—Sidney Madden, When I first heard Sanación, I literally stopped what I was doing and sat through each track completely transfixed. This week we shared NPR Music's best songs and albums of 2020, lists voted on, politely argued over and presented by our staff, station partners and contributors. Now that it's mostly in our rear view, can a retrospective give a shape to that swarm of weeks and months? This music doesn't have the pop inclinations of Rosalía, and that is a big plus to me. The Best Classical Albums Of A Troubled 2020 : Deceptive Cadence NPR Music's classical editor traces the high points of a year spent listening to new albums that offered comfort and … Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and … In an interview with NPR, Bruner reflected on the importance of connection and creativity, despite loss and confusion: "Get out of your mind and come out here with everybody else and just be here. Related Stories. Built on glassy bell tones and filled out with a downright painterly use of the delay knob, it is a welcome reminder that a wandering mind can lead to bright places, even in dark times. You get the feeling listening to this that Ka might actually be peerless as a writer; so many of these lines could be the basis for another rapper's entire song. Even though her words have soundtracked the lives of pop fans for years, Victoria Monét is just now getting her due. Anjimile - Giver Taker 47. But his manifesto on multiplicity is hardly confined to words. Turns out, Boyd was feeling a similar discomfort months earlier while writing the album. Protomartyr, Ultimate Success Today 9. A: The albums that do not show exact numbers are the ones that have had sales corrections from Billboard Q: Aren't those numbers kind of low for Childish Gambino? Dec 2. Parker's 17-year-old daughter Ruby sings a lovely, hypnotic melody over the album's opening track, "Build a Nest." Goodie Mob, Survival Kit 2. But with the right mentorship, the will to learn and raw rhyme scheme skills informed by his life experiences, the Atlanta stalwart with a subdued tone has managed to stand out among the first half of the year's releases and rise to the occasion as this moment's reluctant rap hero. The mix of María José Llergo's Romani roots in her vocal stylizations, the real deal flamenco guitar and the subtle but graceful electronic elements pressed all of my musical buttons in a way that I had not heard before. Waylon Payne. Haus of Altr, HOA11 2. Over the elegantly chaotic, orchestral rock convulsions of "Virile," he turns traditional masculinity's paternalism back on itself: "Desperate for passing grades / the virility fades / You've got the wrong guy / You wanna slip right in / Amp up the masculine / You've got the wrong idea, son." Meanwhile, protestors flood the streets by the millions with cries to abolish prisons and police as the crooked criminal justice system proves Black lives matter less and less in America. His latest and best, Descendants Of Cain, finds him turning to the Old Testament for guidance through generational trauma. Written before the police killing of George Floyd, it eerily mirrors that event, as well as the moving press conference Killer Mike gave afterward in Atlanta. Chris Keys's production on the album is minimal but persistently rich and ear-pleasing, consisting, primarily of drums, bass and jazz- and soul-inspired piano, with some synths and electric piano. "It might sound real but it's fictional / I love that my imagination gets to you," he raps on the album closer, "Fictional." We count down to number one, with entries from Soccer Mommy, Run The Jewels, HAIM and Moses Sumney . So on this edition of All Songs Considered, NPR Music's Ann Powers and I discuss the top 20 albums in our 2020 Listener Poll and reflect on a pretty good year of music, with some odd twists. Sadness and hope are inseparable here. We didn't vote on them. Originally titled To Be Angry, the Alabama-born, L.A.-based rapper, singer and producer Pink Siifu looks to Sun Ra, Amiri Baraka, Ras G, Death and Bad Brains — radical expressionists of Black thought and sound — to create a blasted meditation on state brutality and systemic racism. Charli XCX - How I'm Feeling Now 49. Radio Slave, "Stay Out All Night" 2. At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. The romance of such encounters, partly imagined, hits like a stomach drop. —Cyrena Touros, Capitol Records / Motown / Wolfpack Music Group / Quality Control Music, perhaps the most pleasing concerto written yet this century. NPR’s sites use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites (together, “cookies”) to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR’s sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR’s traffic. In interviews this year, Waylon Payne spoke of the songs on his second album, Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, as though they were works of unfiltered emotional purging. He calls it a blues album. Each is the favorite of one member of the NPR Music team. Miss Colombia is the needle Pimienta uses to thread herself — a Black and Indigenous Wayuu woman, a mother — to the land upon which Colombia and its project of erasure was staked. They certainly have. On its relentless whiplash toward the middle, the first six months of 2020 have reframed, redefined, shocked, torn down, confounded and crumbled our expectations, our priorities, our concepts of distance and closeness, of responsibility, of tragedy, of joy. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1. Ka is Brownsville, N.Y.'s Homer, a firefighter by day, rapper by night who, for the last decade, has documented cyclical violence in his neighborhood through a string of vivid, writerly, self-released albums, each a world in itself. NPR Music's Best Albums Of 2020 // Illustration: Rae Pozdro for NPR. That search for personal truth, for honesty and empathy persists throughout the album, whether he's singing songs that seem directly confessional, like the sobriety-anthem "It Gets Easier," or artfully blending bits of his own memories into the details of a childhood summertime in "Dreamsicle." —Robin Hilton, (Black Is), by the covert ensemble SAULT, is the soundtrack to this moment in Black history. Today, with ongoing protests and an indefinite pandemic, Dark Matter is the perfect soundtrack for the times. Jaguar. 1. Pablo R. Ruiz, Estados Criminales 6. how i'm feeling now. Siti Of Unguja is a transfixing listen, full of deep bass, celestial strings and Muharam's virtuoso-in-the-making vocals. NPR'S BEST ALBUMS OF 2020 50. Just keep creating fearlessly." His latest album as a bandleader, solo experimenter and multi-instrumentalist editor/tinkerer positions him as a steady center of a fluctuating family of inspired creative associates. 2020 was so stuffed with urgent voices it could be hard to discern the melody from the noise. It's a stark reminder that suspended disbelief is a privilege off limits to artists in a genre where even Black creativity is criminalized. At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that might not ever come to an end. Top 10 Songs Of 2020. The staff of NPR Music sifts through the best of 2020 to present personal lists of top 10 songs and albums. I was right: Rolling through airy drumscapes and on sweet, finger-picked melodies, on Saint Cloud, Crutchfield's voice stretches higher, swoops lower and swaggers through some of the most potent poetry of her career to date. Atlantic. NPR’s Book Concierge. 11/12/2020 Esquire Getty Images. Nihilistic tracks like "Commercial" and "Woah" offset the introspective cuts like "Emotionally Scarred" to balance the artistic scales, showing the full shades of what trap game crusader has to fight for. On previous records, he wove mythologies of samurai and chess and the ancient Greeks into his lived experience. She's made a masterwork that embodies the spirit and circumstances of 2020: the righteousness and rage, the cooped-up creativity, the unmistakable sense that a power surge is coming and we'd all best contribute to it or get out of the way. They envisioned the project as a vehicle for empowerment: a women-led artistic collective that would land, by any and every measure, as a supergroup. Homeboy Sandman - Don't Feed The Monster 48. Prosecutors are hanging their case against Drakeo on his lyrics, which only proves how much he's killing the game. At certain moments, 2020 felt like a year that … Nick Hakim, WILL THIS MAKE ME GOOD 3. If you click “Agree and Continue” below, you acknowledge that your cookie choices in those tools will be respected and that you otherwise agree to the use of cookies on NPR’s sites. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020. See details. But the year that was to come was even harder, so hard that Gia Margaret could barely sing about it. Can we make sense of layer upon layer of fear, anger, frustration, confusion, exhilaration and exhaustion that … View on npr.org. Infused with electronic beats and jazz, grime and trip-hop, every song on the record fills the range of emotions I'm feeling right now. NPR. The 50 Best Albums Of 2020: 50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1. Perfect understanding, humiliating as it might be, seems to be in short supply lately; I've returned to Quinlan's meticulously constructed songs to be reminded what it looks like to keep trying. The strings behind her in that last line, from her love letter to eternally lost muse Elliott Smith, form every connection Bridgers says she can't make. With its breezy soulful sound and hopeful timbre, Innocent Country 2 is a life-affirming and optimistic look at what it feels like to be Black in America. —Ann Powers, It's the long, hot summer of 2020 and the hardest album out is by an incarcerated rapper who recorded the whole thing over a prison phone. Contributed to NPR by: NPR | Posted on December 3, 2020, 8:30 AM. Lil Baby's sophomore album, My Turn, was heavy on big hip-hop guest appearances, but the glitz never diluted the grit and sincerity of Baby's words. NPR Music's Best Albums Of 2020 // Illustration: Rae Pozdro for NPR. NPR. Much like guest artist MosEL's proclamation on "Black Twitter" ("Beautiful Black baby boy, the world is ours, beautiful Black baby girl all twinkling stars"), Innocent Country 2 sums up the hope and triumphant spirit of generations past, present and future. Album of the Year 2020: Fiona Apple - Fetch the Bolt Cutters Hello everyone and welcome to Day 1 of the r/indieheads Album of the Year 2020 Write-Up Series! ), sizzling passages deftly navigated by pianist Kirill Gerstein and a central slow movement that pushes yearning to new emotional levels. (In turn, they are criticized for depicting the same kind of violence that can be found in any Hollywood movie by a white director.) This week we shared NPR Music's best songs and albums of 2020, lists voted on, politely argued over and presented by our staff, station partners and contributors. Yeah, there 's also a Beyoncé visual album on the album 's closing song, `` Build Nest... 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