The past few months have felt like years due to all of the chaos happening in the world, but the one consistency has been the amount of good music that’s dropped in 2020. During May, music fans were provided with an abundance of new songs to serve as the soundtrack to their quarantine. This month’s list includes new music from Freddie Gibbs, Polo G and even Will Smith.
HipHopDX is putting a spotlight on the tracks that stand out from the overabundance of releases throughout the year, highlighting everything from Billboard chart-friendly singles to essential album cuts. Check out our other lists below:
Make sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom and find HipHopDX’s playlist of the best songs of 2020. And don’t forget to follow us on Spotify!
The Best Hip Hop Songs of Jan – May 2020
“Wishing For A Hero” – Polo G f. BJ The Chicago Kid
The climax of Polo G’s sophomore effort feels analogous to a song that precedes it by 22 years. “Wishing For A Hero” takes on the same tenor and piano loop that made Tupac’s “Changes” a resonating reminder of how much truly hasn’t changed even in the face of optimism. “Cops kill us and we protest, what type of shit is that?” Polo asks before settling underneath BJ The Chicago Kid’s own hymnals, “I’m from where we unheard but we can’t speak.” He may be referencing Chicago, but in America, he’s referring to millions of people who want basic decency and respect.
“1985” – Freddie Gibbs
After conquering 2019 on the album front, Freddie Gibbs has found a new producer co-pilot in The Alchemist, who has iron clad bars he can brutalize. On “1985,” the first appetizer from their full-course album Alfredo, Freddie treats his words like a steak knife, bluntly cutting through the track’s electric synergy like a top-level MC.
“Laugh Now Kry Later!” – YG
Compton-bred rapper YG returned with a video for “Laugh Now, Kry Later!,” another bravado-filled ride bursting at the seams with YG’s unabashed confidence. The song marks YG’s first offering since his February duet “Konclusions” with his now ex-girlfriend Kehlani. Produced by Pasqué, FranchiseDidIt and Iceberg, “Laugh Now, Kry Later!” is slow enough for a summer jam but still bumps.
“BALD! REMIX” – JPEGMAFIA f. Denzel Curry
JPEGMAFIA bolstered his already impressive cut “BALD!” by enlisting the help of Denzel Curry for the track’s remix. Peggy’s new version maintains the original production but replaces his second verse with an excellent effort from Zeltron. Curry fits seamlessly on the track, particularly while rapping on the sparse section of the beat featuring nothing but hand claps.
“495” – IDK f. Rico Nasty, YungManny, Big Flock, Big JAM & Weensey
IDK served as the music supervisor on Kevin Durant’s Showtime documentary Basketball County: In the Water and slipped a new song, “495,” into the film. The posse cut features Juicy J’s production, which proves he’s still a master of the vintage Three 6 Mafia sound. But with IDK and Acyde also contributing to the beat, the song morphs at one point from menacing banger into a breezy anthem by the time Rico Nasty starts rapping.
“Savage (Remix)” – Megan Thee Stallion f. Beyoncé
Megan Thee Stallion has been building her Hot Girl brand over the past couple of years and continues to grow into one of the most prominent new artists in the game. If her status wasn’t already cemented before, a fellow Houston native sealed the deal for Meg. Beyoncé not only hopped on the remix, she also provided multiple rap verses, adlibs over the hook and new melodies to take the song to the next level. “Savage (Remix)” reached No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, giving Megan her first ever No. 1 song.
“Social Distancing” – Lil Baby
Many rappers incorporated the coronavirus’ forced reality into their music, but none did it with the grace of Lil Baby. Backed by a beat that feels six feet away from Section 8 and Chi Chi, Baby raps with precision, using the social distancing term as a metaphor for carving out his lane and cutting off all that oppose him. Baby understands with great wealth comes intense jealousy and fake admiration; his distrust building. It’s the type of song built for isolation as we tune out our grim reality, hoping for the day when we can escape with the ones we love and just go away.
“Need It” – Migos f. Youngboy
All Instagram followers of Migos and Youngboy Never Broke Again know they love their big toys, so it comes no surprise they joined forces for some 2020 “ryder music.” Enter “Need It,” which owes its production touch to the 50 Cent sample of 2005’s “Get In My Car.” Over the high-powered Buddah Bless beat, the four Southerners let their diamond-encrusted lyrical flexes hit just as hard as the track’s thumping bass guitar.
“S.O.T.L. (Silence of the Lambs)” – Ludacris f. Lil Wayne
After teasing the song during his Instagram Live Verzuz Battle with Nelly, the veteran MC drops off his first official single since his 2015 release of Ludaversal. The song comes complete with references to Colin Kaepernick, Floyd Mayweather, Tekashi 6ix9ine, a controversial lyric about R. Kelly and a hook from Weezy.
“Body Count” f. G Herbo & King Von – Mozzy
Over the past decade, Mozzy has become one of the best rappers at portraying the grim circumstances of street life. “Body Count” off his Beyond Bulletproof album is another example of his proficiency in this area as he displays on the hook and first verse. The West Coast MC gets assists from Chicago’s G Herbo and King Von, the latter of whom delivers one of his finest performances to date, proving he shouldn’t be stuck in the shadow of his OTF boss Lil Durk.
“Will (Remix)” – Joyner Lucas f. Will Smith
After releasing the music video for his single “Will,” which finds Joyner professing his admiration for actor/MC Will Smith and comparing his own journey to Smith’s celebrated career, the man who inspired the song jumped on the remix. The Fresh Prince tells his story over the beat while shouting out all of the people who inspired him along the way, from Muhammad Ali to his wife Jada.
“H.A.R.D.” – Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked
The demise of Slaughterhouse was unfortunate for Hip Hop, but Joell Ortiz and KXNG Crooked reminded fans of why the supergroup was special with the release of their “H.A.R.D.” single. The two have always been elite lyricists yet what really makes The Heatmakerz-produced cut shine is Ortiz and Crook’s chemistry. These veteran MCs arguably compliment each other better as a duo than they did within the four-man lineup of Slaughterhouse with the track emphasizing their strengths. Still, both artists have great fondness for their days rapping alongside Royce Da 5’9 and Joe Budden and make sure that’s known on the single.
“Summerhouse” – Kota The Friend
“Basquiat” – Mr. Lif & Stu Bangas
Mr. Lif and seasoned producer Stu Bangas — collectively known as Vangarde — pay tribute to Gang Starr with “Basquiat,” the duo’s second offering from their upcoming self-titled EP. The track weaves ‘90s boom bap with Lif’s signature laid-back flow, a proper follow-up to the inaugural single, “The New Normal.”
“Up Or Down” – E-40 f. Wiz Khalifa
“FYTB” – Key Glock
Have you ever spent the night up in the trap house? Key Glock has. He lives that life, no matter how successful he becomes. Glizock’s authenticity is one key to his rise; the other coming from how lively he makes his grim tales of detachment sound. “FYTB” isn’t ominous like many of his other cuts. The flex lines fire off like a Mac-11. He cops a Benz and Rolls truck: paid in cash, of course. And can make your girl faint just by walking into the room. This is Key Glock at his most boisterous without compromising himself. But this was all predestined — He was born to ball.
“And I Still” – Rod Wave
“Dangerookipawaa Freestyle” – Ab-Soul
A comeback in Hip Hop is never promised, even if you are prominent of the greatest group to never officially do it. Such is life for Ab-Soul, who hasn’t released a project since before Kendrick Lamar had everyone saying “damn.” All that changed on 4/20 as smokers baked their brains and Ab dropped “Dangerookipawaa Freestyle” as part of TDE Appreciation Week. The track begins sinister enough as Ab drops thunderous theorems over a wailing Charles Bradley sample but soon melts within its own lava with a beat switch whose barrage of horns can’t contend with Soulo’s lyrical barrage. He’s back.
“Leader Of The Delinquents” – Kid Cudi
Beginning the song off with his now infamous humming adlibs, Kid Cudi made a triumphant return in 2020 with a brand new single. The song sees the Cleveland-bred artist delving deep into his psyche while battling his inner demons. Cudder aptly dubs himself the “leader of the delinquents” on the track as he reminisces over past drug abuse and failed relationships. This was the first new song from Cudi since his Kanye West collab album Kids See Ghosts and as always, “Dat Kid From Cleveland” continued his streak of being vulnerable and honest within his music.
“George Bondo” – Westside Gunn
Westside Gunn’s “George Bondo” might just be the quintessential Griselda Records song. The Flygod, Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher rapping over a Daringer beat has proven to be a winning formula, and this Pray For Paris is damn near perfect. With no hook in sight, each MCs tries to outdo his predecessor with overpowering rhymes. The trio gets to bar out while referencing everything from pro wrestling and Patrick Kane to moving from drug deals to Roc Nation brunches.
“Pyro (leak 2019)” – Denzel Curry
Like much of Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats’ album, “Pyro (leak 2019)” leaves listeners wanting more due to its short runtime. Despite clocking in at less than two minutes, the track is filled with potent bars and stylistic flair. From altered vocals on a Mario reference and hitting high notes like ODB to witty wordplay about Goodie Mob and Malcolm X, Curry packs a heavy punch on the lone verse of “Pyro (leak 2019).”
“The Blinding” – Jay Electronica f. JAY-Z, Travis Scott & The-Dream
Jay Electronica and JAY-Z perfectly complement each other on A Written Testimony, particularly on the Travis Scott-assisted “The Blinding.” Both rappers come out swinging, starting the song off with spiritually laced bars over a hard-hitting instrumental. But when the beat switches midway through the track, Jay Elec displays true vulnerability and laments his fear of criticism. It’s a revealing moment that sheds light on why fans waited so long to hear his debut album.
“Yankee and The Brave (ep. 4)” – Run The Jewels
It appears Run The Jewels are gearing up for the release of their fourth studio album as they returned in March with a new single. From the production to the lyricism, everything about this track is unique, yet the song is quintessential RTJ.
“Carefree” – Mick Jenkins
Mick Jenkins has the ability to sound completely laid back on a beat while still making sure he’s concise with his lyrics. “Carefree” delivers a catchy hook, clever bars and a smooth instrumental.
“They Got Sonny” – Conway & Alchemist f. Cormega
Conway The Machine and Alchemist make for a deadly combination as proven throughout their LULU EP. But their formula was made even more potent with the addition of Cormega, who helped the duo craft a street rap gem in “They Got Sonny.” Conway’s verbal smack to the face and Mega’s equally hard-hitting bars are right at home on ALC’s brooding beat. Hopefully, this is just the first of many more songs from this trio.
“Life Is Good” – Future & Drake
Future and Drake teamed up once again, this time to remind everyone they’re doing well in life. This song brought the best out of the duo and left fans anticipating a potential full-length follow up to their 2015 effort What A Time To Be Alive.
“Yah Yah” – Eminem
Eminem recruited some of the best to ever do it — Black Thought, Royce Da 5’9 and Q-Tip — for an epic posse cut that stands out as one of the shining moments of Slim Shady’s surprise album Music To Be Murdered By.
Below is a list of more songs that we loved and still have on repeat. You can also check out the Spotify playlist below that includes all of the songs mentioned in this article. Both the playlist and this articles will be updated weekly. Check back so that you don’t miss the best songs of 2020!
- “DEALER” (Remix) – RMR f. Future & Lil Baby
- “Me Vs. Me” – Moneybagg Yo
- “Nominated” – Hit-Boy f. Dom Kennedy (Eric Diep)
- “Lost” – Tha Chill f. MC Ren
- “Dollaz On My Head” – Gunna f. Young Thug
- “Black Savage” – Royce Da 5’9”
- “@ MEH” – Playboi Carti
- “1997” – Key Glock
- “Rockstar” – DaBaby f. Roddy Ricch
- “Why Worry” – Isaiah Rashad
- “Dealer” – RMR
- “No Questions” – 22 Gz
- “Ion Rap Beef Remix” – Drakeo The Ruler
- “DND” – Polo G
- “Golden Oldies” – RA The Rugged Man
- “Blue World” – Mac Miller
- “Shells Kitchen” – Raekwon
- “Crunk Ain’t Dead (Remix)” – Duke Deuce
- “Anna From Woohside (Beat Suite)” – Stretch & Bobbito
- “I Do It” ft. Big Sean & Lil Wayne – Lil Wayne
- “Invincible” – Pop Smoke
- “What’s Poppin” – Jack Harlow
- “Prices” – Lil Uzi Vert
- “Angels Getting Pedicured” – Jadakiss f. 2 Chainz
- “John $tarks” – Stove God Cook$ & Roc Marciano
- “PTSD” – G Herbo f. Juice WRLD, Chance The Rapper & Lil Uzi Vert
As promised, for your listening pleasure, here is HipHopDX’s The Best Hip Hop Songs of 2020 … so far.
If you want to see our lists from past months, here they are: