African Hip Hop Albums And Mixtapes That Got Us Through 2020
When the world failed us music was there.
2020 was a memorable year but for mostly the wrong reasons. Deaths all over the world due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, families were unsettled, jobs were lost and there was wild protest and civil unrest in countries like Nigeria (End SARS) and the United States. But when the world failed us music was there.
Hip hop offered us an escape from all the atrocities going on. With tours, shows and festivals cancelled. Quarantining Rappers were stuck at home with nothing to do but make music. Artists took advantage of the accidental free time to churn out music like it was going out of style. Even Jay Electronica managed to release his elusive debut album.
African artists also came through with some stellar projects and arguably some of their best in years (Cassper Nyovest, A-Q, Xtatic). Keeping up with all the major releases wasn’t an easy task but we always find a way. The list is majorly around projects that were sent to our email. From seasoned rappers M.I Abaga, The Mith and Stogie T to newcomers Quickfass Cass, Steph and SuperBoy Cheque. These are Some of the African Hip Hop Albums And Mixtapes That Got Us Through 2020.
Joey B “Lava Feels”
Rather than give us an album, Joey B gave us a “collection of songs” that encapsulates his love for hip hop, Afrobeats, RnB and Ghana’s highlife. Joey calls on a few of his friends including Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Odunsi, Santi, Pappy Kojo, E.L, Kidi, A-Town, and Ria Boys to help him blend and showcase his artistry on “Lava Feels.”
M.I. Abaga “Judah” EP
Much of M.I Abaga’s story has already been told. The veteran rapper has gained so much from Nigeria’s once vibrant hip hop community but has given back so little. On Judah, his 10th studio project, M.I. addresses some of the impertinence that has been thrown at him in recent times without coming off as salty. He also reaffirms his position as “the king of the jungle.”
The first time M referenced Judah was at the peak of his beef with fellow Nigerian rapper Vector Tha Viper. The EP is an 8-track tale that touches on M.I.’s growth, his family and the responsibilities and vulnerabilities that comes with being the alpha rapper. M.I was prolific in 2020 which is not something you will see often.
Steph “Change” EP
Steph made herself one to watch out for in 2021 with her dynamic debut project Change. Undoubtedly one of our favorites of 2020, the Kenyan newcomer delivers undeniable versatility throughout the EP. Whether it’s tempting her opps on “None O Dem” or celebrating the people and lifestyle of her city in “Nairobi Intro,” there’s enough duality to keep listeners interested during the EP’s short run time.
During her interview with Creative-Hiphop, she explained the reason for the project’s name.
“This debut project has been in the works for a few years now. During this time, my style, story, artistic influences and context have completely changed. I’ve been going through so many changes – I think the whole world is actually, we’re all in a transitory period of some sort. So it was important to portray that in the EP. From the onset, the genres, vibes, themes – it’s all just one giant mix. All this to say that the only thing you can expect consistently from my music is change – nothing will stay the same and I think it’s exciting to think about because it implies that the artistic possibilities are endless where Steph is concerned.”
Steph’s dexterity is so good that you can’t really pinpoint are strengths. “It’s better for everyone to not try figuring out my style – you never will… I won’t either. Let’s just all enjoy the good music.”
Tucker HD & Blixxack “Open Time”
East African rappers dominated at the start of 2020 and Tucker HD was a huge part of it. During the early half of 2020 he linked up with fellow Ugandan rapper Blixxack for a collaborative effort titled “Open Time”.
I’ve listened to this project more times than I can count. The two elevated each other lyrically throughout the entire duration of the EP, while also showcasing their willingness to enter uncharted territories. The high-level appearance from Lagum on “Monster” makes an easy case for best guest verse of the year. Only topped by Sarkodie on “La Bamba.”
“Feed The Family” and “WMMA” are other notable standouts on the EP.
“Feed The Family might’ve been the first song we worked on among the 8 on the EP, and it stems from a long phone conversation we had, during which we were reflecting on amongst other things, the crucial but often unspoken role family and those closest to us before we had an audience, have played in our journey to where we are now,” Tucker HD tells Creative.
Obagunzz “Waiting For Something Good To Happen”
Obagunzz isn’t one of the loudest rappers coming out of Nigeria but he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. The Abuja native established himself as one of Nigerians essential newcomers with his debut album “Waiting For Something Good To Happen.” The album chronicles the story of the everyday struggle of an African rapper in a cultural African setting.
A-Q “God’s Engineering”
Phlow “Marmalade” EP
When life gives you lemons, you make Marmalade. Alpha Ojini manages to craft beats that allowed Phlow to wonder into unfamiliar territories without feeling lost or out of place. Sacrificing some of her lyrical potency for commercial appeal, Phlow knows her time will come and remains optimistic on “Grub Up,” but she also wants listeners to know “owu done tire me,” as she demands what’s hers on the refreshingly honest “Cheque.” In truth, who no wan buy Benz?
Inspired by some of her recent challenges, “Marmalade” is Phlow’s entry into mainstream consciousness and I won’t be surprised if she maintains this template from now on.
Xtatic “Soxial Xperiment”
IllBliss “Illy Chapo X”
IllBliss has one of the most unique African rap voices and a personality that is largely influenced by the late Notorious B.I.G. The veteran rapper has spent a large chunk of his career as one of Nigerian’s most reliable rappers when it comes to delivering adult contemporary raps.
Throughout “Illy Chapo X” Illbliss delivers his warm brand of adult contemporary music, which comprises of his love for God, family and money. He also never fails to salute the tenacity of the Igbo people. (The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa).
“Illy Chapo X” is a perfect hybrid of English and Igbo. Guests on the album ranges from Phyno, Olamide, Johnny Drille, Yemi Alade and Niniola.
Teck-Zilla & Psalmurai “Enter The Double Dragon”
Anyone who has listened to anything from Teck-Zilla knows how insanely talented he is. Read our interview with him here to find out more. Teck is a master of reshaping vintage boom bap and reworking them into something new and engaging. The veteran Nigerian producer teamed up with veteran Nigerian rapper/videographer Psalmurai for a Kung-Fu themed EP that delves into his love for Kung fu flicks and high flying kicks. WA-TAAAAAH. Psalmurai rips every beat swung at him with slithering verses that are sharper than Excalibur.
After building his fan base and piquing our interests with his torrid freestyles and singles and EP,Your Absolutely Right. Bylwansta officially announced himself with his debut studio album “SPIJØNGET.” The album, which consists of a series of three 4-track EP’s moves like a therapy session. The South African opens up about his relationship with his girlfriend and narrates a trippy moment in his life where he got mugged at gun point. SPIJØNGET is the type of album you’d probably expect from a rapper with humor and openness. His polarizing personality is what makes “SPIJØNGET” one of the funnest albums of 2020.
Costa Titch “Made In Africa”
Vector & Mastaa “Crossroads” EP
Cassper Nyovest “Any Minute Now”
Cassper Nyovest made you look with his album cover, which is a sonogram of his now birthed child.
It’s a rarity for a rapper to shoot above 80% with an album loaded with 20 plus tracks but Cassper against my better judgement pulled it off. “Any Minute Now” is in my goated opinion Cassper Nyovest’s best body of work yet and a testament to his growth and dedication to his craft as an artist. The project is packed with guest features from the likes of Bas, Anthony Hamilton, Nadia Nakai, YoungstaCPT, and Zola as well as posthumous verses from Pro Kid and Hip Hop Pantsula.
AMN is undeniably one of the best top to bottom African rap projects released in 2020.
Nasty C “Zulu Man With Some Power”
The Mith “The Ugandan”
Read our interview with The Mith here.
AKA keeps finding new ways to switch things up. In November Mega served up what is considered the first EP of his 15 plus years career. Drifting slightly from his usual sound, the ten-track project addresses matters of the heart, mind and soul over EDM, Afropop and house music. He taps into an array of samples and clips tailored around the theme of wrestling in a way that’s both nostalgic and cinematic.
“Bhovamania,” which borrows its name from wrestling’s superbowl Wrestlemania boasts collaborations with Sho Madjozi, L-Tido, K.O., Gemini Major and more.
Kwesi Arthur “This Is Not The Tape: Sorry For The Wait 2”
Kwesi Arthur does it all on This Is Not The Tape: Sorry For The Wait 2. He serves up unforgettable melodies backed by deceptively good lyricism all through the EP’s 8 minutes lifespan. On the quick effort, the Tema star croons on Turn On The Lights where he announces he’s looking for a boo before venturing into some street talk on Live From The 233. Inarguably the best record on the tape, Kwesi Arthur traded punches with Sarkodie on “Jehovah” and manages to come out unscarred. Even E-40 couldn’t manage that.
Kid Tini “The Second Coming”
Kid Tini’s long-awaited debut album is a clever and audacious entry. The album’s title and art cover are a clear reference to Leonardo Da Vinci’s depiction of “The Last Supper” and it features several angled images of Tini.
The Get Money rapper displays impressive range throughout the album, showcasing his ability to switch from hardcore raps to melodic singing. Tini comfortably delivers godly and boastful punchlines while also delving into stories around love and forgiveness.
With a playtime of slightly over an hour, the album has a total of 16-tracks, with features from LaSauce, Malume Vector, Blaq Diamond, Manny Yack, Zakwe, Kwesta, Sbahle, and S’Villa.
Quickfass Cass “Rookie Of The Year”
VUZU The Hustle season one alumni Quickfass Cass is Out to prove his next up, following several freestyles and EPs that failed to make a splash, the Soweto staple proclaims himself “The Rookie Of The Year” with his long-awaited debut album.
Quick is a young artist who’s full of determination, raw talent, and fresh ideas, and that’s overwhelmingly clear on this project. The album’s lead single “Soudy Soudy” featuring Emtee and Pro Kid is a certified banger and is one of our favorite African hip hop songs released in 2020. Quickfass Cass was one of last year’s compelling underdogs and I’m currently a big fan of what he has to offer.
Stogie T “Empire Of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked)”
Stogie T joined the deluxe train with a revamped version of his 2019 album The Empire of Sheep. The updated version comes with three songs and includes collaborations with Nasty C, Boity, Ziyon, Nadia Nakai and Haddy Hacks.
Superboy Cheque “Razor EP”
Superboy Cheque started 2020 as a star and ended it as a superstar. After signing to Nigerian rapper Phyno’s Penthauze label in February, 2019, Superboy became a household name with his breakthrough EP “Razor.” Spearheaded by the mega hit single “Zoom,” the project also includes other household bangers including “Loco” and “Hollywood.”
M.I. Abaga & A-Q “The Live Report”
M.I. Abaga and A-Q delivered their live commentary in the middle of a pandemic year. Recorded in the space of 5 days, the album’s idea was conceived by a fan who asked A-Q how many RTs for a joint project with M.I.
In which, A-Q replied “I’m not the one you should be asking bro.. Ask @MI_Abaga.” When MI Abaga saw the tweet, he replied, “See this dead guy!!! Lol.. let’s do it.. record a whole project before next week Saturday. And put it out.. down?” And the rest as they say is history.
Executive produced by Beats By Jayy, “The Live Report” offers moments of reflection, encouragement, and biting quips about some of the issues of 2020 including quarantining and the conspiracy theories that ensured due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.