And here we are with the last write up of 2020! This year has been……..LOL. But we made it. And I have the albums to prove it! As I mentioned before, I’ve listened to a BUNCH of albums this year – 80+ new albums, plus my mainstays. So we’re really close to 100. I was originally going to go through and do a countdown of all of the albums I listened to this year, but like…lol who’s gonna do all that?????? So instead, I went through my Last.FM, Spotify, and my mind to come up with my top 20 albums of the year. And now, we’ve come to my most important albums this year. My Top 5. My babies. My rocks. The apples of my eye! The reasons why I still get out of bed in the morning other than my cat needing food!
Let’s get into it!
#5 – TABOO (2018) by Denzel Curry
While I was living with a professor and working at the college I graduated from (before the pandemic started and I ended up back home lol), I used to spend every Saturday morning cooking my meals for the week. Sometimes that meant walking/riding my bike to the nearest bus stop, taking the bus to the grocery store (I’d get on early so I could spend an hour just riding around on the bus), buying whatever I could fit in my bookbag and another tote bag, hopping back on the bus, walking/riding my bike back to the professor’s apartment, throwing all the stuff onto the counter, and spending the next hour chopping garlic and praying that my meal would come out of the instant pot delicious enough to eat for the next 6 days. And my background music to that chopping and praying would be Denzel Curry’s TABOO. On repeat – over and over again. So beyond the album being amazing in its own right, it also represents those little Saturday morning cook sessions and how much fun I had just taking care of myself.
#4 – Tasty (2003) by Kelis
This. ALBUM. Oh my god. This album is why I’ve decided to be a Kelis stan for the rest of my life. Although it makes me kind of sad that Kelis wanted to purposefully start distancing herself from the Neptunes with this project (after they solely produced her first two albums), I LOVE what that did for her on this project. The influence is still there, but working with other producers opened Kelis up to some different sounds that worked to her advantage. This was her project, and it proved that she was talented regardless of who produced her beats. The entire project is just….*chef’s kiss*
#3 – Black on Both Sides (1999) by Yasiin Bey
I feel the same way about Yasiin Bey as I do about Kelis (minus a little bit lol). It took one album, and I was HOOKED. Black on Both Sides was that album for me with Yasiin Bey. I’m actually listening to it right now lol. I didn’t really know what to expect jumping into my first Yasiin Bey/Mos Def project, but BoBS really proved to me that his spot as one of the top lyricists in history was well-deserved. Now I can’t stop listening to him. He’s flow, his musical fluidity, his style. Yasiin is just SO COOL to me.
#2 – Fly or Die (2004) by N.E.R.D
Over the past couple of months, I’ve decided that Fly or Die is my favorite album. Period. This album is golden. Everything good about N.E.R.D is on this album. The angst, the funk, the blending of hip hop and rock, Pharrell – this album has everything that I love. Plus, when I’m feeling sad, I just throw on “Breakout,” “Jump,” and “Fly or Die,” and like…I don’t feel better but I get to scream angsty lyrics at the top of my lungs, which helps a little bit. If you’ve never listened to N.E.R.D, you HAVE to start with Fly or Die. I just….it’s really unexplainable. I love it so much.
#1 – After Hours (2020) by The Weeknd
I debated putting this album at #1, but it really just felt right. I didn’t expect to get what we got on After Hours. I knew that we were going to get a good project – it’s The Weeknd, when have we not? – but I didn’t expect the masterpiece that was going to come with this project. In fact, after I listened to it the first time, I had to go back and re-listen a couple of times because it didn’t stick the landing on first impact. But after that second and third listen….WOW. Abel always tries to build a world with his albums, but After Hours felt like he took it to the next level. He embodied his AH character in every video and every performance so much that that world expanded way further than he’d taken things before. I will say that as we got into Pandemic Season 4, I was getting a little tired of seeing him in the red suit, but with an album that good, he deserves to soak in every moment. This album proved (to anyone that still doubted) that Abel Tesfaye is a star. He’s moved way beyond being a faceless angel voice that sung about the unmentionables of late nights and early mornings and into a pop/R&B superstar with the world in his hands. He is the type of artist that truly benefits from you forgetting anything you think you know about him – by comparing his present and past work, you get caught up in expectations, rather than what he’s offering now. Which is really just a rule of thumb, but especially so with people like him. He crafted this entire project with such care and intentionality that you can’t help but feel completely drowned in the experience. An absolutely brilliant album.
So! That’s it for me for this year. I’m currently sitting outside with way too many clothes on while the sun beams down on me (my cat is smartly hiding in the shade of the chair I’m sitting in). I’ve really enjoyed working on thursday email this year. All it took was for me to be stuck with nothing to do but do what I love lol. And I’ve really loved this. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about how I like to write and what style of writing fits best with this. I’ve made so many changes on here along the way that I’ve lost count lol. And I also have the pleasure of being able to look back at the old stuff and see things that I’d do differently (and cringe a little bit) which means I’ve had some growth moments. I’m gonna take the next week or so to plan out next year – I’m hoping to do much of the same stuff, but introduce some new elements and hopefully some new people at some point. And I should be back with a First Listen soon!
See you then!
It’s been a minute! Took a little break to spend time with my cat and my mom for the holidays. And with the holiday season finally over (for now), I’m finally able to get back into my Top 20 Albums of 2020. This is also the penultimate write-up for thursday email for 2020! As I … Continue reading Top 20 Albums of 2020 #10-6