Everybody is knocking on the door of 2021, hoping a new year will bring an end to COVID-19 and restore the world back to its original order. While 2020 has been somewhat in chaos due to the pandemic, hip-hop flourished on streaming platforms, the radio, TikTok and the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Since this year is basically a wrap, XXL presents the Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2020 that provided hip-hop fans with a soundtrack for the memories and moments that matter. For this year-end list, the tracks chosen are a blend of fan favorites and undeniable club bangers that most of us only got to hear in the crib or the car this year.
It’s no surprise Pop Smoke makes an appearance on any year-end list after delivering one of the most lauded projects of 2020 with his Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon album. “The Woo” featuring 50 Cent and Roddy Ricch, a guitar-driven track produced by Rxcksta, JW Lucas and DJ Drewski, is one of the best songs of 2020 for good reason. Aside from “The Woo” having over 223 million Spotify streams and more than 80 million YouTube views on its accompanying video, the pop-leaning song is a testament to Pop’s skill set as a Brooklyn drill rapper with versatility. His melodic delivery and homage to 50 Cent with the line “Let me take you to the candy shop (Candy shop)/Show you all I got (All I got, all I got)” combined with Roddy’s soaring verse and Fif’s solid rhymes make this an exceptional effort.
On the other side of the coast, Bay Area rapper Saweetie‘s gold-selling banger “Tap In” went global this year thanks to platforms like TikTok. Over 7 million video creations on TikTok have helped the track, which arrived in June, cross different regions, genders and ages as rap fans “tap in” in a myriad of ways. Saweetie creates a women empowerment instructional anthem on how to get what you want, all while sampling Too $hort’s 2006 classic “Blow the Whistle.”
Over in Canada, Drake dropped a triumphant summer song in the form of “Laugh Now, Cry Later” featuring Lil Durk in August, which carried well beyond the season. “Tired of beefin’, you bums, you can’t even pay me enough to react/Been wakin’ up in the crib, but sometimes I don’t even know where I’m at,” he raps over crisp horns and production from Cardo, Roget Chahayed, G. Ry and Yung Exclusive. Durkio delivers a “ooh-oh” moment—which has since been the center of plenty of positive memes—while boasting about bringing Drake to the ’hood. “I’m like DaBaby, I’m not just a rapper, you play with me you will get stretched, ooh-oh/Ran dracs in the hood, surround Drake around dracs/Even though I got a case, I’ma do what it take,” Durk rhymes.
2020 XXL Freshman 24kGoldn‘s “Mood” featuring Iann Dior, an upbeat ode that centers on a tug-of-war relationship, brought him to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in when the song hit No. 1 in October. The KBeaZy, Omer Fedi and Blake Slatkin-produced track has since-earned major streams (over 580 million on Spotify), TikTok love (over 2 million video creations) and six more weeks at No. 1. Not bad for 24k’s first official full year in the game.
From trap ballads to inimitable bangers, Here Are the Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2020.