• Words
  • Words Aimee Phillips
  • Words Blessing Borode
  • Words Tom Fogden
  • Words Ethan Beer
  • Words Jamie Wilde
  • Words Mariana Owen

2020 has been one hell(scape) of a year, but at least we've had these albums to get us through it.

Albums are released every year, and (at least in this sense) 2020 has been no different. Like death and taxes, a ‘Best Albums of 2020’ list is always inevitable. So here, in no particular order, are our favourites. Give them a listen if you haven’t already.

'SAWAYAMA' by Rina Sawayama

The maximalist Y2K hyperpop opus from Japanese-British artist Rina Sawayama has cemented her status as a popstar destined for great things. Combining everything from crunchy nu-metal guitar riffs to slick R&B-pop production, the album explored themes of racial and sexual identity through witty lyrics and captivating visuals. We can't wait to see what Rina does next.

'Send Them To Coventry' by Pa Salieu

Whilst technically a mixtape and not an album, 'Send Them To Coventry' embodies an exceptional year for Pa Salieu. The rapper has gone supernova in 2020, creating a huge buzz with his tracks "Frontline" and "My Family" especially. Switching between Afroswing, dancehall and drill, 'Send Them To Coventry' recruited the likes of other emerging stars such as BackRoad Gee, M1llionz and Mahalia. It seems like there's no ceiling to what Pa Salieu can do right now.

'Full Wack No Brakes' by Bad Boy Chiller Crew

2020's been full of surprises, but we can safely say that no one saw the resurgence of bassline coming, but three Bradford 'charvas' had other ideas. 'Full Wack No Brakes' gave us the usual BBCC fare of pounding beats and lines about booze, bags and bad boy whips. However, songs such as "Thinking About You" and "Organ" showed BBCC's versatility in both lyrical content and musical style. Consider yourself warned for 2021.

'Crabs In A Bucket' by Nines

This is Nines’ third studio album, on which he explores the duality of his life. The entire body of work acts as a confessional for the North London bred rapper where he takes us on a full circle journey against a mellow grime backdrop.

'Roots' by NSG

Ok, another mixtape, but it's 18 tracks long so we're including it. 'Drip lords' NSG know how to create addictive tracks, such as "OT Bop", but on 'Roots', we saw a more considered and poignant side to the group. Songs such as "Lupita" and "Political Badness" showcased NSG's wide-ranging influences as well as their ability to touch on important issues in society.

'Ho, why is you here?' by Flo Milli

Marking the first album of her career, the 20 year old’s confidence and authenticity is hard to miss. Induced with bold statements of self love, getting your money up and individuality, this is the album that sets her up as hip hop’s next rising star.

'Punisher' by Phoebe Bridgers

2020 has been a 'complicated' year to say the least, and no album quite captures the nuance and complexity of genuine human emotion than Phoebe Bridgers' second outing, 'Punisher'. Bursting with thematic contrast and contradictions, it's nuanced lyrics could make you cry and laugh out loud within a verse. Bridgers is already becoming one of the most prolific songwriters of her generation, managing to capture the stark beauty even in life's most mundane moments.

'Inner Song' by Kelly Lee Owens

With themes rooted in pain and loss, Kelly Lee Owens' sophomore offering served up pulsating basslines, swirling synths, sound baths and vocal work. An ambient offering for those in need of healing.

'Big Conspiracy' by J Hus

‘Big Conspiracy’ is East London rapper J Hus' second album. Packed with introspective storytelling, he walks us through his life experiences that have matured him into the artist he is today. This is one of the albums that defined the Afroswing genre, paving the way for many other artists to adopt this sound into their music.

'Suddenly' by Caribou

A rollercoaster album for a rollercoaster year, 'Suddenly' drifts between intimate tracks (like "Sister") to straight up bangers (like "Never Come Back" or "Home"). You can't deny Caribou has range, he isn't afraid of experimenting with different genres, and he's succeeded, creating a bold album which you can't help but feel lifted by - and that's all you can really ask for this year.

'The Slow Rush' by Tame Impala

Soft bois the world over rejoiced when Kevin Parker released his fourth studio album, a psychedelic disco trip with all the right measurements of smooth and festival-friendly melodies. If only we had been able to enjoy it live. Next year, eh?

'What Kinda Music' by Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes

Teaming up with friend, drummer, and producer, Yussef Dayes, 'What Kinda Music' marked a considerable shift in sound for south London's musical maverick, Tom Misch. The genre-bending, experimental and free-flowing record was an exercise in fun and creativity between Tom and Yussef. Each song is full of meandering guitars, rumbling drums and gooey production. Overall, it's one of the most sonically interesting albums of the year.

'A Hero's Death' by Fontaines D.C.

'Dogrel', the 2019 debut album from Ireland’s hottest musical exports, Fontaines D.C., belonged to their hometown of Dublin. Their follow-up, however, is much more nomadic. “A Hero’s Death” flirts with longing and belonging with poetic grace – as the band have become renowned for – across ten tracks that are fiery, passionate and carefully crafted. Only Taylor Swift could stop the band reaching the #1 album spot this year, and they’ve even been nominated for a Grammy. 2021 lies in waking for the boys in the better land.

Related Articles

2020 Highlight: NSG’s Feelgood Force

NSG are the genre-hopping East London six-piece currently setting the UK ablaze with their recent feelgood mixtape ‘Roots.'

The Best TV Series of 2020

With so much time spent inside this year, it's a good job we've had these brilliant TV shows to entertain us. Find out which shows made Notion's Best of 2020 list.

2020 Highlight: SG Lewis On Capturing Euphoria

Is there anything SG Lewis can't do? Notion speaks to the multi-hyphenate about his forthcoming debut album ‘times’, what drives him to keep creating, and capturing euphoria with his music.