_it_Back_v2” is a hard, yet haunting hit from their album, “UNLOCKED.” It features an array of aggressive bars, back-and-forth beat switches, and stylish sound effects. The unique and untamed nature of this song qualifies its spot at #21, sending both chills and courage through hip-hop’s spine. 

 

 

 

Nas - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

20. Nas – Spicy (feat. Fivio Foreign & A$AP Ferg)

Nas introduces new names to the old-fashioned style of New York City on “Spicy.” A heavy piano beat drives forward with downtown drums, as three NYC icons attack the audience with all their might. The song comes off Nas’ “King’s Disease” but Ferg and Fivio also provided hip-hop with a handful of their own hits this year. So turn your speakers up, and prepare for the expensive entertainment of “Spicy” at #20.

 

 

 

Kid Cudi - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

19. Kid Cudi – Tequila Shots

Kid Cudi made sure to tie up 2020 with a masterpiece album. Man on the Moon III is a signature spectacle that only Cudi could create, and “Tequila Shots” is quite the headlining hit. The waning and moaning of Kid Cudi’s flow complements the synth-wave beat as the album blasts off. Flying up to #19, respect the Kid and his return to the moon with “Tequila Shots.” 

 

 

 

Pop Smoke - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

18. Pop Smoke – Something Special

Suave and smooth, “Something Special” is an endearing serenade from the late Pop Smoke. His posthumous album, “Shoot for the Stars Aim For The Moon,” is a testament to the talent he was just beginning to share with the world. The project as a whole is excellently crafted with numerous different styles that display Smoke’s dynamic abilities. It was difficult to choose just one to include at #18, but “Something Special” has a sweetness that sticks with you long after the song runs to an end. 

 

 

 

Big Sean - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

17. Big Sean – Deep Reverence (ft. Nipsey Hussle)

Big Sean’s big comeback was one of the best storylines of 2020. “Deep Reverence” addresses his mental health struggles over the past couple years and uplifts the honored voice of Nipsey Hussle. Sean taunts talent and transformation over the Hit-Boy production, emerging from his silence with strength. Check out “Deep Reverence” and its parent project “Detroit 2,” at #17. 

 

 

Polo G, Juice Wrld - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

16. Polo G, Juice WRLD – Flex

Showing off their mighty young muscles, the duo of Polo G and Juice Wrld take on the world with “Flex.” The song comes off of Polo G’s “The Goat” album, which gained him plenty of positive attention in 2020. Hearing the late Juice Wrld stunt is bittersweet, knowing that the bright 21-year-old star had so much more to bring to the rap game. Regardless, “Flex” lifts itself all the way to #16. 

 

 

Reason - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

15. Reason – Extinct (ft. Isaiah Rashad and JID)

Reason, fresh off of his Top Dawg Entertainment debut, joins forces with Isaiah Rashad and JID prove to the world that pure hip-hop talent is anything but “Extinct.” Their rambles and rhymes ride the dark beat and hollow drums as they spit with casual coolness. This song is in fact so laid back it exudes the feeling of a smoky room freestyle. The talented trio manages to keep it chill and still bring their best at #15.

 

 

 

Dave - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

14. Dave East – Handsome

He’s got the looks and he’s got the lines; Dave East lives his best life on “Handsome.” The Harlem native raps with an undeniable realness and respect, finding his groove on the mellow beat. East’s 2020 project, “Karma 3,” was another overlooked gem, but everyone should be gracious for our #14, “Handsome.”

 

 

 

Meg Thee Stallion - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

13. Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood

The hot girl stayed hot in 2020 as Meg Thee Stallion mastered her loud and proud momentum. “Girls in the Hood” is a savage remix of N.W.A.’s “Boyz in the Hood,” as Megan honors hip-hop history and makes her argument for current queen. Her ferocious bars bang over the classic beat and bring home the rank of #13. 

 

 

 

Benny The Butcher - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

12. Benny The Butcher – Famous 

With rhymes as sharp as knives and one deadly delivery, Benny the Butcher chops up all competition. ”Famous” features the Griselda great conquering a complex beat and grand production with raps about his reality. With both money and fame, Benny the Butcher lives life to its largest, making sure to lay the examples on thick throughout his album, “Burden of Proof.” With his tale of tragic success, he earns the #12 spot. 

 

 

 

Lil Baby - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

11. Lil Baby – The Bigger Picture

It’s been Lil Baby’s year, and he knows it. His album “My Turn” is full of impressive songs, but “The Bigger Picture” might be its best. He addresses racial injustice and barrages the listener with all kinds of poignant lyrics. He finds a rhythm and rides it until the beat goes out, but the heat can be felt for minutes afterward. 2020 has seen Lil’ Baby at his best, and we can’t wait to see what else he has in store.

 

 

Apollo Brown, Che Noir - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

10. Apollo Brown & Che Noir – Freedom 

It’s not easy to fight for what you believe, and even less easy to turn it into a beautiful song that fights for you. Apollo Brown and Che Noir take on this challenge with “Freedom,” a gorgeous display of gifted talent that also speaks straight truth. The combination of sampled spoken word, honest lines about liberation, and a hopeful, harmonic beat make for a song that is like no other. Though it slipped below most radars, Brown and Noir deserve their voice heard at #10. 

 

 

 

Royce da 5'9 - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

9. Royce da 5’9 – Overcomer (feat. Westside Gunn) 

No one is quite as wise on the beat as Royce da 5’9, and “Overcomer” holds a world’s worth of wisdom. It features Royce and Westside Gunn speaking to their struggles and successes as the harmonious beat floats behind their bold bars. Royce’s “Allegory” album gained much critical attention and respect this year, placing him in position for a Grammy nomination. “Overcomer” is one of his many outstanding pieces yet outworks the others for #9. 

 

 

 

Mac Miller - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

8. Mac Miller – Blue World 

Beauty from beyond the grave, “Blue World” is one of Mac Miller’s last gifts to this world. Heavenly harmonies carry the soft, soulful sound of Mac’s voice as he reflects on himself. His posthumous album, “Circles,” was released early this year to both the pride and pain of his fans. It features a mellow myriad of aesthetic beats that prove Miller had much more than just hip-hop talent. Enjoy life and love while you can with #8. 

 

 

 

Spillage Village, Earthgang, JID - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

7. Spillage Village, EARTHGANG, JID – End of Daze (feat. Jordan Bryant, Hollywood JB, Mereba) 

With melancholic melodies and apocalyptic attitudes, “End of Daze” definitely fits with this year’s vibe. Each soulful verse provides societal commentary on the state of the world, bringing truth with each winding bar. The collective of Atlanta artists known as “Spillage Village” released their fourth album, “Spilligion,” in September to much excitement. As the Village’s promising young voices such as EARTHGANG and JID continue to gain recognition, it’s only fair they take #7. 

 

 

 

Baby Keem - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

6. Baby Keem – Hooligan

If you haven’t yet heard of Baby Keem, “hooligan” will serve as his not-so-humble introduction. Keem’s creative flows and distinct delivery allow him to craft a sound like no other, though this doesn’t harm his ability to create bouncy and big-time hits. The up-and-coming SoCal star has received the respect of rappers throughout the world, including his cousin Kendrick Lamar, for his emphasis on individuality and a unique sonic identity. This is just the beginning of the 20-year-old Baby Keem, so get familiar with #6, “hooligan.”

 

 

 

Hit-Boy - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

5. Hit-Boy – Nominated (feat. Dom Kennedy) 

The producer of the year, Mr. Chauncey “Hit-Boy” Hollis. The legendary producer that has gifted the world with countless platinum records gave 2020 one of the most beautiful songs of the year. Listening to “Nominated” your spirit will be uplifted by the sweet soul sample and perfect production. Hollis and Kennedy rap realness and gratitude over the beat, leaving no regrets as they lay down their lines. Not everybody can rap and produce like Hit-Boy, who’s hip-hop heart earns him #5.

 

 

 

Westside Gunn, Joey Bada$$ - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

4. Westside Gunn & Joey Bada$$ – 327 (feat. Tyler, the Creator & Billie Essco) 

There’s nobody in the game right now quite like Westside Gunn. Another Griselda great, his sharp, scratchy voice cuts across beats in a weirdly soothing manner, making songs like “327” a simple pleasure to enjoy. Joey Bada$$, Tyler, the Creator, and Billie Essco also help carry this song to #4, with lullaby-like lyricism that twists and turns over the lo-fi beat. The song tops Gunn’s album, “Pray for Paris,” one of his three outstanding projects from 2020. It was tough not to include more of Gunn of this countdown, but “327” definitely made a mark at #4. 

 

 

 

Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

3. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Something to Rap About (feat. Tyler, the Creator) 

Freddie Gibbs and Tyler, the Creator don’t even need a topic in order to torch the competition. “Something to Rap About” is a laid-back lyrical masterpiece on which Gibbs and Tyler rattle rhyme and reason over a smooth Alchemist beat. It comes off of Gibbs’ and the Alchemist’s “Alfredo,” one of the top hip-hop albums of the year filled with natural, notable greatness. Follow the minds behind the masterpiece of “Something to Rap About,” at #3. 

 

 

 

Busta Rhymes - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

2. Busta Rhymes – Look Over Your Shoulder (feat. Kendrick Lamar) 

Looking back on a legendary career, Busta Rhymes brings out his bars for one more bop. “Look Over Your Shoulder” is a grand, gorgeous song featuring both Busta Rhyme’s and Kendrick Lamar’s tongue-tying talent. Their larger-than-life lyricism flows ferociously over a chopped up “Jackson 5” sample, somehow inspiring a feeling of novelty and nostalgia at the same time. However these hip-hop wizards work, they solidified themselves in our minds and memories at #2.

 

 

Run the Jewels - Best Hip-Hop Songs 2020

1. Run the Jewels – Ooh La La (feat. DJ Premier and Greg Nice) 

Even in the middle of a pandemic, Run the Jewels knows how to throw one hell of a party. The explosive, energetic hit that is “Ooh La La” has a celebratory creativity, one that makes you wanna drop everything and dance. You can rap along to the phenomenal rhymes of Killer Mike and El-P, or simply bounce to the badass beat of DJ Premier. Whatever you do, you’ll find yourself feeling good and having fun as the song blasts on. Run The Jewels’ “RTJ4” was one of the best pieces in recent hip-hop history, addressing society with songs of untamed talent and truth. The underground duo certainly earned themselves the #1 spot, and we hope to hear them spit again soon. 

 


 

This list took lots of labor and many difficult decisions. It attempted to include as many incredible artists as possible in order to recognize the wide range of respectable hits that emerged this year. Though only 25 made it to the top, there were many close contenders. Some were cut for being too close to the edge of “hip-hop;” some were simply ousted by other outstanding songs. For this reason, we recognize our “Honorable Mentions.”

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

  1. Westside Gunn, Stove God Cooks – “Jose Conseco”
  2. Mac Miller – “Good News”
  3. Jay Electronica, Travis Scott – “The Blinding”
  4. Action Bronson – “Latin Grammys”
  5. 21 Savage – “Glock in my Lap”
  6. Smino, JID, Kenny Beats – “Baguetti”
  7. Jack Harlow – “Tyler Herro”
  8. Ty Dolla $ign, Anderson .Paak, Kanye West, Thundercat – “Track 6”
  9. Reason, Vince Staples – “Sauce”
  10. Joey Bada$$ – “Shine”
  11. Aminé – “Woodlawn” 
  12. Vic Mensa – “DIRT ON MY NAME”
  13. Curren$y, Harry Fraud, Styles P – “KITT”
  14. Kodak Black – “Feeling Myself Today” 
  15. Kota the Friend, Hello O’shay, Alex Banin – “Long Beach”
  16. Childish Gambino, 21 Savage, Ink, Kadhja Boney – “12.38”
  17. Cordae – ”Parables”
  18. Internet Money, Gunna, Nav, Don Toliver – “Lemonade”
  19. Kamaiyah, Capolow, Keak da Sneak – “Oakland Nights” 
  20. Mulatto, 21 Savage – “Pull Up” 

 


 

If you like what you’ve heard, be sure to stream our full playlist below and follow us on Spotify to listen to the rest of our Best Music of 2020 playlists.