Here’s What Hip-Hop Looked Like in 2020
We made it y’all. 2020 is finally coming to a close. Though we were forced to enjoy most things hip-hop had to offer from the crib via our cellphones and computers this year due to the quarantine, this was yet another intriguing year of music. Most of the months were haunted by the shadow of the coronavirus, but there were still a significant amount of rap themes, moments and trends that put this quarantine-based time period into perspective.
To kick things off, everyone and their mother seemed to drop a deluxe album this year. Some artists like Lil Baby played it safe and added six songs to his sophomore, double platinum-selling album, My Turn. Whereas other rappers like Lil Uzi Vert raised the stakes a little higher and supplemented his long awaited Eternal Atake album with 14 new songs housed under the name Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World 2. Either way it went, most project announcements became two-part offerings more so this year than in any other.
Drill music was huge in 2020 too, ushered in by the fallen Brooklyn rhymer Pop Smoke, 2020 XXL Freshman Fivio Foreign and U.K. producers like AXL Beats and 808 Melo among many others. The sub-genre became so massive that it began to flood the mainstream circuit, with everyone from Drake to Travis Scott to Quavo trying their hand at the style.
One of the biggest wins is perhaps the fact that rap was more mainstream than ever. With artists like J. Cole (Puma), La Flame (McDonald’s) and Cardi B (Reebok) inking huge endorsement deals, the popularity of their names and music surged when it came to visibility. Kids all over the world were not only bumping these musicians in their headphones but rocking their products and watching them on TV as well.
Hip-hop ran the charts, too, with songs like Bardi and Meg’s “WAP” and albums like Roddy Ricch’s Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial being so successful, gaining the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200, that pop stars had to go back to the drawing board to find out how to compete. (Remember when Justin Bieber was begging people to stream “Yummy?” JB took his L gracefully though.)
Things weren’t all sweet though. This was also an unfortunate deadly and violent year for rap. Many artists, including Pop Smoke and King Von lost their lives due to gun violence. And others like Megan Thee Stallion and Boosie were shot and treated for gunshot wounds. The hip-hop police were alive and active as well, with rappers like G Herbo and Casanova getting roped by the FBI for fraud and racketeering, respectively.
One thing’s for certain: rap wore many different faces this year, some good and some bad. So today, XXL highlights the main motifs of hip-hop in 2020. Check them out below.